Do well by doing good

The big issue among some the “twitterati” — that chattering class that believes the world can be captured by their thumbs in a very limited character count — was Econet boss Mr Strive Masiyiwa’s call for an end to economic sanctions on Zimbabwe.

That any sane person would support an end to economic sanctions against their own country is something that can never be in doubt.

But when it comes to some Zimbabweans wonders never cease.

The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act, which is the US sanctions law, is clear.

It directs the Secretary of the Treasury to instruct all American directors at every international financial institution to oppose and vote against “any extension by the respective institution of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe; or any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the Government of Zimbabwe” to the US or any IFI.

Zidera itself, in earlier paragraphs, makes clear that these measures will not hurt Government alone, as “The people of Zimbabwe have thus been denied the economic” benefits of donor and US programmes.

Are these targeted sanctions?

And when businesspeople like Mr Masiyiwa say what Government and many others have been saying all along, to wit, that sanctions contribute to national economic decline, the lunatic fringe heap abuse on him.

Why would anyone invite continued suffering on their own country?

In the same vein, why is there hope in some quarters that the exploration work of Invictus, the Australian firm looking for oil and gas in Muzarambani, will fail to find anything?

These are the same people who are angry that roads are now being fixed in Zimbabwe, as if they have wings and will never touch the ground until their preferred politicians run the country.

They are furious that the international community is responding encouragingly to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s engagement and re-engagement efforts, as if they are citizens of another nation.

They are livid that private companies are supporting Command Agriculture, as if they do not eat what this rich soil bears. They are incensed that the World Bank, IMF and Paris Club are opening doors for debt restructuring, as if they too are not citizens who thus technically also are heavily indebted to other countries and multilateral lenders.

The sheer scale of pessimism and the ugly desire to see their own country fail makes it a wonder why they have not self-immolated already.

It is understandable that this has for long been a highly politicised society.

Since the 1890s when colonialism came we have defined our society in political terms.

The pivotal events of November 2017 were never going to instantly depoliticise our society, more so as there were to be harmonised elections a few short months later.

The reality is Zimbabweans have become quite adept at fighting over everything and nothing.

In some senses it is good to fight, it is good to be able to wage war.

But more important is the ability to wage peace, take up the arms of development, to conduct an all-out assault on poverty.

November 2017 presented all of us with a brilliant opportunity to turn things around, to lay the foundation for creation of an aspirational society, one that wants to become an upper-middle class economy by 2030 on the back of a new narrative that emphasises hard, honest work.

At the core of all this should be what President Mnangagwa is referring to as “enlightened self-interest”.

In the field of ethics, enlightened self-interest is defined as the philosophy that people who behave in a way that furthers the interests of those around them are ultimately serving their own interests as well.

It can be captured more simply thus: “Do well by doing good.”

That means when you do well for your family, your organisation, your community, or your country, you are actually doing well for yourself.

It is enlightened self-interest that has prompted Mr Masiyiwa to say the things he has said about sanctions.

It is enlightened self-interest that motivated some businesses to shun the profiteering of the last few weeks.

It is enlightened self-interest that should compel every Zimbabwean, each in his or her own big or small sphere, to wake up every day and do the best they can.

The opposite of enlightened self-interest would be ignorant selfishness, the kind that drives some to think that the world can only be a better place when they are in power, never mind that they lost elections by quite a margin.

That ignorant selfishness is what fertilises the kind of negativity that we are seeing in some quarters.

It is a negativity that breeds inertia, and can indeed spawn economic sabotage by acts of either omission (such as indolence), or commission (such as corruption).

Let us all opt for enlightened self-interest for a better Zimbabwe. Let us do well by doing good.

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