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Even colonialism opened up investment - what Zimbabweans want are improved livelihoods!

23 Apr 2023 at 08:05hrs | Views
As Zimbabwe heads towards this year's harmonized elections, the Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa regime is frantically trying to parade its supposed 'successes' over the past five years.

Of note, are a few investments, mostly in the mining and manufacturing sectors - which the ZANU PF government desperately wants to convince an impoverished and struggling population is good news for the ailing economy.

Indeed, this opens up employment opportunities for some of our youth, and benefits other sectors (such as downstream industries).

Additionally, the country saves billions of dollars in its import bill (as we no longer need to buy from other countries what we can manufacture ourselves) - whilst at the same time, earning Zimbabwe revenue through exports.

Who can begrudge that, especially for those who genuinely desire to see a better Zimbabwe?

What I find quite curious, though, is the fallacy that the Mnangagwa administration is actually developing the country.

That can never be further from the truth.

In as much as the country may be recording some positive figures - with mining earning US$8 billion, and a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of US$21.4 billion in 2022, buttressed by a 3.4 per cent economic growth - there is absolutely nothing for the ordinary citizenry to smile about

Let us remember that, investment on its own means zero to a country, as long as the man, woman and child on the street do not benefit.

In fact, even the process of colonialization was, in itself, an act in investment.

With the signing of the Rudd Concession on 30 October 1888 - by Cecil John Rhodes' BSAC (British South Africa Company) and King Lobengula - came with it massive investments in the country.

Gold mines sprouted in many parts of what was then named Rhodesia - with the establishment of such companies as Globe & Phoenix, and Gaika in Kwekwe, Cam and Motor in Kadoma, and so many more that can not fit in this articles.

There were also major mining companies in asbestos, tin, copper, coal, nickel, iron ore, to name just a few - leading to such industries as ZISCOSTEEL, Shurugwi (Selukwe), Zvishavane (Shabane), Alaska, Antelope, and the list goes on.

Companies as Lonrho (London and Rhodesia Mining and Land Company), Rio Tinto Southern Rhodesia, Anglo American Corporation (formerly BSAC), Amalgamated Properties of Rhodesia, General Asbestos, amongst many others, made a name for themselves.

As a matter of fact, most towns and cities we still have today were constructed by these companies.

Our own small town of Redcliff was built by ZISCOSTEEL (then RISCO) from 1942 - whereby, having been born there in 1973, I experienced a town that was nicknamed 'Little London', due to its splendid infrastructure.

It issued housing for all its employees, salaries that gave us a decent livelihood, a huge hospital that provided nearly every health need, and learning institutions with everything that makes for good education.

The town had sporting centers that competed with the best anywhere in the world - a Olympic size soccer stadium, tennis and basketball courts, an eighteen-hole golf course, and ZISCO Club where nearly all sporting codes known at the time were available.

This was the same story in many other parts of the country.

Yet, we still rose up against the colonial regime - regarding this as oppression, whereby we demanded racial and economic equality and democracy.

Needless to say, after attaining independence, most of these companies folded and went under - due to a failed economic, at the hands of gross mismanagement and corruption by the political establishment.

Therefore, if we could take up arms for independence and freedom - in spite of all these magnificent investments - surely, what is the Mnangagwa administration offering, for which we should be grateful?

What 'investment' is there to talk about under this so-called 'Second Republic' that surpasses what was prevailing when the people of this country waged a liberation struggle against what we perceived as subjugation?

Surely, should the current 'development' under Mnangagwa actually not be better than under colonialism for us to be satisfied, and pat him on the back, for a job well done?

However, as the situation stands, all we have witnessed are mining companies that have done nothing more than merely forcibly displacing indigenous people off their ancestral lands.

Their only business has been to pillage our natural resources - without ploughing anything back into people's lives and livelihoods.

In the process, not a single benefit of note has gone to these local communities - save for some low-paying menial jobs, a classroom block here and there, and a chance for some villagers to sell lunch sadza to the workers.

As a matter of fact, since diamond mining commenced in the Marange area of Manicaland province over 15 years ago - no new town has come up, let alone any decent livelihood established for both local communities and the workforce - who continue to languish in abject poverty

If anything, they are now in a worse state than before these minerals were discovered in their area.

This is the common trend all across Zimbabwe - where all these so-called 'investments' have been experienced.

In spite of Zimbabwe recording US$8 billion revenue last year from mining - what does the country have to show for this staggering figure - amidst dilapidated infrastructure, dysfunctional hospitals and schools, and daily electricity outages?

I will not even bother delving into the billions of dollars Zimbabwe is being prejudiced through gold and diamond smuggling, over US$3 billion lost in illicit cross-border financial transactions, and half the value of our annual GDP to corrupt economic activities.

As such, what are we to celebrate in these few companies setting up shop in Zimbabwe - when the ordinary citizenry is not benefiting in any meaningful way?

Where is the joy to come from - when we are even economically worse off than we were under colonial rule?

Mnangagwa can tell us of all these 'investments' - but, as long as the lives and livelihood of ordinary Zimbabweans do not improve - they mean absolutely nothing to us.

Any real development should outdo and outperform what we witnessed and experienced under Rhodesia - since, we actually deemed that as 'oppression'!

Anything less than that is retrogression!

- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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