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Change: Wither Zimbabwe?

04 Aug 2019 at 14:22hrs | Views
I had to go cross to check the theory. What is the change we have been sold? Or is this another war-time dummy!

Particularly when the quality and magnitude of change is huge and transformational, the level of involvement and participation of the people, that is the subjects of the change, those that the change targets and those who form the majority of whom the change will affect has to be deliberate and extensive.

Citizens cannot be disinterested bystanders and bemused passengers in a change programme that purports to deliver the highest development dividend to them.

If the country earnestly desires change and needs every hand on the deck, not only should the anger of the status quo be widespread and compelling, but citizens need to be absolutely clear what the proposed change entails and exactly what Canaan [promised land] may look like. Besides, nations and organisations don't quite change.

It is the citizens and people within the country or entity that change. This, sadly is a country of thieves, thugs and wantonly dishonest and selfish human beings.

And so if people be the most decisive factor of change, without being culturally savvy and consciously addressing oneself to the ensemble of dysfunctional underlying norms, values, beliefs, customs and warped cultural worldviews that underpin corruption and motivate errant behavior, the effort at change remains a futile dance.

Whether its Malaysia or Japan, the great leapfrog found its impetus in the groundswell of a cultural bond knot — kaizen, some deliberate ethos and tapestry of work ethic that gripped and propelled national psyche. Not a bond note! If citizens themselves do not change, it is folly to expect the country to change.

Indeed what could never be overemphasised is that change, more than anything else, rises and falls on leadership. However well thought out and well crafted a change programme may be, if it fails to find an inspired visionary, a selfless and compassionate leader to champion the change, to walk-the-talk, its probability of success is very limited.

Leadership incapacity in great change programmes often manifests in a poor and uninspiring change vision, in mixed signals, loss of public faith, confidence and trust, in blown-up ego, lack of empathy and the pursuit of personal ambitions at the expense of common good.

Poorly led change initiatives are typically devoid of the requisite, robust and consistent communication modelling that brands, packages, promotes and projects the change project to its various publics, stakeholders and society.

Effective communication is the lifeblood of any strategic re-configuration of economy and governance to the extent it is feared that up to 40% of change failure is attributable to poor and ineffective change communication.

Whether the social, political or economic change thrust is fundamentally flawed in its conception or indeed it is what the doctor ordered, it needs to be backed by a powerful and consistent change communication plan that repeatedly spells out the change rationale, promoting and justifying the case for change and leaving no Zimbabwean in doubt as to why we have to change, and to flag out gehena, what danger looms if we don't change, to convey that compelling vision of 2030 to citizens and break the bigger picture down to its manageable bites and precise implications to an everyday Simbumbumbu or Dotito citizen.

The apparent stampede of confusion, mixed signals, half-truths and secrecy around so monumental a national programme only serves to fuel mounting doubt, what-is-it-for-me fears and negative energy that feeds the 2008-Ghosts and the narrative that, at best this government has no clue at all what is doing and, at worst that government is up to its usual nonsense and citizens must do all in their power to resist its every effort.

There is painful evidence of that unmistakable, unfortunate holier-than-thou sacred cow culture that afflicts those nearest the change who must otherwise be the articulate ambassadors and passionate champions of the change agenda in the communities. Instead of creating the requisite in-roads into the hearts and reasoned fears of society, instead engaging with empathy, listening to stakeholders and offering informed assurances to the multiple sceptics of change, the change agents, like some bunch of spoilt brats, have cut themselves off and insulated themselves from civil society, assuming the pedestal of new political zealots and grateful cheer leaders than change solicitors.

"The people don't need to know yet. It will upset them." Such are some of the terribly misguided policy approaches that are both typical of the change process Zimbabwe is undergoing and that are the grave-site of many, otherwise well intentioned change programmes. When I raised such an observation with one the famed TSP zealots, his arrogant tweet-retort was, "Dude, where do you live? Zimbabweans already know about Vision 2030 and the TSP. Inga, we announced it wani!" And, on humbling myself, confessing my ignorance of detail, he further lectured me… "Look man, we don't know the fine details yet, either… In our kind of environment, the idea is to hold off until we have everything perfectly clear before we can tell everyone everything."

The closed, coercive ambush strategy that accompanies the purported transformation of our country is not only indicative of the arrogant disdain with which government holds citizens and the human implications of change, it smacks of the blind leading the blind and is the loudest yet death knell to the promise of sustainable change. Effective change leadership must aim at focusing the change effort, controlling the change compass and setting the scope and direction of the change, while providing the consistency derivative off the culture, values and vision of the country.

A careful identification and resourcing of change animators that spring organically from the process of change will enable a smart change leader to effectively cascade the change throughout the critical levers of society.

The attempt , as often seen here , to rely on old, discredited institutional frameworks and entrust decayed minds, however trusted, to deliver freshly ground change ideas will always result in still-born change. Good messages conveyed by bad messengers makes for change failure.

I want to deal specifically with why the November 2017 spectacular uniformed euphoria has quickly morphed into more informed national dismay and the ensuing social scientific phases the political roller-coaster is likely to turn sooner rather than later.

*To be continued

Zii Masiye (ziimasiye@gmail.com) writes elsewhere on social media as Balancing Rocks.

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