Zimbabwe regime’s shameless incompetence only serves to reenforce colonial stereotypes that Africans just talk but seldom deliver

As per my usual daily routine, I pray to Jehovah God as the first thing I do (and, the first Person I talk to), then converse with my wife, and then get my daily dose of the morning news (both local and international) - I could not help being thunderstruck watching Zimbabwe's minister of information, Monica Mutsvangwa, signing some mutual information agreement with the Rwandan government, and listening to her regurgitate something to the effect that, it was time Africa told  its own news, without relying on Western agencies for our own stories.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana


Immediately, my mind spoke French – loudly and clearly I heard, “Déja vu”!

It was as if I had watched this scene before – in fact, numerous times before…ever since I was in my childhood in the 1980s, I have heard these words before – said over and over again.

I felt myself quietly asking, “With most countries in Africa having gained their independence over 40 years ago (with some even now in their 60s), why are we still saying the same thing? Why are we not telling our own stories, and still complaining about the West’s influence and dominance over our affairs today?”

Surely, are we not grown up yet? How long do we need, not only as Zimbabwe, but as the continent of Africa, to finally stand on our own? Are we not ashamed to still be “living with Mommy” in our 40s, 50s, and 60s?”

After watching this rather disturbing news clip on the signing of the information agreement with Rwanda, my mind – as is its tendency – began wandering back into its memory storage, and retrieved some of the statements that our own government, and our so-called Pan-Africanists (who, mostly sound more like “blame the West for everything crybabies”, through making endless excuses for everything, than strengthening Africa, by accepting responsibility for our own failures, so that we can learn from them, and grow up).

One of the most outstanding things that I have never stopped hearing, is the endless mourning over our education system – which, the government, and their Pan-Africanist friends (or, rather more appropriately, “Anti-Africanist” – considering how they have contributed to our stunted growth as a people, as they always blame others for our own failures) always accuse of being overly Eurocentric, since its focus is on instilling foreign learning and values, at the expense of our own, thereby propagating a generation which has no understanding and appreciation of who we are as a people, but would rather parrot the West.

Indeed, I also believe that we need to instill our own principles and values – yet, my problem with the government narrative is why we still whine and whinge over this issue, especially having gained our independence 40 years ago.

As a nation, are we not now fully in charge of developing our school, college, and university curricular? Do we not have CDU (Curriculum Development Unit), ZIMSEC (Zimbabwe School Examinations Council), HEXCO (Higher Education Examination Council), and the universities themselves? As such, why have we not transformed our schools, colleges, and universities curricular by now, instead of perennially and irritatingly complaining about some Western influence – as if we were still their colonies? Who is stopping the government?

In the midst of digesting these troubling thoughts, another even more unsettling one come into my mind – there is a colonial stereotype that we, as Africans, were just good at talking, but zero in implementation. I instantly felt shivers chillingly speed down my spine.

What we have been observing with our own government in Zimbabwe – through its unbridled incompetence, mismanagement, and downright inaptitude – works right into the hands of this stereotype, as it re-enforces a notion that we should be doing everything in our abilities and power in disproving, discrediting, and thwarting.

Yet, such efforts will always be unfulfilled and in vain, as long as we have the misfortune of a leadership, whose one and only ability is blaming others for its own failures and incapability to deliver on promises and its mandate – epitomized by a most insincere and disturbing propensity to blame others, and never take responsibility.

On 16 November 2020, the government of Zimbabwe announced a so-called National Development Strategy One (NDS1), that is supposed to run from 2021 to 2025, and focused on such high-sounding ambitions as economic growth, structural transformation, human capital development, housing delivery, health and wellbeing, devolution and decentralization, and international reengagement.

Why would anyone trust a regime – which has utterly and disgracefully failed to deliver on similar intriguing and ambitious plans, since coming into power in 1980, characterized by promises in the form of “education and health for all by the year 2000”, yet more and more Zimbabweans have been progressively marginalized over the past 40 years, with the wealthy and well-connected being the only ones enjoying privileged access?

Of the mega housing projects promised at the dawn of the so-called “new dispensation” – after the 14 to 21 November 2017 military coup d’etat – how many of the 1.5 million units to be built between 2018 and 2023, have actually been built…with just two years to go?

Did the Transitional Stabilization Program (TSP) introduced in October 2018 not guarantee to stimulate economic growth, and stabilize the macroeconomic situation in the country? Now that the government has moved on to the NDS1 – with claims of TSP triumph – just how stable is our economy? Has our currency not already gone into a freefall – as opposed to the questionable auction exchange rate – as proven by the government’s own recently approved massive tariff increases in mobile phone voice/data/SMS charges, education fees, local municipal rates, and so many others?

Has our government’s incompetence, mismanagement, and inaptitude over the past 40 years – proven by endless wonderful-sounding and well-articulated policies, programs, and promises, however, with none of which ever being fulfilled, but characterized by excuses and finger-pointing, with hardly any acceptance of responsibility, in order to open the door for self-evaluation, and learning from mistakes made – not been a major seal of shame, which only emboldens those who query our ability as a people in fulfilling what we say we will do?

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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