Zimbabwe post-election victimization proves folly of celebrating dependency-based half-baked “empowerment”

In my engagements with some ZANU PF diehard supporters - who go out of their way attempting to convince me that Zimbabwe was truly on a "developmental trajectory", mainly through government or ruling party so-called "empowerment programs" - I never relent on my assertion...there is never any "empowerment" when its dependency-based.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Surely, the very fact that the two terms, “empowerment”, and “dependency”, are poles apart, and diametrically opposed – should lay bare the foolishness and hypocrisy of believing that they can ever be uttered in the same breath.

Whenever I inquire of exactly what this “empowerment program” entails – the best I receive is the tired old regurgitation of government/ruling party funded or operated projects, such as in mining, farming, fisheries, heifer rearing, flea markets, and so many more being doled out.

Of course, my first reaction is always that, all these will never work for me as my passion is in writing – from a very young age, such that I would write articles on leftover answer sheets after completing high school examinations before time, produced a handwritten class newspaper (which led me to officially start a weekly column in a local Kwekwe newspaper in 1989, whilst still in form three), can even pen articles on my mobile phone whilst cooking or standing in a bank queue, or wake up in the middle of the night with inspiration and begin typing away.

In that regard, why would I leave that, so as to engage in farming, mining, or rearing some chickens – just so as earn a living?

If writing (and, communications) can not provide me a secure comfortable lifestyle in Zimbabwe – which, is indeed what is currently happening – then, this means only one thing…the country is a failure.

Secondly, no government or ruling party should ever be in the business of doling our so-called “empowerment projects” – which are actually based on partisanship – since, doing so, only engenders a culture of dependency, whereby the beneficiaries are indebted to their benefactors, are beholden to them, and forever at their beck and call.

That, to me, can never be considered “empowerment” – no matter how creative one wants to be with their imagination – as that is nothing more that “servitude”.

This is best revealed by recent media reports on the purported victimization of those suspected of having voted for opposition CCC (Citizens Coalition for Change) candidates in last Saturday’s (March 26, 2022) parliamentary and local government by-elections, by ZANU PF and the Zimbabwe government.

Those allegedly being targeted are the ones who were supposedly “empowered” through the provision of flea market vending stalls, and artisanal miners, who have been driven away from their operations in Kwekwe – ostensibly, for being “sellouts”.

In so doing – whether based on variable information, or mere suspicions (as one’s vote is supposed to be secret) – these men and women, who at some point genuinely believed that they had been “empowered”, now suddenly realized the painful blunt truth…they never had any power at all.

We have witnessed similar disturbing tends even in agriculture – whereby, those who fell out of favor with the ruling elite, have been callously dispossessed of “their” farms – which, they were never provided title deeds to.

The concept of “empowerment” is premised on the achievement of political, social or economic power by an individual or group – whose “power”, should guarantee independence and complete control of one’s own enterprise.

Therefore, when the one who provided the means to this “power” has the authority to deprive or repossess from, or dispossess the benefactor – then there is absolutely no “empowerment” to talk about.

Which is why I have always asserted that there has never been any real empowerment (be it economic, political, or social) in Zimbabwe.

All those who boast of being members of such organizations as “Women for ED (Economic Development”, or “Men BelievED”, or any other so-called “presidential scheme”, are quite simply slaves of their masters – who have opened the economic door for them, and can just as easily slam it closed, at their whim.

The events reported in the media over the last day should serve as a clear message and lesson to all those who still live in their fanciful “La-La Land” of any economic “empowerment” in Zimbabwe – as there is none.

We now need a people who fearlessly demand and stand up for real economic development – which gives each and every Zimbabwean an opportunity to fully enjoy and fulfill their God-given passions and talents – whilst making a comfortable livelihood from the same, independent from any ‘benefactors” who will forever be holding them in bondage.

Genuine “empowerment” entails an economic, political, and social environment which is conducive for people, as myself, to earn a good living from my writings, or for me to even set up my own successful independent publishing house.

I should never be forced by economic circumstances to go into pursuits that I do not enjoy or like – and, which I would not even have complete control over.

Under such unenviable conditions, there can never be anything that I will consider empowerment or economic development in Zimbabwe – since everything else is mere enslavement.

© 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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