Our Destructive Politics
Our Destructive Politics
In the last few weeks the nation has been overwhelmed by stories about vendors and the problems related to their relocation from the central business district especially in Harare. Many are convinced that the problem of vendors is a direct consequence of unemployment levels in Zimbabwe which is hovering above the 80% mark. The International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) had the audacity to publish a report stating that unemployment figures were exaggerated and even suggested that it was only at about 10%. I don’t know what they were smoking but clearly the problem cannot be hidden any more. We have become a nation of vendors and traders, and watched the once jewel of Africa turning from the great Zimbabwe to Zimbabwe ruins.
It is easy to talk about the problem of vendors because it is all out there for everybody to see and it is happening in the urban cities where the media can easily focus attention. This is the tragedy of our society where solutions for citizens in remote areas are neglected because they are not the focus of the media. There are communities in the Save Valley in the Lowveld that are living in fear of wild animals, who have had their precious crop destroyed by elephants, livestock eaten by lions, hyenas threatening children from attending schools that are located in some cases 12 kilometres away. Some of the problems they face include the contamination of the Save river by the diamond mining companies in Chiyadzwa which is killing livestock.
Just a couple of months ago the communities of Chipinge and Buhera reported through a citizen ICT platform, ZimVoices, that four people had been mauled to death by lions, four others attacked by buffaloes and a few others attacked by crocodiles in the Save River. Some have stopped reporting the incidents of their livestock being killed because they know that no action will be taken. Some have even gone to the extent salvaging the carcass of their cattle and eating them creating potential health problems for themselves.
This all sounds like fiction but it is a reality of the destructive effects of our politics in Zimbabwe. The root cause of this problem can be traced back to the land reform programme which began in 2000 where some party officials and war veterans invaded the Save Conservancy, and, in the process, destroyed the perimeter electric fence that separated wildlife and human beings. Poaching activities became rampant to the extent that the conservancy was facing extinction. The communities round the Save Conservancy live with the threat of wildlife everyday, so why are the owners of the conservancy not being pressured to erect a perimeter fence to prevent wildlife from encroaching in human territory? This would immediately address the problem. Whilst this is true, this is not as simple as that. The Save Conservancy has foreign owenrship and they are not prepared to invest any more in Zimbabwe as the Government has not done enough to assure foreign investors that their investments will be guaranteed. This insecurity is understandable when one looks at the indigenisation policy.
Policy consistency and guarantee of property rights is an essential for investor confidence. Unfortunately this is not the case for Zimbabwe and a lot of work has to be done to regain that trust. Part of the investor fear is that they erect a multi-million dollar perimetre fence and the next day the policy changes and the property is ear-marked for community ownership. So while the communities of Chipinge and Buhera continue to live in fear of the wildlife, some of the solutions lie with government to play a part in providing an enabling environment to attract meaningful investment.
Lloyd Pswarayi 15.07.15