By Jacob K Mutisi
Zimbabwe needs to look at a model that has worked under sanctions and make it even better. From the 1940s when the Rhodesian economy was booming the country had only one university and the focus of the then government was to create a workforce that was mostly dominated by technicians, apprentices and artisans as workers.
The agricultural, rail service, air, mining, energy and health service sectors did not need degreed individuals to design, develop, build and implement the model which was based on production, for the nation.
These were fundamentals to economic growth which the Rhodesians successfully embraced and made a way of life during the time of white rule in the then Rhodesia.
It took less than a century for the white antecedents to carve a modern, functioning, European-style society out of raw African bushveld making the then Rhodesia a jewel of Africa as expressed by Julius Mwalimu Nyerere of Tanzania.
The growth of Rhodesia was based on identifying that to have a functioning economy there was a need to industrialise the country around the agricultural sector with the technicians, apprentices and artisans taking a leading role as catalysts for economic growth.
What makes the growth of Rhodesia industrialisation amazing is that the Rhodesians only ran the country now Zimbabwe from 1965 to 1980 yet they were able to build the best economy in Africa during the 15 years.
During that time Rhodesia was under world sanctions which were imposed by all countries except South Africa and Portugal.
The then Rhodesians were forced to find ways of survival and greatly increase the country’s industrial and economic output which they achieved successful.
During that era, the Rhodesians were able to manufacture their own vehicles, locomotives, weapons, and countless other essential products and items of a first-world country.
They utilised the vast resources of the country and made Risco (now bankrupt Zisco) the biggest steel producer on the continent.
The Rhodesian period created the best educated Africans on the continent in the process producing the richest black middle class in the world.
During this era of non-stop economic growth Rhodesia attracted immigrants from accross the world due to the work ethic the leadership adopted yet they were at war with freedom fighters who were waging a war to liberate the country.
With this work ethic and a hardworking culture, there was no need to kill the goose that lays the golden egg and this is what the late former President Robert Mugabe did by forcing both the blacks and minority white citizens to migrate taking away their skills and millions of Zimbabwe dollars during his brutal rule of 37 years.
In the 1980s the then leader, Mugabe, believed the way to empower the nation was through education and he provided it for all.
This is now beginning to be a challenge in Zimbabwe because we now have very well-educated “managers” but with very few workers to do the work.
The technician, apprenticeship programme is now as good as dead yet this was the most important employment driver during the Rhodesian era.
According to the 2006 Intelligent Quotient (IQ) Zimbabwe is the 25th most intelligent country with an average IQ of 82 according to https://iq-research.info/en/average-iq-by-country making us the 5th most intelligent nation on the African continent.
We have Zimbabweans occupying top positions in international companies across the continent and beyond.
This is because we have the second highest literacy rate on the African.
With all this intellectual intelligence the time has come for Zimbabwe to rule the world.
It is not too late to revisit this model and panel beat it so that it can suit modern-day Zimbabwe.
We do not need to invent the wheel, it is just copy and paste.
The infrastructure is still there even though it is battered.
It can be repaired.
Let us make Zimbabwe great again.