I am not quite certain whether this was uttered out of sheer ignorance – or, as per usual Zimbabwe regime norm, was a deliberate attempt at disingenuously hiding the failure-prone government from scrutiny by the media, and being held accountable.
On the surface, his plea for media practitioners to refrain from merely criticizing the ruling establishment – but, to offer solutions – may appear well-meaning, and even logical.
Nonetheless, a closer analysis of the media terrain in the country will prove that, our journalists, writers, and other commentators, have never been in the habit of lame and empty disparaging of the Harare administration (probably, solely for the sake of criticism) – but, have been at the forefront of proffering workable and sound solutions to the myriad of challenges faced in this country, mainly by the ordinary citizenry.
As a matter of fact, I have never come across any electronic, print, or new technology media commentary that was devoid of recommendations and solutions for whatever shortcomings, failures, or poor governance highlighted.
Surely, when the media condemns the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for a voters’ roll that is apparently in shambles, and even scandalous – especially, the recent allegations of unreasonably high numbers of voters registered at the same address (which is possibly non-existent); or multitudes clandestinely moved from one local government ward or parliamentary constituency to another, yet never having changed their registered addresses, nor a delimitation exercise carried out – what “solutions” do those in authority honestly expect to be offered?
Do we not simply urge ZEC to engage all relevant stakeholders – the major stakeholder being the electorate – in an open dialogue on these queries raised (which, quite frankly leave the Chapter 12 institution seriously compromised and discredited), where all these issues are laid on the table?
What more “solutions” do they want?
Yet, what we have so worryingly observed are the responsible authorities going to every extent merely denying these accusations, using the media (particularly, state-controlled), and throwing away the little public goodwill left, through meaningless and laughable counter-accusations, in typical ad hominem fashion.
How are the ordinary citizenry supposed to trust such institutions – when the easiest way would have been to simply provide convincing, verifiable, and substantiated evidence to disprove the accusers?
Honestly, if someone were to accuse me for stealing his belongings – what sense would there be in me resorting to counter-accusing the same individual of also being a thief?
Why would such a weird reaction not just make me appear guilty?
Would it not be more productive, maybe to provide a corroborated alibi to prove that I was no where near the crime scene, when the alleged theft took place, or any other evidence disproving my involvement?
Furthermore, the same logic applies when we, in the media, point to the gross high-level corruption and looting of national resources – as we either publish what we sincerely believe is proof, or at least, information derived from reliable sources – whereby, dubious business cartels are awarded shady deals by the government, and at times, without the paid-for goods and services ever been provided, purely due to their proximity to power.
What “solutions” would the regime require of us?
Is it not clear what the solution is – crack down hard on the plunderers of our state resources, without fear or favor, by bringing to book all those involved, through sincere and above-board investigations and legal processes?
That is why we exposed the awfully substandard work in the rehabilitation of the country’s roads – in which, the government contracted unproven companies, based on questionable relationships with those in authority – yet, the initial response by the administration was that we were lying, and then they pointed a finger at “anti-government agents” who were going around the width and breadth of the country damaging these roads!
When we bring to light the unlawful, cruel, and nefarious activities conducted by some criminal Chinese companies – who have been accused by communities of threatening to evict them from their ancestral lands, as well as desecrating their heritage sites and forefathers’graves, whilst at the same time, not plowing anything back into those locations – honestly, what “solutions” should we be giving?
When we tell the stories of the people of Marange, Chiadzwa, Chilonga, Binga, Hwange, and so many others – who have suffered the brunt of these despicable companies, which have largely operated with impunity, since they receive backing and protection from both the ruling ZANU PF party, and government – what else are we meant to say?
Is the answer not clear enough – hold these companies answerable for their actions!
We say, the local currency is depreciating at frightening speeds, largely as a result of a skewed, rigged, and even devious auction system – whereby, connected cartels access the scarce foreign currency at concessionary rates at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) – yet, channelling it straight to the black market, where they make huge profits, and at the same time, causing untold havoc in our economy, and the unspeakable suffering on the ordinary people.
What “solutions” do the likes of Paradza expect us to come up with – except that, there is need for a transparent system, strictly in accordance with Dutch auction rules, or better still, completely scrapping the cumbersome and useless Zimbabwe dollar?
This, then, takes us to the paltry and miserable salaries that our hardworking civil servants, and other workers in general, are earning in Zimbabwe.
We are at the forefront of castigating what is undeniably an arrogant and uncaring attitude displayed by employers – most particularly, the government, as the largest job-provider in the country – for refusing to either pay their workers in hard currency, or peg the salaries at the US dollar, but paying them in Zimbabwe dollars at the prevailing exchange rate.
What other “solution” should we give?
When it comes to gross human rights and oppressive tendencies by the ruling elite – whereby, the opposition is repeatedly denied the right to campaign and operate freely, or activists are arrested on spurious charges that seldom lead to any convictions, or supporters are attacked and even killed – what “solutions” do those in power need to hear?
Is the solution not simply for them to stop it, and respect the country’s Constitution – which guarantees all these rights and freedoms?
In a nutshell, this call by the deputy information minister – who was obviously expressing the government view – is frankly, ridiculous at best, and lame at worst.
We have always proffered solutions in all our criticism of the government of Zimbabwe – without fail, and without fear or favor.
If anything, we are the ones who have been at the forefront of holding those in authority to account – something the state-controlled media has seldom done, as was turned into a disgusting puppet and parrot of those holding the reins of power.
Let me conclude by saying that – we have gone a step further by offering one more vital solution (arguably, the most important of all) – since, the Harare administration has shown itself a perennial unmitigated, unpardonable, and unrepentant failure.
The most logical and workable solution is for a completely new leadership!
The current ZANU PF government has already proven itself beyond redemption, with a disgraceful and horrific 42-year trail of one shameful and horrendous failure after another – resulting in the ruination of a once prosperous and shining jewel of Africa, into a laughable basket case of unimaginable poverty and suffering.
What other “solution” can there be, except for the entire caboodle to vacate office forthwith?
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, 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