Lloyd Gumbo Mr Speaker Sir
I caught up with a Chinese businessman based here during President Xi Jinping’ State visit where we discussed about the relations between Zimbabwe and China, his experience in Zimbabwe for the past five years he has been here and why they are fond of bringing Chinese personnel here even for
menial work at the expense of Zimbabweans.
He was categoric in his response; “Zimbabweans are very nice people and hard working. But the challenge is they are not always committed to go an extra mile to make sure a product is delivered.
“They take their time to do basic things. This is why some Chinese bring Chinese people here who have a good work ethic and committed to see the project completed.
“When we try to instil this hard working ethic in them, we are accused of unfair labour practices, so we end up bringing the Chinese. Our Zimbabwean friends want to take their time. But for us, we lose money by taking months on a project that should not take more than a week.”
Mr Speaker Sir, the media has been awash about President Xi’s State visit going to give fresh impetus to the implementation of Zim-Asset.
Yes, 12 agreements were signed on Tuesday evening with two of them being private sector-driven.
But the major impetus to fruition and successful implementation of these deals lie with Zimbabwean officials entrusted with leading various portfolios, programmes and projects.
The path for implementation of the deals has been paved but it is the implementation aspect that we have always been found wanting.
The Chinese will bring the equipment and all the machinery needed to implement various projects but it is the work ethic on the Zimbabwean side that our Asian friends are not compatible with.
If you want to experience this, visit any Government department for service when its less than 10 minutes before official knock-off time, you will find them, right from the front desk, already packing their bags to leave at exactly 4.30pm or 5pm.
Personnel at the switchboards in most ministries and departments do not even bother to pick calls when it’s about knock-off time.
Imagine how many important phone calls have been missed due to this attitude.
They will not offer any services when it’s almost 5pm and the reluctance to go beyond the official knock-off time is testimony of how as Zimbabweans, we have failed our country.
It is the same story on Government-sponsored projects where some of them suffer project constraint or project creep.
It seems, we believe that taking days on a project that should not take more than three hours will make us more relevant to our organisations yet in the process, we are wasting resources that we could have used for other projects.
For instance, the City of Harare’s Works department deploys a pothole patching machine or truck to fill potholes in a suburb and they only do less than 20 meters while leaving the rest of the road unpatched.
They will then be redeployed weeks later to patch potholes on the same road when they would have done it in one day.
In the process, a lot of resources such as fuel and time are wasted doing the same thing.
Why should a pothole patcher or truck make two or three trips to patch potholes covering less than 30 meters?
According to Roger Pope, success comes from diligence and hard work, not just talent which is what our Chinese friends seem to have instilled in themselves which explains their staggering economic growth at a time other economies are plummeting.
To them, success does not come from chance but hard work.
Mr Speaker Sir, the Chinese are not developing rapidly solely because of their technological advancement but their work ethic too.
They believe that the only condition to being rich is through hard work and this they have demonstrated throughout the world where their companies are engaged.
It is therefore critical that officials in parastatals that are going to work with the Chinese adopt this attitude towards work if the deals sealed in the presence of President Mugabe and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi are to bear fruits.
Authorities must know that it’s not business as usual when the Chinese personnel come here for various projects. The Chinese are used to working hard and companies from there are rewarded for delivering projects at the shortest time possible so that they could embark on other projects.
Their focus is always on the end product.
Yet on the other hand, Zimbabweans are used to working on fixed time and once its time-up they want out.
The success that China prides itself in at the moment is purely out of hard work which we must emulate, if we are to develop.
However, we should be vigilant when monitoring these projects to ensure that we get something that is sustainable and of good quality.
The temptation is always to deliver the project early without due regard to the quality of the product.
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