ZIMBABWE has been on the regional and global agenda for the wrong reasons for two decades now. Yes, there are 20-year olds born and raised in this hardship environment who still hope that the next 20 years will be better, even though the current optics are at odds with that dream. It is a sad story for a country that was won after so many years of suffering and whose birth brought so much hope and promise.

The country has swung, from being the elderly revolutionary leader to which most African countries looked up, to become a political nuisance. Its economy has plummeted from being the breadbasket to become a perpetual basket case. It is very clear to everyone how the country ended up where it is today. The natural resources that made this country great are still available, but a productive mind-set is the missing link.

Embarrassingly, evidence of lack of a productive mind-set and how that has ripped apart a once promising country is littered across our borders and all over the world. Of course, the first sign is being a perpetual problem at region meetings such as the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc).

It is beyond discussion that there is indeed something very wrong with our present leadership’s mind-set. Picture this, before you label this emotional. It is a known fact that all our neighbouring countries and those in far places as Europe and Asia are hosting political and economic refugees from Zimbabwe. The deepening poverty will push millions more people out of the country as the current leadership continues to prove its bareness every day.

Now imagine that, the same countries that are offering refuge to our destitute people are also reported to be hosting looted funds from our country. What happened to the resources plundered during the land reform, the companies invasions? There are so many stories when looting by the same people in power became the order of the day. But the highlight of them all is the Chiadzwa diamonds. If we tell our children today that Zimbabwe was, at some point in the history of this world, the leading diamond-producing country, they will be justified to think that we are hallucinating.

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The search for answers continues. In the opposition political circles, the answer lies in reforms to level the playing field during election time. The assumption is that elections hold the solution to all problems as reforms are expected to cage Zanu PF from manipulating their outcome.

It is a frail proposition that occupies centre-stage in the mainstream political discourse. It gives Zanu PF several choices. They can choose to give in on reforms, but still manipulate the elections or refuse the reforms and still manipulate the elections. They now know that nothing will happen to them.

In the economic circles, similar logic obtains; fix politics in order to grow the economy. They do not provide a specific definition of what fixing politics means. Even though some hesitate to mention it, but the real problem is Zanu PF. Reforms will not change their behaviour and that behaviour underlies the devastating politics. Every broken part of this economy bears a Zanu PF finger print. If capital is shy, as they say, the same fingers that destroyed the economy cannot be trusted with rebuilding a new one.

But again, here is how our situation looks more like a mental one rather than a political or economic case. The resources looted from the country and kept in offshore accounts or invested in those countries, are contributing massively towards the political and economic development of those countries.

As their economies grow, so does the lifestyle of their people. But at the bottom of their ladders are destitute Zimbabweans who are begging for anything that can help them meet the food requirements for the day.

They fled hunger from their country of plenty to feed from the crumbs in neighbouring countries whose economies feed from our resources. It is a case of a greedy parent who steals food from his/her own household and stores it at the neighbour’s house where his/her children feed from the same neighbour’s left overs. How sad.

Do these acts of sheer folly end there? No! Not at all. Despite that, if our own money owned by our own same leaders, but kept elsewhere can be brought back to turn around our economy and bring peace, tranquillity and happiness to our lovely nation, would they choose to go and beg for help, opening lines of credit and mortgaging the future of the country? We now have begging citizens and leaders in the same countries, but different streets.

This is folly because it is contradictory to try and convince external funders to bring their resources in an environment where you cannot trust to bring your own resources. Who does that? That on its own is the foundation where confidence is instilled or destroyed. We need a leadership renewal.

 Tapiwa Gomo writes in his personal capacity