Democracy is the offspring of development


POLITICAL power tussles in the country’s battle for who governs, have since 2000 centred mainly on the issues of democracy and development, as parties push their manifestoes to the electorate. This has created space for deep socioeconomic and political debates that either drive the country forward or reverse progress made since the attainment of independence. One fact that has refused to be buried, especially by those who committed their lives to its freedom, is that Zimbabwe’s current situation cannot be fully understood without a thorough probe into the socio-economic and political problems that were brought to the country by colonialism. This is the historical reality which some in our midst have been frantically trying to brush off. This understanding of our history of colonialism is also important to Zimbabweans especially in the context of the brazen attempts by some to smuggle foreign ways of governance. Most are alien and inimical to our prospects for development and are intended to destroy the goals of the total empowerment of our citizens, both locally and abroad. Colonialism tells us that the land of Zimbabwe was settled by the British in 1890 and was immediately named Rhodesia by the notorious tuberculosis patient, Cecil John Rhodes, who had come to Africa to seek medication for his ailment. In the colony of Zimbabwe, native Africans were ruled by an all-white government in which they were not allowed to participate in anything that had to do with the country’s development. Only whites were granted the right to vote and elect leaders governing their land, while on the other hand laws were passed which prohibited the presence of Africans in many public places. Land was stolen and plundered by the minority whites who owned and controlled over 75 percent of productive land. The story was the same on the economic front where the minority whites were in total control of industry. And when the new black Government, led by President Robert Mugabe, took over power on April 18 1980, it was faced with the daunting task of bringing back democracy so that Zimbabweans could freely participate in the development of their country. The fact that freedom fighters brought democracy to the country must always be made clear and that current efforts by some in Zimbabwe and abroad to remove President Mugabe from power through clandestine means is not a ‘struggle for democracy’ as they claim because democracy came to this country in 1980. This brief background of Zimbabwe’s history of colonialism will help many to understand why Zimbabweans and indeed any other people throughout the world require development in order for them to realise democracy. This is because soon after the attainment of independence in Zimbabwe, the economy had to be transformed to suit the needs and aspirations of the black majority that had been alienated from the mainstream economic activities of the country by the racist colonial settler regime. This has witnessed economic development programmes like the land reform and indigenisation and economic empowerment . Contrary to the widely held belief that President Mugabe inherited a strong economy, the truth of the matter is that he took over an economy in shambles and one that had been shattered by over 15 years of the protracted war of liberation that the country had witnessed as Zimbabweans marched towards freedom. That President Mugabe inherited and settled Ian Smith’s debt that was clocking nearly a billion United States dollars is another fact that has not been told to the world and it needs to be emphasised so that all the talk of 30 years of economic mismanagement is rendered null and void. And this economy was a minority economy in which a few whites were in total and unmitigated control of the country’s land and means of production. When the new Government gave back Zimbabweans their rights to fully participate in the economy of their country as free people that meant they were now a developed people because what they had at the time was the flag and their voting rights and not economic independence. Democracy had been achieved yes, but what of development? For indeed democracy without morality is nothing compared to development where the majority is in total and unmitigated control of their land and natural resources. Examples of countries that claim to be democratic but whose people do not have even a say in their economies in Africa are plenty. South Africa is one such country which is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank, making it one of only four countries in Africa represented in this category. Sadly, however, is the reality that a quarter of its population is unemployed and lives on less than US$1,25 a day. This is despite the fact that South Africa is said to be one of the most democratic countries in Africa and yet the majority own and control nothing in their own land of birth. According to 2009 estimates, South Africa has an annual GDP purchasing power parity of US$488,6 billion. It ranks 26th in the world in terms of GDP. Per capita GDP is US$10 000. The life expectancy rate is 44,6 years and the infant mortality rate per one thousand births is 54,0. For those under the age of five, the mortality rate (per 1 000) is 67. What this means is that this democracy tag they carry is simply represented in the flag they have been flying since they attained independence in 1994 while their erstwhile colonisers have gone on to maintain their firm control of the country’s land and natural resources at the expense of the majority. Zimbabwe has said no to this and the country has taken measures to ensure that the majority are at the apex of the political and economic activities currently taking place in their land of birth. The debate on what comes first democracy or development automatically produces one clear and deafeningly loud answer to the effect that development comes ahead of democracy because democracy is the offspring of development. Democracy can only be achieved by a country or people if and when the majority is in total and unmitigated control of their land, natural resources and economy in general And it should also be made clear to all that the struggle for democracy that some are now claiming to be theirs in Zimbabwe was achieved 31 years ago when the country attained its independence on April 18 1980 because the war of liberation was about achieving and bringing democracy to Zimbabwe. So there is no doubt that Zimbabwe is still fighting to maintain and sustain that democracy that was brought by the country’s liberators in 1980 by giving Zimbabweans access to own and control their land, natural resources and economy through the revolutionary land reform and resettlement and the indigenisation and economic empowerment programmes that are currently being implemented in the country. What the electorate now fully understands is the fact that Zimbabwe is a full and complete democracy as can be seen by the Government’s initiation and implementation of peopleoriented programmes and policies that have developed their country. There is no debate about what comes first between democracy and development, because democracy does not bring food on their tables while development, on the other hand, exactly does that. Let those with eyes see.


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