No political will for change

I was on a discussion panel recently where we were discussing the problem of corruption and the causes of economic decline in Zimbabwe. I insisted that, rather than wearing an MDC or Zanu (PF) hat, it would be more advantageous for us to discuss the root cause of corruption and poverty so that we may at least begin to talk about real solutions. I failed.

The quality of our discourse in Zimbabwe has deteriorated so much that we avoid facing the true causes of our problems and frame our arguments to fit party lines. For example if you are Zanu (PF) you never admit that you made mistakes. You blame sanctions, drought or the British. If you are MDC you blame Zanu (PF). And so the battle rages, and the people suffer.

Corruption and economic decline are as a result of the structural deficiencies within our society and the institutions that we created after independence. Unfortunately the GNU, a delusion of fundamental change, failed to change the structural deficiencies that continue to produce our economic decline to this day. Our politicians are the chief engineers of the structure and capacity limits we now face. These structures and processes deliver the current realities!

We must now think anew and diagnose the root causes of our problems. This will lead us to durable solutions that will permanently remove capacity limits and other structural problems, thereby enabling sustainable improvement beyond a ‘quick fix’.

Clearly most of today’s problems come from yesterday’s ‘solutions”, but we continue to focus on symptoms thereby missing the deeper causes. Unfortunately, the ‘quick fix’ is what is usually asked for by leaders and the public. Often we seek to change dysfunctional results quickly, in months or weeks, when the ‘problem’ might have taken years to establish itself. A clear example of this is how we “fixed” agriculture while actually creating a monumental error. We have to address the core problem. Another example is the hurry to “solve” corruption by changing boards of directors of state enterprises, without looking at the deeper causes of the decline.

Only when we start to look below the surface to identify the patterns of behaviour will we be able to respond effectively. This takes time and requires patient analysis and contemplation.

The fundamental problem situation we face in Zimbabwe is the lack of political will by the President to profoundly change a system that has worked so well to achieve his singular objective of staying in power for life. Everything about Zimbabwe – its institutions, its policies, its values, management practices and dialogue – have been manipulated or engineered to achieve just that.

We therefore cannot even begin to have constructive and fearless dialogue in the public arena or through the media about the “unofficial” future which we can create. We have an inherent limited potential built within our national psyche that continues to arrest our development into a modern state. The logical and apparent solutions to our problems as a nation remain unspoken – they are hidden and yet obvious.

Leadership renewal is the only way out, but I continue to wonder whether we understand what renewal is. It is the metamorphosis of our society both at leadership and institutional level. It is not the cosmetic change of titles names or positions – but the complete and irreversible transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly that we need.

Effective sustainable change requires looking with new eyes at complexity as well as developing and using new assumptions. Rapid disruptive change is now a permanent feature of the leadership landscape and is not an irregular event to be discussed and resolved at one day conferences. It is the reality of a new age and we need leaders who embrace change and not fight it as we have seen within MDCT-T recently and also within Zanu (PF). The next generation of leadership in Zimbabwe must be fundamentally different from what we have now. The Zimbabwe we are going to create is profoundly different from the past; it is time to embrace “uncommon thinking”. I am ready are you? – Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. Feel free to contact him [email protected] This article was written in collaboration with Professor Louis Van de Merwe, founder and director of the Centre for Innovative Leadership based in South Africa.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis
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