Jeremiah Kure
Jeremiah Kure

Zim: A second liberation?

If you are in the 30-plus age bracket, chances are, you will not see Zimbabwe rise again in your lifetime.

Now before you accuse me of being an unfeeling pessimist, I am not by any means suggesting that Zimbabwe will never recover. I am merely asserting that a return to the former glory days is unlikely to be breathtakingly swift.

All indications are the journey to recovery will be painstakingly slow.

This is because Zimbabwe suffered one of the worst types of crises a nation can go through — the creeping kind, which like some incurable disease gradually sapped the country of its substance and strength. This creeping crisis has destroyed the spirit of the nation. More fundamentally, the creeping crisis fatally warped the psyche of Zimbabweans who through being subjected to one deprivation after another, became over-accustomed to the ravages of mediocre governance to the point that they lost a sense of outrage in their hearts.

Outrage is often the result of a sudden and tragic upheaval in one’s life. In fact, that sort of outrage is a good thing. At the level of a nation, outrage can inspire new ways of coping, innovation and tremendous progress. One only has to look at Japan, which after the catastrophe of the atom bomb during World War II, went on to rebuild an astonishing economy, which today is a potent player in global trade.

In Africa, the wonderful story of Rwanda’s growth continues to be told as a testament to the provocations of this brand of righteous national outrage. Rwanda is now steadily surging ahead towards a future filled with possibilities, refusing to be chained to a dark and disabling history of genocide.

Like the frog in the pot that barely noticed it was slowly being boiled alive, we now have a Zimbabwe that hasn’t absolutely succumbed to the heat, but has nonetheless become so hopelessly disoriented to the extent that she knows not which way to turn. Even going as far as doing the unthinkable — turning to her former “enemies”, like the IMF, for help.

I for one do not trust the IMF. But more on this in another post. Be that is it may, I nearly fell off my chair when I read the other day that Zimbabwe could ask the IMF for debt forgiveness, an act which in one fell swoop would consign the country to “poor country” status.

Believe me, being rechristened as a “poor country” by the IMF is not act of compassion. On the contrary it is an act of veiled subjugation. The tragic tale of the IMF wreaking social disaster in Zimbabwe and elsewhere is well-documented. As John Perkins observes in his bone-chilling book Confessions of an Economic Hitman, ultimately the countries designated as poor are forced to accept enormous development and reconstruction loans, which cause them to become more indebted than before. Examples of such so-called poor nations are rife and strangely, the victims list, with a few exceptions, is made up exclusively of resource-rich nation states — Angola (diamonds and oil) Chad (oil) DRC (every conceivable mineral under the sun) Sierra Leone (diamonds) Tanzania (gold and diamonds) Niger (uranium, coal, iron ore, tin, etc) Ecuador (oil, timber, etc) Panama (timber, copper, etc) Sudan (oil) etc.

But really, why are such resource-rich nations deemed to be poor? It’s a blinding paradox!

My convictions are that they are only poor on paper. IMF paper that is. I do, however, concede that certain politicians suffer from a dangerous kind of poverty. They lack the spirit of responsible stewardship. They have been known to prefer being corrupted by the corporations that come in to execute IMF-facilitated projects at the expense of their people’s progress.

If Zimbabwe is intent on not falling into this trap she must choose her future wisely. A future as an IMF-designated poor country is too gloomy a prospect to contemplate. Should Zimbabwe by asking for debt forgiveness end up accepting the IMF “poor-country” status, the country risks being saddled with a chronic debt-dependency problem, for which she will pay dearly with blood and tears for generations to come.

Several options remain open to Zimbabwe before she can resort to the desperation of yet another IMF bailout. One option is to leverage her astounding diamond and platinum resources for the benefit of the entire nation (and not just the elite). Leading authorities on the matter suggest that Zim’s Marange diamond fields have the potential to supply a quarter of the world’s diamonds and that the country could rake in as much as $1.2 billion per month if the diamonds are sold under the Kimberley Process.

Above all, Zimbabwe must regain her sense of outrage; the same sense of outrage that compelled ordinary Zimbabwean men and women to fight racial injustice during the guerrilla war and in the process transformed these men and women into towering figures of Africa’s liberation history.

The time has come for Zim’s post-war generation to fight a different type of liberation war; a war against individuals and institutions that would have them enslaved in economic poverty. Zimbabweans have suffered for too long for them to be complicit in prolonging their misery.

For Zimbabweans to see a sustained recovery within the next decade, they must steer clear of IMF prescriptions and harness the political will to halt the blood diamond trade. Otherwise, it could well turn out to be a case of running so hard just to stand still, for the next 50 years.