New Year new beginnings

Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu
ON Friday, the year 2016 will be upon us, bursting onto the Zimbabwean socio-economic environment that is characterised by high unemployment rates and a deep national sense of hope and expectation.

It is a part of human nature to wish the New Year to be economically more prosperous, socially more secure, politically more stable and culturally happier than the previous year.

The computation of time that has resulted in the year 2016 falling tomorrow is based on what is called the Gregorian Calendar, so – called because it was introduced by Pope Gregory the 13th who occupied the pontifical office from 1572 to 1585 AD, a period that ushered in a great deal of intellectual enlightenment.

Before then, the geographically known world relied more or less on reading the sky to some of whose planets our ancestors gave a mystical ability to shape or reflect the world’s future.

That was particularly so among the Greeks whose many gods lived in various mountains of that highly mountainous country. When the Romans succeeded the Greeks as rulers of that world, they too adopted a polytheistic culture, with every human passion and activity such as loving and hunting having its own god.

The Persians too looked into the future by various ways, one of which was to consult an oracle more or less similar to Zimbabwe’s Mwali (Mwari, uNgwali), who was and is also consulted about impending wars and coming seasons.

A historically interesting occasion in the ancient world was when King Croesus of Lydia consulted a prominent oracle about whether or not he would win if he crossed the boundary between his kingdom and that of King Cyrus to invade the latter’s territory of Cappadocia.

The boundary between the two empires was the Halys River. The oracle told King Croesus that if he crossed the river, he would destroy a great empire.

He interpreted that ambiguous statement to mean that his forces would destroy those of King Cyrus. He led his army across the Halys River but was heavily defeated by King Cyrus who immediately seized his formerly great empire.

That was the great empire the oracle meant and not that of King Cyrus.

The traditional practice of consulting oracles, soothsayers, self-seeking apostles and money-hungry-obviously false prophets, as well as reading the future in celestial bodies should not have any place in the scientific oriented 21st century.

Success, all success, is based on planning and meticulous implementation of those plans, followed by a realistic evaluation of what has been implemented.

Evaluation enables the individual, the family, the community or the nation to identify areas of the plan or plans that could be maximised because they have yielded some fruit, and those that should be discarded because they have failed.

Evaluation will also show what potential or actual threats there were to the plan. The threats could be a shortage of properly qualified manpower or that of money or material, or lack of managerial skills or that of motivation.

What we are strongly suggesting here is that for each one of us to succeed in whatever we decide to embark on in 2016, we need to plan thoroughly.

Plans must have a very strong element of time – management. That is because today’s environment, of whatever nature, is totally controlled by the clock and the calendar.

The year that is ending tomorrow had 365 days, but 2016 will have one day more, and each day has 24 hours and each week has seven days. Out of the seven days, it is our custom and practice to work generally for five and a half days, or for most people, five days.

Our plans for the year must, therefore, involve nearly 262 days, for the five-day working week, or 287 days for the five-and-a-half-day working week. That is the time at our disposal to achieve whatever we have lined up for 2016. If our aim is to achieve our objective partially rather than wholly, we should be realistic about the percentage to be achieved and not to plan beyond our capabilities.

Employers must not engage more workers than their financial capabilities are able to maintain so that they do not have the unfortunate experience of going for several months without paying them their wages or salaries.

With proper planning, no firm should ever fail to pay its employees at the stipulated time. That occurs more often than not, in cases where there is either no planning of human vis-à-vis financial resources. We do not include cases where unexpected extraneous variables or factors such as droughts or where force majeure such as destructive fires have intervened. We are dealing here with normal situations.

The message in this article is that if we plan properly for 2016, it will be a relatively happy and prosperous year, that is barring the unforeseeable, of course.

If we enter into it without any plans, whether they are for our economic betterment, social security, political stability or cultural fulfilment, we are bound to get disappointed. Most of our plans should necessarily take into account the poor weather conditions that are already upon us in Zimbabwe. The agricultural sector is obviously going to be much more adversely affected than any other sector.

Should our agriculture depend largely on irrigation or rain? Should our investment policy promote the mining sector more than any other? Should the country’s massive drift from rural areas to the urban centres not be countered by a deliberate bias towards rural-based industries and the development of rural residential accommodation?

These are some of the questions we have to face and practically deal with as each day of 2016 passes.

l Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu is a retired Bulawayo-based journalist. He can be contacted on cell 073 4328 136 or through email

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