There are plenty of African disaster stories that have become reformed and wealthy, though with their tribulations, stumbles and failings along the way
Tuesday 21 November 2017 18:30 GMT
So the old monster has gone. Now Zimbabwe can be rich again.
It’s all too easy to get pessimistic, even to despair, over Zimbabwe. It is perfectly possible that Mugabe’s successor may just turn out to be as corrupt, vain and misguided as Mugabe was, though probably not as smart or as driven by the strange mixture of Jesuitical and Marxist doctrines that guided Mugabe’s career.
There is an alternative, and there is plenty of cause for optimism. The very good news for Zimbabwe is that this particular country has much potential, and it was always a global-scale tragedy that it declined from the bread basket of Africa into a basket case. The fundamentals are still there; a temperate climate; rich, fertile soil; national parks, majestic landscapes and wildlife that normally attract hordes of tourists; Victoria Falls; a fine commercial tradition built on the trade in commodities and cash crops such as tobacco; a comparatively united people across ethnic lines (no thanks to Mugabe’s genocidal attacks on the Ndbele people); huge international goodwill; mostly friendly neighbours.
In the right hands, then, Zimbabwe can once again be a regional economic power, and one that can export its goods and services rather than import everything. Too much is made of how prosperous Zimbabwe was under its white minority rulers during the period of self-government as Rhodesia (and not a British colony, by the way; successive British governments applied pressure and sanctions to their “kith and kin” to get them to accept democracy and black majority rule).