Business is all about integrity — Part Four

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By Charles T.M.J. Dube

ZIMBABWE’s economy is bound to take off in a big way and my contributions so far are meant to work on the proper mindset which is a necessary condition for such take off.
Ethics, trust, integrity and reputation are key elements in all business transactions.
Some foreigner somewhere probably thinks all Zimbabwean businessmen are crooks because he was deceived by one.
I could easily brand all garages owned and run by my fellow indigenes as unreliable because of my experiences with one.
We will need to brace up for opening of expanded local and international business and in all this, it is important to value quality, reliability and integrity.
We must also remember, like we have said before, that the silent fart of one spoils the air for us all and causes a whiplash for everybody.
The Government, the Church, the family, our alumni associations and our social clubs must act as agents for the revival of honour and integrity in our society.
Let the churches preach the ‘love your brother as you love yourself’ doctrine which has no room for dishonesty and heartlessness.
We have suggested the Government not only grow teeth but sharpen them in terms of penance to those behind the silent farts.
We must also be our own keepers and our brother’s keeper as well when it comes to issues of integrity.
We can do this by neither collaborating nor tolerating acts which demonstrate lack of integrity.
Even in terms of service delivery, we must reject shoddy jobs and service. If we shun and ensure dishonesty does not pay, then the corrupt among us will either change or die of asphyxia.
My engineer friend, Tawanda Mudawarima, who is Bloemfontein-based, after reading the last article sent me a whatsapp message which read: Similar experiences. I had a wonderful stereo! One channel started bass distortion. I’ve got some electrical and electronic background, moreover, I knew my music system well.
This indigenous friendly fellow in town said he could fix it. Removed left channel, fused wires to one channel and for the next three hours does nothing, but on my amplifier comes a different wicked animal.
He gives me the bill, says he charges by the hour and it dawned on me why he vehemently refused to let me see or into his work space behind the curtain. I could have fused the channel myself if I didn’t want stereo. Hushed me down like a fool.
I threatened taking him to The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, he just laughed saying many had done the same, and then showed me some small print to the effect ”Pay up or lose amp, and get beaten in the process!”
I then took my system to whites at Philips and they fixed it at a fraction of cost with excellent service. Baba, I can relate to your experience bitterly.
In the same response, Tawanda goes on to give his experiences in working with some Japanese contractor on the Chirundu Bridge with untested technology, where the contractor was putting his head on the block by claiming he would complete the project on time and to his Ministry’s satisfaction.
He claims further enquiries when he eventually stayed in Japan established the Japanese contractor was literal about his commitment to die should he fail to live to his word in terms of quality and timeliness in delivery in terms of their kamikaze culture.
Try and replay our stories of lack of integrity in a world in which we have to compete with such nations in this ‘global village’. The thing though is that this greed and undyire has not always been part of our culture but comes in as a corruption of our unhu/ubuntu.
I assist my widowed sister Florence in managing some of her business premises.
A very empathetic Christian woman and yet what she has had to go through with defaulting tenants who come to rent her premises with flowery business enterprises has completely changed her view of the typical Zimbabwean businessperson.
She has had to contend with hefty ZESA and water bills left unpaid by what appear to be men and women of integrity but who, once they get the lease, want a free ride not just in terms of rent but even the utilities.
She has now been hardened, having witnessed men who walk tall among other businessmen with semblances of honour default first month, second and so on even despite promises of squaring up shortly as they ‘will have encountered some unexpected hiccups’ in their lines of trade.
Such people will be happy to walk away leaving unpaid rates and utility bills, even after inducing pressure, without any sign of shame.
Whoever coined the saying ‘kakara kununa hudya kamwe’, (a carnivorous animal survives by preying on the weaker species) has inculcated a doctrine direct from Satan himself which is killing all ethics and trust in the conduct of business.
In the end we are all losers and will never take off as a nation if we do not disentangle ourselves from such a capitalist philosophy.
It does not only raise the cost of doing business, but makes us uncompetitive with other nations.
Paul summarises integrity for us very well when he writes: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:3-5)

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