Comment

Where are Zim’s moral leaders?

IN the past two weeks our newspaper received two communications emanating from two very different ends of the social spectrum but which in their different ways explain the malaise afflicting Zimbabwe today.


One was

from Nestlé Zimbabwe, the second a complaint by Sister Patricia Walsh concerning publication of her account of the excesses of Operation Murambatsvina in the Standard.


In a story we carried in this paper two weeks ago, we quoted Nestlé Southern and Eastern Africa CEO Yves Manghardt as saying “our Harare factory was unfortunately receiving only five million litres of fresh milk per year instead of the 12 million litres it had been processing a few years ago…”


We ascribed the drastic supply reduction to farm invasions since 2000. Nestlé Zimbabwe’s finance director, F Munetsi, protested in a letter last week that his CEO had not attributed the milk shortage to farm invasions. He didn’t say what the cause was of the fall in supplies from 12 million to five million litres or the period covered by “a few years ago”. All we did was to put the statement in its political and economic context.


Sister Patricia chided the Standard for using what she claimed was a personal message confined to family and friends which she posted on the Internet bemoaning the agonies caused by government’s brutal clean-up campaign across the country. One would expect her to respect her conscience instead of trying to save her skin by propitiating tyranny. It may be a bit harsh to say Sister Patricia disowned her testimony in the way Peter denied Jesus, but it did look a bit like that!


There are few better examples of corporate cowardice than this: a large international company so terrified that President Mugabe may take offence by having his “land reform” characterised as damaging that it writes letters denying a self-evident link.


Munetsi and Sister Walsh may not be the best examples but they typify all that is sick with this country: disingenuous apologia from the corporate and religious leadership that lack the moral courage to speak out against an errant political establishment preying wantonly on the weakness of a people it is its mandate to protect.


For many years business leaders have neglected their duty to position the private sector as the engine for growth that it is supposed to be. While they are voluble about what is wrong politically in the privacy of their clubs and bars, they dare not come out in the open when conscience and duty call upon them to do so. Their common ailment is called fear.


Many a time we have been shocked to hear business leaders singing Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono’s praises for his monetary policies. Not that we wish anyone to lay gratuitous blame on Gono for the failure of his measures. But business should be courageous enough to tell Gono to his face that his policies will not produce magical results in the teeth of dogged sabotage by Mugabe’s economically illiterate government. There is such sharp discord between his policy measures and Mugabe’s extractive philosophy that the best Gono can do is to resign if he can’t get the necessary political support for, contrary to his coy diagnosis, bad politics, not inflation, is Zimbabwe’s public enemy number one.


So long as your company operates in Zimbabwe it is your duty, your moral obligation to speak out against policies that obstruct the nation’s progress. Zimbabwe is crying out for leaders who feel the bidding of destiny to get the country out of the current morass; leaders who when they think of Zimbabwe tomorrow don’t look at Somalia or Sierra Leone but can dream of rivalling Taiwan or South Korea.


There are also those who think nothing can be done to change Mugabe. Which might be true. But Mugabe is not Zimbabwe. Those who have business and political clout should be talking to those likely to assume the mantle after Mugabe is gone to chart the way forward. We should be looking beyond Mugabe and his increasingly irrelevant war with Zimbabwe’s colonial past.


Regionally, he has already rejected as external imposts the requirements of Nepad and its peer review mechanism which is viewed as indispensable to Africa’s renaissance. Internally, Mugabe has inflicted the most devastating damage on the country’s once vibrant agriculture and drained the nation of its human capital through the frustrated exodus of skilled personnel.


Good governance is not in his vocabulary. He has done everything to make it impossible for Zimbabwe to benefit from the goodwill of rich countries that have committed themselves to cancel poor African countries’ debt.


Zimbabwe will not be among such lucky nations as resolutions are taken at the G8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, next month. Yet the country needs every penny it can save to fight HIV and Aids, rebuild schools and hospitals and rehabilitate agriculture and industry. The future of this country does not rest with Mugabe anymore.


So where is Zimbabwe’s Moses to lead his people out of captivity? How many more plagues must we endure before the day of deliverance? Where are the moral leaders to speak for the poor, the helpless and destitute?

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