All for nothing


I HAVE just finished reading CG Tracey’s book — All for Nothing — and I am quite impressed at how men and women like him gave all they had to build Zimbabwe.

A Zimbabwe we have managed, in just 35 years, to decimate and create widespread poverty under the pretext of liberation. What Zanu PF has done to the potential of this country is shameful and unforgivable.

Colonialism can never be defended by anyone of us blacks for it not only disrespected who we are, but it deliberately limited who we could become.

However, I think we should also appreciate what we inherited from it.

Many of our politicians today benefited tremendously from the efforts of good white men and women who bucked the system and refused to be racists at their personal expense. Judith Todd’s name comes to mind.

It would be dishonest for us to underrate or dismiss the positive impact they had. They took personal risk to do what was right and unfortunately today we have very few such black men and women.

Most of us have chosen the comfortable and convenient route of keeping quiet and even being praise singers while our country goes to the dogs.

Oh what wretched pretenders and cowards we have in our midst! We shall have to rewrite our history.

From reading CG Tracey’s book, I now have a deep appreciation of what it took to build the Zimbabwe that we took so much for granted at independence and proceeded to do nothing to build it.

It is true indeed that some men are born to build while others are cursed to come merely to destroy what others have built.
Zimbabwe could be one of the most developed African countries today if we had kept the momentum created during Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence era.

The agricultural and industrial base we inherited at independence is unbelievable.

Our agricultural base and research capabilities were way ahead of all Africa. Today not one of our research stations is running and we have effectively lost more than 100 years of research and regressed considerably that we will never catch up. That is true disempowerment and I cannot fathom the audacity of anyone who claims that we have done well under President Robert Mugabe since 1980.

It’s a lie. Zanu PF has destroyed Zimbabwe’s potential and it’s not funny.

We will have to rebuild every sector of Zimbabwe with new energy and a fresh approach.

There is no argument that we must focus on agriculture infrastructure revival, but this time we must ensure that we create a symbiotic relationship between large farming concerns and small-scale farmers who are committed to be successful farmers.

I predict that once our economy revives, a large number of those that are on land will prefer to go back into industry.

This will release productive land for productive activity. We must establish industrial hubs that process food both for local and export consumption.

Interestingly enough, the Smith agricultural development model was based on value addition due to sanctions and here we are in 2015, blaming sanctions for everything instead of us taking it as an opportunity to redevelop our industrial base.

But again, that is typical of the liberation struggle generation who choose to remain victims of history and do nothing in creating a better future.

The interesting title of Tracey’s book — All For Nothing — might, in the end, actually reflect Mugabe’s tenure as president.
I suspect all the pain, all the struggle and destruction that has gone on will really achieve nothing in the end. How ironic.
I encourage students of history and economics to read this book because we can use Tracey’s energy and foresight to redevelop Zimbabwe.
It has been done before and we can do it again.

However, what was critical during those times was that the Smith government deliberately supported the emergence of a strong business sector unlike Zanu PF which has done all it can to banish our black business icons. The party has even disposed them of their assets. That is a crime.

We want and we will create a government that understands that a strong private sector is good for the economy and increases the ability of any government to fund development and provide social services through more taxes.

The patronage system that we now have is cancerous and does not encourage the building of sustainable businesses. Zimbabwe needs us the younger generation to create a better future.

There is absolutely no vision within the current regime to create the Zimbabwe we want.

I doubt that our politics will deliver what we want, that is why I am continuing to encourage a new economic struggle based on reviving agriculture and industry.

Politicking produces nothing except acrimony and unnecessary hatred. The struggle to create a new Zimbabwean economy can no longer be left to Zanu PF alone hence must be ours.

l Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on


  1. Yes i agree that politics is not going to create the country we want but starting anything when the politics could destroy it or take it over at any time would stop anyone from making an effort while zanu pf is still in power.

  2. You are very correct. The problem with ZANU PF is that the political outfit never disengaged from the liberation war into development. In development literature, programming has to be sensitive to the needs of the times and adjust accordingly, sometimes from crisis, to transition and development focus. ZANU PF never got out of gear number 1 progressively into cruise mode. Their military governance has caused the state engine to burn or overheat. Now we have the effects. While Mugabe as a state driver at times shows wit/intelligence in vision, he has dismally failed on engine control. He simply can’t smoothly change gears. His driving is full of jerks and jolts (ESAP, land reform, murambatsvina, political violence, etc.). ZANU PF should learn the politics of transition and transformation – it is currently brutally rigid. Am sorry!

  3. Vince Musewe very very well said and understood. Yes colonialism brought many bad things to this part of the world but it also brought us to the jewel of Africa and value add is all we needed to keep it going. After all we depend on it every day of our lives whether we like it or not.
    I wonder if any new leadership which takes office would be as bold as the former Mozambique president and ask all former agricultural land tenure holders, and invite them back to their lands (unconditionally) and have them kick start the economy once again.
    Now there is food for thought!!

  4. We Africans are cursed indeed. We fight each other to be accepted into the white ways of life at the same time saying we hate white faces when we are wearing their clothes and speaking their language? The same Europeans met today to discuss the deaths of Africans migrants and others in the Mediterranean but what are African leaders and the AU doing or saying or do they care? So if the truth be told, no matter how abhorrent, the whites might just be our saviours to Canaan?

    Well written, Vince, keep up the debate!

  5. Perhaps Africa needs to clearly define job descriptions of all office holders and insist on those who qualify om merit, successful leadership/supervisory/management experience, with a “learning” mind. That way we will reduce the rhetoric, hire and fire leaders based on results and get rid of hate-mongers or those relying on hear-say. Having said that, colonialism actually brought some positives that we needed to build on but the tendency has been to condemn it in toto. To understand this fact, you need to have experienced life in colonial times. If you rely on hear-say you will never know for e.g. how clean the CBD in Harare was, but you will hear that blacks were not allowed to drink clear beer or walk those streets. There was law and order but the political/social system was tipped against us blacks. Sadly, our standard of living now is less than what it was in 1960. In short, we are less happy and satisfied now (as independent) than when we were colonised. What is freedom if it does not bring happiness and satisfaction?

  6. the very fact that the eu met yesterday to discuss an african disaster without an african input – as the africans are wining and dining in indonesia – its just sad. our politics is so much out of touch sadly so

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