Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Jewels, Pearls and Warm Hearts cannot save Africa

We do not have to start by saying, “In the beginning was Zimbabwe…”                                                                   

But, all the same, in the beginning, Zimbabwe was there with all the rest.                                                 

Known by a plethora of names and kingdoms, from Mutapa, Mapungubwe to Southern Rhodesia, from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, Zimbabwe was always there with the rest of the world.

From the very beginning, Zimbabwe has always been a darling of the world.                                    

While they called Malawi “the warm heart of Africa” and Uganda “the pearl of Africa”, you wouldn’t believe that, at the same time, Zimbabwe was being referred to as “the jewel of Africa”.

For some reason and despite a myriad of issues bedeviling Zimbabwe for decades on end, the world still finds it difficult to accept the disappearance of this African Shangri-La.               

I guess when a jewel falls into mud, it gets irrevocably dirty.

My concern today is not on Shangri-La.                                                                

Shangri-La was mystical in that people there lived in harmony; it was a mythical earthly paradise that never had an earthly equivalent.                                                    

Harmony is a word that the world today hates to see because the world cannot “do” harmony.

My concern today is on that era of Zimbabwe just a few great-grandparents back.                           

Unlike our esteemed African leaders, I am not interested in what the colonialists did, nor do I accept their behavior as an excuse of the retardation that we have become; I want to look backwards from today far enough to blame or praise ourselves.

Africa’s human wealth was never in doubt.                                                                   

We served masters we did not know; we were abused by people who did not belong in our midst.

To this day, we carry scars emotionally, physically, mentally and psychologically.

But, as I look back, I am humbled in that, although Africans have a tendency to betray themselves and other Africans, there is something that must be said about the good things that Africa has tried to do for itself.

For a long time now, Botswana has always offered a hand of support to Zimbabwe.                           

While I acknowledge the differences in opinion between whoever the leaders of the two countries’ leaders were or are, I am humbled by Botswana’s persistent effort to assist Zimbabwe.

South Africa, with its glaring greed and hunger to dominate Africa, is always making noises without contributing to any stability, political or otherwise, to Zimbabwe.

In the last couple of weeks, Botswana has been quite visible and has acknowledged Zimbabwe’s situation enough to send its ministers and its president to Zimbabwe to offer help within its means.

The direct or indirect financial assistance that Botswana is offering Zimbabwe is coming straight from the taxpayers’ paychecks.                                                                       

The entire population of Botswana is less or just about equivalent to Zimbabwe’s capital plus another smaller city. Yet Botswana is availing millions to its citizen investors and business people to participate in Zimbabwe’s economy.                                              This kind of effort cannot be dismissed but applauded.

Like I have mentioned earlier, there has always been goodwill towards this ‘Jewel of Africa’ that, in days gone by, garnered accolades espousing its ability to feed the African continent.                                                                                                                            I mention this because Zimbabwe, from decades gone by, has always benefitted from the goodwill of neighbours and foreigners.

Love them or hate them, the colonialists did their part. Love them or hate them, the Organisation of African Unity did its part; love it or hate it, the African Union did its worst part and so did SADC.

Here, I am not even mentioning the goodwill and contributions made by individual states to Zimbabwe.                                                                                                                Yes, this is always the jewel of Africa that, to this day, continues to receive a lot of preferential treatment from nations poorer than itself.                                                 Even when Zimbabwe killed its defenseless people, South Africa was always there to support the government.

When elections were rigged, South Africa and SADC were always there to legitimize Zimbabwe’s leaders.                                                                                                  When people were shot dead while protesting their government’s austerity, Zimbabweans could count on the African Union to ignore the killings but, instead, feast Zimbabwe’s leaders in repulsive demonstrations of political cannibalism.

In addition to Botswana, today, I applaud the United States for availing millions of dollars of relief to Zimbabweans faced with starvation this year. It’s going to be a long dry season.                                                                                                                         I applaud the United Nations for starting an effort to raise millions of dollars to avert the looming starvation of millions of people in Zimbabwe.

As the world frantically tries to avert disaster in Zimbabwe, the president is threatening people, including doctors, teachers, nurses and those few lucky enough to be employed in a country without even a currency that potential investors can rely on.

I am not worried about investors though; they know what they are doing. They know what they want. They will get what they want.                                                                   

I am worried about those who are going into Zimbabwe to assist the disadvantaged, to save those who face starvation.

I am worried about those who are offering help to defenseless people in Zimbabwe because I am not sure they will be able to deal with the realization that, unless they distribute the food aid themselves, all food aid will be distributed, like always, by Zanu-PF structures nationwide and food distribution centers are no place for just anyone to venture into.    Food is a political tool that is used to punish perceived political opponents or those suspected to support political parties other than the ruling party.

I am so thankful that the world thinks so much of Zimbabwe that it continues to throw petals at it.                                                                                                                         

I thank Botswana for going out of its way to assist Zimbabwe.                                                                 

I thank SADC and the African Union for retarding Africa.

But, mostly, I thank the United Nations and USAID for going to the needy, the old, the children, widows and widowers in Zimbabwe and assist them while the government is spending the little money it has on top of the range for-wheel drive vehicles for chiefs.

I am hoping that the benefactors will ensure that the needy will not be denied this food aid because they are suspected to be sympathetic to an opposition party.

It is also my hope that all these countries that purport to be aiding Zimbabwe will one day soon realise that Zimbabwe needs good government more than it needs business investors.   

Because, you see, Zimbabwe can take care of itself well if only outsiders would offer the right assistance to the people – not to repressive governments.

Malawi, the ‘warm heart of Africa’ has problems warming itself up; Uganda is hardly a pearl anymore; and South Africa has a lot of energy to generate before it comes close to a rainbow nation.                                                                                                     

Yep, Africa does have a warm heart, but the pearls, diamonds and jewels will forever ensure we are slaves into eternity, unless we…. shine.