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Why Zimbabwe is failing

Opinion & Analysis
Zimbabweans are all waiting for somebody to lead and yet nobody is willing to look in the mirror.

Zimbabweans are all waiting for somebody to lead and yet nobody is willing to look in the mirror.


I have thought a thousand times on why my country, so endowed with both human and natural resources, is failing. I have arrived at only one conclusion: President Robert Mugabe no longer has the capacity to think beyond a certain point nor has been able to extricate his brains from the past which hugely influenced who he has become.

He is now a leader unable to think beyond a certain time frame because the times we live in are significantly different from the past in which he was quite successful as a leader.

We then add liberation struggle diehards made up of security chiefs, retired generals, spies, Zanu PF alumni and praise singers who have occupied this vacuum solely to their material advantage and not in the interest of Zimbabwe at all.

Their role is to maintain the status quo by isolating the President from reality that he is even shocked by the state of our roads. Their interest is to ensure that one of them occupies the throne in order to maintain their comforts and safety. All this is fuelled by fear of any alternative. They will therefore protect that throne to the death.

Those who have an opportunity to make money have done all they can and we have seen an elite comprador class emerging; people whose sense of responsibility and ethics leaves much to be desired. These elites, in partnership with their political masters, have bled the country dry and continue to be “successful” through murky deals and pervasive secret corruption. This can be evidenced by the flashy cars and huge mansions that one sees in Harare.

In these circles, it is not about the work ethic nor is it about conscience, but it is more about making as much as one can now by any means and at all cost.

The business sector which is reeling under Zanu PF’s fear and unwillingness to see an apolitical national black bourgeoisie emerge, remains locked up in a condition which they can hardly change.

Over the years our business sector has been weakened as a change agent. We have seen those who want to survive the day choosing to be complicit and partnering with Zanu PF cronies; corruption is their creed, apathy and fear their disease.

In civil society we have struggle fatigue. The last 14 years since 2000 have been years of struggle and anguish for the majority of Zimbabwean adults. Change looked like it was coming in 2013, but it never arrived.

Unfortunately most adult Zimbabweans who have lived through terror and loss have run out of energy and motivation to fight. This has certainly entrenched Zanu PF while it has weakened opposition political parties whose only remaining power is to write protest articles in the Press.

The international community seems to have now accepted the reality that dislodging of Zanu PF will take more than targeted sanctions and its further isolation will not bear any desired results in the short to medium term. Hence we have seen the European Union removing targeted sanctions and are now promising to resume aid from the end of this year. We have seen a softening of attitudes towards Zanu PF in general.

We also have non-governmental organisations who must now fight for relevance and resources. The mandate to fight Mugabe has shifted and they must come up with new ideas and new mandates of how to operate in the emerging geopolitical landscape. Increasing unemployment levels have added to the weakening of organised labour; a voice of the workers which continuously challenged the status quo in the past. We have seen a lukewarm approach to confronting this regime, a capitulation and lack of direction which can be blamed solely on the need of millions to merely survive on a day-to-day basis. Sadly our youth remains confused and misguided as this environment has not created any opportunity or hope for a better future. Those who can leave do so and those who cannot are damned as they search for meaning in a country with no values, no leadership and no hope. The Diapsora continues to make the right noises through social networks, but is disadvantaged in causing change on the ground in Zimbabwe. The rule of law has failed us because those who must implement the law have themselves become corrupted. Any social system that is not based on universal human rights and the respect of private property tends to regress, both morally and economically. All this has resulted in money becoming a national god. Where talent and virtue offer no advancement and corruption has become the only means to survive. This culture has permeated all sectors of our society from the public sector, State enterprises, churches and the private sector. Our moral values have therefore deteriorated and life has become cheap, brutal, short and very boring. The numbers of the poor are increasing daily. The poor can hardly be agents of change because poverty disempowers and absolute poverty disempowers absolutely. Our only hope is therefore for a few amongst us to reject this narrative and to realise that we are on our own. There is no time difficult for any generation as our present times and yet we must remain hopeful and do what we can. We must fight and not give up. We must never accept this dreadful narrative that has been created by Zanu PF. The struggle continues!

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