Political thuggery, opportunism and the destruction of a country

The subject I am tackling today was conceived several months ago. I however kept procrastinating whenever the need to write came. And now, having taken a little break from my demanding schedule, I decided to put my thoughts on paper. I am worried, indeed worried, about recent developments in my country of origin.

Once a renowned critic of the Mugabe regime ... Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo

Once a renowned critic of the Mugabe regime … Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo

I might be physically absent from my country of birth but I believe that my loyalty to our country goes beyond any internationally recognised state border. I don’t have to be physically there to be called a Zimbabwean. Thus, it concerns me if we have a ruling clique that believes that it only is Zimbabwean and has the right to rule eternally.

The liberation struggle that brought us political independence in April 1980 was meant to benefit all Zimbabweans. However, this hasn’t been the case. Regarding this, the then perceptive Jonathan Nathaniel Moyo, once a renowned critic of the Mugabe regime but now its staunch supporter, wrote: “As a result, and strictly speaking, political independence in Zimbabwe liberated only one part of the state: the government bureaucracy and political leadership which became Black, actually ZANU (PF), almost overnight in 1980”. That, politically, Zimbabwe is ruled by a tyrannical oligarchy is beyond argument. Robert Mugabe continues to maintain a tight grip on power aided by the use of force which is evidently ubiquitous nationwide. It is a given that the police and the army are highly politicised and overtly act on behalf of the ruling party Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). In addition, Mugabe and ZANU-PF rely heavily on a panoply of coercive parastatal groups, like war veterans and youth legionnaires, to resolve conflicts over power. These groups have been ideologically indoctrinated and were trained by former military personnel to use violence to achieve their political aims. Rural areas are under de facto control of these forces especially during elections.

Zimbabwe’s national elections have neither been free nor fair since the mid-1990s. It is public knowledge that since the year 2000, militia bases have been deliberately established throughout the country, where army, police, war veterans, youth militia, traditional leaders and ZANU-PF members of parliament and party officials work hand in hand to establish and actually implement a network of terror. Even during the life (2009-2013) of the Government of National Unity (GNU), state forces have acted as protectors of ZANU PF, while unlawfully arresting ministers of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), parliamentarians, party supporters, journalists, civil society activists and ordinary citizens. Itai Dzamara, an innocent citizen, remains missing over a year after his abduction in Glen View in broad daylight. No one has accounted for his whereabouts although the government can never distance itself from such a cowardly and dastardly act. Many have paid with their lives while several others disappeared and have not been located even now. It isn’t Dzamara alone. Many families have experienced this and are afraid that it might be repeated because of the restlessness of the dictatorial regime.

Economically, Zimbabwe has been manifestly sick and wobbling. Ours remains a diabetic economy. The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) cumulatively declined by 46 per cent between 2000 and 2007 and the unstable macroeconomic environment was characterised by hyperinflation, with the rate of annual inflation reaching 231 million per cent in July 2008. The economy experienced severe shortages of many basic commodities, including foreign currency, drugs, food, fuel, and industrial and consumer goods. The past decade also witnessed increasing poverty levels; for instance, the Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL) rose from 61 per cent in 1995 to 72 per cent in 2003 according to several reports including one from the International Organisation for Migration published in 2010.

In light of the foregoing, it becomes patently and incandescently clear and is therefore a fact of life that Zimbabweans continue to live under a struggle to meet the basic necessities of life. The current cash crisis is an indication that the past cannot be quickly forgotten. Long queues have resurfaced with people being restricted on how much of their own money they can withdraw from the banks. Millions of citizens now believe or have begun to believe that they were even ‘freer’ under Ian Smith’s oppressive regime in the then Rhodesia. The truth is that many Zimbabweans are failing to see the qualitative difference between life in Rhodesia and life as experienced in post-colonial Zimbabwe.

In the 2011 Human Development Index, Zimbabwe ranked just below Afghanistan and the country is yet to recover from a decade of economic decline which according to Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index (BTI, 2014) left 80 per cent of the population unemployed and 90 per cent living below the poverty line. In addition, the inheritance of a once well-functioning schooling system in Zimbabwe supports the literacy rates above 90 per cent. However, this figure is disputed with (BTI, 2014) settling for rather 75 per cent. The rate cannot be expected to remain stagnant when everything else is going down. We need to be a bit more realistic about our situation. This is the kind of mind and attitude required to tackle the challenges we are facing as a country. For God’s sake, our country hasn’t had a currency of its own for several years and has now introduced a worthless piece of paper. Although the idea is to ease the liquidity crunch, this is not the solution. The solution is having a democratic and sane leadership that is capable of attracting capital and investment. This is beyond the ability of the present regime. There is therefore need for regime change. Yes we need that.

If deliberate steps aren’t taken to address our political problems including issues of legitimacy then we can as well forget about any meaningful change, let alone political renewal and economic regeneration that in my opinion are sorely needed in our country. The dropout rate of pupils, especially of girls, be it in primary or secondary school, is higher than that of boys, and this is something attributable not only to the failure of many parents to afford school fees or materials but also to bad governance and gross mismanagement of national resources by the Mugabe regime. The current establishment therefore has failed and there is nothing they have to offer to the suffering masses. All they are good at is political thuggery and opportunism that has caused accelerated economic decline and institutional decay thereby resulting in the destruction of our once beautiful country.

Thirty-six years after independence, Zimbabwe continues to grapple with the outbreak of diseases as water supplies are deficient and the health sector lacks sufficient medicine and trained personnel due to the mass exodus of health personnel. The health system in Zimbabwe is heavily compromised by critical shortages of finance and declining infrastructure. This has resulted in key health personnel being demotivated by poor pay packages and their inability to practise their professions because of shortages of diagnostics, drugs and support systems. Unemployment remains a huge challenge that the government needs to pay serious attention to. It is however quite disconcerting and distressing that the government is still in denial regarding the issue of unemployment. Official statistics indicate that unemployment stands at a mere 11 per cent according to statistics by the central statistical agency. Two million jobs were promised in the run-up to the harmonised elections in July 2013 but to date we have witnessed more job losses than gains. Where are we going?

I have no doubt whatsoever that if Zimbabwe was a personal business its owners would do something about it. I am worried that we, as Zimbabweans, have been mere spectators and have allowed this rot to go on and on. Are we genuinely happy with what is going on? We need to do something about it. Other Africans have been able to face their problems head-on but we still think we are too smart to engage in a political process that gives us real political and economic freedom. We need to unite and fight this regime. We cannot continue to live in the past. Our present and future lives are at stake, let alone those of future generations. The struggle continues unabated!

Post published in: Opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *