Africa is great…in a way


HARARE – The year 2008 saw the economy of Zimbabwe go haywire. You could buy socks and other articles on the pavement in Harare and elsewhere.

For me, it was double hell. I lost my job while in the UK.

But that is not even the half of it. I spent five months in the UK, mostly in London and near Southampton.

I wonder how many people today remember how weird life was in that period.

For me, trying to live a good life at the expense of relatives was tough.

I could understand why many people would rather stay at home — and starve?

You could have a tough life in the UK, but you would survive, with kind relatives looking after you.

For me, having been warned by the newspaper for which I worked, there were red signals of joblessness everywhere.

For a long time, it made me think of Africa and its future in a world where it is, most likely, at the bottom of the pile of countries with a viable economy.

I realise such harsh language would be scandalous to an African leader, or an African leader who believes that Africa ought to be as prosperous as any other country in the world — never mind how dastardly the economy is being handled by the government — or whoever else is doing that precious job.

Unfortunately for Africa, our economies — including those of Nigeria and South Africa — are still to speak candidly of their countries being run the way a typical successful economy ought to be run.

Zimbabwe did not start well — that’s a fact of our sordid economic life.

What most economists argue is that this disaster ought not to have struck us so soon after independence.

Unfortunately, such arguments are not the stuff about which our politicians believe to dwell on seriously.

They are more concerned — some of us believe — about their own selfish welfare.

If you said this about most of Africa, you would probably be lynched in your country — or even in a foreign one, an African country, that is.

This situation has brought many African analysts to a stage where they ask themselves: is the leader capable of creating an economic plan that shows promise of success?

If you asked the question about Zimbabwe, what would your answer be?

That western sanctions have killed our economy? Or that the rest of the world won’t help us because we don’t agree with their foreign policies?

But you have to look at the recent visits to foreign countries by President Robert Mugabe. He was welcomed everywhere like a man with a positive vision of his country’s future.

Everywhere he went, they welcomed him with open arms, assuring him they would help his country in any way possible they could — Zimbabwe deserved their help.

So far, we have those promises still ringing in our ears.

Is this the prospect we are facing now, having many of these rich countries preparing themselves to help us out of our tenuous plight?

We have faced such positive prospects in the past — only to be disappointed when the reality was confronted.

Exactly why we have come so near to reality — only to be disappointed at the last moment — is something that we ought to examine closely.

Unless we grit our teeth and confront this dilemma courageously, we could be back to Square One, blundering our way towards a dead-end. We have been along this path before.

Let’s not repeat it. Our success would signal a real change in our approach to the economy.

We have a chance to redeem ourselves.

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