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The Reality and Tragedy of Zimbabwe

My long-time South African friend and colleague Alan Tonkin in South Africa posted a letter from Zimbabwe sent in by John Winter to the SDi discussion group. I want to thank Alan for keeping the reality and tragedy of Zimbabwe on our conceptual radar-scopes.

All should know that Alan has a special place in his heart and a special sensitivity to the former Rhodesia because he spent his early years there (but was actually born in Egypt). In his career in major South African companies over the years – one of these was Barlow Rand, which was the largest corporate entity in the southern hemisphere at one stage – Alan worked behind the scenes to improve life and working conditions in Zimbabwe. Ever since I met him in 1981, Alan has always walked his talk. There are many responsible South Africans who have done likewise and they, too, grieve as to what is happening in what was once one of the most productive, prosperous and hopeful societies in all of Africa.

Why was the country once so healthy but is now so repugnant and repressive? Isn’t it time that we offered an honest and authentic explanation, one that allows us to escape the usual racial, status, class, and ethnic traps?

I must warn readers that you will need to do a careful Meme check before you read any further.

Look what has happened to the country since Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. Is there not a useful model for us to understand as we seek to recognize the early signs and weak signals of a group of people who live in the midst of extraordinary natural resources but are on the slippery slope to a failed state? “It’s the memetics, stupid!” (I don’t mean you are “stupid” but that is the Carvell-derived phrase that is often used to cause us to focus on what matters most.)

Simply stated for this purpose, when the stereotypes are defined as “Black” vs. “White” (or African vs. European) there will always be trouble when, actually, the issues are “Red and Green” against healthy Blue and Orange.

These underlying values systems, rather than surface-level categories, are shaping both the present and, alas, the future of people who are trapped within restrictive and destructive boundaries – boundaries and borders which can be defined as with ethnic identities, unique physical characteristics, or even “national” passports or papers which set people’s future access even to food, as in the case of Zimbabwe. Those in the “out group” get to starve.

Unhappily, the story of Africa in the late 20th Century and even extending into the 21st is about the so-called “Big Men of Africa,” the litany of African dictators that emerged naturally out of the BO-Purple structures as “Chieftains.” These designations of leadership structures are often the result of colonial manipulation (also CP-Red) to buy Chieftains off with high levels of corruption coupled with fierce brutality between tribal identities for dominance. In some cases the dominating “tribe” is a majority of people in the society; in other cases it is the regressive minority. In both situations “one person, one vote” happens only one time.

The wave of FS-Green inspired “revolutions,” often led by religious zealots and moral crusaders from European and Western cadres, were quite effective in exposing the dark side of the actions of colonial masters.

The exploitation of natural resources to enhance the life style conveniences in the powerful First World with increasing demands for materialism and privilege has been well documented. Yet, that is too easy an explanation for the asymmetrics of “development” in the “Dark Continent of Africa.”

This is a topic that Graham Linscott and I explored in depth in our 1991 book The Crucible: Forging South Africa’s Future. We warned then that a Zimbabwe-type pattern could well be part of the future of that land south of the Limpopo River.

In spite of our many warnings for South Africa set out in the book, in which we also advocated 10 years of national unity to actually meet the needs of people in health care, housing, education, employment, and standard of living, the Western-driven scenarios by well-meaning “consultants” fell into the same trap.

The inability to recognize the vertical levels of capacities to actually create (or in the case of Zimbabwe and South Africa sustain)the results of decades of contributions from basically Christian-influenced DQ-Blue content continues to alarm us. This belief structure (and other versions of DQ-Blue content are similar), along with the First World DQ-Blue codes with ER-Orange schemes and technology coming out of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Age, have certainly been a major factor in this unhappy situation. There is always guilt enough to go around.

We welcome the new energy around Conscious Capitalism because it recognizes that noble Orange can often create more affluence than government actions. There is no difference between Orange trickle-down thinking which rewards entrepreneurs and Blue (governmental) trickle-down approaches that reward bureaucrats, unless we understand how development bubbles up from indigenous settings. Both trickle-downs are essential, but as designed in a MeshWork.

Because of the inherent racism implied in the Western initiatives (namely, that Blacks can do no wrong because they have been oppressed as victims), high levels of intolerance, brutality, murder, ethnic cleansing, and the raping of the environment and misuse of natural resources, were ignored in the centers of Western power.

If so-called “Whites” had done to “Blacks” as these “Blacks” are doing to the majority of “Blacks,” the public outcry in Western (FS-Green) countries would have been louder than a thousand times the thundering sounds from the Victoria Falls. This includes the United Nations and other such political groupings who lined up to claim the issues are about human rights and “crimes against humanity.”

Nothing I am writing will ever excuse or justify the abuse of Africans or the exploitation of the African continent by “Whites” who can be equally CP-Red in their orientations and quest for power and control. I’m just making the case that Black-Red is no better than White-Red and should no longer be romanticized. Nor should “White-Blue guilt” be off-loaded to cleanse one’s historic soul, and that of one’s ancestors.

So, what would Beck have done years ago?¬† The current president of Zimbabwe and his ilk would have been “relieved of their power” by the collective action of the world community, especially their African neighbors, in an act of mercy and sensitivity but one based on values systems rather than archaic political models.

Of course this will be resisted because of the fear of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Just as there is considerable concern in our community about the future of Cuba, I have encouraged a number of South African leaders (and others) to plan now for the transformation of Zimbabwe out of these miserable conditions.

My fear is that, as in Cuba, the sleazy ER-Orange vultures will return to capture the spoils as happened in the former Soviet Union. (By the way, I have more experienced trust in Afrikaner business leaders than any other group I know. That might surprise many of you, but remember I made 63 trips to South Africa and, in this case at least, I know what I’m talking about.)

A healthy, sustainable, and responsible economic/political system should be identified, using the principles and processes of Integral Natural Design, one that reflects the natural contours in the culture and the capacity of its people. We call these dynamics MeshWORKS Solutions and you will begin to read more about this complex problem-resolution model along with our Transpartisanship (TPS) decision-making patterns.

It is time we brought realistic and effective Second Tier processes to the surface to model and illustrate how the GT-Yellow/HU-Turquoise approach to complexity can actually be demonstrated and implemented. So many people who claim to be “Second Tier” thinkers only mouth the words because it is the in thing be in some circles. Whenever we detect legitimate “Second Tier” actions, we will let you know …

The lesson¬† here is that getting rid of what we don’t want is not the same thing as getting what we do want. And, while it has now become fashionable to talk about “change,” we want to ask: But change FROM what, and TO what? Shouldn’t we focus on answering that question? We most certainly confront the life conditions that will awaken many to new insights, new approaches, and new, systemic-driven actions. Let’s make them available.

Be of good cheer.

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3 Responses to “The Reality and Tragedy of Zimbabwe”

  1. Eric Sutherland Says:

    A very insightful blog. Change will of course happen, if only because things cannot remain the same. The question then becomes, as you rightly infer, will it be better or worse. We can hope for better, but to make it happen I think will require more than hope.

  2. Joanne Says:

    When we begin to realise that every ACTION affects the whole and since we are all part of the whole
    we are all affected then and only then will change take place. When I and you realise that the air we
    breathe connects and affects us all then we may begin to all act. The same with our resources.
    When we realise how precious they are and that many of them we can’t live without then we will
    see money is not as valuable as staying alive. I think we are all realising and beginning to reassess.
    I think the recession is a time for us to re evaluate.

  3. Roberto Bonilla Says:

    Thanks Don for this blog, help me to have a better undestanding of current affairs at SouthAfrica and remind for mexicans the importance of defining the change from what to what. In Mexico the failed state you predicted is starting in the less thinkable place: Monterrey! sad but true

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