In his book titled “Crossing The Threshold of Hope” Pope John Paul II admonishes us not to be afraid of men. “For man is always the same” he wrote. “The systems he creates are always imperfect, and the more imperfect they are, the more he is sure of himself. This comes from our hearts because our hearts are always anxious.”
If only the millions of us Zimbabweans could understand that we are the ones who are responsible for creating our circumstances and must therefore take responsibility for changing them, we surely would not be where we are as a country. If only millions of us could stop being afraid we would have a different country today.
I have just read the book “Why Nations Fail” by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, and it really explains why countries like Zimbabwe have failed.
The authors give compelling reasons as to why some nations are successful while others are poor. They found that it has nothing to do with culture, geography or ignorance, but more to do with extractive political institutions as opposed to inclusive ones.
Extractive political systems do not create inclusive economic institutions that allow citizens to live up to their full potential. They are in fact dictatorships or oligarchies that economically oppress the majority and are not keen to share power at all. Liberation struggle elites have created extractive political institutions to protect their economic interests at the expense of the majority, who they claim to have liberated from colonialism. This is evident in most of Africa today.
This is exactly our situation in Zimbabwe. Even if we pour billions into our economy, we are unlikely to see a modern economy based on private property ownership and free enterprise emerge because this threatens Zanu (PF)’s political power. This is worsened by the fact that Zimbabwe’s empowered middle class is outside the country in the diaspora. This, of course, bodes well for Zanu (PF) because an empowered middle class at home would be in a better position to demand better leadership and better economic and social institutions.
Things can only change if we dislodge the party from power and put a new leadership in place that builds inclusive political institutions with devolved power. This leadership must know that economic progress can only emerge where citizens are free apply their talents and create wealth without the risk of expropriation or dispossession by their government.
We are only as powerless to change our circumstances as we choose to be. We need to ask ourselves what we can do from where we are to contribute to change. As long as we do nothing, we will strengthen the dictator.
An interesting observation by the authors of the book “Why Nations Fail” is that politicians actually know the right answers and what needs to be done to create economic prosperity, but it is not in their interest to do so. The Zanu (PF) slogans to “empower and develop” can never be sincere because their ultimate fulfilment would lead to the party’s demise.
You must remember that they derive their power from creating poverty and ensuring that the masses are continually dependent on their generosity. This is the case, for example, with land allocation, where party cards must be produced to get access. Indigenisation also seeks to ensure that government remains the gatekeeper in commerce. Countries that operate like this will never really prosper because they exclude citizens from contributing to their development for political reasons only. As a result, such countries cannot exploit their full potential regardless of the natural resources they may have. Zimbabwe is, of course, a clear example.
The Zimbabwe we want cannot therefore emerge under the current circumstances. We want to create a prosperous country and that requires us to establish inclusive economic institutions that facilitate the realisation of the full potential of every citizen.
We want Zimbabweans to be creative, innovative and wealthy without fear of expropriation of their wealth or assets by the state. In other words, the government must have nothing to do with allocating economic resources or assets to citizens but must merely create an environment for success for all.
We cannot afford to be afraid of men. Zimbabweans fear too much and have created limits in their minds that don’t really exist. Fear is arresting our potential. We need to be courageous and challenge the status quo to create the Zimbabwe we want; it will not emerge through negotiation as the MDC-T thinks or through the SADC.
In addition to being fearless, we must engender a unity of purpose amongst all progressive forces. Zimbabweans must be united in their quest for a better country with legitimate and selfless leaders who put the nation first.
The future we desire can only be created through sacrifice and vision. – Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You can contact him at [email protected]Post published in: Analysis