Only room for one jongwe on this dungheap

I once read a novel about the imaginary rigging of a British election.

The television studio technicians, in this story, sent out a simple subliminal message (too short to notice, but clear enough to remember subconsciously) nightly for the week before a general election: “Abolish the monarchy; elect us.”

This new party won a landslide victory. Their leader became Prime Minister and banished the royal family to live in a bleak Birmingham housing estate. That is about as near as Britain can get to sending someone to Siberia.

The TV men had won, and achieved their electoral objective in a week. But they were elected to parliament for five years. They had no idea what to do with the rest of their time in office beyond sitting in their offices and being called “Minister”.

Bread and circuses

That was where the problems started. They could provide “bread and circuses” for the voters for a while; but they started without any idea that someone had to pay for these things. They had no idea how to run a modern economy. After they had sold off the royal estates or turned them into public museums, the economy began to fall apart.

They didn't understand that you can't merely redistribute wealth. You need to be sure that people continue producing the necessities of life, and preferably something to export as well. They had dug themselves into a hole and borrowed money recklessly, trying to dig their way out of it.

That money went the same way as the billions they had found in the government coffers and squandered. Britain fell deeper into debt, until they admitted the country was bankrupt.

Fancy uniform

The PM's solution was to sell Britain, lock, stock and barrel, to Japan. He was allowed to wear a fancy uniform as Imperial Japanese governor of Britain.

Doesn't this story have lessons for us? We all voted in 1980 for the guys who promised us independence. We celebrated Independence, but missed Freedom. We did have some good planners at first. Better wages, free health services and schooling encouraged urban workers to produce more. Peasant farmers grew more food and sold it for reasonable prices.

But slowly it became clear there was only room for one jongwe on this dungheap. All the new wealth went to him, his cronies and their favourite hens. Resettlement farms went to chefs, we saw Willowgate and ESAP, which killed our industry.

Fat chickens

The Third Chimurenga cut all farm production drastically because peasants needed the seed and the export earnings the big farms produced. Murambavanhu increased our misery.

The fat chickens borrowed money to pay for their inflated lifestyle till the lenders demanded repayment. They called this “sanctions” and blamed anyone but themselves.

When that didn't help they tried to sell our assets. They sold electricity at 95% discount to Namibia and tried to sell ZESA, ZISCO, the railways to Malaysians, Koreans, Iranians, Chinese and even some of the hated British, if they had nasty enough criminal records in their home country.

That novel ended with Queen Elizabeth waking up to discover the story was all a bad dream. Unfortunately our story is real.

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Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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