After finding out who won the ZEC Biometric Voter Registration Tender, I was kind of disappointed. Not because the winning company was from China instead of the Germany company that most were hoping for, but because it was a foreign company.
This just reminded me of the many other times that we’ve preferred foreign services to our own like health, education and energy. We don’t even trust our own equipment for the simplest things like child delivery! Now before you give me the ‘locals underperform’ excuse let me just share with you a little story.
So the other day I wanted to buy a certain product and my brother happens to sell that product. Unfortunately, his prices were higher than I could afford so I decided to buy it from a different shop. However, before I could buy it, the topic somehow just popped up during lunch and my dad seemed displeased by it. He topped up my money so that i could buy from my brother, and then said “mari ngaigare mumba”. In context that translated would be: for as long as you can help it, money should always circulate within the household.
I wish as Africa or Zimbabwe we could operate on the same philosophy. It might sound like a not-so-viable plan at the moment since quite a number of products aren’t locally available, particularly those involving high tech. However, we should notice that the idea won’t work within the same day or year of implementation, it’s actually long term.
I am quite convinced we can do this because other countries have, particularly in the west. Governments subsidise their own local companies to ensure that they are catered for and as a result they produce country-worth products which are also worth exporting. I noticed this trend in the field of agriculture, but I personally think it can apply to any other industry.
Also, what we probably don’t realise is that relying on importing or giving tenders to foreign countries does not only transfer wealth but it also slows or hinders us from developing the expertise since we never really get the opportunity to ‘practise’ enough. See, it doesn’t start with us being best at something, it starts with us believing that we can do it then pouring in as much resources as possible to ensure that it becomes a reality. If we don’t do something about it now things will never change and brain drain will always be our problem.
At present, Zimbabweans dream of excelling so that they work for some company which is not in Zimbabwe. Whenever someone excels as a developer, the next thing they dream of is becoming part of the Silicon Valley or working for Google or something. Yes, we love our country but we need to get what we deserve so we will always flee to other countries. However it would have been a different story had we been investing in each other. Even if we didn’t necessarily have it perfect, but the simple fact that there is hope would have made people stay and that would have made a big difference!