Mugabe must consider the people

HARARE - The role of firms and individuals in building cohesive, inclusive and prosperous societies will always be a contested subject.

President Robert Mugabe comes from a generation and background that is yet to be convinced that business can be a friend of the poor and unemployed.

His generation lived through a period during which blacks were not allowed to enter the mainstream of business and commerce.

As Zimbabweans approach decision day on July 31, 2013, there can be no better time to pause and reflect on the experiences of the post-colonial era particularly in so far as the nature and context of the relationship between Mugabe and business.

It may not be so obvious to many that there are few businessmen who can count themselves as Friends of Bob (“FOB”).

In the last 33 years, Mugabe has been linked to a few businessmen like Algy Cluff and Sir Tony O’Reily but such associations did not last long.

It is significant that most of his links have been with foreign businessmen.

To the extent that he is now running the campaign as a champion of indigenisation, one would
expect him to parade at each rally the business graduates and generals that have benefited from his tenure as president.

Regrettably, Zanu PF’s friends still want to use the State for primitive accumulation of capital in the name of the so-called indigenisation and empowerment programme.

The lack of Mugabe’s strong ties with businessmen is not accidental but confirms the existence of a world view that says businessmen cannot and should not be trusted to solve the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

The fact that a wrong world view has no chance of being cured by the passage of time should be self-evident but what is not so evident is that voting can retire useless ideas and the people who believe in them.

The past 33 years have been characterised by an idea that the government has the capacity and competency to lift Zimbabwe up and, if anything, the Zanu PF manifesto is framed on this wrong perspective.

If the construction of the indigenisation and empowerment programme was philosophically sound, it would be evident in most African resource-rich countries that the so-called unlocked value that God could only have created would be adding value to the quality of life of the majority.

A case has and continues to be made that the presence of whites in Zimbabwe and the interests of the West on Zimbabwean domestic matters provides sufficient evidence that such interest and presence is solely motivated by a quest to control and benefit from the rich mineral and other resources.

If this were true, countries like Nigeria, DRC, Angola and Ghana would be the richest African countries because the resources have largely not been claimed by foreigners but theoretically are vested in indigenous hands.

Using a faulty and dangerous philosophical premise, it is alleged the transfer of control of the companies that are mining in Zimbabwe will in and out of itself create value.

A general perception exists that businesses exist when in truth only human beings who believe in the market as a platform to exchange goods for cash and the reverse.

In the ordinary mind, the only true purpose of business is to make profits when in truth and fact the purpose of any business is to serve and profit is a by-product of good service underpinned by an efficient and effective business model.

It can be said that Mugabe did try to understand business and its actors but over the years he has retreated to where he was in the 1960s and 1970s.

He does not trust business and its actors as friends of a developmental State.

The concept of exchange of value has to be understood for it will expose the naivety of any developmental model that is based on God’s creations.

It is true that God made minerals but also hid them and human effort is required to identify, extract, process and transport minerals to a point where the purchaser can buy them.

In 1980, Mugabe inspired by an expectation that independence would deliver the promise of a better and inclusive society seemed to have had a clue as to what was expected from the new nation-state when he said: “Let this be an example of us all to follow. Indeed, let this enjoin the whole of our nation to march in perfect unison from year to year and decade to decade towards its destiny."

We have abundant mineral, agricultural and human resources to exploit and develop for which we need perfect peace.

“Given such peace, our endeavours to transform our society and raise our standard of living are bound to succeed. The mineral resources lying beneath the surface of our country have hardly been scratched, nor have our agricultural and industrial resources yet fully harnessed. Now that we have peace, we must go fully out to exploit them.

“We already have a sophisticated infrastructure. Our expertise is bound to increase as more and more educational and technical institutions are established to transform our skilled manpower. The whole world is looking on us this day.”

Indeed, unity of purpose by all Zimbabweans was expected as was the need for perfect peace.  By using the word “We”, Mugabe must have understood the need for inclusive growth and development.

The whole world was watching then as it is now but people remain fearful about a future that is uncertain yet the people who have developed a habit of promising during election campaigns unrealistic outcomes continue unabated.

As former late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher correctly observed that society does not exist but individuals do, it is also correct to say that business only exists because there are individuals who use the platform to serve others.

Politicians and businessmen are all in the business of serving human beings.

Indeed, in the animal kingdom there is no commerce and trade.

For business to work and succeed, the importance of the rule of law cannot be overstated.

One cannot expect lions to trade using money as a unit of exchange.

A person who has no value to exchange is automatically destined to be poor and it cannot be legitimate role of government to encourage those that have no value to exchange to depend on the few that make it their business to serve others by exploiting opportunities.

The heritage of the majority of Zimbabweans is principally political in nature with very little or no memory of business people.

Invariably the people who inspire many black Zimbabweans are political and religious actors.

When viewed incorrectly, business and its actors are easily condemned as enemies of progress and the poor people.

In fact, some go as far as blaming business actors as the cause of unemployment and poverty.

However, without business actors, poverty will remain and employment creation is always the victim.

Notwithstanding the abundant evidence that people in government offices do not create jobs, there is a world view that says the control of government is the answer to all evils.

Such warped thinking is universal and even in South Africa, the formation of the Economic Freedom Fighters (“EFF”) led by Julius Malema is premised on a misunderstanding of the true cause of white affluence and black poverty.

Economic prosperity is never a function or a consequence of violence.

The link between prosperity and peace was understood by Mugabe in 1980 yet Malema and many others believe that slogans can bring food to the table.

The last 33 years should have given Mugabe an opportunity of experimenting on what works and what will never work.

Evidently, it would appear that he has learnt very little for he still expects miracles to come from a bankrupt state.

Under Mugabe’s watch, people have lost hope in what the future holds.  Factories have and continue to be closed.

The products on supermarket shelves in Zimbabwe are largely imported from former apartheid-ruled South Africa while the de-industrialisation process has taken root.

The majority of the people are now traders crossing the border every day to promote job creation in neighbouring states.

The black brain drain has exacerbated at a time when few wise minds in State offices believe that the current indigenisation programme will reverse the trend.

When the Berlin Wall was removed, human traffic moved from the East to West Germany exposing the failure of socialism to capture the human spirit.

When the indigenisation and economic empowerment law was enacted one would have expected thousands of Zimbabweans to pack their backs and return to the country of birth to take advantage of the opportunities promised.

However, there appears to be no significant shift to suggest that those who left the country will see what Mugabe preaches as the panacea to black poverty and unemployment.

We all may have views about the relevance of whites to Zimbabwe but what cannot be denied is that the heritage of Zimbabwe is now inclusive of their experiences and, therefore, they have lost part of their native European heritage.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe compels Mugabe to uphold, obey and respect the values that informed it including the fact that citizens who choose to be businessmen must be treated equally and in a non-discriminatory manner.

If Zimbabwe is a nation of laws, then it is important that the law is respected.

One would have expected Mugabe to consider the people who deliver goods and services to market places to be his close friends for without their creativeness and resourcefulness the money he requires to spend on foreign holidays would not be available.

Comments (3)

Well done Mr Mawere great article. With you all the way. Ronaldos

Ronaldos - 22 July 2013

To ZanuPf and Mugabe robbing a whiteman is not robbery, it is called empowerment. Zimbabwe as a nation has been taught village politics, usaroora kwana nhingi menatlity.

wamaromo - 22 July 2013

In a way, it sounds like "liberation movements need to transform from liberation politics to politics of the economy" or alternatively some bourgeiu revolution should take place

C Gwiyo - 23 July 2013

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