There will never be any national development without strictly holding the Zimbabwe government to account

From time immemorial, there has always been a debate on why countries in the West are as economically developed as they are.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Of course, it is nearly impossible to arrive at a consensus – but, there are certain truths that can never be genuinely disputed.

No one can deny that slavery and colonialism played the most significant role in enriching those nations.

Nonetheless, this can never be the reason why they have managed to maintain, or even exceed, their slavery and colonial era prosperity – centuries and decades after!

Let us not forget that, even someone who wins a million dollars in a lottery, can easily lose everything within a year or two – largely due to irresponsible behavior and prodigal tendencies.

In fact, we can say the same about our own Zimbabwe – which was built on the back of colonialism, into one of the most developed countries on the African continent (only second to apartheid South Africa) – yet, wantonly destroyed all that wealth, in disgraceful fashion, seemingly overnight, after the nation attained its independence from British rule in 1980.

The question then becomes – how come other countries, supposedly built on slavery and colonialism managed to grow their economies, way after the end to this dark and evil epoch of their histories – yet, we in Zimbabwe, have only succeeded in going down and down?

Our only “success” appears to be dismal failure!

The answer is quite straightforward – accountability, or lack of… particularly in the case of Zimbabwe.

Without strictly holding our national leadership answerable to the citizenry and electorate, effectively allows those in power to rule the country with impunity – and, can do pretty much what they want, without fear of ever being questioned by the people they ostensibly lead.

They can loot the nation’s resources, with reckless abandon – whilst, leaving millions of Zimbabweans wallowing in abject poverty – yet, we the affected people, simply looking on with folded arms, or even defending this shameful and callous behavior.

How many times have some aligned to those in power been fingered by impeccable sources (after thorough investigations) in multi-billion dollar fraudulent dealings – that have severely damaged the country’s economy – yet, there has always been those amongst us who have had the audacity to defend these plunderers, under the deluded pretext of them actually having “saved the country from impeding ruin”?

In all this blind and laughable loyalty and allegiance – we seldom ask why the country needed saving in the first place, and how we got there!

Was this not as a result of these same pillagers, who had milked the country dry – then, deciding to return as “saviors”, who gave back a negligible portion of their multi-billion dollar loot, supposedly to “save us”?

We have witnessed all manner of promises being made by the ruling elite – from the creation of millions of jobs, living and dignified wages for employees, free education and health for all, as well as endless “visions”, with absolutely none of these ever been fulfilled – but instead of raising hell with our leaders, we have chosen to look aside, and look forward to the next set of promises, with apparent eagerness.

Surely, how do we seriously expect those in leadership to fulfill their promises and obligations – in the glaring absence of our staunch willingness to hold them to their word?

This is in stark contrast to those countries we accuse of enriching themselves on the sweat and blood of slavery, colonialism, oppression, and even through buccaneering privateers (or, pirates) of decades and centuries ago – yet, still going strong, if not stronger, today.

Their secret?

These nation’s citizens make sure to jealously guard that wealth – by ensuring that those in authority are always held to the highest standards of accountability, regardless of political affiliation.

They never tolerate any nonsense when it comes to the governance of their countries.

Just look at both the public and private media in countries as the UK, US, France, and even nearby in South Africa.

They all have one thing in common – a firm and deep understanding of the utmost significance of holding the ruling elite answerable for their every move, decision, and action, as the only panacea to national development.

The concept of “national development” becomes a lame mantra, and moot, in the absence of accountability to the citizenry.

Which explains why even a seemingly trivial and ridiculous misdeed as hosting a small office party, in the midst of strict COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, can land a prime minister in hot soup (even threatening his position) – as currently happening to Boris Johnson in the UK.

This is merely a sign of a people who brook no nonsense when it comes to their leadership – inevitably, resulting in a country well-run, and prosperous.

One can just imagine what these citizens would do in the event of reports of state-sponsored looting of resources, scandalous deals with unscrupulous business people, or unfulfilled promises.

Nonetheless, here in Zimbabwe, our public media appears to have a skewed and warped understanding of its role in promoting national development – which is premised on blinkered and brainless praise and worship of anything the government and ruling party do, with any decision being touted as “commendable”, even when clearly flawed and pose a real danger to the country.

One simply needs to look at how state-controlled media packaged the “midnight sleepwalking” economic pronouncements issued last weekend by president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, as having been roundly “welcomed, applauded, praised, and commended” – without any ever daring to raise alarm over the adverse repercussions we later were to witness during the following week – resulting in severe damage to business operations, and the subsequent embarrassing reversals and u-turns by the government, especially when it came to the ill-advised ban on bank lendings.

Those who spotted these weaknesses and loopholes in these ridiculous economic decrees – which were not even supported by any legal statutes – were quickly labeled, “anti-government”.

Who then, proven to be truly pro-national development?

Let us also never lose sight of one basic tenet of democracy – our leaders are not our bosses!

As I have alluded to several times before – it is not being impudent or disrespectful when I repeatedly say that the president is not my “shefu”, but rather the other way around…I am his “shefu”.

Who is the “shefu” between the one who gives you a job, and the one who is given the job?

Who appoints the president of a country in a democracy – or, at least, in a nation that purports to be a democracy?

The people, of course – who do so at the polls, during election time.

As such, who is the boss or “shefu” in this regard?

Surely, it has to be the citizens – who, according to the founding values and principles of our country’s Constitution [section 3(f)], are acknowledged as such!

Common sense would then dictate that, we have every right to ensure that those we appointed into office – be they our local government ward councillors, members of parliament, or the president – are held at the highest standards and made answerable for their every deed.

That is why, when these office bearers try to usurp our powers as the real “shefus”, as they use brazen brutality and intimidation against us – that is referred to as abuse of power, oppression, and tyranny.

However, there are millions of us – and, fifty or so of them – since, even the rank and file of those used to subjugate us, are suffering just as much as the rest of the population.

The power is undeniably on the side of the ordinary people!

As Zimbabweans, we are the only ones who can determine our own destiny – and, as we have witnessed in other “developed” countries, national development is achievable by holding those in authority to the highest standards and levels of accountability.

Anything less – especially, cheering and defending the grand looting of our resources, shady deals, and mismanagement – can only lead to one end…more and more suffering for the millions of Zimbabweans.

© 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]

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