Who Really Needs Change Anyway?

Some people are proud of being called conservatives. For them, this has to do with not only maintaining a traditional outlook on what is considered good or bad. Rather, conservatism underscores the essence of stability in a world going mad at a faster pace than it rotates on its axis.

On the other hand, others see themselves as “liberals”, those who champion the goal for a new outlook on life. For them, the only way to remedy some of the persisting social ills such as inequalities can be addressed by adopting change.

This change will help create a world that is fair and just to all, and hopefully will lead to prosperity.

Both of these camps represent certain political ideologies. For that reason, it is difficult for one to just say this position is okay, and that one is not.

But they may not have anything to do with support for social change in a way addressed by this post. I doubt anyone really opposes change: not the type of change which we are talking of here.

But Is Change really Necessary?

We have heard it, and we know it to be true that nothing in life is constant except for one thing: change.

This factor makes things change, other than itself 😄

And there is no other time suitable to consider thinking of changing things other than this time of the perilous COVID-19.

  • Many resolutions made on 1 January this year (2020) certainly did not factor in a time when lockdowns will be the new order;
  • Last December (of 2019), no one, even the developed nations, ever envisaged a situation whereby we will have a masked society by July 2020, with new offences having been made to deal with those moving around without one;
  • Certainly this made us to adjust our programmes when COVID-19 hit:
  • We had to change the way we conducted businesses, education, dating, marriage and even celebration of such rites as births and deaths.

Pandemics like this have something in common with other tragedies like world wars, floods and economic recessions:They force us to think outside the box. Or should I say, they force us to prioritise survival in a way that would have been unthinkable shortly before the striking of the tragedy.

They often provide fertile grounds for inventions, and spurring societies into new designs. In other words, all calamities are a catalyst for change. They are a vector of development.

But who really needs change, though?

People who should be driving change are those who are in a position to make things happen. This is a fact whether it is palatable or not.

Even if they may not be directly involved in how that change takes place, they can create an enabling environment for it to happen.

Yet I think to myself of how many broken promises we had lived through in this country in a space of not forty years, but twenty years:

  • In 2001, we were made to believe that by 2020, we would have been a fully computerised nation, hence the nationwide donation of computers to schools in both the urban and rural areas by the President. This happened for about ten years.

    Come 2020, only a few government institutions are fully computerised. What went wrong?

  • Around the same time, we were made to believe that owing to sanctions, we were supposed to be self-sufficient. We had to build new industries, promote science and technology education in both primary and secondary schools. By 2020, Zimbabwe had to reclaim her place among the leading nations of Africa when it comes to science.

  • The Rural Electrification Programme was launched in 2002 amid fanfare and would have seen every rural area on the national electricity grid. Yet, eighteen years down the line, even the urban centres themselves have no electrifcity.

What is going wrong?

All these programmes show the need for change, the hunger to move forward and transform the nation.

But are we sure that people really need change? Excuses are a good justification to never change.

To know who does not want change, consider who is benefiting from not changing: certainly not the conservatives nor the liberals.

Instead, think of how every hardship presents an opportunity for someone to make a living.

The history of the Industrial Revolution and especially the role of the Luddites in trying to stall that progress may provide a window into this phenomenon. But I wouldn’t like to think of those Luddites as people who did not want change: they were only worried about how new technologies were taking away their livelihoods.

Let us instead think of corruption and how some of these changes may jeopardise chances to make money for corrupt people.

With the recent rise of cases reported of government officials caught in corrupt activities, it is not surprising that change is not happening.

  • Who would like a cashless economy when riches are made overnight on the black market?
  • Who would like online education when a whole industry can be made through hostel rentals, access to school and college administrations, privilege to be squeezed into classrooms?
  • Who would like reform of the tax collection when there is a thriving border economy?
  • In fact, who would support the new Africa Free Trade Area when revenues can be generated through borders?
  • Who would support stopping child marriages when the number of girl children one has may be enough for other families to see a way out of poverty, through bartering them to the rich ones?
  • Who would support an end to human trafficking when the vulnerability of the poor job-seekers presents itself as a golden opportunity to wealth?

Questions like these are the ones that make one to think that, even in the presence of supporting legislation and policies, rather than using these as tools to move forward, we are not.

No sane politician would support the vices listed above. The laws that are there are testament to that. But still these ills are still happening.

Our wish to industrialise, to be computerised and to have a STEM-oriented education system fails to materialise and benefit everybody. Why is there a gap between statutory provisions and administrative practices?

This to some extent explains the brain drain when young people flock to the green pastures where innovation is rewarded, and corruption punished. In fact, when a country has an opaque justice system, where those punished for corruption would be seen as having fallen out of favour with the system, then it is difficult for it to develop.

It cannot even attract its diaspora talent to invest in it as this would require “sweet connections” for things to indeed happen.

Conclusion

Whether we like it or not, change is bound to happen at some point as it is always taking place in our bodies. The pace may be slow, but it is happening.

The unfortunate thing is that there are those forces that will always try to stall it. Using their positions and privileges, these people might work towards maintaining the status quo that economically benefits them at the expense of progress.

Sometimes the difference between nations has nothing to do with history, but it has to do with how these nations carve out their own future based on policies that factor in change.

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