‘Climbing on rooftops’ in criticizing Zimbabwe ruling elite is indictment on dictatorial regime insensitivity to citizens’ cries

The past week in Zimbabwe was characterized by the fervent reprimand by two prominent individuals on citizens who ostensibly 'climb on rooftops' in condemning their own government in the international arena.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana


Both Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda, and former opposition MDC senior official and Deputy Minister of Justice (in the unity government of 2008 to 2013) Obert Gutu went out of their way castigating all those Zimbabweans who found it appropriate to criticize the ruling elite’s mismanagement of the economy, wanton corruption, and blatant human rights abuses on the global stage.

Of course, and conveniently enough, these two never referred to this as the ‘criticism of the political elite or government’, but deliberately chose the more colorful and highly misleading ‘demonizing their country’ – clearly pretending not to understand the difference between a government and a country.

Quite frankly, I have never come across any Zimbabwean whatsoever who has ever ‘demonized their country’.

Be that as it may, both Mudenda and Gutu attempted to paint a rosy and more favorable picture of other nation’s citizens – whom they mischievously claimed never ‘climbed on rooftops and tell the whole world that their country had failed’.

Again, no one I know of has ever declared their ‘country had failed’, but rather, ‘the Zimbabwe government had failed’.

Nonetheless, Gutu, in his efforts in justifying the proposed notorious enactment of the draconian Patriotic Act – widely regarded as targeted at such Zimbabweans as Mudenda and Gutu are referring to – made the comparison to South Africans who, in spite of debilitating incessant electricity shortages, never went onto the global scene in castigating these shortcomings by those in office.

Well, maybe these two (and, all of a similar mind) need a crash course in what such differences in the responses to challenges by these countries’ citizens actually reveal.

Every household on this planet has problems.

That can never be denied.

Yet, when a child resorts to crying over the lack of food in his home, and the unbearable gnawing hunger in his stomach, to those in his neighborhood or even at school – it usually means his pain had reached intolerable levels, and most likely his parents were not paying heed to his plight, and not attending to the matter.

He had been left with no other choice, but to ‘climb on rooftops and tell the whole world’ – lest he dies from starvation.

However, in a ‘normal home’, regardless of the lack they may endure – if there is proper communication within the family, based on love for one another, and parents being seen to be doing their utmost best in addressing this food shortfall – the child will never have any reason to run next door for help, due to his confidence in his patents’ abilities.

As I write this article, South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa has reportedly cut short his state visit to the US (United States), and will also skip the crucial UN (United Nations) General Assembly Summit set for this week – in order for him to urgently attend to the spiraling electricity crisis in his country, with power blackouts recently reaching shocking levels.

Surely, with a president who appears to be taking the dire catastrophe in his country with the seriousness such a situation deserves – why would South Africans feel the need to ‘climb on rooftops and tell the whole world’ over their electricity problems?

Whatever weaknesses and failures Ramaphosa may be responsible for – at least, he is taking charge of the issues facing his nation, or at least democratic enough to allow a change of government.

If we had such an attentive leadership in Zimbabwe – who actually attend to our challenges with the urgency and gravity that is required – why would any one of us complain seemingly every day, or ‘tell the whole world’?

Nevertheless, when our leadership has the sickening habit of always pointing the accusing finger at others, besides themselves – in stark refusal in taking responsibility for their own failures as the government presiding over the country’s affairs – then, it becomes undeniable to all of us that our concerns are not being heard, let alone attended to.

Honestly, where will we get the confidence in those governing the country, when all we hear are excuses, and blame squarely being laid on the shoulders of so-called ‘sanctions’, or ‘saboteurs’, or ‘foreign-sponsored regime change agents’?

They even have the audacity to allege that our own electricity crisis is a sign of a growing economy – shamefully ignoring that, at some point, we had a much larger economy (with massive mining and agricultural activities taking place, as well as manufacturing industries all operating at full throttle, being a continental and even global powerhouse) – yet, the country never had any power cuts.

This indifferent attitude will never instil confidence in the citizenry – who simply see a political elite that does not care about us, and is insensitive to our deplorable plight.

Furthermore, when we try to push our demands to be heard, our challenges attended to, and holding those in authority to account – we are met with a savage brutal response, with scores having been killed in cold blood by security forces, others arrested on spurious charges (forced to languish in prison for months, denied their constitutional right to bail, and trails seldom getting off the ground or dragging for years).

As with the child mentioned earlier, when a country finds itself with citizens who are are left with no alternative than to ‘climb on rooftops and tell the whole world’ about our problems back home – it paints a grim picture of a people who have lost all hope in their leadership, or their challenges ever being addressed, whilst crippled by terror to approach those in authority.

In desperation and despair, we are now forced to go to our neighbors and cry for help.

The very fact that the government has seen it fit expending their time, resources and energies formulating a law that will criminalize our desperate cries – instead of working tirelessly on resolving the citizenry’s indescribable misery and anguish – further buttresses the fact that there is really nothing positive to expect from this bunch.

Therefore, before the likes of Mudenda and Gutu condemn the suffering poverty-stricken people of Zimbabwe for ‘climbing on rooftops’ – they first need to understand why we are ‘telling the whole world’ about our plight, to begin with.

If Mudenda and Gutu, and his ilk, want to understand why South Africans or Americans do not respond in a similar manner – then, they should ask.

The reason is quite simple – South Africans and Americans have faith in their leaders addressing their concerns, but we in Zimbabwe have lost all hope in a political elite that would rather kill or imprison us for crying out.

If anything, this should be a loud embarrassing indictment on the ruling establishment in this country.

  • 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: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.com

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