Zimbabwe's Lesson As Two Chinese Businessmen Are Sentenced To Death

Two businessmen have been sentenced to death in China over the baby milk scandal of last year. The two, executives of the Sanlu Group, will certainly be executed within the next three months. Tian Wenhua, a female manager at the same company, got a life sentence.

China's penal code is extremely stringent and calls for death sentences in cases of financial fraud, corruption and a host of other offences. Very rarely do those condemned to death get a reprieve.

 There is a lesson for Zimbabwe in this story. And it is this: it has been proven time and again that societies like Zimbabwe end up voluntarily turning to dictators. In societies where there is rampant financial indiscipline, a huge wealth gap and in which the rules of democracy are bent in order to facilitate profiteering and cheating, the population has always been quick to embrace authoritarianism and dictatorship if it turns brutally against this profiteering and greed.

There is this stupid misconception you hear constantly that "the world has changed, that could not happen in this modern age." This twaddle is of course myopic because human nature NEVER changes. EVER. 

The same instincts that drove ancient man are the same that drive us today. At their very core, the reasons you have today for going to work every morning, for pursuing wealth and power and admiration at work and in your community are the same reasons your great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather had seeking to excel at hunting, iron-mongering and so on. 

Anyway, the point is that, people like Hitler, for instance, came to power because the utter collapse of the Weimar Republic's Deutschland, stocked full of hyperinflation and economic meltdown, gave rise to speculators, profiteers, thieves and quick-buck schemes that were bitterly resented by the population. (Does this not remind you of a certain Southern African country today?)

Along comes a "strong man", a man who talks tough on behalf of the common man. A man who refuses to countenance any compromise with the current system and vows to "annihilate" it.Because the poor man seeks constantly to explain the cause of his poverty in relation to the obscene wealth he sees every day, a dictator easily wins his favour by promising to punish the profiteers thoroughly and rid society of them.

People will always applaud this. And, normally, if their material needs are taken care of, they can find a job, send their kids to school and even afford to go on holiday, the dictator will be applauded. His tendencies will be tolerated. This is the reason Mugabe enjoyed popularity in the first decade of his rule. Donor money and an inherited sound economy, which he used to distribute a little bit of wealth, all ensured that people forgave his dictatorship and tolerated or ignored the danger signs we all saw in the way he ran the country and his party.

Zimbabweans voted for him time and again, even as he declared, "I am an apostle of the one-party state and Marxism-Leninism." If he had managed to keep the economy going,  I bet my bottom dollar that he would still be applauded by Zimbabweans today as the best leader in Africa.

It is a proven fact that regimes that preside over such wanton greed and profiteering as we see in Zimbabwe today are always replaced by another strongly autocratic regime which uses a very heavy hand to deal with the corruption, greed and profiteering just like Hitler did when he took power.

Hitler was so stunningly succesful in the first three years of his regime that, although he murdered opponents and also corrupted the state machinery, President Hindenburg and the people of German thought this was a small price to pay for the full employment he delivered and the booming economy that he built on the back of a massive rearmament effort in preparation for war.

I fear that we may end up with the same scenario in Zimbabwe if we are not careful. Already, every time the current Zimbabwean dictatorship  cracks down, even superficially, on wanton greed and profiteering, you see people nodding in agreement, you hear people expressing satisfaction and approval. 

We are only one or two steps away from handing this country over to a regime just as bad or worse than Mugabe's, if we are not careful. We must understand that the longevity of the Communist Party of China has very much to do with the fact that, while embacing capitalism and giving the Chinese some form of economic prosperity, they are also still ruthlessly cracking down not only on dissent, but on financial crimes and corruption, not only just sentencing people to death for show, but actually executing them!

The Chinese look at this and applaud, thinking that their government is looking out for the common man by protecting society from these evils. Menatime, they either take no notice or largely do not care when they see other freedoms being trampled into the ground.

Zimbabwe is on the road to same destination. Of course, there are those who take no time to reflect on the lessons of history and will always say, as they did during Mugabe's heyday while they laughed at Zambia's inflation and Mozambique's economic meltdown "Zimbabwe is different, it will never happen here." I actually never listen to them, because there is no depth to those statements, no reason for them except a refusal to exercise the mind and think deeply about the nature of humans and their systems of government.


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