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Opinion / National

We are living in a prison

15 Dec 2019 at 12:05hrs | Views
If ever there was need for a revolution-  a real revolution - it is now.

We are really living in a self-made, man-made prison.

We can no longer continue like this, and it is time "we cast off the shackles".

The most mean, darkest, unforgiving and formidable prison in the world is the mind. Bishop Lazi believes that while we managed to change our political hardware through the November 2017 transition, the software — the old mindset — was unfortunately left intact.

An old mindset dangerously breeds inertia, while a new mindset engenders traction.

Unfortunately, it is the old mindset that seems to drive some gremlins in the civil service that wittingly or unwittingly continue to frustrate ongoing reform efforts.

They sing about a new dispensation while clothed in robes of the old dispensation.

They righteously declare war against corruption while giving succour to the corrupt.

And this is precisely the reason why some pockets of Government continue to be cesspools of slothfulness, inefficiency and corruption.

On October 25 this year, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) chair Dr Elasto Hilarious Mugwadi, who also doubles up as a Public Protector and Ombudsman, made a less than hilarious observation about the conduct of some civil servants.

". . . we are saying it is not only the Registrar-General's Office which requires re-exposure through retraining.

"It is almost the entire public service, all of the public service institutions . . . You will find individuals who are really up to scratch, but there are others, including seniors, who are only interested in gatekeeping, which should be a thing of the past, and we are going to continuously get this addressed . . .

"Mind you, we are moving from one generation of administration — the old administration — to the new dispensation."


And the re-training that the good Doc is obviously talking about is typically a software upgrade that entails radical changing  of mindsets in order to programmatically make them adaptable to the call of this generation — to rediscover the path to prosperity and lift millions out of poverty.

As it currently stands, it is quite understandable why some might view Government's promise of reform and prosperity as disingenuous rhetoric and mere grandstanding, because on one end of the dichotomy we have an indefatigable President ED, whom even the late Robert Mugabe at his most sulkiest on the eve of last year's elections described as "a hard worker", while on the other end we have a bureaucracy that is teeming with laggards.

And the resultant dissonance is quite apparent. If you are familiar with village life, you would definitely know the ignominy of trying to get any sort of work done by yoking together seasoned oxen and those that are being tamed.

It is incredibly very tiring work, for the yet-to-be-tamed young oxen would always put up frustratingly dogged resistance.


But such dogged resistance to change is not uncommon. Chinese journalist and author Wu Xiaobo, who studied the Asian country's momentous transition from an economic backwater to the world's second-biggest economy in the 30-year period to 2008, reasons that "any major change in history must be preceded by a change in the people's conceptual framework".

"After a full 10 years of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), all normal functioning of the country (China) had been destroyed, including the people's ability to think creatively and clearly.

"People's minds were in the rigid grip of what was called 'extreme leftist thinking'. For many years, the country had been closed to outside information, 'locked up', which affected the psychological makeup of its population," said Xiaobo in his book "China Emerging: 1978-2008".

This is the China a 74-year-old Deng Xiaoping — credited as the father of China's economic miracle — inherited when he took over leadership in 1978.

Like ED has done, Deng literally flung China's door open to foreign direct investment and started re-engaging erstwhile friends and foes alike.

Initially, investors who were hyper-curious of this formerly closed society rushed in, but they were generally disappointed with the work ethic of the Chinese then.

Among those who were disappointed was Jay Matthews, a journalist with The Washington Post, who wrote: "As in most factories in China, workers at the Guilin silk factory are not putting much effort into their work. . . This relaxed work attitude is going to be a major obstacle to the modernisation of this most populous nation on earth."

He was not the only one. A Hong Kong scholar who visited Guangzhou in 1979 disconcertingly discovered the inefficiencies and slothfulness of Chinese society then.

He later recounted how he shockingly realised that it actually took three people to repair the plaster on a small wall that was near to where he was staying.

In fact, one held the bucket, another applied the plaster and the third just stood by to watch.

Kikikiki. Doesn't this sound familiar.

In this part of the world, we see this every day; it is actually a lifestyle.

This is why Deng Xiaoping later exhorted the Chinese to "cast off the shackles that bind our spirit . . . we need to bring about a great emancipation in our way of thinking."

And today, all we know about the Chinese is their ant-like industry and superhuman work ethic.

It all began with a change in attitude.

President Mnangagwa's spokesperson, George Charamba, could not have put it any better during a Capitalk FM radio programme on January 10 this year when he observed; "A new era is not made by declaration, but by change of mindset and routine.

"This is exactly where we are lagging behind. We have people who are proclaiming a new era, but still have an old mindset.

"We just have to re-invent ourselves, not only as Government, but as the private sector and every citizen of this country so that we make the new era a reality on the ground."

Bishop Lazarus believes that we need a revolution to unlearn the decadent habits of the past and repurpose our minds for the onerous task that lies ahead.

And, of course, we need to re-invent our work ethic to give tailwinds to our current push to prosperity.

We really cannot afford to be slothful.

Proverbs 24: 30-34 counsels: "I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest — and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man."


Zimbabwe is on an inexorable march to success, and those who doubt this simply have to look at the key milestones that have been recorded this year, notwithstanding the current power shortages and associated challenges.

In October alone, exports came in at a whoPping US$483 million — close to half a billion dollars — which is quite substantial considering our circumstances.

Also, in the first nine months of the year, export receipts jumped by 69 percent to US$224,4 million from US$133 million a year earlier. Those who resist change, the gremlins in our midst, risk being swept away by the unstoppable forces of history.

As German historian and philosopher of history Oswald Spengler noted in his work "The Decline of the West": "Individuals perform the duties arranged by the inevitable forces of history. Those who are willing participants lead the way; those who are not willing are simply dragged along."

Beware of being dragged along.

Bishop out!

Source - sundaymail
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