I bet when you read the headline, you thought this related to present day Zimbabwe. This was our lead story for the January 1993 issue of The Insider. Read on to see how little things have changed in the past 22 years.
Zimbabweans should not expect any salvation from the present political leaders of both the ruling and opposition parties because they were never groomed to understand the problems of the black majority.
They do not have any respect for blacks and to them a black is either a crook or a troublemaker and should always be regarded as an enemy.
“They don’t even believe that a black person can suffer. In fact, they believe blacks can survive on nothing.”
This is the opinion of controversial University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Kempton Makamure who has had several confrontations with the government and is currently at loggerheads with his boss Gordon Chavunduka, vice-chancellor of the university.
Makamure says the problem is largely historical as the present generation of leaders was groomed by the British, South African and Rhodesian intelligence to become colonial cadres. They were indoctrinated to believe that the world could not exist without whites. They cannot therefore identify with the problems blacks face but with those confronting whites.
“It’s not their fault,” Makamure says. “It’s their education. That is why they feel so good when they do some of the most unAfrican things.”
He says that although most of the present leaders were detained for several years by the Ian Smith government, they were allowed to study and earn degrees. This was a way of indoctrinating them further to become colonial cadres.
“Today, they are doing exactly what the colonisers intended them to do. For example, there are over 4 000 white commercial farmers but the government does whatever they want,” Makamure says pointing out that although there had been an outcry on the passing of the Land Amendment Bill nothing has been done to implement what the government had intended to.
He also says when white-dominated organisations like the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries hold their annual conference in Victoria Falls, almost every government minister goes there leaving the administration of the government to civil servants.
But few, if any, ministers attend annual meetings of black-dominated organisations like the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce or the labour movement.
“Even today, if you look analytically at what the government is being attacked for, you will find that it is not being criticised for what it has done for the black majority. The only criticism is that it is not getting the rich richer fast enough,” Makamure said.
He argued that one of the greatest problems could be that none of the present political leaders built or initiated any mass organisation. This was done by the people and the leaders were only invited to lead already existing organisations.
“The leaders then took over the people’s power and it became their power. The same applies to the liberation struggle. People were never recruited to join the liberation struggle. They volunteered. So the people of this country do not owe anyone any gratitude. If anything, the leaders owe the people of Zimbabwe a lot including their blood,” he says.
Makamure’s sentiments appear to reflect what is currently happening in the country. Even under the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme it is increasingly the black population that is being marginalised.
Unfortunately, the same sentiments also seem to apply to the very people the government says it is serving-the ordinary Zimbabweans or so-called povo. Some people, especially the older generation, are often publicly heard lamenting that things have gone so bad that the Ian Smith era was better. Some even openly claim that there is nothing good that can be done by a black.
This warped thinking seems to be confirmed by the recent announcement of the formation of the so-called United Front which amalgamates a section of the Zimbabwe Unity Movement, the United African National Council, ZANU (Ndonga), and the largely white Conservative Alliance of Zimbabwe which replaced the former Rhodesian Front.
While, on the face of it, there appears to be nothing wrong with such an alliance, the appointment of Ian Smith to lead the organisation smacks of the very weakness Makamure was expressing.
Smith’s appointment implies that black opposition party leaders do not believe that they can unseat the present government. This can only be done by a white.
Black leaders also create situations which render their colleagues useless or ineffective.
In government, for example, white cabinet ministers seem to get better concessions than their black colleagues. In most cases white ministers are given or granted what they ask for without any hassles while black ministers are blocked at times to the extent of being reduced to ministers in name only. They are even at times made to look stupid when decisions they make are reversed the next day.
Some people even argue that the much-heralded success of the Zimbabwe national soccer team could be mainly due to the fact that the present (white) coach is being allowed to travel out of the country to watch his rivals play well in advance, a thing which his local (black) counterparts were rarely, if ever, granted.
ZANU-PF spokesman in Harare, Taka Mudariki, said this weakness had even spread to the economic sector.
“It is we, the black people ourselves, particularly our people in government, who have not transformed, who are actually economically oppressing our businessmen,” he said in Parliament recently.
“We can look at the Tender Board……All those contracts that are worth millions are given to non-indigenous companies and yet these people who sit on the boards are blacks. I cannot understand really the mentality of our people. Even the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the question of hunting safaris is given to people who are not indigenous and yet we have got black people who want to enter that sector. They are blocked through this ten percent syndrome.”
Mudariki said this also applied to the banking institutions in the country which he said were among the most conservative in Africa. He cited the Zimbabwe Development Bank as an example.
“As far as I am concerned the policy of the ZDB should shift decisively to that of a development institution supporting exclusively indigenous enterprises and not established conglomerates like TA Holdings. Most of the people who are benefitting from this bank are the big companies. Is this the reason why we set up this bank?” he queried.
Mudariki said he hoped the relinquishing of the leadership code by the ruling ZANU-PF might solve the whole problem because the ruling party was now going for transparency.
“By going for transparency, the few cases of bribery and corruption amongst our ministers and senior government officials is going to be a thing of the past, because any person now, instead of getting untaxed money in briefcases will endeavour to start his own enterprise and create employment,” he said.