Kembo Mohadi, one of Zimbabwe’s two Vice-Presidents, has lamented that the country’s former colonisers did not teach Zimbabweans how to run the economy.
A video of Mohadi making the claim in Matabeleland South over the weekend has gone viral on social media. He was addressing the ruling ZANU-PF party’s structures in Gwanda.
“We got our political independence, but the white man never gave us the knowledge of how to run the economy,” he said, adding that most Zimbabweans only know how to run bottle stores and general dealerships.
Prolonged economic crisis
Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980 after being ruled by the British and subsequently a white-minority government. ZANU-PF has been in power since then.
It has been in a prolonged economic crisis that began in the early 2000s, a period that coincided with the late former President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land redistribution programme.
The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 12.9% in 2019, according to the African Development Bank. Inflation also rose from single digits in 2018 to around 200% in 2019, while an estimated 60% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Policy uncertainty has persisted despite President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from Mugabe in 2017, promising to grow the economy. Last week, his government suspended trading on the country’s stock exchange, adding further uncertainty among investors.
The government has consistently blamed Western sanctions for ruining Zimbabwe’s economy and has called for them to be lifted. President Cyril Ramaphosa, as Chairperson of the African Union, backed these calls in May.
Zimbabweans on social media have expressed anger and amusement at Mohadi’s comments. Many said his admission points to the ZANU-PF’s own failures.
Twitter user Tichaona Zindoga wrote, “Mohadi is failing to see the salient event of @ZANUPF_Official failure as a ruling party of 40 years – which everyone apparently sees. Further, everyone is seeing that Mohadi and other rulers are taking us for fools, hence the joke is firmly on #Mohadi and the status quo!”
However, some supported Mohadi’s comments, arguing that colonialism’s aim was keep the colonised in a subordinate position in the economy.
“Kembo Mohadi has a point. The white system taught Blacks to be employees on farm and factories. It never taught Blacks how to run these as owners. In school, we all wanted to pass and be employed while white children were being prepared to own the economy,” argued @Nhamodzenyinka4