Book by Zim aca­demic in­spires ac­tive cit­i­zenry

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - ANA The book is al­ready avail­able on Ama­zon (Kin­dle and pa­per­back), and from SA and Zim­bab­wean book stores from to­day. Pub­lished by SAPES and Stag­ing Post. Author: Prof Arthur G O Mu­tam­bara.

ZIM­BABWE’S for­mer deputy prime min­is­ter, Prof Arthur Mu­tam­bara, has writ­ten an in­ter­est­ing ac­count of his rise from stu­dent pol­i­tics to the cor­ri­dors of power via the ivory tow­ers of Ox­ford Univer­sity in the UK.

Aptly named In Search of the Elu­sive Zim­babwe Dream: An Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of Thought Lead­er­ship, this doc­u­men­ta­tion of thoughts and re­flec­tions – apart from de­tail­ing the aca­demic jour­ney Mu­tam­bara has suc­cess­fully un­der­taken – also of­fers ac­cu­rate in­sights into the murky world of pol­i­tics. But more so the se­cre­tive world of Zim­bab­wean Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe and his nearly four-decade grip on power.

The work is struc­tured into three parts. Vol­ume I: The For­ma­tive Years and the Big Wide World (1983–2002); Vol­ume II: The Path to Power (2003–2008); Vol­ume III: The Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Be­yond (2009–2017).

As a young A Level pupil in 1986, Mu­tam­bara whole­heart­edly be­lieved in the one-party state mantra and so­cial­ist agenda es­poused by Mu­gabe and his Zanu-PF party as the panacea for the ills of colo­nial­ism.

How­ever, as a stu­dent leader from 1988 to 1990 at the Univer­sity of Zim­babwe, Mu­tam­bara be­gan to see through the façade and party slo­gans.

The re­pul­sive pa­tron­age sys­tem, de­sire to es­tab­lish a de jure one-party state, and cor­rup­tion and loot­ing of funds from state in­sti­tu­tions, which ad­versely af­fected the lives of Zim­bab­weans, soon pit­ted stu­dents led by Mu­tam­bara and his col­leagues, against the au­thor­i­ties.

He was vi­o­lently ar­rested and in­jured by armed units of the po­lice and army and locked up in jail with­out trial.

Al­though he was in­tensely in­volved in stu­dent strug­gles, Mu­tam­bara ex­celled at his stud­ies and grad­u­ated with a BSc (Hons) in elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing.

How­ever, the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony it­self, in July 1991, was an arena of protest and drama as Mu­tam­bara, who re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion for both his aca­demic achieve­ments and stu­dent lead­er­ship roles, went on to refuse to take part in the tra­di­tion of kneel­ing be­fore Mu­gabe.

He was protest­ing the rise in grad­u­ate un­em­ploy­ment in

Mu­gabe’s re­pul­sive pa­tron­age sys­tem and grip on power

the coun­try.

The pre­vi­ous grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony, in July 1990 while Mu­tam­bara was still SRC pres­i­dent, had been the first time Mu­gabe had come faceto-face with the fiery stu­dent leader. While Mu­gabe had sought po­lite small talk, he re­ceived a vol­ley of harsh in­vec­tives against his per­verted am­bi­tion for a one-party state in­stead.

Need­less to say, the con­fronta­tion left Mu­gabe hu­mil­i­ated af­ter Mu­tam­bara gave him a piece of his mind. Fast for­ward, in Fe­bru­ary 2009, Mu­tam­bara, Mu­gabe, and then prime min­is­ter Mor­gan Ts­van­gi­rai were the three prin­ci­pals of the unity govern­ment that brought Zim­babwe back from the brink of to­tal col­lapse.

Dur­ing his en­gi­neer­ing pupil­lage pro­gramme in 1991 at Wankie Col­liery, Mu­tam­bara con­fronted man­age­ment over the mis­treat­ment of black work­ers by un­der-qual­i­fied white su­per­vi­sors.

He didn’t find the elu­sive Zim­bab­wean dream at the col­liery. Mu­tam­bara al­ways knew the elu­sive Zim­bab­wean dream needed prop­erly equipped peo­ple to make it a re­al­ity.

It was not a co­in­ci­dence that he took a de­tour away from Zim­babwe’s in­creas­ing gover­nance ills and headed to the ivory tow­ers in the UK to ac­quire more knowl­edge.

Pres­ti­gious

That pur­suit led him to the pres­ti­gious Univer­sity of Ox­ford where he ob­tained a MSc in com­puter sci­ence and PhD in ro­bot­ics and mecha­tron­ics.

The jour­ney also took him to the US, where he was a re­search sci­en­tist at Nasa, pro­fes­sor at MIT and man­age­ment con­sul­tant at McKin­sey.

This is an in­spir­ing story of a man who com­bines aca­demic ex­cel­lence and so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, in­tel­lec­tual prow­ess and rev­o­lu­tion­ary con­fronta­tion… A man who trav­elled far and wide to de­velop his thoughts in or­der to bet­ter search for the elu­sive Zim­bab­wean dream for a demo­cratic, peace­ful and pros­per­ous state char­ac­terised by sus­tained and in­clu­sive eco­nomic growth.

If this ac­count fails to in­spire you to be a cit­i­zen ac­tivist, it is un­likely any­thing will.

PHOTO: DAVID RITCHIE

Pro­fes­sor Arthur Mu­tam­bara has been ap­pointed the new pres­i­dent of the African News Agency (ANA). His new book ‘ Elu­sive Zim­babwe Dream: An Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of Thought Lead­er­ship’ goes on sale in book stores to­day.

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