The Sunday News
Tedious Ncube, Sunday News Correspondent
We stand at a moment of great opportunity as a nation. All across Zimbabwe, a chorus of voices is swelling in demand for economic prosperity. The Zimbabwean people want more of the basic things that the new dispensation has been consistently delivering in the past few years.
Some of these things include but are not limited to; an economy that honours the efforts of those who work hard, a foreign policy that rallies the world to meet our economic interests and makes Zimbabwe an investment destination and a politics that focuses on bringing people together across party lines to work for common good.
The big question that is on everyone’s mind is, how do we “all” move to this point, how do we ensure that each and every Zimbabwean benefits from the dividends of the new dispensation’s achievements. To reflect on these issues, I chose to use Hon Cain Mathema’s book called Ngibekela abantu beTsholotsho.
The book was first published in the year 2000 and is by no mistake one of Zimbabwe’s best publications on the subject of grassroots economics.
The book is, or was a message by Hon Mathema to the people of Tsholotsho (where he served as a member of parliament), stating some of his views on how economic development is to be administered in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North. What is striking about the book, is that it was written in Ndebele. The author eloquently articulates economics in Ndebele, something which many academics and published political economists have struggled to do.
In this book, Hon Mathema outlines some of the development programmes he brought to Tsholotsho. Chief among these programmes was the effort to empower families to succeed.
He argues that, it is not enough to just get families on their feet. Instead he suggests that, to get Zimbabwe’s economy humming again and to grow the middle class, we need to expand opportunity for all Zimbabweans. We need to make it easier for families to get an education, put away a nest egg, own a home, start a business and provide a better life for their children.
Hon Mathema further states that, we need to discard the outdated policies that don’t work and invest in what works that is what actually expands opportunity and enables Zimbabwe to compete globally.
I should state that Hon Mathema has walked this talk. He was elected to lead the people of Tsholotsho at a time when the constituency was at its hour of need. He was elected at a time when voices were swelling in demand for development. With his vibrant track record, Hon Mathema convinced the people of Tsholotsho that he is in fact the ideal candidate. In 1995, Hon Mathema was elected to be the Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho and at that point Tsholotsho was still a single constituency. During his tenure as the MP for Tsholotsho, Hon Mathema brought economic development in a way exceeding the expectations of anyone.
The programmes that he facilitated in Tsholotsho during his tenure as MP include but are not limited to the construction of clinics throughout Tsholotsho, equipping schools with manufacturing equipment, construction of a post office, expansion and servicing of the Fusini township and setting up a “Tsholotsho development fund”. Hon Mathema also established a Cain Mathema Scholarship which was exclusively funded by him. This scholarship went a long way in lifting so many vulnerable children from poverty.
There are so many lessons that can be derived from Hon Mathema’s book. One of the greatest lessons from this book is that economic development is best served at grassroots level. Interestingly, Hon Mathema who wrote about the need to serve economic development from the grassroots, is today part of the New Dispensation under the able leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Surely, the book by Hon Mathema is assurance that the struggle for economic development did not start now and for that matter Zimbabwe is very close to winning the battle for economic development.