In my instalment last week, I mentioned that success was indeed more painful than failure.
The import of this supposition was to concede that the recipe of success includes gallons of sweat, brute determination and beastly focus.
More than 32 years ago few could have predicted that China, which is now the global template of success, could manage to overcome the odds and become the world’s second biggest economy.
However, with hindsight economists have been able to discover that the secret of China — home to more than 1,3 billion souls — lies in its work ethic: the sheer amount of work that can be processed by its workforce.
But in these parts of the world we have chosen to blissfully ignore the cliché that to live like a king you must work like a slave.
The Chinese have literally been working like slaves to achieve the status they now pride themselves in.
As they begin to export such ethics to the world, predictably there are those that have been quick to accuse them of being abusive.
Their ant-like work ethic has seen huge buildings, great roads and various other mega projects springing up in different parts of Africa, including in Zimbabwe, and in record time.
Many have marvelled at the time taken to construct the Defence College along Mazowe Road and the hotel that is now taking shape near the National Sports Stadium.
This is the development that we constantly harp about, but we must crucially realise that such feats come at a price.
If one cares to research the economic history of some of the civilisations that live in splendour today, it becomes clear that countless episodes of back-breaking work precede today’s glamour.
This generation has been quick to forget the inglorious history of the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the 1800s where young boys and girls were used to wheel industry and commerce, but has been quick to recount the glories of the present-day London.
Most know about the book Oliver Twist that was written by famous author Charles Dickens and was inspired by these horrors.
Put simply, modern-day Britain, which boasts of a Gross Domestic Product of more than $2,4 trillion, was built by the backbone of these little boys and girls who worked like slaves.
Conversely, China today is not accused of using child labour, but of abusing workers. What hypocrisy!
Perhaps the most inspiring example of sheer human work ethic is exemplified by the Herculean effort that has been invested by the Netherlands in protecting itself from storm surges from the sea.
It is believed that two thirds of Netherlands is vulnerable to storm surges from the sea and historically the Dutch have paid the ultimate price after catastrophic episodes of freak weather conditions.
In the 1950s the country — using largely primitive technology — managed to built defences consisting of man-made dykes, dams and floodgates.
But the marvel of the world has been the storm surge barriers that were built in the Nieuwe Waterweq waterway, the gateway to once the world’s largest port, Rotterdam.
The barriers consist of two large floating gates that are 22 metres high and 210 metres long, and made of steel. About 237-metre-long steel trusses were welded to the gates. It is believed that standing upright these arms would be as high as the Paris Eiffel Tower.
Without these mega-works, probably the state known as Netherlands could have vanished from the face of the earth.
The same can be said about the construction of the Eyptian pyramids and the Chinese Three Gorges Project that was initially regarded as ambitious.
Today the Three Gorges Project, which is a hydro-electric dam that spans the Yangtse River and began in December 1994, has been completed (July 4 2012) and has an installed capacity of 22 500 megawatts of electricity.
Worryingly, in Zimbabwe, there are some sections that believe that current labour laws, which seem to be skewed in favour of employees, are not conducive for the creation of a productive nation.
By virtue of being colonised by the British and inheriting most of their governance systems, we seem to have inherited a “gentlemanly” system of working, which has unfortunately disintegrated over the past 13 years when the country was under siege.
Most particularly, the greatest asset that this country lost during the decade when our economy was in a tailspin was our ethics.
Trading, wheeling and dealing have totally eclipsed our belief in hard work.
Ximex Mall today stands as an enduring relic of such a fading belief.
There is still a section that believes that they can make a living by “hustling”, which essentially means by hook and crook. Even in most workplaces people are simply reporting for duty to help the days go by and look forwards towards the next pay day.
More and more people are now being paid as a habit without necessarily putting in the necessary work expected of them.
Put simply, resources are not being efficiently being used as people are not being paid for producing, but for simply reporting for duty.
This seems to be the basis of a recent report indicating that Zimbabweans are one of the least productive in the world today.
Currently, there is a huge debate on the local labour laws; on the one hand, worker representatives say the laws are repressive, while on the other hand, Government notes that they distort production costs and, hence, are not cost effective.
Historically, Zimbabweans were known for their hard work and work ethic. The Great Zimbabwe stands as a symbol of the hard work and expertise of people who inhabit this sacred land.
Kariba Dam, regarded as one of the largest man-made resevoirs in the world, is also another modern-day example.
We need as a nation to reclaim our work ethic.
It is now clear that Zimbabwe is near to the promised land after being traumatised by a haunting decade of decline.
So, to prepare for an imminent economic take-off there is pressing need to ensure that we configure ourselves for growth, and tweaking the labour laws in one such option.
Wages need to be indexed to production, and there is need to inculcate the spirit and culture of hard work.
It is in our DNA, all it needs is to be rediscovered again.
Some have found the way the Chinese work as tasteless, but in life you cannot have it any other way.
Those who consider themselves “unfortunate” to work for the Chinese know fully well that there is nothing that divides the day and the night. You work around the clock.
Here it might be alien, but in the Asian world its very common.
Most often, Zimbabweans are familiar with the trick employed by those in formal work who slouch during normal working hours in order to drag their day into overtime, through which they hope to earn more wages.
Zimbabwe doesn’t actively have a culture of strict supervisors unlike other societies, this practice has weighed heavily on our aspirations of becoming a modern-day developmental state.
In 2010, the South Korean government had to resort to switching off lights at government buildings to encourage workers used to burning the midnight oil to go home and “rediscover the importance of family”.
It goes without saying that this is the reason why such societies continue to enjoy a high standard of living.
As the country continues to re-discover itself, we also need to re-discover ourselves and our values.
Without them, we are surely destined for eternal damnation.
The huge infrastructural deficit that we presently have really calls on us to apply ourselves and improve our lot.
There is need for a radical cultural shift in attitude and behaviour for Africa and Africans to ensure that we transition from developing to developed.
This is not your continent if you are indifferent for how Africa is ridiculed in other parts of the world because of poverty, poor infrastructure and inefficient systems.
Only this generation can make a difference.