I SINCERELY thank God for the so-called global economic recession and financial crisis.
“So-called” because that deprives it of the sting of a specific origin and human cause.
It is “global” because it is a phenomenon from God. One can almost sense this universal acceptance that the whole thing was beyond human capacity, with just grudging references to the United States mortgage folly.
Some 20 wise men need to gather in London to decipher ways to limit the havoc of this heaven-sent calamity.
In less than two years since this phenomenon was first diagnosed, the impact is staggering. Retrenchments are running into millions as companies slim or shut down. The best think tanks and computer simulations can’t as yet fathom its depth.
The best we have heard is that it is the worst in 60 years; that it is going to be worse than the 1930s Great Depression. All this amounts to nothing more than speculation and “educated” guesswork. They don’t know.
The West has come to the grief we have wallowed in for the past 10 years, although it denies having any of our human frailties and foibles.
They are not corrupt;
They have not violated human rights;
They respect the rule of law;
They respect property rights;
They have a free media;
And they don’t have rulers who stay in power for 30 years. They are the citadels of democracy, the panacea to every social ill.
You must pity them. They must be the victims of a very unjust God who, to bastardise Jane Austen’s phrase, brings undeserved disaster upon the innocent.
Juxtapose this financial calamity against Zimbabwe’s, what strikes one is that there are no NGOs or journalists, local or foreign, gloating about it all being “man-made”. There is no civil society telling gloatingly about the human and social costs of this “man-made” disaster.
It is only in Africa that everything is blamed on government corruption and mismanagement. Even natural disasters such as drought are denied as easily preventable, but not Australian or Californian veld fires.
You must find a suitable word even for the lackadaisical response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
What I have, however, always admired about these guys is their ever present and unfailing sense of collective national destiny. They can help you lynch your own leaders, your constitution, your culture, your national heroes and your history, but they will never betray their own.
In my column last week, I alluded to a sense of alienation among our youths. They are a lost generation. Unfortunately this extends to adults. It is in fact they who despise everything Zimbabwean, especially whenever there is a chance to impress a foreigner.
A scotch-cart shown on TV being given to a poor villager becomes a Stone Age contraption even for those who can’t afford a wheelbarrow.
You don’t watch ZBC News.
Go to any police camp; the lowest-ranked officer has a satellite dish.
Ask anybody you meet on the street what their favourite football team is, I bet your Dynamos, Caps United or Highlanders will come second after Man U, Arsenal, Liverpool, Barcelona or Real Madrid.
So every youth’s first dream after completing O’ Level or A’ Level is a passport. For his parents, the Holy Grail is for that youth to reach London to escape poverty at home. What is never fully grasped is the plight of America and Britain’s rich youths who have no way to escape the call to “national duty” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thousands have died in those hopeless wars since 2003 and left behind widowed 20-year olds. Millions have been or will be maimed for life in those wars. There is no foreign refuge for them. That is a luxury of third world youths.
So what is there to thank God for about the “global Americo-Euro” financial crunch? Plenty!
Zimbabweans must learn to work together as a nation. We have to find our own solutions to our problems. We should shun the curse of expecting “a white hope” in the form of a political party bringing cheap trolleys of foreign money to our rescue. This is our country; we don’t need anybody’s sanctions. We don’t deserve anybody’s pity. We need trade on equal terms as a nation.
The financial crisis in Europe and the US means we have to recover at the same time as the rest of the world. Without cheap money being dangled around, there will be no shortcuts to recovery. That makes for a stronger foundation and enduring experience.
I am happy that Zanu PF and the MDC are already working on local solutions. Whether that means selling loss-making state firms, exporting more minerals, increasing productivity on the farms, let it be Zimbabwean brains at work.
There is still a lot of denial in some political circles in Zimbabwe about the extent of this “global” financial crisis. Many are still trying to convince me that there is a small pot of gold in Europe reserved for Zimbabwe. The problem is human rights, lack of rule of law, political detainees, farm invasions and lack of respect for property rights, goes the pious song.
While these are legitimate issues, the real Zimbabweans I interact with want food, medicines, jobs, education as priority areas. Yet these are the areas any IMF and World Bank “assistance” would seek to remove from government priorities. A government which pursues pro-people policies is accused of trying to win or buy votes, as if the opposition could win without appealing to the same needs.
The European Union is feeling the strain of the “global” financial crisis. The cake is getting too small to share with their poorer former Eastern bloc cousins. Why would they deny them the money put aside for Zimbabwe, some 8,000km away, if there were no sinister motives? Is that not a “global crisis” closer to home for them?
We have to thank God there is no cheap money around. Any such “help” would have been a disaster for Africa. We would be told ad nauseum that it is impossible to recover without Western aid. That it is a grievous sin to claim your birthright because you suffer eternal damnation.
Cheap money is an Esau-Jacob tragedy. Who is our brother? This crisis presents Africa with a never-again chance to make a firm stand on global issues.
More than anything else, such money would have been used to impose conditions that reverse everything which the land reform sought to achieve. The suffering of the past seven years would have all been in vain.
Let those nations which want to deal with us do so without undermining our dignity or subverting our nationhood. We are not the first nation to get it wrong. In fact, I can say with confidence that when the Americans and the British went into Iraq and Afghanistan, they never imagined the war would last more than a few months. Now they openly admit the wars are unwinnable without anybody undermining their efforts through the imposition of sanctions as they have done with Zimbabwe.
We have fared far better for such a tiny economy. United and with a common purpose we can only go up from here.
Joram Nyathi is deputy editor of the Zimbabwe Independent. He writes in his personal capacity