It's just not Cricket
Last night I, and thousands of other Zimbabweans had a chance to
the hardships of living in this broken country behind us for a few
we watched a young, plucky Zimbabwean cricket team beat the worlds best
the form of Australia in the 20/20 competition in South Africa. It was
thrilling stuff with the man of the match winning the game with a four
the second last ball.
The sight of those kids pouring onto the field and hugging each other
then taking a lap of honor was something as was the sight of the entire
praying on the side of the field when their immediate jubilation had
spent. I have said it before and it is worth repeating - we are
most Christian of countries in the continent.
It reminded me of a cocktail party in London put on by a firm of
brokers in about 1977. We had just won the CC Cup - the top accolade
cricket nations in the second league. I was a guest at the function as
Economist of the Agricultural Marketing Authority and was talking to
brokers about maize sales when we were joined by an elderly man - one
senior partners who, when he heard where I was from, turned to me and
'there is nothing wrong with a country that can play first class
In one sense he is right - if we can produce 20 kids who can play the
and win and then hug each other and pray together, we must be doing
something right. If only we could do everything else the same way, but
not and we continue to violate all the rules for a sound functioning
democratic and prosperous nation. There is nothing wrong with Zimbabwe,
have the people, the resources and the knowledge to be a winning nation
in an era where world commodity prices are at record levels and Africa
started to grow rapidly in economic terms (the continent will average 6
cent growth this year) Zimbabwe remains a shrinking, impoverished and
disabled country sliding into the category of a failed State.
The reason - we just do not play by the rules.
The State continues to recklessly print money - trillions of dollars
month and our currency continues its collapse. Today the local currency
trading in some quarters at 350 000 to 1 - near the levels reached in
when the State tried to buy foreign exchange in the open market for
essential needs. I suspect the same is happening today.
We have just devalued our official exchange rate - from an effective
to 1 for the USD to 30 000 to 1. That is still only 10 per cent of the
of the US dollar in the open market. Interest rates are all over the
you cannot get an interest bearing deposit rate for money on short term
deposit and long term money earns about 350 per cent per annum in an
environment where inflation is now probably about 25 000 per cent.
these extreme conditions savings and capital just evaporate.
The root causes of our collapse are political - the oligarchy who
power in 1980 as a result of the liberation war and negotiations
by the big nations of the world, hangs onto power and defends their
power at the expense of every value that they sought in decades of
against white minority government. They have failed, but refuse to
They exploit our inherent character as a Nation - our law abiding
their open and peaceful character and abuse these worthy traits to
their positions and privilege. They abuse the people who have built up
country, robbing them of their assets and destroying their enterprise
savings. They behave like feudal demagogues who think we are all
and serfs, here for their pleasure and nothing more.
Our greatest enemy is the idea that we can do nothing about this
Nothing could be further from the truth. Listening to the commentators
night, time and time again they said, 'Can Zimbabwe really believe
beat the Australians?' That was the key to the match - was it
they might imagine that the invincible might be taken down and
answer was yes; it is possible.
We in the MDC have spent the last 8 years working on a democratic
to a new government and society. We have been denied that victory three
times by a regime that has simply moved the goal posts; arbitrarily
the rules and bribed the umpires and even when that was not enough,
have arranged to beat up the opposite team and intimidate their
When that was not enough they even interfered with the scoreboard.
Now we have negotiated with the association that governs this sort of
in Africa and have an agreement on the rules to be applied to the next
round. Not ideal, but at least they give us a chance to prevail this
round. The question is, do we believe enough in ourselves to think it
happen and to go out onto the field - still the minnows in this game,
ready to win and take the prize back home?
Our greatest threat is that we have no vision of what the future might
like. We saw a little of that last night. The Bible says that a Nation
without a vision dies. That's where we are and we need to break out
slough of despond and get back up and say we can do this. We can become
winning nation again - but it's all up to us.
Bulawayo, 13th September 2007.