mhlo.jpgBy Mhlomuli Ncube


Of sleeping cities and lost opportunities
The most common phrase I used to hear from my dad when I was growing up was, ”ungbothanda ukulala” translated to “do not love sleep”. Growing into adulthood, I have treasured my old man’s words and discovered that too many opportunities get lost when one is napping.



On a larger picture, my travels around the country have taken me into all the major towns and cities. I am proud of my Vasco da Gama escapades, though they would not amount to anything significant compared to my friends who have travelled around the world. However, the most interesting travelling encounters that I have heard my friends retell are those from Asia, specifically Dubai and China.


Two of my friends have given me encounters that I have treasured and pondered upon analytically in context to the business environment in my own country. They have simply described Dubai and China as places where people do not sleep. That explains why China is hitting the headlines for threatening to claim the number one spot on the global economy and sending shivers down the spines of the “super powers.” Asked to explain how the Asian nation has come this far, a colleague once remarked, “those people work, they don’t sleep.”


The Chinese example then brings me back home. Leaders of this nation have done a beautiful task in pointing our aspirations and long term plans on the Eastern coast. That coast is certainly flourishing and nobody should begrudge us for desiring part of the cake. We will certainly leave behind us sulking former colonizers.  However, the biggest task at hand is for local business to hook on to that spirit that has taken the Chinese people that far. I mean that which my dad taught me when I was growing up.


There is something wrong with the business attitudes and practices when you can’t locate an open shop to make basic purchases around ten in the evening. There is something highly unusual when cities like Harare and Bulawayo go to complete sleep and the wheels of productivity stop rolling in a country that is aspiring to rebuild its economy after the pattern of that great Asian nation.


Somebody is not catching the Asian business bug which is transforming economies in a powerful manner. There is something very wrong when we cannot grasp the need to keep 24 hour vigilance business mechanisms when such practices are transforming economies that we are taking lessons from.


If what brought Beijing to its present glory and bliss is the hatred of sleep, then somebody in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Kwekwe, Mutare, Kariba, Chiredzi and all the other places where we can stir people to action in our country, must be awoken. 


Business cannot afford losing opportunities because the people are sleeping. Maybe we could start by doing away with the “business hours” culture where we have taught ourselves that business is conducted from eight in the morning to four in the evening. 


This is a culture we have to do away with if Zimbabwe is to be counted one day as a significant player on the global stage.


We need to define a new business culture that we will call our own. As I am reflecting on my ideal business world in Zimbabwe, I carry a dream; a dream where I can walk into any shop at any time of the day anywhere in this country and do my normal shopping, a dream where employers and employees in any business that operates in Zimbabwe will extend their operations outside what is regarded as “normal working hours” to round the clock transactions. 


shanghai night shoppers.jpgMy dream is that Zimbabweans will hate sleep, my dream is that as Zimbabweans continue declaring” sleeping hours, “they will be awoken to the reality that, “too many opportunities have been lost to other nations.”
Dying for good service provision
One cannot doubt the fact that we use to be known for good service provision. In my dream, I long for the days when good service provision was our culture. I long for the days when till operators knew and took cognizance of the fact that their salaries were paid by members of the public. I long for the days when bank queues and long winding lines at all areas where we paid our bills was a sure definition of poor customer service. I miss the days when every manager would be scarred to death by threats to “take my business somewhere else.”  


Those that have been to those countries where trade records are being broken day and night tell me that is not a pipedream to wish for good service there.  Good service provision in a necessity; in fact, they tell me it is a culture that the successful thrive on. I want some business person out there to catch the message. Zimbabweans are “dying for good service provision.” We want providers who will take criticism to improve service and not to withdraw into a “sulk mode.”


Dreams do come true
Dreams do come true and I am convinced that the hardworking lot in this country that has withstood all evil designs created to sink this nation will help me in realizing my dream, and I theirs. To me, the Chinese are the envy of the world today because of the vows and proclamation of that nation’s father, Mao Zedong that “…the Chinese people will never again be humiliated, we have stood up, Dlet the world tremble.”


A nation built on the legacy of a revolutionary’s mentality has come this far from humble beginnings. The realization is that revolutions are built on substance that is sacrificial and oriented towards achievement. It is not driven by luxury imaginations and fantasies where service provision is relegated to tertiary level requisites in business.


Zimbabwe has gone through its political revolution and has certainly made inroads in mapping the economic revolution. The move has not been popular, but who said this is about popular decisions? It will always be about what Zimbabweans want and business has to take a very leading role in that quest. An economic revolution should be the desire of every legitimate citizen of our country.


But take note, “Revolution is not a dinner party, nor an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be advanced softly, gradually, carefully, considerately, respectfully, politely, plainly, and modestly. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.” – Mao Zedong.


Give me service or nothing else
In my quest for service, I want service or nothing else!



The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.