When Words Are Not Enough

We celebrated Africa Day today here in Harare. The corps of African diplomats sponsored a reception featuring local dancers and musicians, and had a keynote address by the Zimbabwean Minister of Youth, Indigenization, and Empowerment, Saviour Kasukwere. Usually, the minister delivers a fiery, threatening speech on sanctions, replete with threats to take over businesses owned by nationals of countries who have sanctions against the ZANU-PF leadership for their involvement in political violence. Today, however, I had to commend his remarks.

He talked about the importance of empowering youth for sustainable development; the need for education that prepares youth to compete economically, of having micro and macro finance to enable them to go into business, and how important it is that they be knowledgeable about the value of the country’s resources. He left out the need to establish an enabling business environment that encourages firms, local and foreign, to expand and create jobs, but on the whole, it was an encouraging speech. While he mentioned the negative impact colonialism had on Africa; a point with which I can’t disagree; he also said that poor leadership was part of the problem, and that governments here needed to do more.

The words were good, but as some comments from young Zimbabweans with whom I chat on Facebook indicate, talk is not enough. As one said, they’ve heard lots of wise words over the years, but they need the politicians to deliver on those words. Considering how Kasukwere has not in the past been this restrained and balanced in his public speeches, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for the nonce. It remains to be seen whether he and his colleagues in government will actually try to deliver on his wise words.

For now, I will wait and see.