ED heroes acre speech would have been beautiful had he read it in front of mirror!

In life, they say, "timing is everything" - and, when someone does or says something at the wrong time, and at the wrong place, it could easily be regarded as inappropriate.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana


This may equally be true for an individual who, in spite of his own widely notorious deplorable behavior – possibly, is a well-known pedophile, philanderer and rapist – is fond of acting self-righteous and disparaging all those engaged in the same behaviour, even resorting to calling them objectionable words.

Talk of a pot calling the kettle black!

What would even give such a person the gall to condemn others for exactly the identical things he himself is guilty?

I found myself asking the same question yesterday, when I was listening to President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, as he emotionally lambasted the opposition-led Harare City Council for apparently “destroying” the once “Sunshine City”, through self-serving interests and abdication on their mandate towards those who elected them.

This would have easily been a most beautiful statement, if only he was reading this speech in front of the mirror – since there is no one in Zimbabwe who has so disgracefully and appallingly ravaged the once prosperous and highly developed country, which was considered the “Jewel of Africa”, than Mnangagwa’s own ruling ZANU PF regime.

Indeed, no one, who wants to be brutally honest with himself, would deny that standards in our urban areas have deteriorated to horrendous levels – leaving most residents without any running water in their homes, roads unnavigable due to deep potholes, clinics where the sick hardly find medication, and piles of refuse that are seldom collected.

However, those are problems that can never be divorced from the broader economic challenges faced by Zimbabwe – which can all be traced back to ZANU PF misrule, mismanagement, and looting of national resources.

Can anyone honestly distinguish when the country as a whole fell into its over two-decade economic meltdown, and when services began to nosedive in our cities and towns?

Did this not occur more or less at the same time – towards the turn of the new millennium, in the late 1990s – well before the formation of the main opposition MDC led by Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, and before any so-called “economic sanctions” were imposed on a few high ranking individuals and entities accused of human rights abuses and corruption in the early 2000s?

Does the president genuinely believe the people of Zimbabwe have the memory of cockroaches – who easily forget precisely when their problems started?

Well, some of us still carry on our shoulders memories that are as sharp as ever before, and can still remember when life began to be unbearable in Zimbabwe – and that was way before any opposition was ever elected into any public office.

As a matter of fact, the main reason Tsvangirai and his MDC were so excitedly welcomed at their launch in 1999, and nearly walloping ZANU PF only nine months later at the June 2000 general elections – was on account of citizens’ livelihoods having been already turned upside down by the ruling establishment.

Musicians as Edwin Hama, Leonard Karikoga Zhakata, Leonard Dembo, and numerous others were already churning out hit after hit moaning the untenable economic situation in the country – characterized by soaring prices and shortages of basic commodities, fuel, medications, and transport, as well as a fast depreciating local currency, whose most outstanding freefall was after the dolling out of millions of unbudgeted for dollars for liberation war veterans’ pensions in 1997.

Who can forgot the food riots in the mid-1990s, whereby the military was deployed in tanks to places as Chitungwiza and others – as I stayed there during my college years?

In fact, Zimbabweans had become so disenchanted with the ruling ZANU PF, such that independent candidates, such as Fidelis George Mhashu and Valerio Dzoro, who had broken ranks with the party, easily found traction in the towns of Chitungwiza and Redcliff respectively.

In other words, as ZANU PF steadily destroyed the country’s economy, the effects were also felt in urban areas – most particularly, in service delivery, such as water provision,  road maintenance,  refuse collection, and health care.

Quite frankly, even ZANU PF is fully aware that, as long as ratepayers are economically constrained, there is no way they will fulfil their obligations in paying for services rendered – and as such, will inevitably impact the performance of our local authorities.

That is why the ZANU PF regime can only come into our towns and cities with boreholes – since there is no way they can resuscitate the former tap water provision, due to the inability of residents to pay for this service.

How are residents expected to afford their bills, when the ZANU PF administration has wantonly ravaged the economy – leaving over 90 percent of the population out of work, over 80 percent of those either in formal or informal employment earning far below the poverty datum line, and nearly 50 percent living in extreme poverty on less than US$1.90 a day?

As long as the current dire economic challenges persist, there is no way under the sun that even ZANU PF councils can fare better than the opposition in charge today!

Furthermore, central government – purely for political expediency – has been unduly meddling in the affairs of local authorities, whose day-to-day management is still very much in the hands of ZANU PF central government appointed town clerks, engineers, and others, who hold the key to how our towns and cities are operating.

We can also not disregard the most recent repugnant machinations by the local government minister, July Moyo, who has been at the forefront of forcing down over-priced and unnecessary fire tenders on our local authorities, as well as the Pomona waste management questionable deal – which will prejudice already cash-strapped councils of millions, if not billions, of dollars, at US$464,292 per fire engine normally costing US$194,000, and US$20,000 per day for the waste-to-energy scam.

The same minister is also accused of blocking the disbursement of full devolution funds owed  by central government to the city of Harare – thereby, hindering planned development in water provision, and health care system.

It is quite clear who exactly is responsible for the sorry state in our urban areas, and the best person Mnangagwa should have read that emotional speech, delivered at the heroes acre yesterday, should have been to himself.

He is the one who needs to know that his administration has unpardonably failed the people of Zimbabwe – who are the same residents of urban areas.

Is there, then, any wonder why – in spite of the ever-deteriorating standards in our towns and cities – Zimbabweans still vote for the opposition?

Clearly, they know who is to blame!

© 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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