Zimbabwe is in a mess because of lousy leadership


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The one thing we must face up to in Africa, our first post-Independence leadership has failed us – we are poorer than we were before independence and the institutions we created in the first flush of growth and change have failed. Our leaders have concentrated on personal accumulation – both of wealth and absolute power. In the process we have crippled our government’s ability to serve our people and we have stripped our people of the very things they fought for in the struggle for freedom.

We have stripped our former masters of their assets and wealth but failed to put these assets to work and simply made our economies more dependent on external support and less productive. So today, my country imports 70 per cent of everything it consumes. Its currency is worthless and corruption is endemic and completely distorts the exercise of power in the service of the majority. After 40 years of Independence we are again one of the most isolated countries, diplomatically, in the world. How could we screw up so completely – the answer is simply, lousy leadership.

On the 17th November 2017, when we celebrated the military overthrow of the Mugabe dictatorship and gave support to the leadership taking over, in a way it was even more emotional than April the 18th in 1980. We gave our new leadership total support and legitimised what they had done using military force. Perhaps this explains the near total disillusion that has set in across the country today. There is near total lack of confidence in our leadership. We no longer think they have the capacity or the will to do the right things. We have fallen back to the position where we are each just trying to survive. If we get the chance to flee to another country with better prospects we are taking those openings – even at great cost.

In the wider world the same thing is happening, countries are withdrawing from the global system. Companies are reorganising their supply chains and aid to the less advantaged is everywhere on the retreat. Barriers to trade and migration are going up. After many decades when the USA was the policeman to the world and a global source of aid, technology and investment, she is now in full retreat and going back to the pre War era of self-sufficiency and isolation.

We all need to reset our leadership style – go back to basics. In the beginning of the Bible in Genesis God gives mankind responsibility for managing this little blue ball in space while it is our home. Later Christ lays down the fundamental laws by which mankind should live – to love and fear God and to serve our neighbours, no matter who they are. Is that so tough? The Bible says that the fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom – who would steal or abuse another if they really understood that everything was being recorded never to be erased and that we would all be accountable?

If we continue to live as if only our own needs deserve attention, then we condemn not only our own communities but the world in which we live and for which there is no replacement.

Eddie Cross
30th May 2020

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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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