Rebuilding a ruined Zimbabwe

An economic recovery Indaba needs to be convened to chart the way forward for Zimbabwe, and we all need to swallow our pride and work together, because no single party or person can save our country from ruin, writes AMBROSE B. CHIMBGANDA.

In William Shakespeare’s tragic play, Julius Caesar, Brutus justified his assassination of Caesar by passionately claiming that he wanted to free his Roman compatriots from dictatorship. The Romans gleefully applauded this dastardly act; but not until the eloquent Mark Anthony exposed Brutus’s treachery by pointing out that the Roman citizens had loved Caesar because he had done so many good things for them.

This classic tragedy could easily repeat itself in Zimbabwe because, neither the protagonists nor the antagonists, the heroes nor the villains, the powerful nor the powerless, have a clear plan for the reconstruction of the country. Because the country is now in a state of paralysis, it is imperative that not only should we find a solution to deal with institutional decay, but also plan for economic recovery.

Unity of purpose

When one looks at the narrative of our struggle, the gratifying thing is that there is already a foundation for the unity of purpose from which all Zimbabweans, whatever their tribe maybe, can draw inspiration. For instance, in the first Chimurenga war of 1896 our people united to fight a common enemy – the settlers who were usurping our land and imposing themselves on us.

With the growth of African nationalism, black people united at various points to form a common front to wrestle power from the oppressors. In the 1950’s the formation of the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress (ANC) and later the National Democratic Party (NDP) was intended to provide a common platform for the articulation of grievances such as the limitation of how much land and livestock an African could have, racial discrimination, limited opportunities for education, etc.

When it became clear that the minority white settlers were not prepared to share power, militant political organizations such as ZAPU, ZANU and the Patriotic Front (PF) were formed in the sixties and seventies. Although there might have been some differences in terms of how quickly the settler regime could be forced to capitulate, there was consensus on regaining our independence, self-determination and the removal of all vestiges of colonialism.


At the referendum of 1971, Zimbabweans of all political persuasions, religion and tribe united under a common purpose to reject the British machinations of trying to legitimise the unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) by the minority regime. There was a resounding “no independence before majority African rule” (NIBMAR).

One also needs to salute the decision by many of our young people to join the liberation struggle. Some of our current leaders, including this writer, joined the struggle because we saw it as a noble cause to fight for our collective freedom and dignity.

In our current economic meltdown and political decomposition, we need to draw inspiration from the spirit of the seventies, when the churches, our young people, students, workers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, academics, politicians, mothers and fathers united together to fight for the removal of our shackles. Virtually everybody stood up to be counted in the march towards freedom.

Monstrous challenge

We need to invoke this same spirit to confront the monstrous challenge of rebuilding our country in which political, social and economic institutions are in ruins.

We can also draw inspiration from the fact that more recently the MDC has successfully united people: the party includes Ndebele, Shona, Whites, Kalanga, Nyanja, Tswana, Tonga, Shangaan and Venda. But the leadership has taken the people for granted by not pushing hard enough for a logical conclusion to the agenda for social justice, equality, economic development, political transformation, unity in diversity and above all – hope for a prosperous Zimbabwe.

Similarly, ZANU and ZAPU raised the hopes of many Zimbabweans before and after independence, especially by bringing independence and by making education and health facilities accessible to more people than ever before. However, because both parties have been more obsessed with self-enrichment and self-preservation than uplifting the lives of ordinary citizens, they have fallen from the high moral ground.

They have also spectacularly failed to unite our people through reconciliation.

The first thing that comes to mind about what is wrong in our country is the lack of trustworthiness of our leadership. While the President is a widely respected person whose political credentials and academic qualifications are the envy of many, the same cannot be said about the integrity of some of the ministers and politicians who surround him.

They have been involved in a wide range of corrupt activities, such as the abuse of power, farm grabbing, money laundering, graft, diamond smuggling, game poaching, housing scams, nepotism, debauchery and unbridled property accumulation. They have not been brought to book, which suggests that the laws of the land are meant for other people, not for Zanu (PF).

This has irreparably damaged the image of the government both internally and internationally, leading to a crisis of confidence in the government and its institutions.

The second thing that has gone wrong is misgovernment, which is directly linked with


As a first step, we (writers, teachers, colleges and universities, politicians, civic leaders, the church and others) need to encourage people to develop a culture of speaking up against injustice, especially against corruption and oppression because we are the ones who are going to be hurt more. We need to talk openly about the future, the direction we want our country to take, the state of our economy, the political system, our social organization and the issues that affect our daily lives.

Also, the churches need to wake up from their slumber so that they can give the necessary spiritual fortification and guidance, preach vociferously about freedom, social emancipation, justice and equality, deliverance and salvation. As an institution, churches ought to side with the oppressed and not the oppressors. Spiritual fulfilment will restore hope to our people and help them realize that their indivisible human life and spirit, their country and their inalienable rights are gifts from God that are worth living for.

I would also suggest that we, the civil society, should establish our own independent organ for monitoring governance, corruption and the activities of public officers as well as those of the private sector. We can be assisted by the UN and other agencies that monitor corruption globally. We need a completely independent organ to monitor corruption because it is obvious that a government-appointed organ, which is paid by the government, cannot be expected to ferret out corruption in state institutions.

On this issue, I am aware that in the present circumstances it will not be easy to establish such an organ; but it is a noble effort which is likely to save our country from being bled to death.

More importantly (and I humbly avail myself to such an initiative) we need to talk to each other as Zimbabweans right across the political divide, which should involve civil society, the diaspora, the business sector, multinational companies, and other international organisations. The objective is to convene an economic recovery indaba for Zimbabwe which will focus on drawing up specific plans for a short, medium and long term economic recovery programme, as well as fostering national unity.

Swallow our pride

The emphasis should be on how to attract international capital for industrial, mining, infrastructure and tourism development which will provide wider scope for entrepreneurship as well as jobs for our people. I am aware that different political parties have their own blue prints for economic recovery.

These different blue prints can be used as starting points for a broad consensus.

Given the current political situation, each one of us should swallow our pride because no single political party or individual person can save the country from inevitable ruin. We need to open our hearts to one another, as brothers and sisters, so that we can work together for a positive future.

Post published in: News
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