The Sunday Mail
Chris Chenga Open Economy
Many African nations, just like Zimbabwe, have made similar transitions from the bane of colonialism to what are supposed to be the headaches of independence.
Contentedly, as independence opened a new era of indigenous self-governance that is profoundly more virtuous than the darkness of colonialism, independence in itself should have presented Africa with a cause of headaches.
It is in a context of idealism that nations perceive new found freedom as reason for bliss.
Within a context of responsible measure, it is prudent for nations to perceive new found freedom as a moment that requires commitment to mental exhaustion.
Such mental exhaustion must be of both introspective and outward nature.
What shall a new nation make of its freedom? To what extent shall social norms be represented by institutions? What cultures or practices shall be enforced to achieve agreeable socio-economic outcomes?
As a nation that is part of a greater global community, what role in international affairs shall the independent state expect to take?
Independence meant that indigenous demographics have to attend to these questions by themselves. Indeed, these questions are better approached by a nation having sound values and principles to begin with.
Befittingly, the first chapter of our Constitution does broadly define Zimbabwe’s founding values and principles, but it is the circumstantial detail and diversity of situations that stress test these values and principles.
Values and principles must consistently be tested. The notion that they cannot be tested hints at restricted mental curiosity.
As such, all the aforementioned questions demand a nation to open itself to the limitless bounds of continuous enlightenment.
It may be an accurate assumption that our current socio-economic circumstance in Zimbabwe is due to us struggling to sustain momentum of enlightenment.
Consider, for instance, our current values and principles as they relate to gender, society, or economy. Is there any visible evidence of thoughtful progress in terms of our values and principles?
With regards to the economy, our institutions have digressed in terms of public trust and accountability.
Numerous policy and legislation consistently face the challenge of public hesitance and mistrust.
Perhaps then, as citizens and governments, we have stopped questioning the values and principles of what is economic representation.
Indeed, elected economic representatives have a mandate to pursue the manifestation of ideology, but to what extent has our representation been accountable to retaining an ideology’s popular persuasion? It is in popular persuasion where an ideology retains its supremacy of enlightenment and is more likely to realise physical manifestation.
More specifically, our methods of black empowerment and economic transformation can only succeed when the public is convinced on the purity of the ideology’s merits, and then the public willingly taking ownership as active stakeholders involved in the entire process and determination of the ideology’s outcome.
Public hesitance and mistrust suggests that over time we have not been a nation sustaining ideology through mental persuasion of the public.
The current stakeholder inertia is evidence that this approach does not work.
The ideology of black empowerment and socio-economic transformation must be thrown into the fires of intellectual debate, absent of politicised rhetoric, but debated for its intellectual merits and potential widespread persuasion.
We have become a highly politicised people who cannot evaluate our economic values and principles away from the extreme polarity of partisanship; much of which that partisanship is superficial.
As a result, we have an incumbent party that often comes across as ideologues as it cannot articulate attractive merits of black empowerment and socio-economic transformation.
On the other hand, we have opposition that merely opposes and has no intellectual ideology of its own to offer.
As a result, presently we are not a nation driven by values and principles of conviction birthed from intellectual enlightenment. Instead, we are trudging along on conflicting politicised partisan lines.
The economic results are hard to dispute. To revert back to public trust and accountability, the current dynamics in Zimbabwe portray a nation deficient in social contracts and communal thoughtfulness. A majority of citizens are barely making ends meet, yet a culture of corruption remains beyond reproach.
Far from the economic case that pilfering a country’s resources leads to unsustainable wealth disparity, corruption in Zimbabwe has become more alarming in that it shows a nation bankrupt on simple societal enlightenment.
We have decayed social contracts to the extent that a number of representatives do not feel accountable to the general public in terms of public service.
Furthermore, certain representatives lack the communal thoughtfulness that corruption has left many in situations of dire circumstance.
Personally, I am not of the belief that enforcement of law and punitive measures alone are adequate to redeem Zimbabwe from the existent norms of corruption.
Similar to the aforementioned persuasion of ideology, corruption must be defeated on intellectual capacity.
While enforcement of legislation creates a framework to protect a society from corruption, a society is better off when it is enlightened on the shortfalls of tolerating corrupt practices.
We are at a point where society has to be mentally persuaded on the flaws of corruption.
What often distinguishes developed nations from a developing nation such as us is that socio-economic values and principles in developed nations are first granted validity on intellectual grounds.
Most institutions in developed nations were conceived to advance intentional values and principles. In Zimbabwe, and Africa in general, many of our institutions are inherited and we have not gone through similar societal exercise of intellectually interrogating the credence of the values and principles of those institutions.
Careful of being misinterpreted as insult, I would dare to suggest that the values and principles in Zimbabwe today are not of our own enlightenment, and this is a significant cause of our dreary socio-economic progress.