guest column Fr Oskar Wermter SJ
We are not exactly optimists in this country. We have seen too many disasters; man-made disasters I should hasten to add
We have seen a Tsunami like Cyclone Idai, and we expect “the next cyclone is sure to come – it is in the pipeline – let us be prepared for it.” We should undergo training and learn how to deal with the next rainstorm, and how to forecast the coming of the next cyclone when it is still on the other side of the Indian Ocean, but approaching very fast, and how to evacuate the people who are at the greatest risk and most exposed to the approaching monster.
Can we blame anyone for such a natural disaster? In what way is it man-made? We are quite quick in playing the “blaming-game”. If we need someone or
something to blame, the “climate change” serves quite well. It is our fault, because we blow too many petrol fumes or black diesel clouds into the atmosphere.
There is another misfortune that is even worse, that is, “unemployment” in this “failed economy” of ours, especially for the young who are unable to find
work and enter the economy. They feel compelled to seek workplaces beyond the Limpopo or Zambezi, the Indian or Atlantic oceans, the Mediterranean or the
Introducing yet another currency and printing new bank notes is supposed to be a new medicine to heal our economic ills. Will people trust this new money? If
bank notes are not backed by more production, even the most wonderful crisp bank notes will not make a difference. Prices will just shoot up, and there won’t
be much production and new workplaces.
Pessimism is easy. But is that our final word? Do we throw in the towel? Give up the fight?
Do we instead increase our income through corruption? Do we sell our privileges, our connections and our political status to the highest bidder?
Traditional capitalism expects the whole national economy to flourish if every player on the market makes a maximum profit for himself. Selfish concern for
one’s own individual good fortune is supposed to make the collective national income grow for everybody. The common good will grow if everybody just looks
I doubt that. We must have trust. We must have confidence in ourselves that we can make a difference.
An entrepreneur must trust that he can expand industry and find workplaces for his children and their friends. Increased profits alone are not enough for
growth. We cannot do without an increase in profits, but our focus must be on people, and on how to create workplaces for them. What can we do for people?
That must be our concern.
We must have the clear intention to work for the common good and for an adequate minimum wage; we must run a functioning health insurance we can trust as
honest and reliable. We need a universal pension scheme for all workers. We need a system of social justice for all. It is not enough that the low-income
earners (or ‘no income’ earners) benefit, by way of a by-product, from the abundance of the rich.
If we want to see a better life for the citizens of Zimbabwe, we must be determined to contribute to it. We must have a clear intention. We must plan for it.
We must have confidence that it can be done! The future will look bright if we choose the right priorities.
Quite a few MPs and ministers appear to be more concerned about getting shiny motor cars for their own personal use, rather than provide affordable public
transport as a service to all.
Our priority must be the people. Our first choice must be humanity, life and survival. Making money is a means towards that end. It is not an end in itself.
Don’t we need a husband and wife to live in mutual trust in order to build up a family? If they lack this trust that unites, how will they live in harmony? If
a businessman does not enjoy the trust of the bank, how will he ever manage to get a loan for expansion? Trust is a precondition for a successful business.
If young people are not confident about their abilities, how will they succeed in using their gifts and talents? If a young man is in possession of a spirit of
“can do”, what is going to stop him? If a young woman is confident she can do as well or better than any man, who is going to beat her in the race for the top?
If a lovable character is ready to share what he has with friends, his spirit of generosity cannot be beaten. If I trust the Maker of all things that he will share his wisdom with me, how can I lose heart, even in this dark world? But I must be aware of my poverty, my lack of courage, my timidity and overcome
all fear before I can reach out to greater things than I ever dreamt of.
Trust you can do greater things than you have ever done before. I have a friend who lost his office job in an insurance company. He got himself a small piece
of land and started growing tomatoes and vegetables, potatoes and maize.
Another one, idle after the loss of his job, was struck by so many beer cans and plastic garbage lying on the street. He started collecting all this waste-
material. He is now owner of a company for recycling such stuff. He believed in himself. He trusted his friends.
Remember , there is a spirit greater than yourself. The challenge is not just to gather up wealth for yourself: The challenge is to trust in the people and
share with them the courage you did not know the Creator Spirit had given you.