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Advice from a friend indeed

TITO Mboweni, the governor of the South African Reserve Bank, cannot be one of Zanu PF’s or even President Robert Mugabe’s favourite South Africans.


is warning this week about Zimbabwe’s staggering inflation, compared with that of other member-states of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) is sure to be scoffed at by Zimbabwe’s ruling elite.

They would rather have more of the praise heaped on them by the three South African chiefs visiting the country.

Yet Mboweni’s advice is the counsel of a friend indeed, a friend who is not afraid of telling the truth, for fear of either losing a friend or of causing offence with his frankness.

Zimbabwean leaders are at a stage during which they have become ultra-sensitive to any criticism, but particularly criticism from those they perceive to be friends.

Quite often, such an attitude results from the suspicion that what you are doing is probably not right, but you are either too conceited to admit it or too far gone with it to turn back.

Mboweni is not being extreme or vulgar in his criticism.

He is offering what seems like sound advice.

Many other South Africans, including that redoubtable man of the cloth with the somewhat acid tongue, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have only the best interests of Zimbabwe at heart.

There are few of our recent critics who genuinely wish to see this country go to ruins.

What most of them wish is for Zimbabweans to recognise their enormous potential to pull themselves out of the present morass and regain the political and economic buoyancy they enjoyed five years ago.

There have been political and economic experiments, some of them quite dangerous, and with disastrous results.

Most people hope the leaders have learnt precious lessons from these mistakes and are now willing to accept that they could have done better.

Zimbabwe seems to have more friends than enemies. The truth is that many of our leaders have decided on a rather peculiar and cavalier definition of friendship: only those who agree with you on any subject are your friends, others are enemies.

In international relations, this definition can have disastrous consequences, as the leaders must now accept.

W Saidi,


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