November 15th Anniversary, So What Happens next?

November 15th today marks the day our nation’s course was changed forever when the military embarked on an operation to ouster President Mugabe culminating with ED Mnangagwa replacing him as head of state. The subsequent events gave birth to the promise of a new prosperous Zimbabwe and at the time Zimbabweans from all walks of life came together to celebrate what they truly believed would be a new chapter of happiness in their lives.

Twelve months from the day our lives have been anything but pleasant. Hope has dried up with worsening plight and an economy that seems to be tittering on the verge of complete chaos. It’s been an emotionally draining year to be Zimbabwean and it seems we pissed off someone in heaven. So much for new beginnings.

At the moment it all seems that our future is doomed and we have no reason to be positive but the optimist in me seeks to answer the all-important question… What happens next? as surely life must go on but first, a recap.

After the initial honeymoon phase of the new dispensation wore off with squandered confidence in the first 100 days, I paused everything I was doing and said to myself, “let me just tough it out” and wait for the elections to be over. I’m pretty sure most people and businesses went into air-plane mode with a wait and see approach opting to sow after the elections.

The election period was pretty competitive and for the first time ever seemed to be fair and open. Chamisa galvanised the masses especially the young people and gave them reason to dream again while the incumbent Mnangagwa held his own with a more methodical and tactical campaign.

It was a hard-fought battle culminating in the highest voter turnout in an election ever. It was going all too well until the results started to trickle in plunging the nation into chaos and violence resulting in the unnecessary death of innocent civilians. A golden opportunity was squandered and the politicians on both sides where responsible again for plunging us  back into obscurity. Since then it’s been all downhill from disputed results, factional battles and worse, a parliament that resembles a rowdy beer-hall.

With all we’ve gone through our people deserve better legislators who must put the needs of the people that voted them into power first before haggling over things that do not improve our stagnant situation.

Knowing the nature of our politicians I realise expecting maturity from them is an exercise in futility, it’s neither here nor there.

So, the question I ask today is where do we go from here? How does one achieve prosperity in their own country as the prospect of emigrating to become a second class citizen in a foreign nation, although attractive to some, really isn’t for everyone. Some of us want to thrive on home turf.

We can’t afford to waste the next five years feeling sorry for ourselves as we did in 2013. Self-pity is a redundant strategy. The brutal truth is that we must accept reality. Most urban voters are still in denial and still believe the election was stolen.

They feel cheated and aren’t willing to see good in anything that the current government has to offer. This has spawned a widespread attitude of bitterness and negativity but unfortunately you can’t be objective and negative at the same time. I myself felt cheated until I made a few startling observations about the chasm exists between the urban and the rural people. Our society is polarised and split into two.

Naturally as human beings we only see things from our point of view and call ourselves objective and believe everything else to be wrong. What we see depends on where we stand.

Before the elections I spent some time in Shurugwi which is largely a mining community. I observed independence celebrations there and Zanu Pf by-elections. Coming from Harare I assumed the Chamisa storm was sweeping the whole country yet surprisingly this community was only concerned about Zanu Pf. Afterall a new mine was opening and small-scale miners where getting assistance and recognition. The by-election voter turnout was high and I made a point to ask people about their chosen candidates and what I noticed was most of them had an in-depth knowledge of who they were voting for and why they were voting for them.

After the elections I spent almost a week in Masvingo Rural (Kumusha) and noted the same level of understanding about the politics in the community. Many people complained that the MDC didn’t take time to get to know them or notify them in time about Chamisa’s rallies. They simply didn’t do enough groundwork to warrant support. I ventured deeper into rural Masvingo to my village of origin and was quite surprised that there are multitudes of people that live in the heart of the region. Roads are inaccessible without a formidable car yet there are schools and bustling communities there you wouldn’t figure exist from the inactivity at the road turn off. It was quite sobering to realise that rural folk may be more sophisticated politically than we realise.

In contrast most urban voters didn’t have a clue who they were voting for, all they knew was Chamisa and a lot of people didn’t register to vote. The actual results reflect that a lot of rural voters would choose Zanu MPs and Councillors then opt for Chamisa as president. The opposition only garnered 570 Councillor seats out of nearly 2000 (28,6 per cent) and failed to secure a majority in Parliament. When you put those stats in perspective in addition to the fact that most of these sits were largely uncontested you start to develop a clear picture that their claim of a 2.6 million presidential victory are unlikely.

We may vilify the rural folk and call them traitors yet clearly, they were capable of differentiating between candidates in different ballots. To this day I have no idea who I voted for in the council elections. Another misconception we have is that only the people from the towns and cities are productive yet Tobacco and Gold which are the largest foreign currency earners are not produced in the urban areas. A record amount of grain was harvested in the past season and the food security we enjoy now has been provided for by the rural folk. Spend a week in the Rural areas and you will learn the true meaning of hard work. From my observation I have come to appreciate why these people take voting seriously as government policy on small scale mining and agriculture has a major bearing on their livelihoods.

Urban people and the opposition parties don’t really take time to look at things from their perspective and blame them for everything.

When it came to the court case challenging the outcome of the election, the opposition presented a very poor case brim with allegations and short on hard facts. The verdict is still out there in the court of public opinion with many still believing the election was stolen.

I believe it is time to put our difference aside in a concerted effort to deal with the tough issues that confront us in the next 5 years. The opposition and the government need to all come together and realise the deep seated problems our nation faces are bigger than any one party or individual.

The polarisation in parliament does not help anyone and is an insult to all of us who stood in line all day to vote them into parliament. We can only achieve success if we agree together to work towards common goals.

To quote Eddie Cross a former opposition legislator and prominent economist:

“All of us have a stake in what is going on right now in Zimbabwe. When I say all of us – I mean everyone, every Zimbabwean. No one can say ‘stop the world, I want to jump off’. We are stuck with what we have and have to make it work.”

 

I’ve become apolitical as I don’t see any maturity being shown by either party. The opposition need to accept defeat and work from the grass roots in making sure they don’t lose the next election and the ruling party has to show leadership, inclusiveness and walk their talk. Cheap politicking has to stop.

I applaud the appointment of the new Minister of finance Mthuli Ncube and I believe he has the necessary experience and intellect to turn the economy around but without the political will to back him, his job is much more difficult. I like the fact that he’s tackling the deep-seated problems head on and he does come off as a man of principle.

I would advise my fellow countrymen and the young people to be precise to ignore the noise and seek out positive opportunities that are revealing themselves as he implements his policies. We’ve grown accustomed to casino economics for so long that we expect everything to payoff overnight.

On the surface it seems the economy is about to tank and we are hurtling toward 2008 again yet in the background the component that matters most which is productivity is on the rise. Production is on a rise with record gains in farming and mining , plus roads and other infrastructure are getting attention. I’m absolutely certain we have turned the corner and now need to switch from hustling and speculation to real business.

What we are experiencing are the teething pains of a turnaround and it’s a tough balancing act for Mthuli to pull off effectively without shocking the system and patience and commitment are essential to success. We’ve got to be patient and bite the bullet and contrary to pre-election promises, the mess we are in wasn’t going to be solved overnight. Economies run on more than just confidence.

I’ve been following a lot of analysts both local and international and they all forecast that stability will be achieved in the coming year with steady growth and by the second year we should be clearing the storm. These are realistic estimations and are a far cry from microwave economics that we had been promised.

A turnaround cannot be achieved without sweat and tears.

If you are in business, the time is now to start sowing your seeds while everyone is still complaining.

“In business, as in politics, it is never easy to go against the beliefs and attitudes held by the majority. The businessman who moves counter to the tide of prevailing opinion must expect to be obstructed, derided and damned.

These are trying times to attempt anything new in business and many would rather get caught up in speculative activities but it’s times like these that bring out the best in people. In the immortal words of J. Paul Getty:

“There will always be room for the man with energy and imagination, the man who can successfully implement new ideas into new products and services.”

So shoot your shot.

On a personal level this has been a horrific year for me. I’ve struggled for support and motivation and very few have really been there for me. In realising Zimbabwe can only be fixed by its citizens. The president has alluded to the fact that we may have to find our way in the world without donor aid which is quite toxic in many ways. It breeds dependency and corruption and reduces self-dependence and initiative.

I’ve done a deep analysis of my own life and am slowly realising that the only way out of my current quagmire is to take the same approach of not looking outside for guidance and aid. If my life isn’t where I want it to be in five years then I can only blame the man in the mirror.

When the really topflight businessperson is at bay, they very often turn adversity and even impending calamity into victory.

God Speed!

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