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New constitution must end Bambazonke mindset
January 06, 2010
Recently the Co-chair
of the parliamentary select committee Douglas Mwonzora indicated
that an estimated four million Zimbabweans in the Diaspora will
be given a chance to contribute to Zimbabwe's constitutional making
process. And well here is my small contribution that pretty specific
and aimed at addressing the Bambazonke mindset that has disadvantaged
other regions cities in terms of national cake distribution.
The new constitution
must have a mechanism in place that other regions of the country
are NOT disadvantage by the Bambazonke craze that seems to have
hypnotized many in Zimbabwe. I will be straight to the point. It
appears to me that you need to travel to Harare in order to get
any important document always. Unless you are in Harare you stand
to lose out on many items that reacquire head office for authorization.
I mean ask anyone outside Harare and they will tell you that you
have to go to Harare to get your birth certificate, passport and
even a liquor license.
We can not afford to
pile all civic, administrative, sporting, travel, educational activities
to one city. In fact this has put a great strain on the one time
sunshine city. Ever wondered why Harare can not even clear the garbage
the city produces? The reason for this is the lunatic efforts of
trying to centralize everything to Harare. You don-t believe
me? Read on.
Most of the
decision and policy makers might not be consciously aware of the
long term effects of centralizing everything to one city. Centralizing
all services to one city disadvantages and robs other cities and
regions of their inherent capacity to grow and develop. How and
why? Now when ALL concerts, meetings, rallies, conferences, tournaments,
document applications, congresses , state funerals etc are held
in one city it means that ALL commercial and business activities
follows suit to where the big fish and crowds are. Let me distil
this to a very minute level .When any of these major events are
hosted in a city , there comes along business activities ranging
from hotel accommodation, transport, fuel stations, restaurants,
air time, beverage etc which means that for your business to tap
into the honey trail, you must be located in Harare to avail your
This inherently deprives,
robs and short changes other regions whose industries can experience
growth because no big business player wants to invest in Masvingo
or Mutare or Bulawayo where there is less activity.
This has a ripple effect
and unintended consequences. For instances mobile companies who
run businesses for a profit have no motivation to setup more base
stations and increase capacity in areas where there is NO marked
activity that always comes with hosting of events seminars. As the
chain reaction proceeds, investors in travel and tourism sectors
are most likely going to follow suit and channel more resources
to the region that will yield highest returns. The ripple effect
can not be exaggerated . As a result of this biased distribution
of resources which area creates more jobs and business opportunities?
Well, the city that hosts everything.
If I was planning to
setup a business in Zimbabwe and had two options of opening offices
in either Gweru or Bulawayo, which location do you think will be
the best one ? None. Business logic would suggest that I take my
plans to Harare.
Funds & AID
As far as the international
community that donates and avails money and AID to Zimbabwe is concerned,
the money and aid sent to Zimbabwe is set to develop the country
and NOT Harare alone. This is where the deprivation and robbery
An interesting example
of this is in the higher education sector. Now the example I am
using here is of an area I know of and other regions are affected
in a more or less similar way. My choice of using Bulawayo schools
as an example is based purely on my knowledge and familiarity with
the higher education system there. As a result this does NOT exclude
other areas affected by the same bias possibly in Mutare , Gweru
, Kwekwe Masvingo etc.
and Organized Deprivation
Bulawayo is basically
divided into western and eastern suburbs. The latter is where the
bulk of the people reside - emalokitshini. Now during Rhodesia,
only 2 schools in the western suburbs (townships) offered A level
science. Namely Mzilikazi High School and Mpopoma. There are no
more than 40 places for A level students in these schools. So what
it means is that the whole western suburbs can maximally produce
40 students to qualify for higher education institutes from a science
point of view. No new A level science schools were introduced after
independence in the townships! I would be glad if any one out there
points out the new A level schools that offer science in Bulawayo-s
On 26 June 2009,
seventeen bright but economically disadvantaged Zimbabwean students
received full four-year scholarships worth over $5.5 million dollars
to study in the United States. Ambassador James D. McGee. None of
these came from the southern part of the country because maybe they
did NOT meet the high grade criteria? The full list of the recipients
and the colleges they will be studying:
Blessing Havana (Pomona
College), Rutendo Ruzvidzo (College of Wooster), Tafadzwa Mahlanganise
(Davidson College), Tanya Sawadye (Cottey College), Yemurai Adda
Mangwendeza (Yale University), Zvikomborero Alexander Matenga (Wesleyan
University), Tatenda Yemeke (University of Chicago), Tatenda Mutsamwira
(Jacobs University), Lovemore Simbabrashe Kuzomunhu (University
of Pennsylvania), Lovemore Makusha (Williams College), Lesley Nyirenda
(Stanford University), Corra Leigh Magiya (Providence College),
Joshua Fomera (Duke University), Lennox Chitsike (Hamilton College),
Ngonidzashe Madungwe (Tufts University), Stephen Dini (Swarthmore
College) and Tinofara Majoni (Colgate University).
These students probably
deserved the scholarships and we are proud that they will do the
nation proud BUT they could have benefited from a skewed system
that disadvantaged other pupils from other regions. Well that-s
NOT these recipients's problem. Such situations have long
term effects that may manifest themselves in resentment of some
people by some section of people.
Can not connect the dots
with the students in the townships where there are only 2 A level
science schools on Bulawayo? The inherent robbery or deprivation
of opportunity lies in the very fact that these students from the
townships can NOT even compete on a level field to be considered
for these scholarships. It-s a numbers game. The more schools
in an area with A level science will avail more students to be considered
for the scholarships. So an area with 2 schools providing A level
science can ONLY produce so much students to avail for consideration
.No need for rocket science to figure this out.
As I said before
this is not unique to Bulawayo region alone, but also relevant to
other areas that are outside Harare as well. But I chose to use
an example whose facts and reality I am very conversant with.
In simple terms the Embassy
did a great job to give kids from poor backgrounds a chance to shine.
But as I said the donors only give and then decision makers based
in Harare decide to give an unfair advantage to some areas at the
expense of other kids simply because they don-t come from
Ok let me am
more brutal. Sometime last year there was an unofficial position
from ZIFA that for a player to play for the national team, the player
had to come from Harare because it was expensive to transport players
from other areas like Hwange, Gweu and Bulawayo. Now this had an
interesting side effect. Many players from outside Harare started
leaving their teams for Harare based clubs so that they enhance
their chances of playing for the national soccer team. Remember
this situation arose during tough economic times and as such cost
reasons will be sighted as an excuse on this one. But as you might
know the performance of the national soccer team nose divided along
side with this unofficial ZIFA policy. Recently the national team
was twice thumped 3-0 by Thailand and Syria in some Asian tournament.
Why ? The "catchments" area of talented players has
been shrunk. As such there is no huge pool draw from
I know truth hurts.
Part of this problem
is due to the mental colonial inheritance. I can assure you that
some of the decision makers genuinely believe that everything must
happen in Harare. The list of people with such mentality even includes
individuals who come from regions outside Harare.
It defeats logic why
less than 20 % of the resources for 2010 readiness have been allocated
to Vic Falls, Bulawayo and Mashing (Great Zimbabwe ) the last 2
that are nearer South Africa than Harare.
I will point
to a few recent examples of such incidents, happenings and mindset.
Obviously over time the examples are far too many to list here but
the following only serve as an eye opener now that we purportedly
have a government made up of 2 opposing parties. You will realize
that the thinking is the same on both sides of the aisle. I deliberately
will NOT discuss the pre GPA
beeps and blunders regarding this centralization of services in
(1) Last week
the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Walter Mzembi was surprised
that Bulawayo was going to miss out from the South Africa soccer
show case Cup because of the collapse of service provision in the
hospitality sector according to a report in the Chronicle. He said
" .. the collapse of service provision in the hospitality
and tourism sectors would lead to the city-s failure to benefit
from the World Cup. " Amazing. He looked very surprised why
Bulawayo hospitality industry was in such a state. Well the above
synopsis of events should help address his amazement and shock.
From his reaction it is very possible that the honorable minister
had not been in Bulawayo before. Couple this with the reluctance
of ZIFA to refurbish Barbourfileds Stadium to meet FIFA standards
for visiting teams and the state of Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo airport;
you will have a general idea of the less obvious implications of
this like the general lack of enthusiasm towards national events
by people from regions outside the capital.
it was announced that a Chinese firm, China Sonangol, is set to
develop satellite towns around Harare in a development that is expected
to ease housing problems in the capital. "This follows the
signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Zimbabwe and China
Sonangol that will see the latter funding the development of satellite
towns. The Chinese joint venture company has already unveiled an
eight-billion-U.S. dollar package to fund various developmental
programs in Zimbabwe. Ok what is causing the housing problem in
the first place ? Yes, you got that right; it-s centralization!
Secondly, the financial deal worth $ 8 million was entered between
China and Harare the headlines must read, and not the entirety of
Zimbabwe. But as far as the Chinese are concerned - they are
helping Zimbabwe. If services and resources were distributed widely
across the country based on cost and strategic importance, there
would be NO such housing and garbage problem in Harare.
(3) A year,
or so, ago a partnership struck between a Ukrainian company Augur
Investments and Harare City Council for the development of the Joshua
Mqabuko Nkomo Road (Airport Road) offices, houses and hotels to
the tune of US$100 million. Is there any problem with such investments
in Harare in Zimbabwe? No. But it creates the suction loop and ripple
effect mentioned earlier on. Such a huge project has capacity to
create thousands of much needed jobs, which is excellent. And now
where will people flock to look for jobs? It follows then that the
problem of accommodation continues, coupled with garbage and traffic
vibrant and hard working Minister of Information and Technology
(ICT) Nelson Chamisa declared recently that "In five to ten
years, Harare will be the next Bangalore." Bangalore is India-s
third most populous city that experienced growth and a rise in living
standards because of technological advancement. This came after
the good news that Broadhorn Capital venture has invested in two
technology companies in the country. The capital raised may be in
the form of debt or equity and may be from private or public sources.
Obviously this is very encouraging and good news for Zimbabwe and
underlines the state of mind of our leaders and decision makers
when it comes to investing in Zimbabwe.
But why would the Honorable
Minister imagine the development of Harare alone and not other parts
of the country? Or, is it possible that the Minister in his statement
implied that Harare is Zimbabwe? Is that then not the continuation
of the same old mindset that I referred to earlier on? If so, Zimbabwe
deserves a serious shift of mindset, considering that the Honorable
Minister, Nelson Chamisa, is still young and definitely the future
leadership of Zimbabwe. Our country can not continue into the future
with such a heavily skewed baggage whose mindset is such that one
region has to develop at the expense of other regions. Developing
Harare is not developing Zimbabwe. Harare is a part of Zimbabwe,
but not Zimbabwe.
I could go on for a 100
pages listing similar examples. But the bottom line is that such
issues must be addressed if efforts to turn around the country-s
fortunes are to remain truly national.
There are a number of
proponents of any modern government that shape the reasons for centralizing
services. These reasons may be political, cost, control, efficiency
and for quality service delivery. For example, foreign embassies
are located in the country-s capital along with other international
and monetary institutes. That-s great and that makes sense
from a cost and control point of view. But there are instances where
centralizing operations for the sake of it makes neither economic,
political nor common sense.
I will sight an interesting
but isolated situation in Zimbabwe. ZIMRA is responsible for collecting
revenue for the government in Zimbabwe. And quite naturally and
probably correctly ZIMRA headquarters is located in the capital
city Harare. Now Beitbridge border town is probably the busiest
port of entry in southern Africa located in the southern most part
of the country. Recently ZIMRA failed to process customs and excise
related duties in time and efficiently from Beitbridge, because
there is an extremely poor data link between the border post town
and computers systems located in Harare to process these transactions.
Beitbridge is 580kms
away from Harare, 288 kms away from Masvingo and 230 kms away Bulawayo.
It is therefore twice as much expensive to set up and maintain communications
link between the border town and the capital, than it is to set
up and maintain a communications link from the border town to Bulawayo
So ask a 3rd grade pupil
where he or she would deploy computers to process the ZIMRA transactions?
I must make it clear
that I do not purport the relocation of the capital city -
not at all! But I am high lighting some long observed traditions
colonially inherited and never looked into. The case of decentralization
of services where necessary, has both economic and social benefits
that can not be reduced into monetary terms or values. Also it helps
decongest processes in the capital by off loading other trivial
and strategic services to regions where it makes both economic and
social sense. And, most fundamental, this helps in developing a
nation with diverse skills, backgrounds and cultures to realize
its full potential.
But it would be very
unfair to conclude this pretty brief and general discussion without
mentioning the role or lack thereof, of leaders from outside the
capital. Maybe they have simply given up or they care less or they
love traveling to Harare for all their meetings, seminars, training,
It will also be unfair
to blame Harare boys like Chamisa and Chiyangwa who are running
up and down to develop their neighborhoods. It is also very easy
to blame the pre-GPA of the state of things of uneven development
and distribution of donor funds and resources. But this I can say
with absolute certainty and conviction and I will ONLY speak for
Bulawayo and surrounding regions. To the leaders from the region
I have few words for you and really not interested in your excuses
for failing to grab what must come to the region. As I said my comments
are POST new government and NOT pre GPA. The region has a vice president
and a vice prime minister. Two party chairmen! And several cabinet
ministers from both parties. So this I can assure you that people
in the region expect you NOT only to do your national duties that
serve the whole of Zimbabwe, but to make NO excuses when requesting
or even demanding a proportionate share of the national cake. I
know some misguided few, will contend that these are national leaders
who work for Zimbabwe as a whole and NOT confined to any region.
Yes very true that - NOT confined to any region as is presently
the case - confined to developing Harare alone.
Well as expected these
politicians will be making their usual rounds as the parliamentary
elections approach. They might be in for a rude shock this time
around and not going back to parly. Oh no; not because of a new
political party, but due to people deciding to boycotting the process
altogether since their election makes no difference.
To all concerned and
determined activists from all other regions that are on the receiving
end of the centralization stick, I urge you to make sure this issue
is sanely and fruitfully brought up during the constitution making
process and finally captured in the new constitution. For if you
don-t speak up about this, very soon you will be required
to travel to Harare to apply for a permit to paint your house!
For the record this problem of centralization and was created during
the colonial regime through UDI and furthered after independence.
Just to leave you with something to think about Hwange power station
located in Matebeleland North supplies a very huge chunk of the
electricity consumed in Zimbabwe. But guess what people are used
I am not sure where the
proceeds of diamonds mined in Chiadzwa in Manicaland are headed
to, but I can surely tell you that Manicaland is NOT benefiting
from its natural resource. Quite naturally I do expect those who
benefit from the status core to come up with excuses why things
are lopsided as they are. But fact remains that these are some issues
that must be addressed so that the present generation does not leave
a problem for future generations whose approach might be totally
different from the our methods.
I don-t blame those
who have been beneficiaries of this bias at all. But enlightening
those who have been disadvanted to act and get a fair and proportional
stake in the national cake - otherwise the constitution remaking
process should called - "Bambazonke Constitution"
Feel free to
post your suggested solutions to this on the blog . We pretty much
interested on how to address these anomalies than just mere opinions.
Everyone has an opinion so spare us your opinions and give us more
of possible and practical solutions to resolve this head on and
make sure it is included in the constitution making system.
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