The Tragicomic Blunders of the Zimbabwean Government

If you have nothing good to say, keep quiet. Following such wise advice, I have refrained from wading in and giving my two cents as the Zimbabwean government hopped from one blunder to another at record speed. But this government continues to behave like that drunkard father who comes and spoils the fun every evening, despite long family meetings and pleas for change; it can no longer be ignored. Give a fool a long rope and he will hang himself. It occurs to me that most users of this saying would be quite pleased to see said fool hanging from a tree, lifeless. Only, in this case, this is our government, it cannot hang itself without dragging us along to hell.

So here’s me cutting the rope.

Remember 2013, just before the elections when a fledgling new channel gave us the closest thing we’ve ever had to open political debates in Zimbabwe. When Patrick Zhuwao faced the nation and promised two million jobs and some other things I have forgotten because I never believed? When the Zanu PF catch phrase was Indigenize, Empower, Employ – some permutation of those words. Remember?

That was the beginning of a new chapter in Zimbabwe’s tragicomedy of a story. Since then, we’ve had Indigenisation (read: looting), disempowerment and unemployment. Indigenisation, what is that about? Taking 51% 0f someone’s business because they are not Zimbabwean and then crying about lack of investors. I have tried to look at this indigenisation from many angles, I really have, and nothing good comes to mind. If the stated goal was, as they said, to involve locals in business, doesn’t common sense tell you that this was not the way to go about it? One would think if you wanted locals to have businesses, you would encourage and maybe assist locals in founding new businesses of their own, where they can own 100%. You would also create conditions conducive for business, and a rising tide would raise all boats. But excuse me, common sense is not common.

I believe empowerment is a mindset. A belief that we can achieve things, any empowered person would start their own business not compel those who have businesses to give up a majority stake. Anyway, this happened and today we are still mourning the lack of investors.

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Employment. What employment? Instead of two million jobs, or the two that a certain opposition politician jokingly credited government with, we are in the negative. Jobs have been and are being lost. Companies are closing doors every day.

Before we go on to the seemingly senseless, but decidedly malicious policies that have been enacted, I am tempted to look back one more time at that colossal disaster called the land reform. In a recent speech that I chanced upon on Radio, the president said something to this effect;

we will be buying maize from Zambia because they have welcomed and taken advantage of the skillful white farmers that we kicked out. Of course, he used the derogatory term “mabhunu.”

But even then I sat astounded that even he knew exactly what was happening. At that moment I put it down to old age making it difficult for him to stick to his own talking points. Of course, he tried to dig himself out of the hole, but you know what happens when you dig. He went on to say it was because they also ate rice, and then he talked about Malawi, and then about Cassava, blah blah a general lecture on the foods of many African nations… I got lost somewhere in the Congo.

The point is we have a long history of poor policy decisions. And the people that make them know just how harmful those decisions are.

Now onto more recent aberrations.

Diamonds. How glorious it was when we found diamonds and we were reaffirmed in our belief that God had thrown us a life line. A few years of no progress later, we are casually told that fifteen billion was ‘stolen.’ That’s that. By the way, fifteen billion is a major understatement. The rate at which those diamonds have been mined tells you that a lot more money has been squandered. To put this mismanagement in context, where diamonds have been discovered and used half decently, there has been major growth. Right now the diamonds are quickly disappearing and the GDP is static or shrinking.

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Industry. We all know we get everything including mealie meal from beyond our borders. The business pages of our newspapers are about which company closed yesterday, which is closing to day, and which one tomorrow. Other than that they are about Scandal. Dysfunctional parastatals, outlandish pay packages, and mass layoffs. I don’t even have to infuse my opinion here, just shed light on the facts. Since… our economy has shrunk…

In education, where we were supposed to see a positive change, we’ve only seen the development of the fashionable trend that is the appropriation of the Dr title. So we have Dr. Amai, Dr. H.E Mr. President, Dr. Commissioner General, Dr. Dr. And zero evidence of learning. We hear of efforts to unload teaching staff for ‘budget’ purposes when the group A government schools have upwards of fifty students per class. We hear of all sorts of either misguided or ineffectual initiatives. National Pledge, someone used our time and tax dollars to come up with that trash. This is not a critique of its content, but of the very idea of it. Its creation not only suggests a lack of focus on the bread and butter issues but a worrying totalitarian intention. No wonder teachers are worried they will soon be uninformed.

Meanwhile, the television waves are still monopolized by the propaganda machine that is ZBC. The radio waves have seen the introduction of supposedly independent stations that sing the same tune as the old ones and easily tell you who’s really pulling the strings. Independent papers and online publications, the only free, albeit threatened source of information in this country are ignored.

I am angry and disappointed. You can see it from how incoherent this rant has gone. Indeed it is difficult to make proper elegant sense of the senselessness in Zimbabwe.

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