It would be a grave understatement, if I were to say that I was dumbfounded when listening to the state-controlled broadcaster beaming the delivery of food handouts to St Lydia Chimonyo High School, in Manicaland province, as its top news story, packaging it as proof as a ‘listening president’ – whose children had bemoaned their unbearable plight to President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa during a recent visit to the area.
How does a president, who has totally negated and abdicated on his role and responsibility of ensuring that the country’s citizenry are able to enjoy dignified and decent livelihoods – where they can adequately fend for themselves, and sufficiently take care of their families, but have now been forced into begging and pleading for food, due to unrelenting gnawing hunger – suddenly, be regarded as ‘listening’, just because he was forced to come face-to-face with his shameful failures, and had to act?
Surely, for someone who fully understands the indignity and embarrassment of begging for assistance – I would know what those children had to undergo, in order to ward off imminent starvation – as they had to appeal to the person who was supposed to effectively and efficiently govern the country, such that, citizens were never reduced to beggars, on account of a dysfunctional economy, rundown by a regime better known for its high propensity for looting of national resources, and maladministration.
I can just imagine if my son had to approach me, tears in his eyes, and crying of hunger – after not having eaten anything of substance in days, as a result of my own irresponsibility and wasting of resources that should have been channeled towards the sustenance and upkeep of my family – whereby, I was forced to finally run around, and buy something for him to eat.
Could that ever be described as being a ‘listening father’?
Should I be awarded, and showered with accolades and praises, for this act of having eventually given my son something to eat – in spite of his hunger being the direct result of my own poor parenting and sickening neglecting of my duties?
There was absolutely nothing to be proud of for Mnangagwa and his government, by donating foodstuff to our starving children – whose learning institutions, particularly with boarding facilities, have suffered the brunt of the broader national economic meltdown, that has been authored by Zimbabwe’s ruling elitist privileged clique, who have focused more on plundering and pillaging our national resources (as if some buccaneering pirates or raiding Vikings) than ensuring that all citizens are able to make a decent and dignified livelihood.
Surely, a leadership’s success or failure is displayed by the number of its citizens who can afford to fend for themselves – or, reduced to begging for handouts and assistance, especially for the most basic of needs, such as food, clothing, sanitary wear for females, as well as medications and medical treatment.
Any country on the planet goes through one economic challenge or another – but, for over 50 percent of a nation’s population to survive in extreme poverty on less than US$1.90 a day, with nearly 80 percent earning below the poverty datum line, and over 90 percent out of formal employment, that paints a most unattractive and disturbing picture of those in power.
For July, a family of six required at least ZW$140,874 for the bare basics, with one person needing ZW$17,909 merely for food – yet, most Zimbabweans do not even take home more than US$50 a month (about ZW$22,750 at the prevailing interbank exchange rate), whilst annual inflation officially stands at 257 percent (although, most reputable scholars believe it is actually twice that figure).
Is it then any wonder that most boarding schools are unable to sufficiently feed their pupils – since, fees paid by parents at the beginning of the term have since been eroded by the high untenable inflation?
Who then is to blame for the children’s starvation?
Who can we fault, when the ruling establishment is only interested in implementing economic policies that promote arbitrage – through rigged exchange rates (both the auction and interbank), or the introducing of gold coins, both of which were deliberately designed to make scandalous profits for those in power or their allies?
So, when the president rides in as a noble ‘knight in shining armor’, donating food handouts – to starving pupils, who should normally be learning under a conducive environment, with adequate food and educational material – we should actually be holding him accountable for leading the country down this slippery slope, in the first place.
We can ill-afford a leader who is a typical ‘fireman arsonist’ – who rushes in as a responsible caring firefighter, who genuinely desires to douse a raging inferno – yet, he himself being the cause.
We are sick and tired of a ruling elite that is enjoying taking advantage of the suffering and poverty they are willfully inflicting upon the hapless people of Zimbabwe – as this helps them keep the country under hostage, and dependent upon those in power for their survival.
© 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@example.comPost published in: Featured