A New Year’s Resolution

As I watched the world celebrate the New Year – here in Bulawayo with fireworks and loud bangs and dogs under the bed, in the USA in Times Square in the freezing cold and elsewhere with mass displays and celebrations, I wondered just what all those people were resolving to do that was different to what they did in 2013. For me 2013 was almost completely taken up with the elections in July and their aftermath. Not very productive as we ran a great campaign but got dumped in the end by the sophisticated electoral manipulations of those in power.

If we do not resolve the do things differently then we might as well accept that nothing much will change – either for better or worse. Life is like that.

So here we all are and what are we going to do about things? I see South Sudan is busy unscrambling the egg they created in 2011, in South Africa they seem intent on continuing with the spiraling downwards of the State and national governance practices. The ANC looks like it’s not going to change significantly and is therefore condemned to continued decline. The CAR is disintegrating along with Syria and Egypt, not far behind are the other players in the Arab spring.

Europe muddles on – the economic crisis persisting and the EU floundering in its efforts to define itself, set boundaries and common policies that will make sense. In Mozambique Renamo ponders its future and its potential to influence the future of that country with its growing wealth and status in the world.

But for us here in Zimbabwe the choices are no less stark and urgent. Zanu PF has caught the bus, found it has no fuel, the tyres are worn and the steering mechanism dangerous and unpredictable. They have all climbed on board and now look decidedly uncomfortable and uncertain. How are they going to get back on the road to legitimacy, growth and some sort of prosperity? They have a map, but it has put them on the wrong road – indigenisation and refusal to face reality in agriculture.

Their leadership is in a huddle with the driver who is old and unable to see properly any more but insists on driving. They are debating what to do; the driver is not listening and in any event is not that interested, all he thinks about is the fact that at last he controls the bus and its passengers and even if the bus is going nowhere he can play with the steering wheel and pretend to know what he is doing and where they are going.

Those of us who do not have a bus to shelter in and a State to support us in the manner to which we have become accustomed, we had better do things differently or face a bleak future. So what did I resolve for 2014?

I am an ideas person; I have always been someone who thinks about the next step and what to do about the problems and difficulties that confront me – either in a personal or a corporate sense. However in the recent past I have not been as effective as I should be in making things happen. My first resolve therefore is to take all those ideas that rattle around in my head, decide which are important and critical to the way ahead and make sure they come to fruition in 2014.

On its own, this first resolution picks up a whole bagful of things and immediately commits me to a very substantial programme of action and initiative in 2014. I will not be short of things to do, time and resources may be a problem.

The second thing I resolved to do is to spend more time with my family – I think I am now the oldest surviving direct descendant of G W Cross who came out to South Africa in 1867. Keeping tabs of everyone is not easy. We have a family tree that goes right back to Robert the Bruce in 1000 AD and to my clan roots in the Graham Clan in Scotland. I need to establish what the descendents of the family are all doing and where they reside and update the family tree and the family history. It is so easy to forget what has gone on in the past and what has been achieved. One of my Aunts wrote a book on G W Cross called “Ours was the Frontier” and when my father died my daughter published a short book called “The Frontier Extended”. It’s time for something else.

But more than that, it’s time for more hugs and kisses and generally more love for all the family. I once gave a talk on the importance of family and growing up with your children to a Rotary Convention. As I spoke I suddenly realized that that large gathering of several hundred, older, successful adults was totally silent. Afterwards I remarked on this to my wife who said that they were all thinking of the wasted years when they were pursuing the false gods of success and fame and were neglecting the one group they really had responsibility for – their children. I am not going to make the same mistake now that I have Grandchildren.

Then finally, I am going to do what I can to get Zimbabwe back on the road to democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. This fight is not over – it’s just begun. We tend to forget that it is 3500 years since Moses saw that burning bush in the desert and was called to lead his people out of the slough of despondency and slavery and into the Promised Land.

We have a lot to do and it’s all critical. The country is desperate for leadership; visionary, inspiring leadership of integrity and accountability. It cannot come from outside – this is our job. How to get the economy working again, how to get industry back on its feet, get agriculture back to where our farmers can feed the country, establish our image abroad so that people can plan that trip to the country with anticipation and pleasure.

In Parliament we may be in opposition again – but by heaven we are going to hold our Ministers to account for what they are doing with our resources. We are going to pursue the corrupt and incompetent and make sure that all public officers do their jobs to the best of their ability.

I watched the Queen address the Commonwealth on Christmas day and was deeply moved by the Christian content of her address and her commitment to what she called our “abiding principles in life” and her clear statement that these are still valid in the world we all live in. I really am tired of those who apologize for adhering to the values that guided our forefathers of hard work, honesty and integrity and spiritual mores. If we want to build a better world then these are the things that are the building blocks, not cynicism, immorality and so called “material success”.

I am of an age in life and hold a position of leadership in my country. It is my responsibility to see to it that we exemplify these principles and values and make sure that they take center stage in our national affairs. 2014 will be an exciting and fulfilling time if these three resolutions are pursued and fulfilled in my life in this year. What about you?

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 4th January 2014