We need coherent, pragmatic leaders

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IN an increasingly integrating, interlinked and interdependent world, countries and their leaders must understand the world has become far more complex and is forever changing. This requires a paradigm shift to a pragmatic framework over ideological considerations.

The Zimbabwe Independent Editorial

Rigid ideological beliefs and solutions to critical issues, particularly economic matters, no longer work effectively and thus alternatives must be tried.

Seeing things in binaries, like during the Cold War, doesn’t help anymore.As the world changes, and changes fast, informed people have lost the appetite for extreme positions and views. Rather than admiring those with strong political views, progressive people now increasingly understand and acknowledge that those frozen on fossilised ideological templates are blinkered and poor at both listening and understanding, for they belong to the past.

Ideological captivity makes people self-righteous, even consumed by hubris, whereas pragmatism requires compromise between different world views, and the world is now dotted with such compromises.

So, pragmatism is a buffer against ideological extremism, as well as a tool for rational and progressive development.

When Xi Jinping became leader of the Communist Party of China, he did not pay tribute at Mao’s tomb or tour the rural heartland of Hu Jintao but instead travelled to Shenzhen, a prosperous special economic zone once overseen by his father. There he laid flowers at a bronze statue of Deng Xiaoping, acknowledging the architect of China’s current prosperity and its rise as a global power.

We were reminded of the subject of ideology and pragmatism by our government’s recent threats to ban exports of raw platinum to force foreign mining companies to refine locally. This came amid the latest official threat to ban foreigners from owning bakeries, barber shops, estate agencies and other such businesses at a time when local companies are retrenching and shutting down en masse.

Of course, indigenisation and value addition are necessary, but the underlying assumptions of this campaign smacks of incoherent ideological thinking. Ironically, the January deadline for companies will affect nationals from China, DRC, India, Nigeria and Pakistan, among others. This and other things like the “Look East” policy actually dramatise the problem.

Zimbabwe is “looking east”, while the East is looking West and in every other direction. Deng, with his cat metaphor, and Kwame Nkrumah’s words, long debunked this misleading linear thinking.

The truth is we don’t need such things as the “Look East” policy; we need progressive thinking and strategies of economic development. Governments can’t afford to think within the “Us versus Them” premise; their policies and decisions must be based on research, data, technocratic advice and citizen needs.

We live in a world of complex matrices and perplexing choices, so we need to be more nuanced and discerning in our understanding of issues. Crude and crass thinking doesn’t help anymore. Zimbabwe needs a coherent and pragmatic leadership, not insular and myopic rulers, more so when clashes over resources have become a political lightning rod in many mineral-rich countries like ours.

4 thoughts on “We need coherent, pragmatic leaders”

  1. Manqoba Mamamela says:

    Look East shld be premised on FDI not zhing-zhong shops!

  2. Muporofita Jeremiah says:

    there is no such thing as look east, because those in the east have said do not look at us, we did eat your mother’s sadza. Where does that put Prof Moyo and his misplaced ideologies.

  3. Wilbert Mukori says:

    Could not agree with you more!

    Whilst Zimbabwe has insulted and enraged all would be investors from the west with Mugabe’s thinly disguised looting agenda and then forced to look East for help. China has not only been looking West and taking all the low-tech jobs from the US and Europe but has also looked to Africa and other spots in the world to sell them her low-tech cheap goods forcing the local producer out of business. In other words China has looked West to steal low-tech jobs from the West and looked to impoverished nations to steal the few jobs they have!

  4. Mupini wasvotoka says:

    Sure we are sitting ducks while other 3rd world countries are machining their economies to fly sky high. Pragmatism is such a fundamental in national leadership. Would it surprise to find out that all sub-saharan economies could eventually bully ours, its already happening and truly its only a matter of time. Without spirit one can prophecy that if visionaries keep going in theory, what will materialize is a nation like Sudan heartedly giving aid to Zimbabwe. No offence, its vision: National principles of economics must be seriously competent, while both republics and monarchies require that.

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