Private sector in economy

BULAWAYO - The Old Bricks township in Mbare is probably the oldest township for Africans in the three territories that formed the federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1953.

My mother and my stepfather parents moved there in 1938, from Marandellas, where I was born in 1937.

We lived there until we moved to Majubeki Lines in the 1940s.

What has always made me remember the township is the humility of the first residents — so down-to-earth, so without a pompous shred in their psyche. 

I was raised the same way.

So, when I tell friends and others that I was once appointed the Consultant of Misa-Zimbabwe, they look sceptical.

Misa stands for the Media Institute of Southern Africa.

Perhaps, this is because it was such a long time ago — in 2010.

By then, I had been in journalism for 43 years. I have served in Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia, before they became Zimbabwe and Zambia.

I had not campaigned for the job, which carried so much prestige, no journalist in the two countries could sneeze at my title.

I had been editor of newspapers and magazines in both countries.

I had also published novels, short stories, regular magazine and newspaper columns in both countries.

In Zimbabwe, I had published — with Mambo Press, The Old Bricks Lives.

The editor, the late Tambayi Nyika, had changed the title from To Die in the Old Bricks, to the rather an ambiguous one which did not appeal to me at all.

Apart from that my short stories had been published in South Africa, the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, the Soviet Union and Egypt.

I had also won prizes in short story contests on the BBC and other publications.

But I am still preoccupied with the level of the proliferation of independent and government newspapers, and also radio stations.

I suppose that throughout the continent, the government publications and broadcasting stations outnumber the private media.

I am surprised that not many governments realise how much more ideal it would be if the private, rather than the government media were more dominant.

There seems to be a fear that if that happened, the governments would lose out.

I think it is a general handicap for all African countries that they prefer such key elements of democracy to be dominated by their organs, rather than by the private sector.

I believe it would boost the economies if the private sector were allowed more participation in the economy, rather than the governments.

Private investors would probably be attracted to the countries if that happened.

If they remained shackled to the governments hardly any investor would be impressed.

In many countries, corruption is far more prevalent in government than in the private sector.

One complex issue is the element of corruption in the two sectors.

The point is that I was not an “unknown quantity” in the region. I had also travelled around the region.

In my portfolio as Misa consultant, I was accompanied by Nyasha Nyakunu, a former kingpin at Ziana. We met journalists — from the government and the private media — in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare.

These were freewheeling get-togethers, where no subject was sacrosanct.

As a result, there was much debate on the government media and how it seemed to ignore real stories, and concentrate on government propaganda.

In some countries, such as Nigeria, both are riddled with corruption, which probably began at the dawn of independence in 1960.

But what it means today is that there is competition between the two, slowing down real economic progress.

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