“Cost of living is so high/Rich and poor they start to cry/Now the weak must get strong/They say, ‘Oh, what a tribulation!’/Them belly full, but we hungry/A hungry mob is an angry mob”
I have quoted some of the lyrics from Robert Nesta Marley’s hit song ‘Them belly full (But we hungry)’ to illustrate the crisis of expectations that faces most, if not all African countries in the modern era.
That post-colonial Africa has been largely misgoverned is a fact. The average African country, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, is ravaged by poverty, disease, infrastructural decay and general institutional dereliction.
Of course, it cannot be denied that colonialism was a crude form of gross human rights abuse where black people were generally treated as second rate citizens. It is also true that colonialism perfected the art of separate but unequal development amongst races; what was notoriously referred to as apartheid in South Africa. We cannot, therefore, run away from the ravages of racist colonialism. Neither should we wish it way. Colonialism was bad for Africa. There is absolutely no doubt about that.
But then, we shouldn’t and infact, we cannot continue to blame colonialism for Africa’s continued state of under-development. We have to introspect and ascertain why Africa is under-developing whilst other continents like Asia, are on the rebound.In terms of natural resources, no other continent under the sun has got more resources than Africa.
The average post-colonial African nation state has generally suffered from lack of a precise, scientific and growth-oriented development trajectory. Zimbabwe is a classic case in point. At independence in April, 1980, we were intoxicated by the euphoria of so-called majority rule. We forgot to plan for the future as we committed one economic blunder after another. And perhaps more importantly, we were too trusting and somehow believed that in a new independent Zimbabwe, corruption was not going to be a major problem. That was the kiss of death. That became our ultimate fatal attraction.
Instead of establishing an egalitarian society where honest hard work was duly rewarded, we perfected the art of patronage, chicanery, obscurantism, pilferage and kleptocracy. What mattered most was not what one knew and could do but how well-connected one was in the political and socio-economic matrix of Zimbabwe. It became a mumbo jumbo interface of sleaze, graft, tribalism and nepotism.
From 1980 to the present day, our development agenda was also skewed in favour of those who were perceived to be pro-establishment. There was no broad-based and holistic development plan. As a result, the government hopelessly failed to transform the former tribal trust lands (now referred to as communal areas) from poverty-stricken barren enclaves into facets of economic development. We failed to stop or at the very least, curtail the scourge of rural to urban migration because we had absolutely no formulae to address these challenges.
In no time at all, millions of people moved from the under-developed communal areas into the major cities and towns. Most of the infrastructure in these cities was never designed to sustain the swelling urban population particularly in the first two decades after independence.
For example, Harare’s water supply infrastructure was only designed to cater for a population of 500,000 people but now metropolitan Harare has got a population of about four (4) million people. Little wonder, therefore, that Harare cannot supply clean and safe water to a majority of its inhabitants. The new government that took power in April, 1980 hopelessly failed to plan for the future. There was no forward-looking mechanism in place to plan and ensure that infrastructural development would match population growth. There was no vision. It was just a jamboree of nationalist jingoism.
The so-called land reform program that violently commenced in February, 2000 was a major exercise in futility and self-destruction. There was no scientific and rational master plan to unleash this disastrous program.. It was just a knee jerk, angry and emotional reaction to the people’s decision to reject the draft constitution at the referendum that was held in February, 2000.
I am not by any stretch of the imagination, justifying those only 4000 white commercial farmers should have continued holding onto about 90% of the country’s prime land. No, I am not. My argument is that you should never, in life, throw away the baby with the bath water. The ZanuPF government was in complete panic and self-destruct mode when it unleashed the madness that was referred to as the so-called fast track land reform programme. The government had been angered by the people of Zimbabwe’s rejection of its fascist constitution draft.
In anger and frustration, the government, rather unwisely, suspected that white commercial farmers had mobilised for the ‘’ NO’’ vote against the draft constitution. And they then decided to go for the white commercial farmers hammer and tongues. It was all systems go as an unprecedented orgy of mayhem and violence was unleashed in the commercial farming areas.
Instead of addressing the land disparities in a rational and sustainable manner, the government decided to shoot the messenger instead of shooting the message. They completely lost the plot. In a moment of sheer madness, Zimbabwe’s hitherto sophisticated commercial farming sector was razed to the ground as reason and logic senselessly gave way to emotion and misguided ‘’ patriotism’’. Zimbabwe is yet to recover from the ravages of the so-called land reform fiasco. In no time at all, the bulk of the prime commercial farmland has now been reduced into barren patches of agricultural land where massive tree-cutting and related environmental degradation has become the order of the day.
From being a net exporter of food just over a decade ago, Zimbabwe‘s agriculture sector was reduced to a perilous state where the country is now a net importer of food. Thanks to ZanuPF’s lack of vision and strategic planning!
As if this was not enough destruction, we now have this madness packaged as indigenisation and empowerment. It has not worked and it will never work. Nowhere in this world can any program that robs Peter to pay Paul succeed in a sustainable manner that benefits the majority of the people.
This rag tag policy of indigenisation is the final nail in Zimbabwe’s socio-economic and political coffin. It will completely dissipate what’s left of the country’s economy .This ZanuPF policy is a fascist and scorched earth economic policy that will be produce millions of beggars and just a handful of politically well-connected millionaires.
In a nutshell, this so-called empowerment policy is the ultimate manifestation of a revolution that has gone awry. A revolution that has been hijacked by thugs and kleptocrats. A revolution that has lost its soul. It is a complete farce; a total and unmitigated negation of the supreme sacrifice that was paid by thousands of the nation’s daughters and sons who perished in the struggle for independence. Indeed, Zimbabwe has to be urgently saved from this nihilistic policy of self-destruction that is mischievously packaged as empowerment.
They will tell you that the MDC has got no policies. Of course, they will be lying. Nicodemously, they are addicted to the 52 page MDC Juice policy blueprint. They have read it back to front several times and they are actually now addicted to Juice. They like Juice. They are impressed by Juice. But in front of ZBC cameras, these political no hopers will chant that the MDC has no policy blueprint. This is how fake these people are. They hate what they like and they like what they hate.
At this juncture, Juice is the only game in town. And ZanuPF knows it. They know that Juice will create decent employment opportunities for all Zimbabweans. Juice will establish a friendly environment for both domestic and foreign direct investment (FDI) to rapidly increase the productive sector’s capacity utilization to a level that ensures job creation through genuine capital investment. They know that Juice is the answer and that the MDC is the future of Zimbabwe. Juice is the MDC’s answer to a broad based empowerment agenda. Whereas ZanuPF pushes a smash and grab agenda, Juice pushes an agenda of creating rather than stealing wealth.
Courtesy of ZanuPF’s rapacity and indolence, Zimbabwe has been reduced to a virtual basket case. No less than four million Zimbabweans, most of them highly skilled, were forced into becoming economic refugees in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, the United Kingdom, USA, Australia and New Zealand. The motherland has suffered a debilitating brain drain. Juice will ensure that this is reversed and also that there will be brain gain back to Zimbabwe.
Their bellies are full but the majority of the people are hungry. These erstwhile comrades have no shame. Good news is that their days are numbered. As they stare a humiliating electoral defeat later this year, one hopes that they will ultimately repent and apologise for ransacking and trashing an otherwise beautiful country that was at one time the jewel of Africa. But we know that old habits die hard.
Whether these charlatans like it or not, there will be regime change in Zimbabwe sooner rather than later.
Obert Gutu is the Senator for Chisipite. He is also the MDC Harare provincial spokesperson and Deputy Minister of Justice & Legal Affairs