For starters, we never had to fetch our water for domestic usage from boreholes under the leadership of Ian Douglas Smith!
Love him, or hate him – his administration, as repressive and segregatory as it was, has proven to have been far much better, and outclassed and outshined our so-called “majority government” – to the point of making what was otherwise, a notorious despicable racist establishment, appear like angels from the heavens.
That is just how pathetic and disgraceful the post-independence Zimbabwe regime has turned out.
Surely, for a government to be considered worse than a colonial establishment, founded on heinous occupation, subjugation and segregation – then, no one can dispute the conspicuous fact that this could arguably be the worst administration to ever exist on this planet.
How else can anyone, who desires to be honest with himself, describe a ruling elite that presides over a country with one of the highest inflation rates in the world – currently widely believed to be hovering around 200%, and not for the first time, as having at some point in the early 2000s, reached an unbelievably staggering 500 billion percent!
Yet, during the Rhodesia era the country’s inflation was in the lower single digits for decades – in spite of crippling economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations (UN) after Smith’s UDI (unilateral declaration of independence) on 11 November 1965, as well as a raging guerrilla war in significant parts of its territory – such that, by the time of attaining majority rule, the local currency was at par with the US dollar.
In fact, a liberation war veteran friend of mine once told me how when he returned from the armed struggle in 1979, the fare for a bus trip to and from his hometown was still the same as when he left around 1975.
Nonetheless, in our beloved independent Zimbabwe, transport costs have been skyrocketing on nearly a monthly basis – leaving the average citizen unable to afford a simple journey to work.
Of course, those would be the fortunate ones who are gainfully employed – in a country whereby over 90 percent of the adult population is out of formal work, and the rest scrounging for a living from anything that comes their way – not to mention the over 85% of Zimbabweans now earning far below the poverty datum line, a teacher being five times short.
In Rhodesia, notwithstanding our parents armed with largely primary school education (my own mother having only reached Standard Six, and father a form two graduate) – they were able to train as nurse and teacher respectively, becoming very competent professionals, such that, even today at over 75 years of age, my beloved Mom is still called in, here and there, to assist with some surgeries.
Needless to say, both – soon after independence, with the removal of colour-based barriers – managed to purchase a beautiful low density house each, in addition to the pre-indepedence relatively comfortable livelihood, whereby buying cars was as easy and frequent as buying clothes.
What about our Zimbabwe – of which we are supposed to be immensely proud?
In spite of at least one state university in every province – whose school entry qualifications appear to be suffering their own hyperinflation – we are churning out thousands of graduates each year, the vast majority of whom are destined for years of joblessness, or laughable “projects”, which hardly afford them a home of their own.
Speaking about homes – as I mentioned earlier, during the despised Smith administration, nearly every employee (whether from the public or private sector) was guaranteed a house – be they, “hostels/flats” or domestic quarters (usually at the back of the main house) for single workers, high density suburbs for married general hands (as Rutendo in our small town of Redcliff), as well as decent four-roomed houses for other employees, as was the case for our Torwood.
All of these homes were equipped with reliable electricity supply, and a steady flow of safe potable tap water – as opposed to the sad scenes of nowadays, whereby long queues at distant boreholes have become the order of day, with some people spending hours for a few litres of the precision liquid, coupled with reports of rampant sexual harassment of young girls and even older women.
Let me not even start with medical facilities – which in Rhodesia were world-class, including those for the supposedly oppressed majority, well-equipped with some of the latest infrastructure, always stocked with all essential medications, and staffed by well-paid highly motivated professionals.
A stark contrast to the prevailing hideous situation – in which, we are still using the same operating theaters constructed in Rhodesia (of course, now totally run down and shambolic) for an ever-expanding population, whilst expectant mothers have to sleep on the floor in most instances, and a poorly-paid demotivated personnel in the offing.
For those afflicted with more severe conditions, such as cancer – their prognosis is dire at best, on account of ever-broken down radiotherapy machines, and costly chemotherapy treatment, which is out of reach of the majority – whereas, some of the most basic medications are not available in public hospitals and clinics.
Yet, I distinctly remember as a young boy in the late 1970s, my mother only having to dip a cup or tiny plastic white shovel into large buckets filled with painkillers, amongst a wide variety of other tablets and capsules at Torwood Hospital, where she was a nurse.
In Zimbabwe, a paracetamol has become a luxury one can not expect at any public health facility.
That is why I always unapologetically declare how grateful I was to have been born in Rhodesia – since, I seriously doubt if I would have survived, after been born without a detectable pulse, and not crying for more than 45 minutes.
However, due to a most proficient medical crew, as well as the grace of my Almighty Jehovah God (in Christ Jesus’ name), they managed to revive me.
Regardless, of the dire prognosis of my growing up in a persistent vegetative state – as a result of prolonged lack of oxygen supply to my brain – I am right here, in all my abilities and brilliance.
I wonder what would have become of me, had I been born at today’s Parirenyatwa Hospital, for instance!
I do not want to even imagine it!
For all the sports fans – well, under those disdained Rhodies, there was never any fear of our teams being banned from playing in their own stadia, as had become the norm these day – since those of yesteryear were of exceptional quality, and highly envied on the continent.
As a matter of fact, during our formative years in the townships, we had top-notch tennis, basketball, and netball courts – which, as to be expected, were possibly last maintained on the eve of April 18, 1980 – not to mention, the dilapidated and shameless state of other exquisite sports clubs we inherited from white people at independence.
The same can be said of our schools in Zimbabwe – which lack the most basic of learning materials, with state-of-the-art science and ICT laboratories a preserve for wealthy prlvate institutions, and a teaching staff on the brink of starvation, due to paltry remuneration.
Nonetheless, I attended pre-school (which we called creche) in 1979 – just before the dawn of an independent Zimbabwe – and, not only were we spoilt with impressive educational tools, and well-fed with nutritional meals, there were glorious sporting facilities, as swimming pools in those townships – and the standards we met at primary school in 1980 (clearly remnants of the Rhodesia days) were only comparable to private schools of today.
Let me move on to the levels of production and productivity in the former years – under which, Rhodesia was ranked amongst the best producers of nearly everything important under the sun – including, food and other agricultural produce, iron and steel, precious minerals, machinery of all kind, and was a favorite tourist destination even during the liberation struggle.
In today’s Zimbabwe – not only has industrial and agricultural production plummeted to shocking levels, if the companies are even still operational – as most have either collapsed because of corruption and mismanagement, or an inconducive economic environment – such that, we actually need to import food that we used to export throughout the world.
The only means our natural resources are crossing our borders is via smuggling by those linked to power.
I could actually write an entire book on this subject!
Maybe, that is the inspiration I so desperately needed for a long-overdue book that I have been procrastinating on penning!
What can be more clear that the testimony of those who experienced both these eras in our country’s history – who, today, are the most vocal in lamenting the sorry state of affairs in modern day Zimbabwe, and how standards have so horribly deteriorated, as compared to those of the time they sincerely believed were oppressed by the white man?
If we want to be completely honest with one another – let each inquire from their own elderly relatives or neighbours on the glaring differences between the two epochs.
Without any grandstanding and pontification for the sake of the public gallery, we will all know the brutal truth – no matter how unpalatable and bitter.
It is quite disingenuous following the heated, and at times vitriolic debates, on social media – on an issue whose undisputed truth we are all aware.
My humble advice to all those who are finding it impossible to fathom and digest the unquestionable facts – if you hate being constantly compared to the person or regime, whose horrid policies you rode on to attain power, then the simplest thing to do is to perform better than those whom you painted as evil.
However, as the situation stands today – the post-independence, particularly the Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa regime, has proven itself, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to be far more brutal, incompetent, and kleptomaniac than even those who oppressed us in the past.
© 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