HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsAlex Ferguson, Simba Makoni and a reader’s response to John Smith’s letter

Alex Ferguson, Simba Makoni and a reader’s response to John Smith’s letter

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Last week was an interesting one especially for those who follow English soccer.

Develop me with Tapiwa Gomo

Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager of Manchester United Football club, finally retired after serving one of the world’s most successful sports clubs for 26 years.
I mention this because there are a lot of lessons to be drawn from this most admired and respected managers in the history of soccer.

Ferguson has demonstrated that it is possible to stay long and be successful at the same time and secondly, that a leader can identify a successor long before retiring and part of the grooming includes being on the opposing ends and not allow short-term disagreements to taint the bigger picture.

We learnt that Ferguson “fell in love” with David Moyes, the Everton manager, as early as 1999.

But since then, the two have had several touchline bust-ups, which could potentially damage the inheritance “prospects”.

Moyes’ ability to discard the protégé tag and stand firm against his mentor is what attracted Ferguson to stick with his “student”.

If Zanu PF was like Manchester United, then Simba Makoni would still today stand a good chance of taking over the leadership of the party.

Grooming a leader is not always about creating a loyal character, but one who can stand his ground in what he believes and that includes disagreeing with
the status quo.

In 2008 while announcing his presidential bid, Simba Makoni demonstrated this shrewd character when he stated that, “Following very extensive and intensive consultations with party members and activists countrywide, and also with others outside the party, I have accepted the call and hereby advise the people of Zimbabwe that I offer myself as candidate for the office of president . . . I share the agony and anguish of all citizens over the extreme hardships that we all have endured for nearly 10 years now . . . I also share the widely held view that these hardships are a result of failure of national leadership and that change at that level is a pre-requisite for change at other levels of national endeavour.”

Makoni had waited in the wings far too long and was running out of patience as he watched his country plunging.

While Makoni’s political career outside Zanu PF is yet to yield meaningful results, he demonstrated a rare character within most African political parties.
Perhaps he will find his space in the next election as it seems that neither Zanu PF nor MDCs are capable of winning the majority.

Enough of the comparison.

In last week’s column, we published a letter from John Smith who claimed that Africa is a long term ideological investment designed to ensure that Africa remains forever dependent and open for exploitation by his forefathers’ countries.

One Dzvinyangoma decided to respond to me instead of John Smith.

Below is his or her response:
“We are waiting to read what your reply was to John Smith. If this was meant as a tongue in cheek letter then it failed when it referred to China. If Africa adopted China’s stance, we would progress just as the Chinese have progressed.

“This idea that Africa cannot afford to be radical because we need European markets is a tired argument. It’s just like as kids we were told black people cannot swim competitively or were not good at tennis and other such (. . .) elite sports.

“Now we see young black kids win Olympic gold medals in swimming, dominating tennis and many other sports. How often did we laugh at ‘made in China’ labels back in the day only to realise later in life that China is now the production factory of the world.

“Did China fail to sell its products without western influence and control? China is now a bigger consumer of mineral resources than the west with India following through.”

“John Smith is right about our so called educated people protecting their (Smith’s) interests which includes you and the resident economist Vince Musewe.

“You have all rallied against indigenisation thereby doing exactly what your tongue in cheek letter is saying.

“Instead of just criticising the indigenisation policy educated people like yourself should be suggesting beneficial ways to improve it.

“Look at the number of comments on political stories and compare to comments on business and economic stories.

“We preoccupy ourselves with politics hence the likes of John Smith are proved right all the time.

“However, I don’t agree that if we have 100% control of mining companies that will not bother Europeans because that’s not true.

“There is such a thing called scarcity which most economists sing and dance about.
“Africa has the largest reserves of most of the most important metals in the world which, if there are in African hands, would make Europeans beg us.

“That is why there is a concerted effort to make sure our indigenisation policy fails because if it succeeds all of Africa will want to follow Zimbabwe.

“Andrew Young, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations, put it openly that the US and Britain did not want Zimbabwe’s land reform to succeed because that would mean the rest of Africa following through.

“If John Smith and his ilk were not bothered then, why sanction Agribank, Zimbank and IDBZ? These institutions are traditionally linked with Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector and infrastructure development.”
There you have it.

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