By Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu
THE most important question that Zimbabweans aspiring to be councillors, House of Assembly members and senators are likely to be asking their prospective constituencies in Zimbabwe as they campaign for the 2018 harmonised plebiscite is: What kind of country would they like Zimbabwe to become as a result of the first new dispensation harmonised elections?
The general answer is obvious that every Zimbabwean wishes to be able to have adequate food and beverages, healthy and comfortable accommodation, respectable and suitable clothing, accessible social services and, above all, security of properties and lives.
A very, very important fact to remember about Zimbabwe is that it became an independent nation on April 18 1980, as a result of a bitter liberation war in which thousands of lives were lost, in addition to which, unquantifiable property was destroyed.
It was because of that liberation struggle that we achieved national sovereignty, that is to say, the inalienable constitutional right of each Zimbabwean to select and elect their own councillor, House of Assembly member and senator without fear or coercion.
Those who are thus elected by that process are mandated to create a conducive national environment in which the people’s needs, stated above, can be created, achieved or accessed.
One of the best ways to launch, manage and sustain a successful national socio-economic programme is to base it on the country’s smallest administrative area, which, in Zimbabwe’s case, is a municipal ward.
Wards are represented by councillors who should be local residents.
Zimbabwe’s rural areas are divided into communal lands, commercial farming regions and other categories such as national parks and urban centers.
We shall deal with communal lands in this article because that is where the country’s largest population lives, and its development has not been given the important attention it clearly deserves.
In the early 1960s, some freedom fighters in then Salisbury (now Harare) used to share ideas about how they would develop the country’s economy and social services if they got into power.
During such discussions, it emerged that virtually everyone was of the opinion that the wards would be the starting points for rural development.
The establishment of industries in various wards would be determined by human and other resources in each ward.
It was the general agreed opinion that a ward rich in raw timber would be helped and encouraged to produce more of that material and to establish furniture-manufacturing industries within its borders.
Material such as gravel would be used for the macadamisation of roads not only in wards where it is found but also in places which would have to import it from other wards.
The author of this article vividly remembers that after his release from a five-year-long detention spell in the Mafungabusi area of the Gokwe region, one of the pioneers of Zimbabwe’s modern African nationalism, the renowned Cde George ‘Bonzo’ Nyandoro, participated in one such discussion at the Beatrice Cottages Social Club in December 1963.
He said in a region such as Chipinge-Mount Selinda of the Eastern Highlands where there are rubber producing trees, a free and independent Zimbabwe should be able to produce tubes and tyres and establish a tractor-manufacturing factory in that area to be used by the country’s agricultural sector.
Cde Nyandoro, a self-made man, was the first black person to become a member of the Chattered Institute of Secretaries (CIS). He is buried at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare.
In the development of wards, some manpower would have to be procured locally, thus creating employment within every ward. In situations where management personnel was lacking, such human resources would be brought in from outside the ward but mainly to train locals to manage their own enterprises.
Markets for products and services would be determined by demand, but many ward-based industries would be encouraged to mount aggressive national and regional marketing campaigns for their products or services.
Money to launch such ward-based enterprises would be from local sources through taxation and also from foreign investors, as well as soft bank loans.
The Government would be obliged to monitor very closely the operations of such businesses to protect the banking sector, investors and the public in general.
The Government would be required to motivate the people by organising training workshops regularly and not occasionally, to reduce the possibility of failure of projects due to mal-administration or sheer irresponsible behaviour.
Wards with visionary leaders could be inspired by these ideas to draw up socio-economic development plans that include the construction of schools, clinics and hospitals, irrigation schemes, roads and industrial/commercial centres.
Some of those projects could be on a short-term basis (five years) but most can be on either a medium (eight-to-10 years) or on a long-term (11-to-20 years) basis.
Some projects such as construction of schools or clinics would obviously be for a whole community, but many commercial and industrial undertakings are suitable usually for either individual ownership or for private companies.
The most important motivational message from leaders to followers on socio-economic development is to urge them to improve their respective areas so that they will leave them in a much better condition than when they found them.
Since the Bantu are traditionally very fond of referring to history, that is, to appeal to and also appease their ancestors and ancestral spirits, it helps a great deal to advise them to remember that their names and roles will feature in the history of their respective wards and projects in whose development they would have participated.
Each ward would be expected to develop in a given period to such a level that it would eventually establish its own rural town, its own educational centres, its more or less self-reliant medical institutions, sports facilities, an all-weather macadamised road system and a commercial infrastructure that can supply virtually all basic needs.
Wards through which some rivers and streams flow would be helped to build dams to have reliable water supplies since water is essential for industrialisation.
In areas where surface water sources cannot be developed for whatever reason, underground water sources should be an alternative.
There are many areas in the communal lands where agriculture has a great potential, either for subsistence or for commercial purposes.
Such areas could emulate the Gokwe region where hard work has actually transformed the lives of a large number of families.
Cotton, sorghum and peanuts are some of the crops that can be cultivated commercially in many communal lands by encouragement from councillors, House of Assembly members and senators.
The Zimbabwe everyone is wishing to see and live in is, a country where there is a much more formal than informal employment; where clinics and hospitals provide services right round the clock and medicines are procured at the clinics or hospitals; a country whose educational institutions are able to offer services with ease because of the availability of teaching aids, appropriate facilities such as classrooms, laboratories, libraries as well as adequately qualified and well remunerated teachers.
Zimbabweans wish to see all the hitherto damaged roads repaired, the national currency restored and the banks operating professionally while the railway services and the energy sector normalised.
It is also undoubtedly every Zimbabwean’s wish that the new dispensation should eradicate all forms of corruption and thievery of public financial resources and assets with maximum urgency.
It is undoubtedly every Zimbabwean’s wish to live in a Zimbabwe that has economic adequacy, social security, political peace and stability, and cultural pride, freedom and identity in spite of the natural cultural diversity obtaining in the country.
The post-dispensation Zimbabwe should adopt policies based on merit and not on nepotism, tribalism, racialism or regionalism in its operations, particularly in employment activities in Government ministries and parastatals.
Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu is a retired, Bulawayo-based journalist. He can be contacted on cell, 0734 328 136 or through email: firstname.lastname@example.org