HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsOf peace, prosperity, empowerment

Of peace, prosperity, empowerment

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The link between peace and prosperity is well established as is its absence and poverty, inequality and unemployment.

Mutumwa on Tuesday with Mutumwa Mawere

Zimbabwe was born from a womb of violence and conflict and, therefore, there was reasonable expectation at independence that peace would not only prevail, but sustainable in the post-colonial era.

Rhodesia was a state characterised by violence and racial conflict. The establishment of racial equality and a working political order that would serve the true interests of all, therefore, became the charge of President Robert Mugabe’s administration.

Independence generally promised prosperity on matters of social and/or economic welfare of all the people of Zimbabwe.

Peace is something that is intangible but its absence is unmistakable. It is difficult to quantify and measure but the last election in 2008 clearly demonstrated that failure of the post-colonial state to deliver on this important and fundamental variable.

Although Zimbabwe cannot be compared to other trouble spots in the world, the presence of fear is not unjustified particularly as the country moves rapidly towards the “judgment day”.

The land reform programme could only be achieved by the victor over the vanquished white minority.

The law of conquest dictates that the conqueror has the last laugh and, therefore, the losses occasioned on white Zimbabweans in terms of property could not be avoided in as much as the regrettable violence that accompanied it.

The calls for the restoration of the rule of law and respect of property and human rights have fallen on deaf ears principally because non-market forces were employed to create the class and racial relations that were inherited at independence.

The born-free generation did not live through the colonial era and the generation of Mugabe that witnessed the brutality and savagery of the period is fast disappearing and it is, therefore, very easy and convenient sometimes to see the seemingly small achievements of civil rights, peace and limited prosperity as given.

Mugabe was correct in asserting that: “Let this be an example of us all to follow” to describe the manner in which the transition from conflict to peace was achieved at independence.

The fact that under his watch the example has been difficult to follow is manifested by the confusion surrounding the question of precisely when the next election is to be held.

Although Mugabe and his Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai can agree on many things, it is evident that they cannot find each other on when and how the next elections are to be held.

Both of them think that the future of Zimbabwe revolves around them. Although in reality Zimbabweans may very well be fed up with both of them there is no mechanism of knowing what the true will of the people is.

What is clear is that prosperity has been elusive and peace may find its way into the lives of the people when the two elephants understand that the future of Zimbabwe is more secure if the people themselves are allowed to think and act freely including in terms of voting.

No better words can replace what Mugabe said in 1980 as follows: “Indeed, let this enjoin the whole of our nation to march in perfect unison from year to year and decade to decade towards its destiny.”
After 33 years even Mugabe himself would agree that the nation has not been moving in perfect unison and each year of independence has divided the people into political clubs.

Instead of putting Zimbabwe first, the political clubs now have surnames and more importantly act as if they have a better claim on the nation and its prospects.

In the minds of political actors, a view exists that such players are indispensable to the country. For instance, the contemptuous manner in which the political actors regard each other betrays the spirit of independence.

On the need for peace, Mugabe observed in 1980 that: “We have abundant mineral, agricultural and human resources to exploit and develop for which we need perfect peace” presumably invoking the “we” word to mean that God was generous to the territory of Zimbabwe be endowing it with rich mineral resources.

It is self-evident that the generation of independence played no part in creating the resources but was fortunate to preside over this critical period in any nation’s history when the foundations are being laid for growth and prosperity.

The last 33 years should ordinarily give a pointer as to which direction the country is taking and Mugabe ought to be taking pride in the achievements scored during the period and yet finds himself fighting as an outsider complaining about the ills of the period that preceded independence.

The euphoria that accompanied independence informed the worldview of Mugabe in 1980 when he said: “Given such peace, our endeavours to transform our society and raise our standard of living are bound to succeed” clearly oblivious of the fact that under his watch the endeavours to transform Zimbabwe and raise the standard and quality of life would be compromised and to some extent undermined.

At independence, Mugabe understood that: “The mineral resources lying beneath the surface of our country have hardly been scratched, nor have our agricultural and industrial resources yet fully harnessed.”

Today such resources remain where God deposited them and the question is why independence has not unleashed the kind of energy and creativeness expected.

The relationship between indigenous people and mineral resources remains problematic.

The value of the minerals that have been extracted and processed during the last 33 years has not been quantified to allow any reasonable assessment as to whether independence assisted in fast tracking the exploration and exploitation of such resources.

If the colonial order had remained in place during the last 33 years, what, if any, would have happened to the mineral, industrial and agricultural resources?

It is easy to say that the welfare of Zimbabweans in general would have declined for under Mugabe’s watch it would appear that such expected welfare gains have not materialised.

The right to explore for minerals is vested in the State.

What is clear is that such right during the post-colonial era has been granted by Mugabe’s administration to allow the people of Zimbabwe to determine and decide whether such choices have been made in their interest.

The fact that independence conferred certain powers on state actors to make choices in the interests of the nation at large compels voters to evaluate whether their power has been used to promote the values and principles that Mugabe spoke so eloquently about in 1980.
What would it take to bring this brain trust back?

So far land reform and the implementation of the indigenisation programme have failed to energise the people in the diaspora to change their addresses signifying that the people concerned see their lives more secure outside the borders of the country than inside its borders.

Mugabe when he said in 1980 that: “The whole world is looking on us this day” knew that for Zimbabwe to prosper it needed the support and goodwill of the world. Nothing has changed except that the State coffers are empty in 2013 to give Zimbabwe the luxury of asserting its independence.

Mutumwa Mawere is a businessman based in South Africa. He writes in his personal capacity.

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