It was the legendary Hannibal who told his army that “I don’t see any mountain,” and yet they were facing the formidable Alps range, two thirds of which are in Italy, then the centre of the Roman Empire.
Was Hannibal denying the existence of the mountains? No. He was seeing the mountains. He was most likely seeing himself defeating the mighty Roman army on the other side.
Zimbabwe may be said to be in a similar situation. The Alps we are facing are the myriad external challenges that stand in the way of economic recovery.
As summarised by distinguished Business Studies Professor Tony Hawkins, these include the global economic slowdown, weaker commodity prices, tighter credit markets –– reduced capital inflows, sharply higher oil prices, a marked slowdown in South Africa, and currency turbulence.
These are the Alps, the formidable mountain range. Can anyone be like Hannibal and say “I don’t see any mountain”? Remember, when Hannibal said this, his soldiers repeated it after him.
Thus they mustered the courage to conquer the unconquerable Alps first before engaging the mighty Roman army.
Motivational speakers call this PMA (Positive Mental Attitude). We desperately need to remain positive in the face of such realities. Unlike Zimbabwe, however, Hannibal sorted out his politics, hence he had his army rallying behind him.
In our case, our camp is in total disarray. Again, to quote the professor, the issues to be resolved are rationalising land redistribution, sorting out the indigenisation issue with efficacy, tackling debt relief, addressing the currency regime, and making headway on privatisation and public sector reform.
An army moves on discipline and in our case the impartial rule of law should prevail. So here we are; a US$10 billion economy (Hannibal) versus a $70 trillion global economy (the Alps).
Again, the question, will anyone proffer to say “I don’t see any mountain?” Interestingly, there is a group of CEOs that are trying to see things the Hannibal way. The CEO Roundtable, as they are known, has been saying this for two years now.
They believe Zimbabwe’s economy can not only be turned around to become merely functional, but it can become a US$100 billion economy in 18 years’ time. And that roughly translates into an average growth rate of 14,16% a year. A “fantabulous” figure, ie sounds like fantasy but at the same time would be fabulous if it turned out to be true.
Given this premise, it would be interesting to see, if the Almighty grants us life over the next 18 years, if such an economic miracle occurs. We’ll then know if this was just a money-spinning event or a substantiated dream or vision. We are certainly not ruling out that possibility. Greatest achievers, we are told, are today’s daydreamers.
And to finish off with a quote from Professor Hawkins: “The eurozone crisis and the Arab Spring are reminders that there is no such thing as certainty in politics, business or economics.”
One can adduce therefore that the seemingly impossible can be achieved; it’s a question of mind over matter.
By Itai Masuku