Is Zim doomed to fail?

HARARE - Events of the past few months suggest that Zimbabwe, under the continuing misrule of Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe, is more and more beginning to feel like a fatal combination of the fabled Animal Farm and the ill-fated luxury ocean liner, The Titanic.

The Titanic, as many Zimbabweans know, was a disaster of epic proportions back then on April 15, 1912 — all thanks to the hubris of its owners and managers.

Not only did more than 1 500 people lose their lives, but the sinking of the ship has stayed in the collective memories of people worldwide since that date more than 100 years ago.

The Titanic was built at a cost of about £1,5 million, in Belfast, for the White Star shipping line. It was the largest and most up-to-date passenger steamer of the time at more than 46 000 tonnes.

Special watertight compartments led its arrogant owners to claim that it was “practically unsinkable”.

The Titanic set sail from Southampton on her maiden voyage on Wednesday, April 10, 1912, calling at Cherbourg in France and Queenstown in southern Ireland, before heading out across the Atlantic, on course for New York.

But late on the fateful night of Sunday April 14, she struck an iceberg and was holed below the waterline. Less than three hours later she sank — and only 705 people were rescued from the more than   2 200 who were on board.

Since then, many books have been written, movies made and remade, even in 3D about this tragic story — with the word Titanic now seared into our brains as a ginormous and spectacular failure that, like Zimbabwe at independence in 1980, began with so much promise.

Historians now agree that some of the major contributing factors for this epic disaster were the autocratic culture and hubris — readers can substitute this with arrogance, vanity and vacuous big-headedness — of its owners and managers who believed that the ship was unsinkable.

Ditto Animal Farm, the famous satirical novel set on a typical English farm, also contains many important lessons for Zimbabwe.

Penned by renowned author George Orwell and published at the end of World War II, the fable is a cautionary tale of the dangers of misplaced nationalism, the deifying of so-called liberators and all those tasked with leading, as well as the pitfalls of totalitarianism.

Like the joyous and optimistic launch of our “egalitarian” nation 34 years ago, Animal Farm begins with the animals gathering together to listen to the vision of Major, an old boar — who foretells of a time when the much-hated human beings will not be present on earth, and the animals will live in ecstatic freedom.

After old Major dies, the pigs — the cleverest, most educated and most manipulative animals on the farm codify his words into a thought system called Animalism.

The pigs spearhead a rebellion which takes over the farm, and help defend it against attempts to take it back by the oppressive humans.

The other animals rally around the pigs as the pigs set out the farm’s new Seven Commandments — which forbid all human behaviour and encourage the animals never to harm or oppress one another.

Napoleon, Snowball, and Squealer, the brightest of the clever pigs, assume leadership roles and set about tasks, including improving the living conditions of the animals.

But one day, Napoleon seizes power, drives Snowball from the farm, and systematically takes away all the rights that the animals struggled for. And slowly, step by step, the pigs force the other animals to deify them and to do with less, while assuming more wealth for themselves.

The new pig masters begin to live the same opulent lifestyles as the former oppressive humans, with the manipulative tinpot dictator, Napoleon, capitalising on the lack of education among the animals to take away more and more of their rights and freedoms.

By the end of the book, the clever pigs are even walking on their hind legs, just like the former oppressive humans, carrying whips, and carrying on in a similar manner as the former oppressors they had all fought so hard to drive out.

In the meantime, Squealer, the other clever boss pig, assures the other animals that all this is being done for the revolution, that it is for the animals’ own good, and for the good of Animal Farm.

Although Orwell doesn’t say so, we are sure that Squealer even said

“Animal Farm will never be a colony again!”.

If this all sounds familiar, welcome to Zimbabwe, which started very promisingly at independence in 1980, but is today a worse place for its long-suffering citizens than the pre-liberation state, except for the obese pigs at the top.

Yes, Animal Farm’s founding Seven Commandments have now been replaced by the statement: “All animals are equal. But some animals, their wives and cronies are more equal than others”.

Cry the beloved country.

    Comments (9)

    All its programmes,save for the education one,have never worked since 1980 what change can they bring about now.Zimbabweans brace yourselves for the worst coz tichatambura zveshuwa before we say enough is enough

    enos - 13 December 2014

    The team doesn't inspire confidence at all even if the president reshuffles his cabinet 10 times a year. I think Gono was going to a be better vice president

    maths - 13 December 2014

    @ enos zimbabweans will never say enough is enough , they are like shape shifters who just change to suite the prevailing situations.

    bikwa - 13 December 2014

    vanhu vemuzimbabwe tinenge takaoma kufadza as well. we are unhappy with a cabinet that has not even started work. i dont think that it is easy to work with people who are already suspicious and perhaps resisting one's leadership. for once, why not allow these people to do the job they have been given and criticise them only when necessary. this is what we have. this is what we have to work with. lets do our party and get on with the job at hand.

    taurai - 14 December 2014

    Last weeks zanu pf congress shake up/reshuffle was exactly the same as turning a badly soiled pair of underpants inside out and believing all is clean and well.

    ronaldos - 15 December 2014

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    Global Cons - 15 December 2014

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    Joe Banana - 15 December 2014

    The people of Zimbabwe can not expect a mango from a thorn tree.We cannot expect a miracle from proven failures.The so called new cabinet is simply doomed to fail the nation but will of course work to please their master who appointed them.NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS.What can the nation expect from people like Chombo,Kasukvere,Obert Mpofu, Supa,Oppah Muchinguri etc ??? A WASTE OF VALUABLE TIME.

    KUZVIFADZA - 15 December 2014

    Zimbobwe has already failed.

    ronaldos - 16 December 2014

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