John Makumbe

Reduced to Stone Age scavengers
For most Zimbabweans, the year 2006 was harsh. The economy continued to slide into a bottomless pit. The social sector has become a pale shadow of its former self, with both schools and hospitals performing well below previous standards. At the political level, the

re was more gloom and doom as both factions of the MDC sought to outdo each other in various ways. The ruling Zanu (PF) continued to disintegrate into what Mugabe himself described as “shambles”. The gloom was exacerbated by Mugabe’s futile attempt to extend his tenure of office by another two years.
The year 2007 promises to be even tougher and more inhospitable than 2006. The cost of living is escalating relentlessly, and most families are now living well below the poverty datum line. Unemployment is likely to reach a record 90% before the end of the year, while the school and college dropout rate is likely to exceed 50% Most schools and colleges have increased fees to levels that can only be afforded by middle and high-income earners, and this will force the majority of the children to drop out of formal education. Naturally, the dropouts will have to resort to a life of crime in order to stay alive.
Medical fees have also been raised to astronomical levels, forcing the majority to resort to traditional and faith healers as the only viable option. Zimbabweans are slowly becoming what MDC President, Morgan Tsvangirai, once called “Stone Age scavengers”, thanks to Mugabe and his bunch of hooligans. Meanwhile the dictator and his minions continue to loot the national resources with impunity. The political will to fight against corruption remains a very scarce commodity, except in the form of Paul Mangwana’s (tomorrow) empty rhetoric. Perhaps his surname says it all.
The feuding MDC factions need to take serious measures to resolve their differences and either re-unite or formalise their differences by one of them changing its name. There must only be one MDC, for goodness’ sake. Zanu (PF) is undoubtedly at its weakest level right now. Mugabe’s beleaguered party can be tackled most effectively this year since it has lost virtually all its popular support. Sadly, however, the opposition “MDCs” seem to be more interested in what the other faction is doing rather than in what Zanu (PF) is not doing for the benefit of this country.
At the civic level, the slumber seems to continue unabated. Steam seems to have gone out of the euphoria that greeted the launch of the National Vision Document (NVD) by the pro-state clergy a few weeks ago. Perhaps the pastors are still on Christmas break. The Christian Alliance promised to continue its civic activities, if not intensify them. So this year should see several work boycotts organised by the Christian Alliance, the ZCTU and other civic groupings.
There is a serious need to make the governance of this country prohibitively costly for the dictator. Work boycotts and other forms of industrial action will go a long way to make the regime divert considerable resources towards maintaining a semblance of control and political stability. The proposed Constitutional Amendment (Number 18), which will seek to give Mugabe two additional years of national devastation must be fought very strenuously. The role of civil society in this regard will be crucial. Mugabe must be left in no doubt at all that he is now very unwanted, if not hated, by all Zimbabweans other than the small minority of thiefocrats profiting from his mis-rule.

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