Profiteering from poverty

THE rich get richer and the poor get poorer – so goes the saying. Like a lady in waiting, Zimbabwe seems stuck and it’s time for her to get to the next level.

Nearly 35 years later it’s time. We cannot be like other African countries that have reached 50 and are still digging in the trenches.Beitbridge-border-post

The problem is South Africa. Zimbabwe is to South Africa what Mexico is to the United States! South Africa benefits immensely from Zimbabwe’s misery. Where countries are concerned, you hardly give a damn about the other one right – especially if they are less affluent.

Look at the way South African money – and I can almost guarantee you that it’s laundered or tax evading white money – is funding Zambia to be an upcoming manufacturing giant. Not that I have a problem with Zambia enjoying a boom, but it strikes me as a shadow being cast on Zimbabwe.

Have you seen the way cheap Zambian made cola, crisps and biscuits have flooded the country? It has become that bad that we can’t even bake a bloody biscuit! Obviously that spells doom for our already gloomy industries that are ever shutting down.

White money? Isn’t we all know that some white South Africans are anticipating our good neighbour becoming “a Zimbabwe” in a few years time. That makes Zambia an untouched and unspoiled new black! They are building little safe havens to “flee” off to if the worst hits South Africa.

Remember, South Africa already runs Botswana, Nambia, even Mozambique and completely surrounds tiny Swaziland and Lesotho. Zimbabwe is the rich little landlocked spot that has blocked SA’s domination of the region.

However, South Africa is richer and calls the shots from time to time – when they feel like it that is. Former South African president Thabo Mbeki’s younger brother Moeletsi in his book Architects of Poverty: Why African Capitalism Needs Changing, slams his own country for making Zimbabwe what he calls a “bantustan of South Africa”.

Instead of taxing vendors and telecommunications, can the dear Finance minister please tax all the made-in-Zambia ready-to-eat stuff that is flying off the shelves? They aren’t even of good quality anyway. I am a late ’80s baby and I surely have tasted better made-in-Zimbabwe soft drink, chips and confectionary!

What we now have is South Africa hitting us hard on two borders – Beitbridge and Victoria Falls. The Plumtree border is also a force to reckon with. The least we can do if we are so desperate to import stuff is to order tins, carbonated water, potatoes and flour to create a need to manufacture here instead.

Remember that white South Africa used to support Rhodesia before 1980. It would appear to me that they very slowly stopped doing so right after. How else do you explain the crippled industries? The land reform programme is too near our timeline. I need something else.

Cont Mhlanga, writing in this very paper early this year in an article titled Eddie Cross missed the point, gently reminded us about how our white compatriots are not the bright sparks we always think they are. I mean first of all who in their right mind deliberately draws a landlocked country and names it after himself? What a huge ego! Cont-Mhlanga-1

History and finance stuff are my least favourite topics, but I think some things are basic. South Africa is the opportunity at the same time. We have to absorb as much as we can from their technical expertise instead of just running away to go hibernate there.

That Zimbabweans are two glasses away – behind Mali – from outdrinking the whole world is beyond shocking! Such a small country drinks more than all West and Eastern countries!

Even more amazing is that women outdrink men here! According to the World Health Organisation, the average alcohol consumer sips right through a staggering 37 drinks per week! Thirty-seven! The average American drinks 15.

We need to stop drinking and start working. Did I mention that some – probably half – of those drinks naturally skip the border from South Africa? Beitbridge is a porous border and let’s be honest, just like the Mexican border to the US, a lot of things wouldn’t work if it wasn’t.

The underworlds have always known. If we hear about border busts, my best guess is that someone’s palm along the chain of money swaps would not have been greased right.

In this world, there is stolen white money – “old money” – and there is stolen black money – “new money”. Both are not afraid to show off. White money likes to build interstate road networks, tall buildings, aeroplanes, amusement parks and employ millions of people.

Black money likes to build churches – because it’s safe – a personal mansion, buy a private chopper, a couple of cars and maybe sponsor an orphan or two. Zero nation building! Non-governmental organisations and Western aid agencies are there right – why bother. Zero nation building.

Can we have our rich black folk using their resources to build our African nations instead of churches. Stashing cash in pillows or banks abroad is no longer cool. We need jobs. That’s how the Emirati, Qatari and Kuwaiti fixed their countries from the little dumps that they were.

Sonny Jermain writes in his private capacity. This piece is an excerpt from his book I Deserve To Be: Selfworth Is A Silent Killer that is due 2015.

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