Beware of Zanu PF’s Success Yardstick

OPINION – THE front page picture of President Robert Mugabe, in The Herald, beaming with unabashed glee and contentment, among an equally excited group of mostly young South African entrepreneurs must have reminded some people of Strive Masiyiwa.

Remember him? A young Zimbabwean who had blazed a trail in his country of birth as an entrepreneur whose vision of his future as a businessman seemed destined to soar above every conceivable horizon.

Now he lives in South Africa, his base of operations.

There is also Mutumwa Mawere, another Zimbabwean entrepreneur, now domiciled across the Limpopo, where he, too, is apparently making his own mark in the business world.

There are others, bankers mostly, who left the country as the government’s paranoia scaled new heights of intolerance.

How much damage this inflicted on the economy and the reputation of the country at large, as an investment destination, was clearly enormous.

Those South African business people may have dreams of striking it rich in this country.

But there must be a few among them who are aware of the peculiar benchmark or yardstick used by Mugabe’s government to determine the essence of success in business or even in politics.

Most people suspect it is anchored on Zanu PF’s bizarre requirement that they swear allegiance to the party — in some form or other.

Part of this pledge of loyalty might entail assisting the party with hefty donations, especially at election time.

It could also require them to be generous in offering employment to party loyalists, not necessarily on the basis of their skills, but on the depth of their commitment to the party’s barometer of success — weird as it may seem.

Zanu PF has not distinguished itself as a paragon of economic integrity or probity.

The late Bernard Chidzero, the possessor of one of the sharpest minds in this field, must have eventually regretted leaving his cushy international job to join Mugabe’s first government after independence.

Simba Makoni too must have found he could not adapt to the yardstick of success which the party has forged and always used —mostly unrelated to the doctrine of discipline and thrift counselled by the great economic minds of our time.

Although Mugabe himself has reportedly acquired a Master’s degree in Economics, we have all heard him hold forth on very “unorthodox” theories, some of which seemed to find favour with young Gideon Gono, now the embattled Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Most of the economic problems that eventually drowned this country were related to the old theory of the “people owning all the means of production”, the anchor of Marxist-Leninist economic doctrine.

This rabidly anti-capitalist and anti-free enterprise stance led to the land reform fiasco, much more than the noble enterprise of redistributing land more equitably than the racist regimes had done during the previous 90 years.

If the programme had been designed with pragmatism and keen eye on the advantages of a sober unemotional implementation of a policy aimed at maximum — rather than emotional or so called patriotic productivity, the disaster which culminated in the insanely unmanageable inflation rate might never have terrorised the economy into bankruptcy.

It is true that capitalism is having a very rough ride now. The credit crunch, which led to the present global crisis, can be blamed squarely on the greed, which has characterized the operations of the practitioners of the ugly face of capitalism worldwide.

But for Zimbabwe, the success of any economic revival programme cannot be premised on the Stone Age policies of Zanu PF, even if they are contained in a short-term or long-term blueprint.

The presence as Minister of Finance of the down-to-earth of Tendai Biti must provide most with the basis for the optimism to believe in a future whose benchmark of success is as far away from Zanu PF’s as the North Pole is from the Equator.

As with everyone else who entered this inclusive government from the opposition MDC, he must know that the pledge for real change made to the voters more than a year ago now must be seen to be believed.

It must be clearly visible as the very antithesis of  anything conjured up by the fevered one-party imagination of the practitioner of Zanu PF’s disastrous benchmark of success. The Standard