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Zimbabwe: Our agenda for action

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THE future has arrived. Tomorrow is now here. This is a call for action. The time for hate-mongering and mud-slinging is over. A New Zimbabwe is beckoning and this is our generational challenge to rise and shine.
The politics of confrontation should be discarded to the dustbin of history where it now rightfully belongs. We are sick and tired of hurling insults at each other. We would like to engage a new developmental trajectory. The past is gone. Gone forever. We are the NOW generation and we refuse to be intoxicated by the gospel of hatred, malice and retribution. We would like to move Zimbabwe forward.
With 80 percent of our population living on less than US$2 per day, we are classified as a poor nation by United Nations standards. But then, Zimbabwe is too rich to be poor. We are well-endowed with abundant natural resources, from the alluvial diamonds of Chiadzwa to just about every mineral known to mankind; from the mighty Zambezi and Limpopo rivers to the awesome and breathtaking natural wonder called the Mosi-a-Tunya, we have it all here in Zimbabwe.
The time has now come for us to pull up our socks and to engage a gear up. We should completely refuse to be poor, because we don’t deserve to live in poverty.
That there will be a brand new government in Zimbabwe before Christmas 2013 is as sure as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. That the new government will be led by Morgan Tsvangirai is as certain as the fact that a day has 24 hours. We have a date with history; an appointment with destiny. What God has ordained, no one made of flesh and blood can change.
They may shout their voices hoarse and claim that they will never salute Tsvangirai, but then we shouldn’t be bothered one iota. This is a people’s project. The people will always emerge victorious.
Ian Smith had deadly sub-machine guns and a lethal air force but he was still brought down to earth by a rag tag guerrilla force that had the support of the majority of the people on its side; and a few thousand AK 47 assault rifles. Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised simply because the darkest hour is just before dawn. They have the guns but we have the people on our side. That is what really matters at the end of the day. Victory is guaranteed. Indeed, victory is certain.
The new government has a formidable task before it. We have a battered economy with a staggering 85 percent unemployment rate. But then, we shouldn’t feel discouraged. This is our generational challenge to rise and shine. This is an opportunity for us to build Brand Zimbabwe and to showcase our unique talents to the entire world. We should not consider this a problem but a challenge because it is a brilliant opportunity for us to mark a break with the past and to engage the future.Advertisement

We should draw a line in the sand and tell ourselves that never again are we going to permit a few greedy and corrupt men and women to hold the whole nation to ransom and to drive the majority of the people into endemic poverty whilst a few fat cats line their pockets with looted public wealth. Put bluntly, going forward, we should refuse to be misgoverned.
Our new government should love the people. And of course, the government has to be lean and efficient without a bloated cabinet. A number of ministries will have to be combined and collapsed into single entities. For instance, the Ministry of Justice & Legal Affairs and the Ministry of Constitutional & Parliamentary Affairs can easily be combined into a single ministry. The Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Lands can be collapsed into one ministry. The Ministry of Regional Integration can be collapsed into the Ministry of Economic Planning & Regional Integration etc.
We should immediately adopt a new socio-political and economic paradigm where the concept of “jobs for the boys” is abolished forthwith. We want to build a culture of meritocracy as opposed to obscurantism and clientelism. We should not expect a cabinet of anything in excess of 20 ministers. Whether or not Yours Truly is part of that cabinet is not an issue! What Zimbabwe needs, and needs very urgently, is a lean and fully functional and efficient cabinet.
Uhuru Kenyatta recently cut the size of the Kenyan cabinet from 44 ministers to only 18. We can learn from the Kenyan experience. It is not quantity that matters. What really matters is quality. As it is often stated, it is not the size of the dog that matters in a fight, but the fight in the dog.
Zimbabwe is at the crossroads. Failure is not an option. Surrendering is simply not on the agenda. Success is guaranteed. We know that only 18 percent of the country’s 88,000 km road network is tarred. We know that less than 25 percent of the country’s 14 million inhabitants have access to safe and piped water as well as electricity. This might sound formidable but then with the correct focus and determination, we can achieve a remarkable turnaround in record time. It can be done. And it should be done.
When some of our political leaders talk of achieving a US$100 billion economy by 2040, we shouldn’t think that they have taken leave of their senses. We have to dream; and to dream big. It is a complete embarrassment for a great nation like Zimbabwe to be run on a shoe-string budget of a mere US$3 billion a year. We are too big to be run like a tuck shop. We should refuse to be poor. We deserve better and as I have already stated, the time for playing a blame game is over.
We deserve to be the new emerging tiger of Africa. We are a sleeping giant waiting to wake up from a deep slumber. Countries with very limited natural resources such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong have managed to transform their economies into highly developed nation states in record time. We can also do it; we have both the natural and human resources.
Lake Kariba was commissioned by the Queen Mother in 1960 and today, more than 50 years afterwards, we still have a limited electricity generation capacity of 1200 megawatts at Kariba. We have failed to improve upon what the colonialists had done for us. We should wake up and smell the coffee. And now we hear stories that the Kariba dam wall has to be reinforced or else it may collapse with devastating consequences for the entire sub-region. We should not wait to take action because a major disaster might be happening soon. We have to be pro-active, we have to plan in advance.
I was in Kariba during the Easter holidays in March 2013 where I noticed a major environmental disaster that is slowly taking place. The deadly water hyacinth weed is slowly covering the water surface in Lake Kariba. If we are not careful, the whole of the lake will soon be covered under this deadly weed. The time for action is now.
It is not impossible to emerge victorious from trying times. Fifty years ago, South Korea was a peasant economy whose gross domestic product (GDP) was less than the GDP of Ghana. But where is South Korea now? Who doesn’t know about the global brand called Samsumg? Samsung has taken the world by storm in a relatively short period of time. It has overtaken major brands such as Sony and Panasonic. Today, everyone is talking about the Samsung smart phones.
Zimbabwe can also design its own unique products that can capture global appeal. That is the way to go. We have highly qualified personnel both locally and in the Diaspora who should be able to take this great nation to the next level.
Our agenda for action should take us away from a life of deprivation, servitude and penury. We should unlock value from all the opportunities that abound in this blessed country. It shouldn’t be impossible to create one million new jobs within the next five years.
The idea is to build an industrialised modern nation state where poverty is eliminated. We cannot continue to have a flea market economy when our country is endowed with so much natural resources. Looking ahead, exciting times are about to happen in Zimbabwe. Truly, a New Zimbabwe beckons.
Obert Gutu is the Senator for Chisipite in Harare.He is the MDC Harare provincial spokesperson and he is also the Deputy Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs