HomeAnalysisWas Zim better off under white rule?

Was Zim better off under white rule?

Calvin Chirwa
As much as I respect other opinions, my assumption is that the question seeks to address the quality of life for the majority of Zimbabweans under white rule.

As a disclaimer, I can say I am not adequately qualified to answer this question as I was born post-independence but at least I am Zimbabwean.

I can share the views from elderly black Zimbabweans I’ve discussed the topic with and I can relate to how life was in the 1980s compared to what it is post 2010.

There is no doubt economic activity was based on racial lines, access to education, health, transport, accommodation (an Indian old man once told me he could only spend the night at Jameson Hotel when he was setting up his roofing business in the 1970s out of about six hotels in Salisbury, now Harare because he was “of colour”), voting rights, employment, etc were all split according to race.

However, considering all that racial tension, it is generally agreed that public services were better managed under white rule, Rhodesians of all colours had access to grants to study in UK even though the state of Rhodesia at that time was not internationally recognised.

The Rhodesian dollar when it was introduced in 1970 was at par with the UK Pound and remained at that value right up to the time it was replaced by the Zimbabwean dollar in 1980.

The currency is important to mention because a stable currency meant employees could take on mortgages; people could invest without suffering the risk of having their investments eroded by inflation and there was and is no negative interest in this part of the world!

Before independence, Zimbabwe had one of the most structurally developed economies in Africa; the Victoria Falls was one of the seven natural wonders of the world, tourism was big for this landlocked country.

Zimbabwe’s rich soil was the envy of many countries in Africa.

Mining companies were consistently vibrant. Zimbabwe exported everything from cotton to maize.

They called it the “Jewel of Africa”, in other words, life was good.

But 40 years later, unemployment is now estimated at over 90%.

The majority of the working population is in the informal market. \

Public services, like running water and sewage collection, are luxuries most cannot afford. The political climate has discouraged tourists from visiting the beautiful country.

I’m convinced most of the problems are of our own making; all Zimbabweans, of all colours, of all social standpoints.

Most skilled professionals have left the country for greener fields; many were given farms which they have not been able to fully utilise, they do not have the resources to invest in the farming projects; the few that do will struggle when they get to the markets; we have killed our own fauna for the promise of quick gains — elephants, lions (eg Cecil) — we lose out on long term far reaching gains from tourism; we have failed to respect property laws in many cases; corruption levels are beyond our nightmares — check the corruption rankings.

It’s disappointing to say the least, that this once-promising country has shrunk at these alarming rates.

We all need to iron out political differences and welcome new ideas to build this place again.

We have fantastic weather, a fairly educated population, strategically positioned for distribution across sub-Saharan Africa, stop blaming other people and races for our problems, we need to roll up our sleeves to clean up our country.

Life can be good again!

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