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Zimbabwe and the curse of confusionists

06 May 2016 at 07:26hrs | Views
Action must be taken against corruption and other vices that have bled this country and has now given us dubious characters that are flush with cash and spend thousands of dollars outside the country shopping and having $10 000 breakfasts.

The Biblical story of the Tower of Babel is as poignant as ever when you think of this little country called Zimbabwe and how polarised it has become since the turn of the millennium.

To the uninitiated, the story of the Tower of Babel is related in Genesis 11 and one version of the Bible tells us that: "Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there. They said to each other, 'Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly.'

"They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.'

"But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, 'If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.'"

That was the end of the lofty project and the Tower of Babel remains today a metaphor for confusion and a project gone awry.

The polarisation that Zimbabwe faces has an eerie redolence to the confusion at that failed tower.

Two things that have happened this week alone demonstrate Zimbabwe's susceptibility to confusion, which hangs onto us like a foul smell.

The first is the introduction of the National Schools Pledge and the other is the announcement by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe that it will soon introduce bond notes.

While both issues are simple enough and should have ordinarily been subject to a mature national debate, if not normal everyday discourse, they have peaked fierce, polarised eclectics.

First, the National Schools Pledge.

This is an idea that came up as part of the new schools curriculum and, as those in the better know, actually derives from the much-vaunted Nziramasanga Commission — not to mention that it is not a rarity or absolute novelty in the world.

The pledge is a simple derivation from the preamble of the national Constitution and recognises the primacy and superiority of God and urges respect for the national flag, heroes who fought for the liberation of the country and invokes values such as freedom, justice and equality.

The pledge also recognises Zimbabweans' diversity, traditions and culture.

Lastly, it seeks to instil in Zimbabweans — beginning from when they are young — virtues of honesty and hard work.

The values and virtues contained in this pledge are universal: who would not want honesty, hard work and respect for diversity?

The pledge captures Zimbabwe's historical uniqueness and nationhood.

The people of Zimbabwe must have been united in commending Government for this long overdue intervention, at best or at worst know that it is a continuous national symbolism on top of the national anthem and flag.

But not so fast!

Certain quarters have been vocally opposed to the pledge and they somehow feel offended to high heavens and want to mislead the nation that the pledge is a form of pagan or idol worship when it is clear as day that the only deity that is called upon in the pledge is Almighty God, who is universal.

He is the same God whose name is invoked when other oaths are taken in this country.

Somehow, something has to be wrong.

That is, according to confusionists among us.

And it also does not take a lot to realise that those who are opposed to these national initiatives happen to be supporters of the political opposition in this country.

The same opposition happens to be foreign-sponsored, too — so does it not add up?

It does, and it's the tragedy of our lives when we cannot agree on fundamental things such as national symbols, nationhood and nation-building.

This idea of opposition for the sake of it, and worse for foreign interests or due to mental colonisation is a veritable curse.

Let us examine the second case — the mooted increase in the use of bond notes.

As we are writing it is the talk of town and confusionists are having a fine, high noon.

While the statement that came from the RBZ is clear enough and indeed we have been blessed with the benefit of hindsight, there are people who are hell-bent on telling us that Zimbabwe has had its Armageddon set.

Granted, things are not as they should be, and one would not be foolish not to acknowledge that fact.

In fact, for this writer, there are many wrong things in this country – things that should be done better.

And the Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa could do better and harder too to inspire the confidence of the nation.

Not least, it has to be acknowledged that many people are traumatised by the thought of the hyperinflation era that made the local currency a symbol of suffering.

However, it does not help anyone or the country to be set in perpetual negativity and worst of all distort issues to manipulate and mislead.

The issue of the forthcoming bond notes is clear enough.

First, they are backed by a $200 Afreximbank nostro-support facility, just like the coins currently in circulation that were backed by a similar, $50m bond.

Secondly, this is not a precipitous, "overnight process", as RBZ has said.

Third, RBZ has assured, for the umpteenth time, that this is not the return of the Zimdollar as "the fundamentals are not yet right for its comeback".

Fourth, and connected to this, the RBZ chief himself appears to be a decent and sober guy who is not keen on wanton printing and minting bond money. If he has not done so in two years and the coins have retained value, why would he suddenly wake up a mint-maniac?

Fifth, the bond facility is set to ease the liquidity challenges — just as they did in the rand coin era — and they are not mere tokens but backed by some hefty $200 million somewhere.

These are the fundamental facts about the bond coins and notes that any rational person who is as literate as 90 percent Zimbabweans are should comprehend.

There should be nothing to panic about — and we are not saying we should celebrate either.

It is just an ordinary day in the office for Dr Mangundya.

It should be an ordinary day in Zimbabwe.

Again it has to be acknowledged that things ought to be better and real measures to turn around the economy must be implemented as a matter of course so that Zimbabwe becomes a viable economy with real money and surplus too.

Measures must be taken to stop the massive leakages and outflows that are taking place and haemorrhaging the country.

Action must be taken against corruption and other vices that have bled this country and has now given us dubious characters that are flush with cash and spend thousands of dollars outside the country shopping and having $10 000 breakfasts.

It will also do well if seriousness is committed to reviving local industry and leaders show the way by buying local, including cars at Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries in Harare or Quest in Mutare.

So many things have to be done right in Zimbabwe.

But then, it won't profit us when we are a bundle of negative energy.

As for confusionists whose real quarrel is with the ruling party, the country should simply ignore and move forward.

They shouldn't be allowed to play God and derail this country that has so suffered from such evil as sanctions that were called for by their ilk.

Source - the herald
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