As Zimbabweans, we can be our own worst enemies

As I was standing next to some ladies - who were selling little goodies to pupils at a school gate - it was so disturbing to hear one of them loudly bragging that she was making a 100 percent profit.


I got myself wondering whether our greed as Zimbabweans has made us our own worst enemies.

This unfortunate incident was by no means isolated, as numerous businesses in Zimbabwe have adopted profiteering as a policy.

Additionally, we are all too familiar with traffic police officers’ notoriety in demanding bribes, as well as similar deeds by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) mainly at our country’s ports of entry.

This corruption and predatory attitude has, in fact, permeated nearly all facets of our everyday lives – from the very top of the nation’s echlons to the bottom.

However, what is most unsettling is when a struggling Zimbabwean mercilessly preys on a fellow struggling Zimbabwean.

I am reminded of a Latin proverb that says, ‘Homo homini lupus est’, meaning, ‘A man is a wolf to another man’.

This could not be any more accurate for Zimbabwe, as such heartlessness has become so entrenched in our society, that it has now taken on a semblance of normality.

For that lady to shout so loudly that she was making a 100 percent profit from her sales, means she does not see anything wrong at all with what she is doing – and is, in fact, very proud of herself.

Have we truly lost all sense of right and wrong as a community?

Has the suffering we have so bravely endured at the hands of a mismanaged, oppressive, and callously corrupt system de-sensitized us to such extreme levels?

Understandably, it can be argued that what were we to expect from a nation that has systemic corruption.

Where those in power have no qualms about flaunting their dubiously acquired wealth with such insane vulgarity – in the midst of a people who can hardly make ends meet, and are living on the very fringes of abject poverty.

Where the leadership only pays lip-service to fighting corruption, but no one in high offices – the very core of this scourge – has ever been brought to book – even when one of them practically confessed to looting state funds.

As much as all this is understandable, but there is no justification for the rest of us to parrot this moral decay?

If the nation of Zimbabwe is to have any hope of a prosperous future, there has to be Zimbabweans who still have a healthy moral compass.

If the rest of the fish allows itself to be as rotten as the head, then there will be no food for the children.

We need to be resolute that we will not be dragged down this dirty road of debauchery, because if we are all soiled as a nation, who will have the moral high ground to criticise the corruption of those in power?

When we are all corrupt, then who has the right to cast that first stone?

Honestly, would I have even an ounce of conscience to write articles critical of our leaders’ corruption and oppression, whilst I am engaged in the very same practices?

Furthermore, corruption is a habit-forming activity which is not so easy to break – thus, what kind of society will we have once we usher in a new democratic dispensation?

No matter how efficient the type of government we will elect, as long as we have a nation immersed in corruption, there will never be any economic recovery.

These activities may deceptively appear as a short-term knee-jerk reaction to a desperate situation, and an immediate need for survival – but, as with any other seductive habit, it will be nearly impossible to break.

The only reason this country is still surviving as a nation – and not discarded to the ‘failed states’ waste bin – are the people who remain steadfast in their principles of being anti-corruption, and anti-oppression.

We all should emulate such true patriots, as the only guarantee to a prosperous Zimbabwe.

Quite frankly, what type of poverty makes someone feel justified to over-charge goods, such that they make a 100 percent profit?

All this whilst selling to an equally desperate compatriot.

With such a cruel and insensitive attitude towards our fellow humans, can we genuinely feel justified in expecting our own cries to be heard by God, and receive Heavenly blessings?

We have travelled a very long and painful journey under this treacherous leadership – through the most trying of times – and can not afford to falter at this moment – at the dawn of a new and brighter Zimbabwe.

Our future is firmly in our own hands, and only ourselves have the power to choose how it should be – as no leader can defy and dictate to a determined people – as such, let our behaviour today be a reflection of the Zimbabwe we want.

* Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is available should anyone invite him to speak at any gathering. Please call +263782283975, email [email protected]com

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