Any country’s development starts at the grassroots level, and not at the top of government – and if the ordinary people themselves are not geared up with the mindset for development, then any effort by the government will come to naught.
Let us start with an example, and the best one I can think of is that of the world’s most favourite game – football.
If some people come together and agree to form a football club that they intend to win the premiership title the following season, they need more than just themselves to achieve that goal.
These people who would have come together to form the club, may constitute the executive committee, and they might even have a qualified coach.
However, no matter how many highly-qualified and competent executive committee members, and no matter how exceptional the coach they have – they will never be able to lift that premiership trophy without one very important component…the players on the field of play.
The players – who actually do all the hard-work – are the centre to any success.
The same applies to a nation – as no amount of technocrats and exceptional leaders we elect into a new government will be able to turn around the country’s economic fortunes without a well-oiled playing team on the ground – and those players are all the people of Zimbabwe.
We can elect the best, and most honest, minds into the next government – but they will achieve nothing, without us.
Are we truly prepared to play our part in the resurgence of Zimbabwe as, not only a continental, but global powerhouse?
Our role as Zimbabweans needs to change drastically, as we can no longer continue the way we have been conducting ourselves over the past four decades.
The development of any nation needs a collective approach, and a real partnership.
However, this partnership is not that of a horse and a rider – the oppressive system that we currently have, whereby our leaders unfairly benefit on the backs of the ever-suffering citizens of Zimbabwe.
Neither can this partnership be that of a bus driver and his or her passengers – whereby, everyone just sits back and relax, whilst the driver alone is expected to get everyone safely to their destination.
We, as Zimbabweans, should be actively involved in the economic prosperity of our country.
If the brutal truth be told, we all contributed, one way or another, to the demise of our country – although the government shoulders most of the blame with its unfettered corruption, lack of rule of law, and misgovernance.
As we move forward, hoping for a better and brighter future post-2018 elections, each and everyone of us needs to ask him or herself very brutal and honest questions.
The first one being: ‘Can I be trusted?’
How have we been conducting ourselves, and our work ethics over the past years?
Have we been fully honest in all our dealings, or did we cheat the system, cheat our clients, cheat our employers, or cheat our employees?
How many of us – for instance, businesspeople – knowingly over-priced products in the hope of profiteering?
I am sure most of us have even encountered mobile phone traders who knowingly mascarade counterfeit products as being original, and unfairly over-charge.
How many employers cheated their workers their hard-earned money by not paying them fair wages, or not paying them at all?
Furthermore, were companies honest in their tax returns, and declared revenue?
We all complain of the scourge of corruption that has defiled the nation, but how many of us have been involved in one form of corruption or the other?
If we are to be honest with ourselves, the vast majority of us have been involved – whether it is bribing traffic police officers, or tax officials at our country’s borders, or that headmaster to have our child enrolled at a school.
Who can honestly say that they have not being paid for a job that they did not perform fully?
How many of us have spent an uneconomic amount of time on social media, instead of productive work at their places of employment?
Or have being engaged in idle talk with colleagues, and then suddenly spring into action when the supervisor entered the work station?
I remember in the early 2000s when we used to play Solitaire on our company computers, instead of working, but then quickly minimize the screen, and pretend as if we were busy working, when out boss entered our office.
We never thought of how much work-time we were actually stealing from our employers, as we were paid for hours we never did any productive work.
This also includes stealing company resources, for instance, the unauthorised use of their phones, cars, and so forth, as well as stationery and even toiletries.
Most of us never think how much such actions cost the company, and how these contributed to their bankruptcy and subsequent closure.
The second question each and everyone has to ask themself is: ‘Am I contributing anything to the economy?’
Without adding value to the country’s economy, we can never hope for the country to become a global powerhouse, let alone a regional one.
Wherever we are, and whatever we do, we always have to believe that we can make a huge contribution through our own innovativeness.
Merely practising the opposite of cheating — that is, being an honest, faithful, and upright citizen – is not enough.
We all need to go a step further and be innovators in our fields.
That way, not only will that advance our own businesses, or the companies we work for, but will inevitably lead to the prosperity of the nation as a whole.
Did we know that some of the most innovative ideas that revolutionarized industry actually came from ordinary shop-floor workers?
In Japan, advancements to techniques in mass-production came from one of the technology companies’ workers – who suggested that, instead of a worker being responsible for only one task in the production line, would it not be faster and more efficient if one worker focused on building the entire product.
In the United States (US), when Google was established, it was simply a search engine company, but it desperately needed innovative ideas of new products – and many of its ordinary workers came forth with new concepts that greatly enhanced its profitability, for example, the introduction of an emailing service Gmail.
As such, each and every Zimbabwean is quite capable of thinking innovatively, whether in our own businesses, or whilst working in someone else’s company.
In fact, the surest way to stay ahead of competitors – or landing that promotion – is not merely adding more diplomas and degrees, but coming up with ingenious ideas that bring in more profits.
This entails a strong desire and capacity for problem-solving.
It is clear that, we as Zimbabweans, are very good at problem-finding, as shown by our propensity to complain – but we now need to inculcate in ourselves the habit of finding solutions to those problems.
In fact, some of us have made unenviable careers in complaining and always finding fault, without proffering any workable solutions.
Whoever finds a solution to a problem, is the one destined for greatness.
Additionally, foreign direct investment is not attracted merely by the presence of precious resources, or positive legislature, but also a workforce that will add value to that company – through their honest and innovative hard-work.
Similarly, the fight against corruption starts at the bottom, as we the people have all the power to resist and reject corruption.
We can not forever be complaining of traffic police or tax officials’ corruption, whilst we continue to give them bribes, instead of boldly resisting and adhering to the law.
Besides, which company, or tourists would want to do business with Zimbabwe, when it is infested with the corruption vermin?
There is no reason Zimbabweans can not believe in themselves – that we can achieve anything we set our minds on.
We treasure ourselves as having the highest literacy rates, now we need to convert that beyond the simple ability to read and write, but to be trustworthy and innovative people who can turn around the fortunes of Zimbabwe together as a collective.
There is absolutely no reason why we can not – in fact, the very survival of our nation depends on our willingness and ability to set and achieve such standards for ourselves.
Naturally, Zimbabweans are hard-workers, as such, one battle of the struggle is already won – but, we now need to win the remaining battles, as mere hard-work without wisdom is wasted sweat.
I sincerely believe that Zimbabwe was always meant for greatness, and we can achieve that, only through our mindset-reform, before we even dare formulate all sorts of fancy economic blueprints.
We have already had too many unfulfilled ones, and one more – without serious mindset shift – will just be wasted energy.
We are known for being excellent formulators of policies, but pathetic implementors, mainly because of our mindsets.
As soon as we atune our minds in believing that we can do it, then there is no reason under the sun for us not to.
Let us form a formidable Team Zimbabwe, as we bring together the best of our abilities both in the next government, and in ourselves, as the players on the field – for a team without exceptional players, no matter how good the management is, will never lift the trophy.
° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is available should you invite him to speak at any event or gathering. Please call/WhatsApp: +263782283975, or email: [email protected]