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Why others will land man on Mars whilst we still 'struggle to cross the street!'

11 May 2022 at 08:04hrs | Views
"And we (in Africa) are still struggling to cross the street!" was the spontaneous respond of "Mwalimu" (Teacher) Julius Kambarage Nyerere, then President of Tanzania, when he learnt the American had just successively landing a man on the moon in 1969.

In Zimbabwe, many of the streets, hospitals and other infrastructure we inherited from the white at independence in 1980 are full of potholes and other signs of rot and deny. We could not look after what we inherited much less build anything new and original.

In Harare, as with many other cities in the country, children celebrate whenever there is running water from the taps and electricity supply because having no running water and electricity is the norm. The country's health care and education, especially in the rural areas, have all but completely collapsed after decades of being systematically starved of funds.

Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed spending unemployment soaring to 90%. According to a recent World Bank report 50% of Zimbabweans now live in abject poverty.

Ironically it was the insightful President Nyerere himself who called Zimbabwe "the jewel of Africa" in 1980 because the country has everything going for it and had the economic potential to become the South Korea of Africa. He reportedly told Robert Mugabe, the Prime Minister of newly independent Zimbabwe, to look after the jewel. Poor Mwalimu, he was just wasting his breathe!

Mugabe blatantly denied the ordinary Zimbabweans a meaningful vote in the 1980 elections by threatening to continue the bush war if his party, Zanu PF, lost the elections. That was the first sign Zimbabwe would become a North Korea failed state not a South Korea economic powerhouse.

Many African countries have been in social and economic decline since independence and thus regard the colonial days as their golden age! This is the space age, for Pete's sake! You would not think so to look at Africa.

So, why has Africa struggled to cross the street, as Mwalimu would put it?


If you give a man fish, you give him a meal. To sit back and expect others to provide is the default setting in that it requires no effort on the dependent's side.   

A man of intellect would quickly realise if he is to be certain of his next meal, then he must learn to fish and not have to rely on the generosity of others. This is a quantum leap requiring both mental and physical effort on one's part.

The real intellectual break through comes with the realisation that not everyone can be a good fisherman and/or fishing is not the only way to earn a living. One must have an open mind and willingness to learn and explore and specialise.

One has only to look at Robert Mugabe and the Zanu PF cronies around him to know, under that lot, Zimbabwe was doomed to be a failed state. These were all individuals with very little intellectual prowess and no respect of the rule of law. They masqueraded as freedom fighters and liberation heroes, indeed they still do to this day, but only to deny the people their freedoms and rights to become the next oppressors.

Mugabe and company did not have the common sense to rise above the dependant and so abused their position of power and authority to loot.

Within weeks of getting into power, Robert Mugabe replaced the ministerial Peugeot 405, standard issue in Ian Smith's out going government, with E-class Mercedes Benz. The limos were not budgeted for, and this was not a cabinet decision either. It was a bold Mugabe statement "There is more where that came from! Stick with me!" It worked.

In all his 37 years in power, Mugabe pampered his cabinet and not even one cabinet member has even questioned any of his decision much less rebelled. Mugabe extended his political patronage to MPs, top civil servants, top brass in the security services, parastatals, etc., etc. with scant regard to merit, loyalty to him and his continued stay in power was the only he cared about.

Zimbabwe had the opportunity to implement the democratic reforms and end the Zanu PF dictatorship, most notably during the 2008 to 2013 Government of National Unity (GNU). Mugabe bribed Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends and they forgot about implement the reforms.

"Mazivanhu eMDC adzidza kudya anyerere!" (MDC leaders have learned to enjoy the trappings of power, they will not rock the boat!) boasted one Zanu PF crony, himself a long time beneficiary of the political patronage system, when asked why MDC leaders not implementing the reforms.  

By roping in the top brass in civil service, security services and most recently in the opposition; Mugabe/Mnangagwa knew he could count on ZEC, judiciary, Army, Police, CIO and now the opposition to do whatever the party directed them to do to ensure Zanu PF remained in power at all costs. And so far, they have all cooperated; proof none of our judges, politicians them have any moral fibre, common sense or mental intellect.    

The political patronage system is the root cause of the mismanagement and corruption that destroyed the Zimbabwe economy.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!" the awe inspiring and uplifting words Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot on the Moon.

Human knowledge of space and technology has grown exponentially in the 50 years since the moon landing. The American has sent unmanned spacecrafts to explore all the planets in our solar system and built telescopes to look deep into space and in time to the birth of the universe. Back on earth scientists are split matter down to its constituent subatomic level and have use this knowledge to produce coronavirus vaccines, for example, in record time.

Whilst most of the world has progressed in leaps and bounds, we in Africa have benefited from the advances mainly as consumers, otherwise have regressed. And as long as we retain this dependent mentality others will be landing on Mars, certain to happen before the end of this century, and we, in Africa, will still be struggling to cross the street!

In Zimbabwe, we have spent the last 42 years trying to figure out what constitute free, fair and credible elections and have since given up. We are now trying to "win" rigged elections. Talk of someone having the intellect of a midget - well, what more can I say!

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