If Rhodesia developed due to exploitation, why isn’t Zimbabwe more developed as it’s even more exploitative?
Those who know me intimately, are aware that it is nearly impossible to remove me from watching a good game of cricket – more so, when my home country, Zimbabwe, is performing quite well, especially today, as they face Afghanistan – such that, something really important needs to come up, worthy of my attention – which, is exactly what has just happened to incite me into writing this article.
In my entire life, there is nothing that gets my blood boiling, heartbeat accelerating, and my soul disquieted, than people who make excuses for their failures, most particularly, those entrusted to lead a nation, or an organization, or even a family – as the main role of any leader is to guide and take through any circumstances, whomever he or she would be leading – no matter how unforeseen, challenging, or insurmountable, these may appear, without failing, or proffering excuses.
A leader needs to possess exceptional abilities in galvanizing all he or she leads, into a united approach (allies and foes, alike) to any challenges, encouraging the proliferation of all innovating ideas and divergent views (irregardless of whether they are highly critical of his or her strategies), placing the interests of achieving set targets ahead of his or her own, and most crucially, acknowledging responsibility when the stated objectives are not met, and accepting compete accountable.
Nonetheless, whenever I listen to anyone – most notably, a leader – making excuses for his or her failure in fulfilling set goals, I interpret whatever he or she would be saying as, “I’m a huge failure and loser. I’ve failed as a leader. There’s absolutely no hope as long as I’m in charge, as I can’t acknowledge where I have gone wrong, and can’t ever learn anything, or be corrected”.
When it is said, “the buck stops with the leader”, it is not a mere cliche, but rather a vital principle of leadership – considering that, achieving the apparently unachievable, overcoming the seemingly insurmountable, and coming up with solutions to any obstacle, are the hallmarks of any good leader.
Which brings me to the issue that took me away from watching and enjoying my favorite sport – cricket.
Whenever I have written an article that appears to insinuate that life under colonial Rhodesia was of a higher standard and better, than under an independent Zimbabwe – especially, for the average worker – I have always been bombarded with counter-accusations by those who felt it prudent to make excuses as to why it was more challenging for the post-independence government to achieve the same successes as their predecessors.
I have received all manner of accusations – for example, that my assertions were merely a figment of my imagination (despite the facts and statistics being there for anyone to see), or that I was suffering from a colonial hangover, or the excuse of targeted sanctions imposed on several top Zimbabwe officials by Western countries, or the fact that the Rhodesians largely prospered at the hands of the exploitation of the black majority.
For this discourse, I will not bother delving into the first three accusations, as I believe have already awarded too much time and space in addressing these in my previous writings – as such, will tackle the fourth one.
Indeed, it would be gravely insincere and disingenuous of me to deny that the colonial regime – and, their Western masters – largely profited from the sweat, blood, and tears of the black majority of this country (and, all other colonized nations) – but, to pretend that the exploitation of the masses disappeared with our so-called independence would be a far much greater lie.
As a matter of fact, the exploitation the majority of Zimbabweans are being subjected to at the hands of their post-independence master, is arguably worse than during colonial rule – particularly, for the workers.
Of course, black workers in Rhodesia were exploited – for instance, when my mother graduated as a general nurse at the beginning of the 1960s, she earned a paltry £7 working for a mission hospital, and in 1964, she moved to the then iron and steel making giant RISCO (which was subsequently renamed ZISCOSTEEL, after independence, pillaged by top officials, and left dead) where she earned a still meagre £18 per month.
Yet, what did this exploitative salary buy? It certainly provided for our family quite adequately as I had a pretty comfortable upbringing, the house was well furnished (with new fittings being bought regularly), we ate good food (that has only become a far off dream nowadays), she managed to buy several cars in her life under Rhodesia, and could afford travel and holidays.
Let us also not forget even the lowest grade workers, in spite of the exploitation by Rhodesians, were provided with decent accommodation – which were predominantly, entire townships, including houses for married general and domestic workers (similarly, there were so-called ‘sevants quarters’, which were one or two roomed cottages for single workers situated on their premises of employment) – as well as, schools, hospitals, shopping centres, and sports and recreational facilities.
Can we say the same under this independent Zimbabwe – whereby, workers are treated as nothing more than dispensable liabilities – whereby, all newly-built houses do not even accommodate residences for domestic workers, with the only cottages mainly constructed for leasing?
Fast-forward to independent Zimbabwe, how much does an average nurse earn, and what can she or he afford? Can she or he confidently claim that she or he is not being exploited even worse today, than my dear old mom was under Rhodesia?
Actually, the only time I ever witnessed my now elderly and adorable mom ever cry – as she painfully wailed in presence – was when the post-independence regime ruined the economy, such that she lost all the insurance policies, investments, and pension that she had worked her heart out since 1964 till her retirement in 2010 – such that, it is as if she has never worked all her life.
If then, Rhodesia’s immense development was as a result of exploitation of the masses, especially workers, surely, with the far worse exploitation we are currently experiencing under our own independent Zimbabwe, should we not be even more developed as a nation?
However, the exact opposite is true – we are more exploited, but the nation is poorer – which should finally dispel any unsubstantiated claims as to the reasons for colonial Rhodesia’s successes – which should then lead us to only one other viable explanation…that, our leadership today simply lacks the aptitude to lead, and can no longer make any excuses for their failures, but should be held accountable by the people.
It is time that the suffering citizenry saw through these lies and failures of this regime, and finally plucked up the courage to stand up, relentlessly, for their rights to a dignified, respectable, and comfortable life, which God Almighty always wanted them to enjoy, yet denied by a leadership that only thinks of themselves, but abandoning everyone else into the dustbin of hunger, poverty, and shame.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975 / +263733399640, or email: email@example.com