Zimbabwe has become a nation of cry-babies


Zimbabwe has been looking east to China since the West imposed sanctions on President Robert Mugabe’s administration more than a decade ago, but it would go a long way if it learnt this one thing from Beijing – never to blame others for its own problems.

“China’s custom is that we never blame others for our own problems. For the past 26 years, we never put pressure or problems onto the world. The US has the reverse attitude – whenever they have a problem, they blame others.” Li Ruogu, China’s central bank governor, said in 2004 in sentiments that were viewed to have the backing of Beijing.

Zimbabwe could gain a lot if it adopted the same attitude. Right now, it is a nation of crybabies- blaming everyone for our current economic woes except ourselves.

The West is our favourite scapegoat because of sanctions that they imposed more than a decade ago. Sanctions have indeed hurt the country, but the question, as Hatfield Member of Parliament Tapiwa Mashakada asked in the House, is what have we done about them?

We have been living with the sanctions for over a decade. How have we survived them, but more importantly how can we go ahead despite them?

This reminds me of what a colleague told me some years ago. A person who was in a toilet was complaining throughout about the stench in the toilet. His colleagues told him to get out if the smell was that bad, but he bolted the toilet door from inside so that no one could open it from outside and continued to whine about the stench.

If it’s not sanctions, it’s the weather. The current food shortage, we are told, is due to a drought. Yes, we did not receive enough rains, but we have known for years that we have droughts every now and then. What have we done to make sure we have food when there is a drought?

Instead of simply admitting our bad management, we have to blame God- or our ancestors for not bringing good rains- depending on which of the two you believe in. Totally forgotten is the fact that in the late 1980’s Zimbabwe kept enough grain reserves to feed the nation for more than three years. Small grains were enough for at least eight years. Now, it cannot even feed its people for one season.

Remember, we have been under the same administration for 35 years. So it is the same people that were in power then and now.

“A nation that cannot feed itself is a nation that cannot claim to be truly independent,” former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi once said.

But of course, it is not only the country that is at fault. We as individuals do not accept our failures. We blame everything on the government or on other people.

As one colleague once said, our biggest problem is the “dai hurumende” syndrome- which unfortunately has been perpetuated by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front which behaves as if the government has all the money in the world and even takes over debts of people who are abusing government tractors and using them as “chovha” instead of ploughing their new farms.

People do not lose elections. They are stolen from them. People cannot be fired from the party for incompetence, it’s because they belong to a certain faction. Business cannot thrive because of poor government policies. God! Where are people getting money to build those mansions, if things are so bad?


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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