That may be an accurate observation – to some extent – but, there is certainly more to the story than such an overly simplistic analysis.
First of all, I do not go out there searching for issues to criticize and attack the administration led by President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa – as if seeking to fulfill some sinister vendetta, or carrying a chip over my shoulder.
This may come as a shock to many – but, I do not bear a grudge against those in power in our country, neither do I have any ill-feelings towards them.
In fact, my focus and attention is rarely on them – but rather, on the intolerable pain and suffering I notice all around me, both in my own home, and with the multitudes of ordinary Zimbabweans I meet everyday – whose most harrowing stories they share with me are too terrible and ghastly to bear.
That is what motivates me to write.
This is what inspires me to speak out and stand up against the authors and perpetrators of this gruesome anguish, and horrendous cruelty upon innocent men, women and children – whose only desire is to live in dignity and prosperity in their own Motherland.
When I chose to become the voice of the voiceless, this has absolutely nothing to do with how I personally feel about those in authority – but, everything to do with fighting for the rights of my fellow countrymen and women, who surely deserve an equitable share in our national cake, and enjoy the fruits of our hard-won independence.
A privilege which, tragically, has so far been a preserve of only a few – mostly in the ruling elite, or by virtue of their proximity to power – who abuse this privilege to loot national resources for their personal enrichment, whilst millions of Zimbabweans are callously abandoned to the caprices and vagaries of this corruption, in addition to mismanagement of the economy.
My battle is not personal – as it is in my nature to be moved more by the tears of suffering than the excitement of a good life.
If your life is proceeding well – then, that is truly fantastic, and I am genuinely happy for you.
However, if you are experiencing anguish, and untold suffering – for what ever reason – it is only natural for me to share in your pain, and automatically want to help.
I am reminded of my time as a little boy – possibly, around eleven or twelve years old – when, I could no longer take what I perceived as the mistreatment of our domestic worker, in the manner in which my parents berating him when he had not done a particular job properly, or being instructed to perform what I believed was too much work.
Of course, he was not the only one, but a common occurrence in our neighborhood – since, I could hear the same shouting coming from next door.
This would stab the very core of my heart, and hurt me so much that I decided that domestic workers needed to unite in standing up for themselves.
I actually requested that my parents’ employee, Kefasi (I am pretty sure the name was Caiaphas) to gather together all his friends and colleagues, so that we could establish a ‘Domestic Workers’ Union’ – in order for them to understand their rights, and speak with one voice.
I am not quite sure if Kefasi took me seriously – being only an eleven or twelve year old kid – as I do not recall any such meeting, let alone formation of a union, ever having taken place.
However, in all this, my compassion for the oppressed and deprived was what moved me to, at least, try to do something about it.
This was never a personal vendetta or rebellion against my parents – whom I loved, still love, and will forever love – but, purely about the plight of those I believed were being ill-treated finally receiving the respect and dignity they deserved.
This has been the hallmark of my entire life – since, even during my schooling years, I was at the forefront of establishing and leading a couple of charitable organizations, whose main focus was assisting less privileged and needy fellow students – whether in the paying of fees, acquisition of learning material, and school uniforms.
That is why in 1991 (when in Form Five, or Lower Six) I requested, and was granted the opportunity, to write my own column in a local Kwekwe weekly newspaper – which, I titled, ‘The Un-Oppressed Mind’ – after it had become clear to me that, the root cause of all the poverty and misery I was encountering all around me, was the messed up governance at both the local and national level.
Needless to say, I had already been contributing news stories to various Kwekwe publications since two years earlier (1989 in Form Three) – whose main thrust was highlighting the deplorable unspeakable conditions ordinary Zimbabweans were surviving.
As much as some, even in that day, viewed my work as of a political nature, and politically motived – leading to threats from ruling party local supporters, which of course never moved or deterred me – what I did was never about those in power, but those being oppressed and marginalized by those in power.
I was even relentlessly persuaded into joining several political parties of that time – with a local ZUM (Zimbabwe Unity Movement) leader, Mr Chibanda, approaching me, and a Mr Ngcobo from another party (who even traveled all the way to the capital Harare to see me, when he had looked for me and learnt that I was now in college).
Nonetheless, I politely turned down all these invitations – something I still do, with the political organizations we have today.
Quite simply that, my passion has never been political – but, strictly about the welfare and wellbeing of the ordinary citizenry, whose only prayer is to live comfortably in their own country.
The reason I decided to go into all these details on who I am, and why I do the things I do, is to dispel any such distorted notions which seem to suggest that I am driven by a political agenda, whilst harboring disdain and even loathing for those in power in Zimbabwe.
Erroneous views, which run contrary to whom I really am.
What I utterly disdain and loathe are not the people governing the country – but, how these people are governing the country, and what they are doing to the people of Zimbabwe.
I am not someone who is driven by hate or personal grudges – as those close to me would know, in that love is what defines me.
Even if those abusing and mistreating Zimbabweans today were to face a similar fate tomorrow – I would stand with them, and speak for them.
In fact, that is exactly what I did for ousted President Robert Gabriel Mugabe – after he was unconstitutionally and humiliatingly toppled from power by his comrades in the military and ZANU PF, as well as his long-time protege Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa in November 2017 – in spite of having been the target of most of my writings in the past three decades.
For as long as there are some readers who regard my writings through political lenses – there will always be misinterpreting and misunderstanding of what my true intentions and motives are!
That is why, when I then rebuke opposition-led local authorities for the unacceptable horrendous situation in our urban areas, where sickening levels of incompetence and corruption run wild, resulting in pathetic deplorable service delivery – there are those who are shocked, since they wrongly assumed my castigation of the ruling establishment meant I was an opposition sympathizer.
That is why it will nearly be impossible for Zimbabweans to come out of the deep dark hole we find ourselves in – if we continue interpreting and analyzing issues in our country in a partisan perspective.
It is not surprising that we end up with those actually shielding and supporting those who are causing their suffering and poverty – since we tend to defend those we consider ‘my party’, and only find fault when it is at the hands of ‘the other party’.
How then, are we to hold leaders from our own political groups to account for their actions, when we choose not to see anything wrong with what they are doing?
If only, as Zimbabweans, we took off our political spectacles, and finally allowed our compassion for fellow compatriots to take centre-stage in our hearts and minds – we would actually have a better chance in driving positive change in our country.
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist,writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email: [email protected]