By Noah Manyika
It’s impossible to land in a place like Doha, Qatar as I did this morning without thinking of the absolute heartlessness of the people who have led our nation for the past four decades.
Qatar is a desert nation of sand dunes with no perennial rivers or lakes. Qatari leaders have essentially two natural resources, oil and natural gas which they steward well for their people.
Unlike Zimbabwe’s rulers who simply plundered Chiadzwa’s diamonds and continue to plunder our gold, chrome, platinum reserves etc, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund from oil and natural gas revenues now stands at over $170 billion.
The country works in spite of the demographic peculiarity of only 600,000 out of a population of 2.6 million being citizens, and the rest migrant workers and expatriates. Instead of allowing the outnumbering of their citizens by foreign workers to stoke their paranoia and threaten their sovereignty, Qatari leaders manage the foreigners as a critical resource for their economic well-being.
That Qatar, it’s complicated history, location in one of the most volatile regions in the world and the current diplomatic standoff with its powerful neighbors notwithstanding, could still have a vibrant and well-managed economy (Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world) and Doha could still be the vibrant gateway to the world that it is, speaks volumes of the commitment of its leaders to make their country work not just for the ruling elite, but for the majority of its citizens.
By the way, in June 1995, Hamad bin Khalifa deposed his own father, the then Emir of Qatar Khalifa bin Hamad not to continue the plunder as happened in the case of our own coup, but to accelerate the country’s modernization.
We believe at our own peril that President Mnangagwa does not know what he is doing simply because he can’t deliver a speech as effectively as his predecessor did.
He knows perfectly well what he is doing now, just as he and his team knew what they were doing during Mugabe’s tenure when they came up with brutishly sophisticated schemes to plunder resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at Chiadzwa and in the rich gold and chrome fields in the midlands and the rest of the country.
He knew what he was doing when he appointed Owen Ncube as State Security Minister in spite of his reputation in the midlands.
He knew what he was doing when he appointed Matemadanda as Deputy Minister of Defense and Energy Mutodi as Deputy Information Minister.
He knew what he was doing when he did not take action against the people in the military who ordered the shooting of protestors in January.
He knows what he is doing by not coming out strongly against whoever is abducting and brutalizing citizens right now.
When we laugh our leaders for being clueless buffoons, we miss the point that it was not the ability to give great speeches that enabled them to craft these schemes, but the fact that they are committed and calculating plunderers who understand that applying what makes other nations work in Zimbabwe would threaten their criminal enterprises and hold on power.
The late President Mugabe’s extravagant foreign trips at the public’s expense earned him the nickname Vasco da Gama. The difference between da Gama, the 1st Count of Vidigueira and Portuguese explorer who was the first European to reach India, and Mugabe was that while the former’s travels were to benefit Portugal, the latter’s trips and those of his successor were/are largely for personal benefit.
Our leaders travel to foreign places not to learn anything but to strike personal deals, to enjoy the services provided by other nations which they deny their own people at home and to siphon money out of our economy.
We must not forget that it’s not just the logic challenged Matemadandas and Chinotimbas among our leaders who insist that “we have the strongest currency in the region.” That claim is
made by much travelled and well-educated leaders who could have easily learned from their recent junket to Japan the elementary lesson that the real strength of a currency is its purchasing power for the average citizen, not where the decimal point in expressing the rate of exchange relative to other currencies is.
By the logic of our leaders, the Japanese Yen at 0.0093 US$ would not only be weaker than our RTGS, but would suggest that our own economy is stronger than Japan’s which at US$4.87 trillion GDP is the third largest in the world.
I recently had a long conversation with a member of the PAC who said the view from the inside was shocking, and that we don’t understand the extent of the corruption and the depth of the hole our leaders have dug us.
While he was pessimistic that we would see change anytime soon, I was personally encouraged by the fact that there are those on the inside who are finally seeing what Zimbabweans on the outside have always seen and experienced.
I suspect that the scales are finally beginning to fall from the eyes of some on the inside because the country that has not been working for the majority of citizens for decades is beginning not to work for them. What was affecting ordinary citizens is beginning to impact the business interests of the elite.
May more of them who are on the inside see the light so that this house of cards may finally fall under its own weight for the sake of the people of Zimbabwe who have suffered enough.
Is there not a cause?
Dr Moah Manyika is Founder: War On Poverty Trust | 2018 Build Zimbabwe Alliance (BZA) Presidential Candidate.