The mid-eighties were formative years. There was so much to learn and understand. There were so many "isms" being thrown around, and some who said they were in the know, prescribed the best "ism" for Zimbabwe, be it socialism; Marxism; Leninism; communism; liberalism; capitalism and others.
In such a battle of ideas, it was difficult to say which "ism" would really work for Zimbabwe.
The argument is whether development models that have been successfully applied in certain environments can produce the same results elsewhere, and how?
Let us take the People's Republic of China as an example. People continue to question how China has risen from the bottomless pit to be where it is now - to be the world's fastest developing nation.
Africa, on the other hand, is being described as the world's newest growth point.
The Zimbabwean model of growth points is well known, and one wonders whether that this is the model of development being sought by Africa, Zimbabwe included. There is a book that looks at the Chinese development model in the past thirty years when they adopted the reform and opening up policy.
A number of writers contributed toward the books' contents, with the hope of showing that it is all about working together with the hope of achieving desired goals and objectives.
"Ways to Invigorate China: Series of Books on the Thirtieth Anniversary of Reform and Opening Up" was compiled by Xiaojuan Jiang. The English translation was done by Ting-jui Chou, Yun Jie and Naichich Chou. The People's Publishing House published the series in 2009.
Below are a few excerpts from the preface titled "Boosting reform and opening up" written by Binjie Liu, which give a broad spectrum of reform that China has undertaken, which should be an eye-opener for African countries caught between conflicting ideological frameworks: "Reform and opening up represent a great new revolution carried on and developed by the Party's several generations of central collective leadership.
"In his report at the 17th CPC National Congress, President Hu Jintao stressed:
'We must never forget that the great cause of reform and opening up was conducted on a foundation laid by the Party's first generation of central collective leadership with Comrade Mao Zedong at its core, which founded the Mao Zedong Thought, led the whole Party and the people of all ethnic groups in establishing the People's Republic and scoring great achievements in our socialist revolution and development, and gained invaluable experience in its painstaking exploration of laws governing the socialist development . . .
"We must never forget that the great cause of reform and opening up was carried on, developed and successfully carried into the 21st century by the Party's third generation of central collective leadership with Comrade Jiang Zemin at its core leading the whole Party and the people of all ethnic groups in this mission."
Leadership and moving together as a group seem to be central to this reform model.
There are some who will castigate this as propaganda and brainwashing, but the reality on the ground is that whether we think of China's reform path in negative forms, it is paying off, and we are being left behind, unless we show the willingness to learn how they have done it.
There is also a school of thought that says in an open society where technology rules the roost, it is not possible to achieve the results that China has achieved unless you enslave people's mindsets, and make them subservient to follow a tunnel-like thought process.
The challenge is that these conclusions should be based on scientific research. President Hu continues, "We have worked hard to promote scientific development and social harmony, improved the socialist market economy, and resolutely carried forward the great cause of reform and opening up in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects."
He also said, "Reform and opening up represent a great new revolution carried on by the people under the Party's leadership in a new era to release and develop the productive forces, modernise the country, bring prosperity to the Chinese people and rejuvenate the great Chinese nation; to promote the self-improvement and development of China's socialist system, inject new vitality in socialism, and build and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics; and to improve the building of the Party as it leads contemporary China in development and progress, preserve and enhance its vanguard nature, and ensure that it is always in the forefront of the times."
Many remember such sentiments being echoed time-in and time-out in Zimbabwe, but somewhere along the way, we missed the mark.
It is not too late to revisit those footprints. If it is working for China, it will be a matter of checking where we need to do some fine-tuning, unless of course there is a better model that will raise the status of the growth point.
The book's ten chapters are complete with tables, graphs and charts. The first chapter deals with historical aspects -- the opening up and the symbolic achievements. Chapter 2 is about foreign trade development and economic growth; while the third chapter is on absorbing international resources and investments.
The final chapter looks at global resource allocation and increasing total factor productivity; perfecting the opening up system; mutual promotion of expanding of opening up and deepening reform; and, the prevention of risks in opening up and promotion of global governance.
Deogratias Peter Mushi, an Assistant Features Editor with the Tanzanian Standard Newspapers highly commended "Ways to Invigorate China".
He said that the matter of how China has done it should no longer be a matter of guesswork for African governments and scholars.
He suggested that the book be available in all of Africa's institutions of higher learning and government departments so that policy crafters have a ready reference tool.