With millions of ordinary Zimbabweans enduring unimaginable impoverishment – half of whom (7.1 million) forced to survive in extreme poverty (less than US$1.90 a day), nearly 80 percent earning far below the ever-increasing food poverty datum line – the consumer basket for a family of five in July at ZW$140,000, yet the lowest paid civil servants receiving ZW$35,000 per month – exactly what ‘positive story’ are we expected to tell?
Right now, inflation has hit the 257 percent mark (although, it is much higher, as prices increasing nearly on a daily basis), and the local currency falling to a staggering ZW$800 to the greenback.
As a writer myself – who speaks for the suffering, as a social justice activist – surely, what ‘positive story’ about Zimbabwe should I pen?
Quite frankly, no one enjoys being negative everyday, and would love to produce material that bring smiles on people’s faces, and even laughter in their lives.
However, with the vast majority of citizens not knowing from where their next meal will come, or how they will manage to pay their children’s school fees (as the third term beckons), or where they will get money for rent, or having to helplessly watch a loved one dying (due to unavailability of desperately needed medical care) – try as I may to write something positive on the situation in Zimbabwe, but this becomes an impossible task.
Indeed, I can spend my time telling the world that the Zimbabwe government has been spending millions rehabilitating a couple of roads (albeit, shoddily), or that we now have a Chinese-donated ‘state of the art’ parliament building, or that our local industries have, to some extent, been on the revival path and domestically-produced goods taking over the majority of shop shelves (although, the current rabid inflationary pressures, and foreign currency volatility, as well as its unavailability through official channels, threaten to derail and unwind all that progress).
I can also talk about the recently introduced gold coins – so far, going for US$1,886.54 each (well beyond the reach of ordinary citizens), or the planned smaller coins (with 3,11g of gold) to cost US$188.48 (still unaffordable for the majority, most of whom survive on less than US$1.90 a day).
Nonetheless, how can I possibly bury my head in the sand – pretending that all is well in Zimbabwe – when in fact, it is not?
How can I, in good conscience, focus on ‘positive stories’, in the midst of an ocean of suffering and poverty?
Who, then, will be the voice of these voiceless millions of Zimbabweans forced to scrounge for a living on the fringes of society – whilst, the privileged in the country, with the means, are busy buying gold coins?
Honestly, I would never be able to live with myself, and look myself in the mirror – as riddled with guilt over this dereliction of my duty as a responsible caring member of the community.
Let us also remember that, even during the colonial times, there were ‘positive stories’ to tell – arguably, far surpassing what we are currently witnessing in ‘independent’ Zimbabwe.
Were massive industries not developed during that era – employing millions – with the country being the manufacturing base of most of the goods we needed, and even exporting throughout the continent?
Did every employee, including domestic workers, not have decent accommodation provided by their employers – resulting in the establishment of most residential suburbs we still have today?
Were our fathers and mothers not trained as teachers and nurses, and their salaries making a huge mockery of the peanuts today’s crop is earning?
Nevertheless, amidst this ‘development’ – did our nationalist movements, including the current ruling ZANU PF party, go around the world telling of all these ‘positive stories’?
Or, did they not stand up for the oppressed, segregated and suffering majority – even calling for economic sanctions against Rhodesia, and requesting military training and equipment to wage a liberation struggle?
Why did they not focus on the ‘positive stories’?
Was it not because the welfare of the majority, and the respect of their inalienable rights, overrode any such perceived ‘positive stories’?
So, what has changed?
Why should it be any different today?
When millions of Zimbabweans continue to wallow in abject poverty – our parents even worse off than during the colonial era, with their pensions losing value (or, not receiving any at all) – for what reason should we not stand up, and speak out, for those facing unbelievable pain and suffering under our erstwhile liberation movement?
When all those who dare speak out, and stand up, are subjected to the most heinous sadistic brutality and repression – by means of, arrests on spurious charges (with none ever being convicted of any crime, yet denied the right to bail for months), peaceful demonstrations and opposition gatherings banned, and unarmed protestors gunned down in broad daylight – how can we be expected to focus on ‘positive stories’, whatever these are?
Does the fact that the white settler regime was ousted, make it alright for a new breed of black oppressors to make our livelihoods and lives miserable and hell on earth?
Besides the clear shortage of genuine ‘positive stories’ in our ‘independent’ Zimbabwe – under the blatant mismanagement and looting of the ZANU PF regime – there is no way social justice activists, as myself, will ever ignore the oppressed and marginalized millions of Zimbabweans failing to make ends meet.
- 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.com