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The degeneration of Zimbabwe is often cuased by lack of heroic acts by society to protect our institutions

06 Jun 2021 at 13:14hrs | Views
Our representative democracy and constitution were made within the realm of moral and religious people. It therefore follows that the two are wholly inadequate to a government which may decide to be neither moral nor religious.

The question then is in such an occurrence, if it ever happens, can the government be challenged or its systems amended using religious and moral methods? It is possibly the same question our liberators confronted our liberators in 1960s on how they could cause a change when the then government had no morality and religious fibre.

On a similar quagmire Alexis des Tocqueville opined that "Every nation that has ended in tyranny has done that by way of good order. It certainly does not follow from this that peoples should scorn public peace, but neither should they be satisfied with that and nothing more. A nation that asks nothing of government, but the maintenance order is already a slave in the depths of its heart; it is a slave of its wellbeing, ready for the man who will put it in chains."

I speak about this because it is important to critically evaluate how we confront what fails to work in our country. Do we use the same script and rule book to demand for correct paths to be followed? Is it always the way not to evaluate alternative strategic options not those that have failed since 1965? Who is responsible for such evaluation of strategies? What is it we can do to bring the nation to causes and avoiding general complacency?

I am just getting around to reading Naill Ferguson's 2013 book "The Great Degeneration", a book  I bought a few years ago and lost it amongst all the other  "I am reading these when I have time" books stacked on my bookshelf. I finished it after four and half hours. It is pretty a quick read, the e-book is only about 180 pages. So it may be worth a morning or afternoons labour.

The book gave me a lot of pointers of what is causing degeneration of Zimbabwean social, economic and political fabric. I add that it's not everything that is exactly degenerating in the country but there is quite a lot that is going back to a system of feudalism, a system that was fully stocked with personal privileges.

As the book was written in 2013 , it is interesting to compare Ferguson observation of the history up to that point and then compare them to the history that has occurred in the interim, because one of the tests is how well those thoughts hold up to the passage of time.

The observations and conclusions have aged well - very well, in fact. I can find the exact time, ways and events that are causing our Zimbabwean society to degenerate in many of its aspects.

What causes countries to lose their way? "In Zimbabwe it is manifesting in the anti-social behaviour like increased drug use, marriage as a financial contract, social decadence like openly traded sex, increased inequality amongst tribes and political party members, growth not consumerate with forty years of continuous economic slide, crushing debts caused by countless borrowings and assumptions of debts, unemployment level that keep escalating, disenchantment with democratic and constitutional systems, unfocused youths, and many other aspects.

I concure with Fergusons general belief that it's because of institutions –the intricate frameworks within a society flourish or fail- are degenerating (In my recent past opinion in this paper I wrote about our need to defend our institutions)

It must stick in our minds that prior to the emergence of nations based on democratic principles, societal and economic control more or less rested in the personal privileges of the ruling class- things they were free to do and experience were not subject to law and largely denied to the general public.

The great shift in civilisation was the shift of law and economics from a basis personal privilege to public rights that people had a say in how they were governed, and the conflicts were adjudicated by institutions that followed foundational principles of justice and fairness.

I thought about that for a while, and if you pay attention to what our current situation entails, it certainly seems there is a shift from public rights back to personal privilege of an elite cabal and their minions.

It is without doubt under the leadership of Robert Gabriel Mugabe the government basically favoured a network of individuals within the party, its land reform and economic empowerment forays benefitted the same, unfortunately it also had a huge tilt to favour a sub section of the Shona main tribe, board; commissions and senior management appointments seem to be all from the network.

Nothing much has changed under the 2nd  republic, it is still just a network albeit a new one. Our eastern all-weather friends have conveniently joined the mix with increased verve with or no respect for tribes, environment, labour laws, bank use and promotion, promotion of local consumption and export regulations.

This degeneration is the perpetuation of pre-democratic Zimbabwe which was based on personal privilege of just one class of citizens. Nothing much has changed in terms of respect of people's ancestral land, crony capitalism, and information asymmetry, beneficiaries of tenders, concessions, government projects, board appointments and possibly judiciary.

I do think that is often reflected in the legal system into a bifurcated system where some animals are more equal under the law than others.

The failures we are experiencing are not so much social, cultural or economic, they are due to the failure of the institutions that were designed to prevent and/or avoid the creation of the very environment their destruction has led to.
We are living in an era of negligence and complacency- that no one in charge really wants to know what the real problems are, and to arrest the degeneration of civilisation.

Progress will take heroic civic action, bold leadership and radical reform. Unfortunately political leaders across the divide, civic society movers and academics have failed to find alternative strategies because they only speak a language which only their peers' understand. The common man is alien to leaders' concepts, ideas and language.

Progress can only ensure when everyone is involved in a big effort to do the right thing through promotion of robust institutions.

Brian Sedze is a Strategy Consultant and Acting President of Free Enterprise Initiative, an advocacy in public policy. He can be contacted on

Source - Brian Sedze
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