IF you do not organise the people into productive sectors, they will organise themselves into disruptive activities.
Develop me: Tapiwa Gomo
The talks about the talks have finally kicked off, but not without confusion as they were two processes.
One was led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House and was attended by some of the opposition leaders except the MDC Alliance, while the other was hosted by the Zimbabwe
Council of Churches and was also attended by some of the opposition leaders, including the MDC Alliance leadership, but without Mnangagwa. So far, the latter platform seems to have gained both traction and credibility given the level of attendance by various stakeholders.
There has been an emerging narrative, alongside these efforts, one that says Zimbabweans need to love their country and that any disruption regresses political stability and economic revival efforts. This could not have come at the right time given the events of the past few weeks, which saw a wave of protests triggered by a spike in fuel prices and
the ensuing violence allegedly by the security forces on protesting civilians.
These events are an indicator of a huge deficit in both trust and leadership. Since the elections last year, there has been a lack of national organisation and dialogue between the authorities and the people.
While it has been a traditional practice for winning candidates to host “thank you” rallies, in the Zimbabwe context, they are a reminder of how polarised our nation is.
Perhaps, these can be turned into “meet the people rallies” and bring together the various political leaders to dialogue with the people. This would be the beginning of national leadership that transcend political party lines.
There is consensus that Zimbabwe needs unity and healing from the its troubled past and the present situation. But without a strong sense of organisation, these will be hard to achieve, making it harder to convert people’s energy into productivity. If you do not organise the people into productive sectors, the people will organise themselves into disruptive activities.
This is why Zimbabwe has been fertile for any form of street activism because people are readily available for any organised activity due to high unemployment. Instead of organising the people into various sectors, government is obsessed with promising jobs, foreign investment, credit lines from international financial institutions. Relevant as these may be, they do not mean anything until they are delivered.
One wonders why government has not seen it necessary to put its people first, engage them and invest in and with them.
Effective leadership is one that organises its people and enables them to use their energy to convert available resources and opportunities into the power they need to make the change they want.
We cannot expect to turn around the fortunes of our country by exclusively relying on foreign-funded mega projects without defining our own people’s role. The economic change we want must start with our people and their relationship with the government will help shift their energy towards production instead of protests.
Most countries that became economic powerhouses, did so specifically on the basis of a well-defined vision, strategic plans and their people. Having restored a viable economic base, China was prepared to embark on an intensive programme of industrial growth as early as the 1950s.
For this purpose, the leadership allocated part of the implementation of their centralised economic planning on collective units in various sectors such as community or family-owned farming, manufacturing projects, trade, transportation and others.
While the community or family-owned projects were not sufficient to bankroll the country’s ambitious industrialisation projects, they gave the government the reprieve they needed to focus on mega industrialisation projects, as the small scale ventures took care of employment and family income.
The Chinese story was not as clean, but there are vital lessons to be drawn from it. We learn that when chips are down, governments need to be closer to people and plan with and for them.
We also learn that organising people helps to balance the power, which is vital in achieving change based on a shared national vision, improved relationships between authorities and the people, structuring people into sectors beyond political party lines.
Effective leadership puts people, not issues, at the heart of their efforts. In such a context, leadership ceases to be about problems, but about enabling the people to mobilise their own resources to solve their problems.
We already have a hard-working and educated labour force that simply requires a predictable and an enabling environment for them to realise their potential.
In our case, both the government and politics have continued to threaten small-scale projects.
Organised leadership deploys power to influence the people on the basis of trust created by the relationship between interests and resources. Here, interests are what people want, while resources includes an enabling environment that facilitates the achievement of the change the people want.
Leadership is not about dry mantras, but about specifying a clear national vision and mobilising the people and resources to achieve it.
And finally, leadership is taking responsibility for enabling the people to achieve purpose under whatever circumstances.