We can argue all day, all week, all month, and all year, as to exactly why Zimbabwe is in this miserable and disgraceful economic mess.
In fact, we have debated, argued, and even quarreled for the past two decades – with clearly no agreement or common ground in sight.
The country is undeniably torn right in the middle between those who blame government incompetence, mismanagement and rampant corruption, whilst the other half believes “foreign forces and interference”, such as “illegal economic sanctions by the US and her allies”, and “regime change agents” are purely at fault.
Well, as we have failed to reach a consensus for the past twenty years – it is really pointless for anyone to continue trying to either dismiss the existence of these so-called “economic sanctions”, or redeem the ruling elite from the plethora of accusations leveled against them.
Such endeavors would be akin to flogging a long dead horse – as it is apparent that Zimbabweans have made up their minds on what and who to believe, and those convictions are now firmly set and cast in stone – despite most of these hardcore believers, particularly the “sanctions are to blame camp”, not possessing a shred of incontrovertible and substantiated evidence to buttress their points beyond any reasonable doubt.
Needless to say, there is one aspect of this two-decade-old discourse that I have always found most intriguing.
When the deceptively misnamed “new dispensation” grabbed power in the November 2017 military coup d’etat – which ousted the overstayed nonagenarian tyrant Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who had ruled Zimbabwe with a brutal iron fist since its independence from Britain in 1980 – this ushered in a “new” narrative by the former protege and henchman to the old man, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa (who had taken over the reins)…of doing things differently to his mentor.
In fact, the popular narrative within the ruling ZANU PF – more so, each time a crucial election beckoned – has been that, the “old dispensation” of Mugabe, had made some grave and adverse mistakes in their administration, which had played a most significant role in the pathetic and horrendous state of economic affairs in our country.
The “new dispensation”, or “second republic” has made every effort in its attempts at distinguishing and separating itself from its own dark, despicable, and eerily ever-present shadow – considering that the leaders we have today, were an integral and central component of this now-vilified “first republic”.
However, that is not exactly the gist of my discussion.
What gets me thinking with this most troubling scenario is that – besides continuing and never relenting on their long-held insistence that “economic sanctions imposed by the West” are to blame for the untold suffering and unimaginable impoverishment the people of Zimbabwe have been subjected to for most of their lives – ZANU PF at least, tacitly admits that, whether the sanctions narrative is genuine or not, the manner in which this country is governed is unquestionably a very critical factor.
The fact that the Mnangagwa administration insists on promising the long-suffering and over-burdened Zimbabweans some form of “heaven on earth”, through an upper middle income economy – in spite of the continued presence of these “crippling economic sanctions” (as their Vision 2030 was never premised on the hope of these restrictive measures being removed), and the fact that merely having an “upper middle income economy” does not automatically translate into improved livelihood standards – proves that how the country is managed is always a determining factor.
I then ask some questions…
How do we balance the challenges instigated by supposed “foreign pressures and aggression”, and those purely at the hands of our government’s own doing – through high -level looting and mismanagement?
Where do the challenges caused by “economic sanctions” end – and, where does the crisis authored by our own ruling elite begin?
Are we unable to make a clear distinction between what was caused by alleged sanctions, and what was at the hands of an incompetent and corrupt leadership – where and how do we draw the line?
Are we to say that there is no leader in the country – as long as the claimed foreign siege prevails – who can come in and do a far much better job, than what we are currently witnessing?
Are we seriously saying that this government is the best we have in Zimbabwe – regardless of what other reasons we may believe are behind our unbearable pain and suffering?
That is where I do not agree with those who seek to lay all the blame on the doorsteps of real or imagined “foreign factors and causes”.
I honestly do not believe (not for a split second) that all our problems can be totally attributable to “foreign interference”, and there is nothing better the government can possibly do.
The fact that ZANU PF itself has chosen to even cast the shadow of blame on their own former leader, Mugabe, proves that there is more to the story of Zimbabweans’ indescribable poverty and shame, than solely “illegal sanctions and regime change agents”.
This has a lot to do with the nature and aptitude of the leadership we have in the country – and, the prevailing situation is not very encouraging.
No matter what “external pressures” others may want to believe exist – the fact still stands that, had Zimbabwe had more capable leaders, we would not be in this sorrowful and embarrassing predicament.
Are we, then, to conclude that we have no one more suitable in Zimbabwe to run the affairs of our country more effectively and efficiently than the current lot – someone who can genuine and fearlessly fight corruption and implement sound economic policies?
If that is the case, then we are worse off as a people than I ever imagined.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: email@example.com