Columnist/Opinion

When the president officially commissions companies, then Zimbabwe is still far from developing!

BY Tendai Ruben Mbofana

So, President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is still making national news headlines for officially commissioning new companies.

In fact, his latest stunt was not even commissioning a new company but a new plant within an already established business entity.

This was in Bulawayo, as confectioner Bakers Inn (owned by Innscor) opened a new US$30 million state-of-the-art bread-making plant.

In 2022, he commissioned phase 1 of the US$20 million Highland Park Shopping Mall in the capital Harare.

This is not to mention the community boreholes in Glenview 3 the same year.

We even watched him as he officially commissioned the one-lane Rwenya Bridge in Mudzi last year.

He even handed over title deeds to tenants in Epworth!

I do not have any problem with these positive developments in our country.

What I have a huge problem with, though, is what image a whole head of state officiating at these events actually paints about the state of our country.

In actual fact, the easiest way to gauge a person’s social or economic status is through the things with which he prides himself the most.

For instance, one who treasures and even posts on social media, the meal he had at Chicken Inn, shows that, for him, such an opportunity was a major milestone in his life.

This similarly pertains to those who boast of dining at or visiting the most exquisite places.

The fact that they still find this experience so overwhelming as to advertise it to the whole world shows that they are not usually exposed to these things.

Those who have become accustomed to enjoying such pleasures in life naturally no longer feel the urge to tell everyone about them since, to them, this is a normal ordinary occurrence.

You will never see them posting pictures of themselves at an airport, or on an airplane, or with the brand new car they have just bought, or in the overseas capitals they are visiting.

This is where the issue of Mnangagwa and his officiating at all manner of ceremonies becomes problematic.

I watch South Africa’s national broadcaster, SABC, quite often.

To be honest, I have hardly come across that country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, officially commissioning a bridge, or borehole, or shopping mall, or even a plant at a company.

Even in an election year, when he would be expected to use such opportunities for this campaign, he has never done anything of that nature. 

In fact, only two days ago, the South African Border Management Authority held a pass out parade of 400 new recruits who completed their training at the South African Police Training College in Pretoria West.

Who do you think officiated at this event?

A Zimbabwean would be excused for immediately assuming that it was Ramaphosa.

What else are we to think when our own Mnangagwa always officiates at pass out parades – the most recent being only a day ago, for the ZPCS (Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services) in Ntabazinduna, when 753 recruits graduated?

No, in South Africa’s case, it was actually the Home Affairs Deputy Minister, Njabulo Nzuza.

Yes, it was not even the Minister, but the Deputy Minister!

What does that tell us about our southern neighbor?

As far as I am concerned, this shows that the country has reached phenomenal heights of development, such that events of that nature are no longer a thing to write home about.

Remember, we are talking about a US$378 billion economy in 2023.

Compare that to Zimbabwe’s paltry US$38 billion – which is nearly ten times smaller than its southern neighbor’s.

This also means that South Africans are now so accustomed to new companies – and not just any companies, but multi-billion conglomerates – setting shop in their country.

As a result, it is no longer such a big deal for them – such that Ramaphosa is not filled with such excitement over a new company or mere plant within a company, to the extent of officiating at their commissioning ceremonies.

I will not even go into officiating at one-lane bridges, boreholes, or shopping malls since this is just embarrassing!

It then goes without saying that for our own Mnangagwa to be so obsessed with cutting ribbons at all these ceremonies, it shows that our economy is not really growing much.

As mentioned earlier, it is so easy to measure a person’s status through the things he considers as achievements.

Surely, when will we finally reach a stage where the opening of a big multi-dollar company in Zimbabwe will no longer be headline news?

Signs on the ground are not encouraging.

As long as rehabilitating a road is headline news on national television, then we still have a long way to go before real development comes to Zimbabwe.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.com, or visit website: https://mbofanatendairuben.news.blog/

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