THE Christmas and New Year holidays evoke bittersweet memories in some Zimbabweans who are old enough to remember that there was once a time when the festive season actually signalled an amazing experience in life.
Those were the days when there was more tarmac than potholes, streetlights actually worked, urban areas were neat, the hospitals dispensed healing and not death, the milkman delivered to your doorstep, and tap water was safe to drink.
Year-end holidays were synonymous with family reunions, merrymaking and a reconnection with our roots. These are now distant memories.
Today, most people will tell you that there is nothing festive about this season. How the mighty have fallen! Zimbabwe used to be a country of great promise. Immigrant workers would flock in, searching for jobs and other life-changing opportunities.
In 2023, the opposite is true; young people are determined to exit the country at the earliest chance. Among long-suffering citizens, there is a stark realisation that surely the people of Zimbabwe deserve better.
A successful nation typically exhibits certain key characteristics that differentiate it from a failed or dysfunctional state.
While every country’s situation is unique, there are some common factors which contribute to the success of a republic.
There is no substitute for effective governance. Successful nations often have stable and accountable governments that work for the best interests of their citizens, uphold the rule of law, and provide public services efficiently.
The Zanu PF government fares dismally on all these metrics. Without economic stability and growth, a country cannot ensure a good quality of life.
A robust and diversified economy — with supportive economic policies and strong institutions — is crucial for a successful nation.
It fosters job creation, encourages investment, and improves the standard of living for the population.
Social cohesion is another measure of success. A country with a strong sense of social cohesion, where different groups can peacefully coexist and share common goals, tends to be more successful.
This often involves promoting inclusivity, reducing inequality, and encouraging active citizen participation. Zimbabwe is not yet a nation. It is a country, of course, as demarcated by colonial boundaries, but in the realm of identity-making and state-building, it has not attained the necessary traits of a serious nation.
It will be remembered that, barely two years into self-rule, Zimbabwe was plunged into genocide by Robert Mugabe’s murderous regime. It was a huge disappointment, coming against the backdrop of his famous “Turning swords into ploughshares” speech.
One glaring indicator of failure is the crumbling infrastructure. Everywhere you look, things are falling apart. Roads now resemble war zones, with craters all over the place. Hospitals are in a sorry state. Schools have lost shine.
Urban dwellers are drinking sewage. Adequate infrastructure — including reliable transportation networks, energy supply, communication systems, and access to clean water and sanitation — is essential for economic development and social well-being.
Successful countries are which realise that prioritising investments in education and healthcare systems helps create an educated workforce, improves human capital, and enhances productivity. It also contributes to better overall social outcomes for citizens.
In their seminal book titled Why Nations Fail, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson argue that robust institutions are critical for national prosperity. Successful nations have well-functioning institutions, including an independent judiciary, an impartial civil service, and a free Press.
These institutions play a crucial role in upholding democracy, safeguarding human rights, and fostering trust between citizens and the state.
When you look at Zimbabwe today, you are struck by the utter dysfunction. Parliament has been reduced to a charade, the judiciary is compromised and the executive is unaccountable. We should not be surprised that such a country is failing to deliver jobs, economic empowerment and socio-economic advancement.