A misplaced sense of wealth ownership

Tapiwa Gomo

Develop me :Tapiwa Gomo

To escape poverty and to become a developed society are not natural occurences. They are about learning better ways of thinking and behaving and then committing all energy towards achieving them. Having the right-sounding ideas and policies is the beginning and getting them effectively implemented is the major part of the strategy. The ultimate goal of all these is to make home a comfortable place.

Bad as it was, there are two critical lessons that can be drawn from colonialism. The first lesson is that when you trigger an effective economic growth strategy, you need a good supply of resources to sustain it. In doing so, you must never abuse your own brother or sister, but instead ensure that they are the first people to benefit from economic growth.

This is why European countries sent their deployees in their various professions to establish supply chains of raw materials and human resources in their African colonies to keep their economies growing.

Imagine a government that recognises that its people need to benefit from the best of its economic growth without doing hard labour and the same government acquires slave labour from elsewhere.

The second lesson is the importance of establishing wealth creation institutions and systems in their colonies, which were designed to generate income and profits which were sent back to their home countries. In most African countries, these were in the form of banks, farms and sometimes industries that continued to provide both cash and resources to European countries.

In French colonies, these included taxing the post-independent governments guised as protecting their economies while remitting billions of dollars into the French economy. It is all about home.

If those in government do not invest home, they should not expect development. It is as simple as that.

What is most critical in these two lessons is the importance of home. Everything European countries did during and after colonialisation in Africa and elsewhere was about ensuring that their home countries have stronger economies, a good supply of financial and material resources and maintained a strong hold on weaker countries to maintain the supply lines.

They also understood the very basic principles such as that home is only a better place when you invest in making it so; that home is not only a source of pride, but political power and opportunities; and everything they do is about home and making it better. No one can blame them for that because it is what sustains power, dominance and economic opportunities.

Why is this discussion important now? There has been several reports and discussions in the media recently. One is about the resurgence of the ‘Queen Bee’ stories and his relationship with an external investor, who together have allegedly been controlling and siphoning national resources for their own external benefits. Since the Queen Bee story broke in 2018, it has been littered with greedy, theft, impunity, misplaced interests and a deplorable level of stupidity where local hands are used to giveaway national resources to an external hand depriving the latter’s country of the needed resources for growth.

The second story is about the ruling party’s national youth league leadership coming out to challenge their national leadership over how corruption has destroyed their country.

And again, in their list of allegations, they also point out how corruption is bleeding the country, a scenario which suggests that those who control the political power have a serious lack of love for their country. It is not just that. It also means that they have been contributing to the economic growth of those countries where they are keeping their plundered resources.

When will our politicians love their country? This is what differentiates corruption in Zimbabwe and in other African countries. While corruption is bad in whatever form, in some African countries, politicians steal and invest in their countries, while in Zimbabwe they steal to save the money abroad.

Their justification for that behaviour is plain simple and stupid. Those in the ruling party argue that they know that they are no longer wanted by the people so they loot and make savings before their time is up. Those outside the ruling party claim that they cannot trust the system because of its historical tendencies to pounce of people’s savings.

It reminds me of a strange neighbour in the village who, together with his family, worked hard to acquire his first cow. He used all his annual savings to buy a cow, but because he did not trust his environment, he opted to leave the cow under the care of the seller.

In addition to receiving the money from the sale of the cow, the seller continued to enjoy the benefits of the cow such as draught power and the milk, while the villager was happy that he owned a cow and that his cattle were multiplying without realising that, beyond the numbers there was a lot more the seller was continuously benefiting from a cow he sold.

Or put differently, the villager did not realise how much economic value he was losing by not bringing his cow home and making the environment conducive for his multiplying cattle.

Tapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa. He writes here in his personal capacity.

1 Comment

  1. I do like your take on the colonies policy of taking the profits etc home to their countries. When Smith told the UK that he was declaring UDI was he not then embarking on a policy of bettering his own country, the then Rhodesia. Would 5-10 yrs more time have shown how the country could run itself and all prosper. Without world intervention from Russia and China in the war and The West politically maybe we wouldn’t be where we are nows !!

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