Article by Munyaradzi Hwengwere
Sometime back at the height of Zimbabwe’s economic challenges between 2006-2007, I was flying from Johannesburg to Lusaka. I sat next to some old white guy. He asked for my nationality. Zimbabwe, I said, somewhat hesitantly. Then, Zimbabwe was like leprosy.
The minute you said Zimbabwean, you were quizzed about President Mugabe’s mental health as if you stayed with him. In some cases, a business deal would not materialise.
I expected the white guy to react in the same way. Instead, he asked, “So how is Zim? To preempt him, I ran through a long list of economic challenges, inflation, food shortages and politics. Surprisingly, before I could finish my long economics lecture, the man tapped on my lap. “Young man, stop. Do you read the Bible?” He did not wait for my response. “Without hope, you will perish.” Never say those things about your country. Always hope for better. Speak prosperity. That’s the only way out.”
I was speechless and for sure, I desired better. I realised I had fallen into a bandwagon of badmouthing my country, wishing somehow the bad words would elicit sympathy.
It only worked to diminish Zimbabwe’s standing internationally. It rarely got me a new deal. That encounter got me to join other team members to start Buy Zimbabwe in March of 2011.
From the start, our wish was to become a competitive driver. That meant being true to ourselves. Understanding the good and the bad, but always seeking to win.
On today’s ENCA News, it was said that over 52 councillors in Kwazulu Natal had been killed in the past few months. The country is on stage 6 with regard to load shedding. J’burg City had 74 people who died in a flat last week. Before then, there was a big explosion that tore an entire lane.
I don’t hear South Africans tearing their country the way we do. In fact, it is very likely that someone is preparing to tell me, I have chosen to bury my head in the sand, I am possibly crazy or, as usual, one on the payroll of Government
No. Zimbabwe has problems, for sure. But unless we get out of this over-investment in outdoing each other in narrating the bad, then our situation will only get worse.
There is AFCTA. There is BRICS. G20, etc. What do we do to compete better? How are we doing as individuals? What are the solutions? I suspect that is a more purposeful discussion.
Munyaradzi Hwengwere is Buy Zimbabwe’s founder and former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation chief executive officer.