Our elderly experienced life under both Rhodesia and Zimbabwe, so why arrest them when they say Smith was better?

It has never been debatable that Zimbabwe was a nation under siege from its own tyrannical ruinous regime, whereby its citizenry have been subjected to untold suffering and unspeakable oppression - however, the arrest of an elderly lady last week in the city of Gweru, for ostensibly openly declaring that life was better under the colonial Rhodesia administration of Ian Douglas Smith than today, was the lowest this ruling elite have ever stooped.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana


Surely, under what law was this poor elderly lady arrested – although, she was said to have been released after being warned not to repeat her statement- in a country where freedoms of conscience and expression are enshrined in our Constitution (Sections 60 and 61)?

Is this increasingly paranoid and intolerant regime honestly telling us that, it is now a crime to express one’s views and beliefs, especially regarding which administration they consider better, or worse than the other?

Would I also be arrested if I were to say that the heinous, racist, and corrupt leadership of the late ousted president Robert Gabriel Mugabe was better than the so-called “new dispensation” – which took over when it toppled him in the November 2017 military coup d’etat (that, many scholars and legal minds still regard as illegal and treasonous)?

As this regime we are currently suffering under, has been condemned by both local and international rights groups, for allegedly breaking much of Mugabe’s ruinous and ruthless track record?

Besides always repeatedly shooting itself in the foot – as its obsession to impose its brutal fascist rule on impoverished Zimbabweans knows no bounds, and has blinded them as to how much they are busy digging their own graves, as they create more enemies than friends amongst the citizenry – the ruling elite should respect the honest and sincere views of those they lead, in order to learn where they are going wrong, and what needs to be changed.

In fact, there is no better age group that understands the direction this country is taking than the elderly – as most of them have lived through life under at least eight different administrations – since someone in their late eighties would have lived under Godfrey Huggins (1933), Garfield Todd (1953), Edgar Whitehead (1958), Winston Field (1962), Smith (1964), Abel Muzorewa (1979), Mugabe (1980), and Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa (2017).

As such, what normal government would not want to hear these people’s genuine perceptions – instead of intimidating them into keeping quiet?

Would a wise leader not be eager to hear from such elderly folk, in an effort to learn more and seek advice on his performance, and the best way forward?

Who best possesses tremendous in-depth intimate knowledge about the journey this country has traveled, than those who have experienced life under these various administrations, than our mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers?

Yet, this is Zimbabwe! Where such immense treasure troughs of wisdom and light are rather arrested and threatened into submission.

Needless to say, all this persecution and intolerance can never, and will never, wash away the truth – and, that truth is that, our elderly know (without ever being “bought” by any “foreign forces”, or reading tweets by Hopewell Chin’ono) what life was like under Smith, as apposed to life under the “Second Republic”, and if they say the former was better, then that needs to be respected.

Just as I am certain that, there are similarly those of the same age group who would readily confess that it is much better today – since Zimbabweans are not a homogeneous entity, and our experiences are bound to differ.

However, as with the Gweru gogo – as with numerous other elderly people I have encountered – they know how, in spite of the racial segregation and oppression under the Smith regime, for them, life was much more affordable, jobs were readily available, salaries could afforded a decent livelihood, schools and hospital were manned by a satisfied workforce and well equiped, water and electricity in urban homes were available 24/7, roads were exquisite, sporting facilities world-class, and corruption and crime rates next to zero.

And, most specifically for the elderly, their pensions were real “mudyandigere” (enjoying a comfortable livelihood, whilst relaxing in retirement).

How would that performance appraisal compare with the current “Second Republic”?

No matter what the different experiences by other people under Rhodesia, but that is a true testimony of a very significant number of those who lived through colonialism and independent Zimbabwe – and no one can take that away from anyone… not even by arresting and intimidating them.

If anything, arresting such people only serves to further prove that our “new dispensation” is just as oppressive towards the majority as the Rhodesians, but worse when it comes to the economy. So, which was better? And, surely can someone be arrested for saying that?

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and, political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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  1. Linda Schell

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