No one should consider himself more knowledgeable than everyone else – neither does anyone possess a monopoly of ideas – but, in all our opinions and even criticisms, we would be hoping for a unity of purpose between all the nation’s stakeholders (mainly, its citizens and leadership), whereby all our concerns are regarded with the seriousness they surely deserve.
In this divergence of views, we expect those in government not to treat any who express dissenting and opposing thoughts as ‘enemies of the state’, who should be condemned and even branded as ‘agents of illegal regime change’ and ‘economic saboteurs’, whose ambitions are nothing clean or noble, but inspired by nefarious agendas, meant to harm the country.
What manner of thinking is that?
Honestly, what type of leadership would be so resistant to correction and change, detest any divergent views (as if their own are the only correct ones), and are impervious to new learning?
Is this not the terrifying height of dangerous paranoia?
Where do we go as a country with such a negative and counterproductive attitude?
In fact, I have always told those in my life – the moment I shut up, and stop rebuking those in power, or even cease encouraging the over-burdened suffering citizenry to stand up for themselves – would be the clearest signal that I have lost all confidence and hope of anything in Zimbabwe ever changing.
Why waste my breath and energy talking to a brick wall – that is obviously incapable of listening and thinking?
These are the same thoughts that came into my mind when I was reading a news report this morning, whereby President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa was said to have castigated business leaders, attending the inaugural Zimbabwe Annual Investment Forum in the capital Harare, for failing to ask questions after his address.
He accused the private sector of contributing to the demise of the country’s economy by “failing to confront the government over its shortcomings”!
Is this not truly rich, coming from the leader of an administration that perceives with utter disdain and revulsion, any who may dare point out its faults?
In any event, has the business community not been engaging the Mnangagwa regime, through various fora – including, the CZI (Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries), ZNCC (Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce), the recently held Zimbabwe Economic Development Conference, amongst a whole host?
In fact, the economic challenges faced in Zimbabwe are not numerous, such that would require a plethora of conferences, seminars, and workshops – since we are simply dealing with the twin evils of a rapidly depreciating local currency, and a rabidly skyrocketing inflation rate, amidst paltry employee salaries that are far below the poverty datum line, and woefully lagging behind galloping price increases.
How many meetings with captains of industry and commerce does Mnangagwa and his government seriously require, in order to comprehend their concerns and his administration’s shortcomings, which they may raise?
Actually, even I, not being a business leader, can tell the president what organizations as the CZI and ZNCC have been saying about government interference in the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) foreign exchange auction system, the manipulation of the interbank exchange rate, lack of adherence to Dutch auction system rules, the dangers of these multiple exchange rates in the country and their attractiveness to arbitrage, as well as the need for consistent policies that business can trust and help them plan more effectively.
What more did Mnangagwa expect to be told by the country’s business captains?
Let us remember Zimbabwe is not home to that many formal established private sector players – as such, the government is most likely meeting the same faces at all these various meetings.
Is it, then, not safe to say – all that needs to be said, has already been said, and the ball is now squarely in Mnangagwa and his regime’s court?
There is nothing more to add.
Therefore, it was quite perplexing learning that the president was peeved off by the business leaders’ silence after delivering his address – which, it must be pointed out, contained nothing new, that could have attracted reaction, new ideas and input from those in attendance.
It was the same old drivel and rhetoric, which Zimbabweans have become sick and tired of for the past few years.
I am quite sure that the business community, as with the rest of Zimbabwe, are now merely waiting for the government to implement concerns and shortcomings already highlighted in previous engagements.
As such, there is really no point in the continued wastage of precious energy and breath, in continually repeating advice that has already been proffered several times before – to authorities who appear to have stuffed thick logs into their ears.
I would, frankly, also not do that!
We all know that one of the oldest tricks in the book – employed by failed and incompetent leaders, in order to buy time – is to keep pushing for useless and pointless endless engagements, negotiations, including even the appointment of new teams, and continued restructuring.
We are all fully aware of these sinister shenanigans, and now know better than to be caught napping and falling for the same dirty tricks.
In life, there comes a time when one needs to accept the things they can not change – at least, using the same failed methods – and, time arrives for plan B.
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or +263788897936, or email: [email protected]