Whilst we demand our rights we also need to play our part as responsible Zimbabweans

For a long time now, we have justifiably been demanding our inalienable rights as Zimbabweans - mostly from a regime that has exhibited nothing but utter disdain and disregard for human dignity...unless if those humans are in the ruling elite.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Who would not complain when those in power believe they possess some devine appointment to be the sole beneficiaries of fat of the land – whilst, millions of the country’s population wallow, helplessly and hopelessly, in extreme poverty, and should any dare cry out, instance and brutal “justice” is swiftly meted our without any hesitation?

Why would we not be expected to raise a storm when our children are not receiving any learning, and watching their lives simply wasting away – due to the incapacitation of their teachers, as their employer (the government of Zimbabwe) for some strange and inexplicable reason genuinely believes they can make ends meet on US$100 and ZW$13,000 per month?

Who can keep quite when the rest of us – over five million strong – survive on less than US$1.90 per day, and somehow we should afford to pay exorbitant electricity bills (for a product that is seldom available), pay prohibitive school fees for children who are not even attending classes, buy food whose prices skyrocket by the day, and forced to procure unaffordable essential medications from private pharmacists as our government can not provide any?

What are we to do when our own local authorities can not even supply reliable running water into our homes, find absolutely nothing amiss with litter pilling up at every vacant piece of land, and think we all drive tractors that were designed to navigate those torturous and treacherous roads?

Indeed, we have a real and legitimate cause for disgruntlement and even outrage over such brazen abuse of our rights, by those we have entrusted in effectively amd efficiently manage the affairs of both state and town.

Nonetheless, in the midst of those protests, let us also take time to look ourselves in the mirror and honestly introspect on whether we ourselves are diligently and faithfully playing our role as responsible citizens.

This morning, when driving from our Redcliff home towards nearby Kwekwe – I was shocked why none of us was ever bothered to cut the tall grass growing at major intersections, thereby blocking drivers from seeing vehicles traveling towards them on the intersecting roads.

In spite of the obvious dangers posed, I could not fathom the logic behind every one of us using these obvious potential blackspots – who were we waiting for to cut that grass?

The city council?

Surely, it would not take any one of us to just bring a slasher, spend a few minutes there cutting the pesky grass, and all would be safe for all.

In fact, I was reminded of when I was still at Redcliff Primary School in the early 1980s – and, it was not uncommon to see school chairs, desks, textbooks, and so much more material bearing labels with names of parents who had donated them to the school.

This clearly showed that, parents of both past and present pupils did not resign themselves to merely moaning and whining over their children’s learning material – but, made a conscious decision to play an active part in ensuring that their schools were well taken care of.

Those who could not donate in cash, or tangible material would offer their labor and expertize instead – for instance, a parent knowledgeable in electrics could fix the school lighting, those good at carpentry could fix chairs, desks, and other wooden equipment, builders would assist in construction of new classroom blocks, whilst others help in mowing the lawn and trimming grass.

Our responsibilities as residents and citizens extend to loyally paying our municipal bills, and other taxes that our towns and country need for the smooth running of our day to day affairs.

Honestly, what point is there in us continually crying over lack of running water in our homes – yet we do not even bother paying for that water?

Do we ever bother to volunteer at our local clinic, and assisting whenever and wherever required?

Have we ever inculcated in our children a sense of community responsibility – whereby, from a very young age, we train them to involve themselves in assisting the elderly in our neighborhoods, or offering to help the less privileged, possibly volunteering their “free time” at these people’s homes, or raising funds for the needy?

As a matter of fact, raiding up our children with such a sense of community responsibility would keep them off alcohol and substance abuse – especially, taken under the pretext of “having nothing to do as there are no jobs” – since, they will always have something meaningful and useful to do with their lives.

Indeed, our leaders have a tremendous obligation in ensuring that we, as residents and citizens, have relatively comfortable and dignified livelihoods, by formulating and implementing programs that guarantee the smooth running of our towns and country – irrespective of whatever challenges may be encountered – however, that can never exonerate us from our own responsibilities.

As Zimbabweans, we need to demand our rights only when we know that we are similarly meeting our end of the bargain.

Quite frankly, when we do not play our role in communities – we should not expect anything in return!

It is that simple!


© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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