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"I do not write for fun": Interview with David
Chiweza, author of Out of the Rabble: Ending the Global Economic
Crisis with Lessons from Zimbabwe
June 13, 2013
us what inspired your recent book, Out of the rabble: Ending the
Global Economic Crisis with Lessons from Zimbabwe.
My nation has
grappled with economic challenges to the extent of serious political
differences. Since 1992, I had known that the battle was for markets
and not democracy and human rights after the infamous George Herbert
Bush comments, just before his loss to Bill Clinton, "I have
done a lot for America, I have liberated Eastern Europe, I have
liberated Africa, therefore go and conquer the markets!" For
nearly over two decades and in all the studies I have carried out
based on first hand experience, I saw that markets determined the
fortunes of every nation including America and Europe. Now that
these nations are experiencing the same market challenges as we
did then, albeit being misdiagnosed as corruption and mismanagement,
we have every reason to question the ability of weaker nations to
stand under the weight of global market competition other than the
supply of raw materials. As my nation emerges from two decades of
decline, I felt that it is important to learn the correct lessons
from our strife lest we enter another period of economic mediocrity
when we should in fact emerge stronger and wiser.
book seeks to not only address the global economic crisis but perhaps
most importantly Zimbabwe’s own. You then go on juxtapose
China and the US who pursue different economic models as examples
of “how to.” What lessons can Zimbabwe draw from the
The twin elements
of a local and a global perspective differ only in emphasis and
positioning. Firstly I establish that the same market forces that
affected Zimbabwe under a dominant South Africa at regional level
are the same forces that now bedevil the west under a dominant China.
Essentially since 1993 we have pursued the same free market economy
as is practiced by the USA and now China. Ironically I inform my
readers that Chinese free market economy has evolved from a 100%
protected economy to a free market economy in tandem with its growing
industrial power and the resultant need for larger global markets.
The lessons to be learnt are clear. If you are weak, you must of
necessity defend your markets, and if you are strong, you must attack
other's markets. We clearly undertook a fools game, like the race
between a hare and a tortoise and expecting success. The principle
is clear; the superior overruns the weaker one. However, just as
the biblical David defeated Goliath, not on the rules set by Goliath,
but on his own rules, we also need to adopt economic guerrilla warfare
tactics to defeat the stronger economies. We cannot beat them on
their own terms.
has a fair share of resources but has a poor reflection of those
same resources in terms of GDP. In light of this, can you describe
why your book is a must read for policymakers?
We have resources but they are being mined and exported raw. Moreso,
not enough investment has gone in there for them to carry the nation
in the absence of value addition and manufacturing industries. The
great blunder we did was to dismantle the vertical alignment of
the economy i.e. integration from primary extraction to secondary
processing to manufacturing and finally to commerce. How we dismantled
this is important. It was the free trade dogma, which persuaded
government to abandon trade control. So commerce began selling and
distributing products made by other nations instead of their own
home made products. Commerce became a horse to be ridden by foreign
companies to destroy the local industry. When local manufacturing
is destroyed, it also in turn affects the fortunes of secondary
industries. For example, the secondary industries of textiles died
as a result of the demise of the clothing manufacturing industries.
There has always been a demand-pull relationship between the people,
commerce, secondary and primary industries. Secondary and manufacturing
industries are dead and what remains is the primary industry that
is completely disconnected with commerce. Policy makers need understand
that there can never be value addition without restoring the industry
structure in a systemic way. Any sustainable value addition ventures
must start with locally consumable products in order to guarantee
viability of investments.
have previously written about AIDS, and now economics. Please tell
us what inspires your choice of issue.
Clearly I do
not write for fun. I am a thinker and most of the time I get triggers.
Mostly it is painful conditions that force me to think and in the
process, ideas are conceived and they grow as I process them everyday.
At times I feel a burden so big that I have no choice but to discharge
my duty. I still find the challenges in HIV being the same as in
economics. Generally as a nation we have acquired an incapacity
to deal with our problems much like HIV. The reasons are social
psychological pollution. I have not been tainted with that having
largely grown up being trained to be objective in the military.
In the military you just study different terrains for warfare, and
you cannot put boxes around terrain. Each terrain has its own unique
challenges. Mostly the misplaced view of human rights and freedom
concepts have been the largest pollutants. People no longer have
the courage to tackle difficult challenges head on and are always
preferring the easy but expensive way. For example, if a doctor
orders an operation, a violent exercise of mutilating a body, its
because it is the right thing to do to save lives. But often wrong
thinking minds worry more about the pain or the fact that the person
will have organs removed. The correct way is to focus on the correct
thing then find ways of mitigating the negative effects of right
action. By focusing on the fears of negatives of say mandatory HIV
testing, or controlling imports, we have left ourselves with no
viable options and therefore instead of decisive action we will
nurse solvable problems for decades on end. We need a rethink on
of the difficulties local authors face is getting their work accepted
by local publishers. So, when you write, who are you targeting,
a Zimbabwean or international audience?
It is true that
local publishers do not accept works easily. It is also true of
international publishers. The reason is that to be accepted you
have to be exceptionally good. It’s about the prospects of
making money out of the works. However, these days authors no longer
need be limited by publishers as they can now self publish their
books. With my writing, the first audience for me is Zimbabweans
even though they do not have the culture of reading. All I wanted
was to demonstrate what I know and to establish my right to speak
as an authority who is thoroughly researched in the area. I did
pitch it up for international audience because the free market lessons
I have provided are also keys to the US and Eurozone challenges.
With my model, I am able to explain every development in that part
of the world.
a full-time job or a “side project?”
Writing is indeed
a side project and for me it’s not about money because it
certainly has no financial benefits at the local level. One would
be very fortunate if they made a little bit of money. If money were
the object then I would not have even completed one book. I am motivated
by the desire to serve in a situation where I have connected with
the truth. When the truth has been fully revealed, no amount of
money can stop one from pursuing it. It is the reason why one may
spend twenty years experimenting at great personal cost to the point
of looking insane. There is draw in the spirit of creativity but
it only happens when one has connected with the truth then no one
can stop them until they are self-satisfied.
are a retired soldier, has your military background, shaped or influenced
you in any way as an author?
There is great
influence from both my natural intellect (which was very good by
the way) but benefited from the military environment which introduced
me to high-level strategic positions from the tender age of 21.
Besides the varied experiences I received, enabled me to understand
issues from multiple angles. And besides the military taught thinking
and trained me to avoid the thinking pitfalls such as fear, anger,
love and other emotions that a commander is not allowed to think
under. Sun Tsu says a bad general (leader) is easily angered, so
that when provoked by his enemy he will throw all caution to the
wind and order the army to advance unprepared and of course make
wrong and fatal judgements.
you tell us a bit about your writing process?
The thing is
I am unlike researchers who look at a situation and then try to
find out what the guiding principles are. My research is a life
long experience. Because I see and reflect a lot and therefore I
am constantly seeing and upraising situations without writing or
taking notes. As I keep the thought in my mind, I pick up facts
and evidence to prove or disprove the theory. Eventually the idea
matures to the point I can confidently share with others. Only then
have I connected the idea with our needs and then I start the process
of writing by going backwards. I start from a thesis, then go and
dig out the information I used to arrive at my position. So the
process of writing the actual book becomes shorter because I pretty
much know where to get the evidence. However the incubation period
will have taken a long time. When I begin to write I just write
as passionately as I feel at the time. Then I revisit the work in
revision many times. You will find that you will never feel satisfied
with your work. Each revision always raises up more refinements.
However, you’ve got to get to the stage when you must be satisfied.
Getting others to review the book is most helpful. Sometimes they
can actually discourage you but you take advantage of the negatives
by taking them as opportunities to reword, clarify or research further.
Zimbabwean writers do you think are on the up and up?
I am ashamed
I do not know many people who can be classified as writers these
days. You do get some people who write an odd book here and there
but I think there are no serious professionally dedicated writers
including myself. Quite visible though is Professor Rukuni who tends
to write more in academic scholastic stuff. Milton Kamwendo on motivation
though probably incidental stuff. I do not read novels so I really
do not know what others are doing in that area.
is your next project?
My next project
is "Leadership at the Highest Level". I have written down
the topic and at least 10 different chapters I can write about breakthrough
leadership. This is based on my own experiences and observation
on the pitfalls of leaders. There are many books on leadership,
but I am convinced the stuff being revealed to me, I have not heard
it or read it anywhere and therefore feel that I could make a contribution
there also. I am worried about the death of the masculine side of
leadership with most of us being forced to go feminine, especially
in this nation where the father figure role is under attack. It
is of course the causal factor in the emerging acquired incapacity
to deal our problems.
Check out David
Chiweza on Facebook
a review of Out of the rabble: Ending the Global Economic Crisis
with Lessons from Zimbabwe in The Herald
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