I know as Zimbabweans, we tend to have selective amnesia – especially, when it relates to politically-related matters, most probably due to a constant barrage of often contradictory messages by politicians, who seek to shift blame onto rival parties for whatever would have gone awry.
However, for those of us who choose not to be confused by political players, and possess stubbornly retentive memories – potholed roads in Zimbabwe’s big cities, and the sprouting of water challenges, are all too fresh in our minds, from as far back as the 1990s…way before anything called the MDC was ever mooted.
As much as I was born and bred in the small town of Redcliff, I spent quite a number of years in both the capital Harare, and neighboring Chitungwiza – first, for my tertiary education between 1994 and 1998, and then intermittent subsequent years for employment, right up to the 2000s.
Therefore, I have a fair bit of personal understanding of how issues of service delivery in our major cities steadily depreciated and dilapidated over a course of decades – far transcending the opposition’s reign in our urban areas.
Maybe another challenge we have as a people, is our narrow perception of challenges faced in our country – in which we seem to say, “if a problem doesn’t affect me personally, then it doesn’t exist”.
I guess that is an understandable reaction, as there can never be anything more impactful on one’s comprehension of an issue than personal experience.
Which explains why I began writing quite scathing articles, in our local Kwekwe newspapers, against the ruling ZANU PF regime’s barbaric reign of terror, mismanagement, and corrupt tendencies from as far back as high school (in 1989 whilst doing form three).
How was I expected to feel about a party and government that had savagely and cold-heartedly beaten up my friends’ parents, and burnt down their homes – right in front of my eyes in the early 1980s – merely because they were of the Ndebele ethnicity?
Why would I not have spoken out against their grand disgraceful looting of state resources, coupled with gross mismanagement – when I witnessed this taking place nearly on a daily basis at the state-owned then iron and steel making giant ZISCOSTEEL, where major assets, and even buses, could simply vanish into thin air – leading to the massive retrenchment of thousands of employees in 1993 (leading to its inevitable closure two decades later) as the company was becoming inviable?
That was when everyone else believed that the ZANU PF regime was God-sent, and the greatest thing to ever occur to Africa!
So, it would be such a shock if, for instance, Harare residents were to forget when their myriad of service delivery challenges actually began to rear their ugly heads!
Do they not remember why the ZANU PF Solomon Tavengwa-led council was removed by then local government minister, Ignatius Chombo, in 1999, and replaced by a commission chaired by Elijah Chanakira, after an uproar over rampart corruption, wastage of ratepayers’ finances, and poor service delivery?
Similarly, are Zimbabwe urban dwellers actually telling us that they do know why they voted out ZANU PF councillors (and, members of parliament) in the June 2000 general elections?
The reasons were there for all to see – the rot in our once glamorous and glorious towns and cities started under the ruling party’s watch, since they had no clue on how to plan for the long term.
Subsequent ZANU PF local authorities continued business as usual – without ever improving infrastructure from that put in place by the Ian Douglas Smith Rhodesia regime (so as to meet the ever-growing population, as well as moving with the latest technological developments).
Fast forward to today, ZANU PF now wants to reap wheat where the sowed chaff – through their shockingly insincere blame games against opposition-lead local authorities’ failures, and disingenuous promises of better service provision under the ruling party.
Surely, how can the same party that authored and presided over the ruination of our towns and cities be entrusted with their resuscitation and prosperity?
Just yesterday, March 2, 2022, the government – through its DDF (District Development Fund) sank one or two boreholes for the people of Marondera, ostensibly in order to alleviate their water plight.
That is a clear sign of how the ruling ZANU PF administration seeks to “solve” perennial urban water challenges – by continuing on this despicable path of turning our towns and cities into rural areas.
If they had a better plan – as a central government that holds tremendous over-bearing powers over local authorities – they would have long intervened (as happened with their horrendous sub-standard road rehabilitation program, with potholes already appearing barely six months into the work) by restoring our normal tap water in our homes.
This failure to do exactly that – and, resorting to boreholes – proves, beyond any reasonable doubt, that they still do not have a clue on how to develop our urban areas, as when they started the problems decades ago.
Is there anything surprising, considering that these are the same people who have failed the entire country – reducing it into a shameful basket case, whereby over 74% of the citizenry earn less than US$5.50 a day?
© 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]Post published in: Featured