Why are we treated like dogs in foreign lands?

By the late 1990s, some 120 countries around the world – more than 60 percent of the world’s independent states – had become electoral democracies.

Only a few have prospered in Zimbabwe - millions are living in abject poverty.
Only a few have prospered in Zimbabwe – millions are living in abject poverty.

Underlying these changes in political systems was a massive social transformation. The shift to democracy was a result of millions of formerly passive individuals around the world organising themselves and participating in the political life of their societies.

This social mobilisation was driven by a host of factors: greatly expanded access to education that made people more aware of themselves and the political world around them; cheap travel and communications that allowed people to vote with their feet if they didn’t like their government; and greater prosperity, which demand better protection of their rights.

Fast forward to 2015, some of the above mentioned factors are evident in today’s Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans are amongst the most educated people in Africa, and indeed in the world at large. Zimbabweans are more aware of themselves and most are very patriotic. I do not subscribe to the notion that Zimbabweans are docile or passive.

Grabbing a machete

No, they are not. It could be that they are well educated and can understand the futility of grabbing a machete to behead fellow country-men. An educated person is more likely to think of the consequences before acting. This could be one of the reasons why Zimbabweans are always hesitant to run amok in the streets demanding good service delivery from their government.

Still, the opposition political party members may disagree with the above notion. Their view could be that President Robert Mugabe’s regime has been so brutal that an uprising is not an option. The dreaded state security agents will not spare the life of an agitated revolutionary.

Today, due to the harsh economic conditions in their host country, Zimbabweans are among the most travelled people in the world. Zimbabweans are well connected and many, including the poor rural peasants, own a mobile phone.

Treated like dogs

Why then are Zimbabweans treated like dogs in foreign lands and still adamant to go back to their motherland? Xenophobic South Africa has exposed the wretchedness many Zimbabweans are going through.

At large, Zimbabweans are generally poor. The prosperity has not been spread amongst the general populace. Only a few have prospered in Zimbabwe and millions are living in abject poverty. Therefore, many Zimbabweans are not in a position to demand better protection for their rights.

Zimbabweans are victims of the politics of patronage. It is rife that some fellow Zimbabweans are happy to kiss the bum of a Chef (an influential political figure) in order to get wealth.

However, the inability to organise ourselves has been our down fall. How often do we read in newspapers that opposition political parties are bickering and fighting each other? It is no wonder that the main opposition political party, the MDC, has split into several political parties since its inception. In all circumstances, the beneficiary is the ruling party.


Zimbabweans are tribalistic. Some voters in Zimbabwe, especially the rural folk will not vote for political programs; rather, they support the Chef from their tribe.

If the Chef can get elected to parliament, the new MP will use her/his influence to direct government resources back home, to help supporters with things like school fees, construction projects, fertilisers etc.

As a result, politics of patronage, nepotism and corruption is widespread. However, this phenomenon is not exclusive to Zimbabwe. I do believe the community from Nkandla in South Africa has hugely benefited since Zuma became President.

Maybe the community from Zvimba in Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s rural home, have also seen the benefits of having a Chef at the top. Votes are traded for political favours.

The political system in Zimbabwe has failed us in the sense that our government has dismally failed to deliver the basic services that we demand from it. The mere fact that Zimbabwe has an elected government [despite the vote rigging and Nikuv controversy] tell us very little about whether it is well or badly governed.

This failure to deliver the basic services we demand is the greatest challenge to the legitimacy of Zimbabwe political system. Failure by the government to deliver basic services is the powder keg that will trigger an uprising in Zimbabwe. – Twitter @tendaikwari

Post published in: Human Rights

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