If It’s Not Going to be New, It’s Oh, So Idiotic

500 words of hope

By Rejoice Ngwenya

My problem with African politics. Dominated by archaic, predictably monotonous nationalist mantra. No wonder whole chunks of our citizenry is stuck in intractable poverty. Take for instance #MyZimbabwe – colonised in the 1890s, claiming ‘liberation’ in 1980 yet still grovelling for humanitarian aid from the same ‘neo-liberal Bretton Woods white man’ who enslaved and colonised us. Only because free market ‘white capital competition’ inspired ‘real’ malaria medicines, otherwise entire African generations would be extinct by now. Indigenous knowledge systems my foot!

Consider agriculture. Rhodesians learnt fast how irregular rain patterns negate food security. They then pumped resources into mechanised farming and irrigation infrastructure. #MyZimbabwe is probably Africa’s most ‘dammed’ country, but almost two decades of post-independence neglect; and another two of property rights plunder; she has succumbed to consecutive draughts. Billions of dollars meant for agriculture siphoned from the national fiscus to lubricate political self-preservation. Result – 100 years since the self-driven mechanical plough hit the market, Zimbabwean villagers – all nine million of them – (still) glorify Jurassic ox drawn ploughs. So idiotic!

And so now, we are facing a new carnage. Covid-19. If we don’t learn fast, we will perish. Assuming we are lucky ‘white capital competition’ (predictably) invests billions of dollars in medical research (not large governments, humongous houses and monster limousines for ministers), then stumbles onto a Covid Cure, we may just live to tell the story. That is my point. Life after Covid-19 will and must never be the same again for us. We – the general populace and our nationalist leaders – should confront post-coronavirus life with new attitude, new vigour and unbridled enthusiasm. Enriched novelty is as old as history.

While studying the Christian Bible last week, I bumped into a section where philosopher and lawyer Apostle Paul ended up in Athens around 44AD. Here are the exact words used in Acts 17 verse 21: “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.” In another commentary of Penguin Classics, it says of Greek philosopher Aristotle “was a subject of the king of Macedon. His status at Athens, while he lived there, was that of metoikos, resident alien.” Great minds attracted to and great things inspired by new ideas.

There is potentially good life, if not better, after Covid-19, but not if we do not embark on a course of self-renewal. I am a convert of German liberal politics who understands that national reconstruction not only requires big money, but also a drastic change in philosophical ideology. Post war Germany not only deployed the Marshall Plan intelligently but also underwent ‘denazification’ and ideological renewal. I am not so sure whether without intensive and extensive ‘dezanufication’ we can prevail in a ‘post pandemic war’ Zimbabwe. Yet my faith is in provincial Innovation Free Market Hubs. I will outline this novelty in detail next Sunday. Therein lies my hope.

Rejoice Ngwenya

COMALISO Lead Innovator – Coalition for Market and Liberal Solutions