Open Letter to Zimbabwean head of state Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, October 10, 2022: David Himbara

Rwanda’s General Paul Kagame Mentoring Zimbabwean Head of State, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa

Rwanda Is a Low-Income Country with GDP of US$11 Billion and Per Capita of US$833. With GDP of US$26 Billion and US$1,738 Per Capita, Zimbabwe Is Middle-Income Economy. Yet, Zimbabwean Head of State Mnangagwa Is Determined to Copy Kagame’s “Development Model.” What Is Mnangagwa Thinking?

Your Excellence, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, I assume that since becoming Zimbabwean head of state in November 2017, you travelled far and wide to learn and equip yourself and your government with knowledge, wisdom, and strategies for creating prosperity to improve Zimbabwean lives. That is why I am astonished by your admiration of Rwanda’s General Paul Kagame and your stated goal of adapting his “development model.” In your recent speech, for example, you stated thatIf you go to Rwanda and see what President Kagame has done, it is well organized…Over there [in Rwanda] they work in unity with government assistance. That way, there is no family which is left behind because every household is assisted out of poverty.” You added that “Rwanda President Kagame pursued modern rural development which we are also pursuing.”

Mr President, your choice of Rwanda as a model of a country that has created prosperity for all is ill-informed. With a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$26 billion, Zimbabwe’s economy is more than double the size of Rwanda’s whose GDP is US$11 billion. Furthermore, Zimbabwe’s DGP per capita of US$1,737 is more than double that of Rwanda, which is a mere US$833. In other words, Mr President, Zimbabwe is a middle-income state while Rwanda is a low-income economy. By Gross National Income (DNI) Rwanda is classified by the World Bank among the world’s 18 poorest countries in the following order: 1) Rwanda, 2) Uganda, 3) The Gambia, 4) Yemen, 5) Sudan, 6) Chad, 7) Malawi, 8) Liberia, 9) Eritrea, 10) Niger, 11) DR Congo, 12) Central African Republic, 13) Sierra Leone, 14) Afghanistan, 15) Madagascar, 16) Mozambique, 17) Somalia, and 18) Burundi.

Mr President, the most convincing evidence that Rwanda is no success story is staring you in the face in Zimbabwe. You must have read in Zimbabwean media that Kagame’s government is currently recruiting teachers for primary schools, secondary schools, technical and vocational schools and universities. The first Zimbabwean recruits numbering 275 teachers are about to be sent off to Rwanda to revive the failed education from primary all the way to the university level. General Kagame who has ruled Rwanda from 1994 to 2000 through a figurehead and as head of state from 2000 to 2022 for a total of 28 years is incapable of training primary school teachers, secondary school teachers, technical/vocational education instructors and university professors.

President Mnangagwa, surely, as a head of state and a parent, you are well aware that the priority of any successful government is provision of good education to enhance personal development of young people, thereby giving them the means of transforming themselves into productive citizens. Put another way, when delivered effectively and efficiently, education, along with the human capital it generates, not only benefits individuals but also societies and nations. But here is Rwanda hunting in Zimbabwe for teachers for primary schools, secondary schools, vocational/technical colleges and universities. This is irrefutable evidence of a failing state incapable of providing the fundamental pillar for socioeconomic development – education.

In conclusion, Mr President, Rwanda has nothing to teach Zimbabwe. The reverse is true. It is Kagame who needs to learn from Zimbabwe how to transform Rwanda from a low-income to middle-income economy. Kagame’s noise about turning Rwanda into a middle-income country by 2020 was a total failure. Most importantly, Rwanda can learn from Zimbabwe how to build a stock of teachers for supplying Rwandan primary schools, secondary schools, technical/vocational colleges and universities. Embarrassingly, Kagame and his ruling party who have ruled Rwanda for nearly 30 years have yet to produce enough teachers for Rwanda’s education sector across the board – from primary schools educators to university lecturers.

Most Sincerely, David Himbara, Toronto, Canada.