We have also witnessed expressions of extreme excitement at the news of some equipment being shipped into the country, for the construction of what is touted as “Africa’s largest iron and steel plant” in Mvuma, Midlands province.
Similar jubilation has been seen for the past few years, as the expansion of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport slowly takes shape – whilst, major roads in the country have been systematically rehabilitated, albeit shoddily in most parts.
Yet, in all this, what puzzles me the most is the apparent wild optimism by these quarters of the Zimbabwean population, that our country is now on an upward developmental trajectory – which should be justifiable cause for celebration.
When were these people born?
Did they arrive on planet earth only yesterday?
Surely, for some of us, who have been around for nearly half a century, we have witnessed our fair share of supposed ‘mega-projects’ in Zimbabwe, especially after independence from Britain in 1980, as the new ZANU PF government appeared in overdrive developing a prosperous country for all.
If there are those who believe what we are seeing today in Zimbabwe is development, then they should have been round to see what happened in the 1980s.
We saw the introduction of the electric train – amid much understandable pomp and fanfare – which, seemed to finally do away with those smokey coal-fired engines.
There were new schools being opened in nearly every suburb in the country – and, huge residential areas sprouting up in every town and city.
There were several high-rise skyscrapers being constructed in our major cities – with the Karigamombe and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) headquarters taking centre stage, as the tallest and most glamorous in the country.
Nonetheless, in all this jubilation, there was one phenomenon which could never be ignored – Zimbabwe was being taken on an economic downfall by the ZANU PF regime.
By the time we reached the early 1990s – barely ten years after independence – besides barbarically butchering over 20,000 innocent unarmed civilians in the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces, prices of basic commodities were skyrocketing, shortages were now commonplace, foreign currency to import major products was scarce, and major industries such as the then iron and steel-making giant, ZISCOSTEEL, were being rundown through unparalleled looting, corruption, and mismanagement.
That is why around 1992, the ever-bungling government imposed the notorious Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP), resulting in the retrenchment of tens of thousands of Zimbabweans from their jobs – reducing many ordinary citizens into unprecedented poverty, under the pretext of “tightening their belts today, for a better tomorrow”.
As it turned out, that “better tomorrow” never came, and Zimbabweans have, for the better part of the past 30 years, been repeatedly told to “tighten their belts” – yet, those in power have continued to losen theirs as a result of fattening bellies, as they disproportionally increased their opulence and comfort.
Our country’s vast natural resources – which, normally, should have guaranteed each and every Zimbabwean’s decent and dignified livelihood – have, nonetheless, been callously channeled for the enrichment of only a few of the ruling elitist privileged clique, whilst the rest of the population are abandoned and marginalized to wallow in abject poverty and suffering.
As such, what has changed today?
Why should Zimbabweans somehow believe the construction of a new parliament building, or commissioning of a Cyber-City in Mt Hampden, or expansion of our international airport, or rehabilitation of major roads, are signs of good times ahead?
Have we not witnessed this before – only that in the past, the projects were much more magnificent – yet still, due to the ruling establishment’s high propensity for plunder and incompetence, the country was driven right over the cliff of economic dire straits?
For some of us who have been around for quite a while, we are no longer easily enticed and seduced by cosmetic development – which hardly translates into any sustained benefit and improvement of the ordinary citizenry’s everyday livelihoods.
Here is a spoiler for those who are still excitable over the few developmental projects currently being unveiled in Zimbabwe – we have, tragically, seen this movie before, and we know how it all ends – those in power will be the big winners, at the expense of the ordinary people, who will sink deeper into the abyss of poverty.
Mark my words!
Besides, why would any sane person expect the same people who wantonly destroyed the country, to be the ones entrusted with its revival?
If the ruling ZANU PF party could not reform its wayward ways, over the past 42 years of disgraceful grand pillaging and inaptitude – why would they start now?
Please Zimbabweans, let us not act dumb!
© 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, or email: [email protected]Post published in: Featured