“A ship in the harbour is safe, but that is not what ships were built for.”
The only reason a person should get in a position of leadership in any facet of life, should be because they are driven by a sense of legacy. One should want to say during their tenure in office, they inherited a state of affairs “x” and left a positive and sustainable legacy “y” based on prior long held plans and vision. Otherwise, what is the point?
By Albert Gumbo
There is good reason to look at the history of leaders who have made an impact on the countries that they have served, for good or bad. The founding fathers of the United States of America jostled for political power amongst themselves but it was more about who was best suited to leave their imprint on American society than a mere desire to occupy the white house. It was a battle of ideas.
I dream of a strong Zimbabwe, strong enough to provide the wealth and job creation opportunities that would allow every single family to provide themselves with the minimum requirements of food, clothing and permanent shelter and for the entrepreneurial among our people to prosper even further.
African unity is a definite goal. I believe that the United States of Africa is an illusion beyond reach but, at the same time, think that it is definitely possible to have 5 to 6 blocs of powerful stable African countries that trade with each other and the world. I believe that, for instance, Zimbabwe could easily form a union with Zambia, Malawi, the DRC and Congo Brazzaville to, combined in to a new country, leverage its resources for the common good of its citizens. I believe this should be the aim of anyone who aspires to lead any of these countries; to work for this formal union for the reason stated above but also to encourage the other 4 or 5 blocs to do the same. I do not think African countries will compete successfully in the world without making these blocs possible.
For this to happen, the countries cited in my example, but also those that would make up other blocs would need to start working, almost on project level, country by country, towards such a goal. Discussions with serious intent must start on aligning currencies, laws and common values. Crucially, fiscal discipline in line with social democratic values must be pursued. The sustainable use of natural resources for the uplifting of the masses, the creation of a sustainable middle class and swelling of state coffers from tax revenue can only make for a successful society. This means a leader today only works to strengthen their particular country, but in preparation for passing on the baton to those who would eventually form the union. Many African Singapores will make for 5 or 6 powerful African states, independent, trading with each other, the globe and, just as important, having a more powerful voice in the international community through the United Nations and other bodies such as the World Trade Organisation.
To go back to my example, top of the list would be to stop the state of permanent conflict in the Eastern DRC and harness the resources there for the national good in a modern and sustainable manner, for Africa has been her own worst enemy in this region. The same would apply to the construction of the Inga Dam for a permanent energy supply while the mining sector in Zambia and Zimbabwe would have to be given a renewed lease of life. I believe that that the fisheries industry in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia is under resourced and underutilised. There is great potential in that industry both for food security, wealth creation, sustainable employment and revenue generation for the state.Manufacturing capability is enhanced when one is assured of power supply, uninterrupted and in abundance.While Zimbabwean agriculture has taken something of a nose dive, all is not lost. The combined strength of Zimbabwean and Malawian tobacco will give the country a bigger say in negotiating export prices. Intelligent policies for food production will lead to security of tenure for farming communities, protection of strategic African land and sustainable food security. We owe it to ourselves to become the bread basket of Africa and a major supplier or organic agricultural product to the rest of the globe.
The biggest threat to African countries other than youth unemployment is climate change. Water resilience and the right policies that would underpin it would be strengthened by a country that has a “regional” perspective over a larger surface area than the smaller current national one.
As for human resources, our ability to “liberate” women from patriarchy will be the foundation that births an educated and thinking society. What is so difficult about enacting equal pay for equal work for women? Beyond that, what is difficult about enacting and enforcing legislation that makes education of girls compulsory and the marriage of girls before the legal of consent illegal? For reasons that I do not fully understand, politicians have lacked the political will to pass sweeping legislation that would help to make a major leap for the continued liberation of women in one move. Behaviour follows the law and so the laws must be crafted today for fully liberated women to emerge tomorrow.