I was watching a local news bulletin when there came a report, whereby villagers in Chingwaru, Murewa North, were celebrating and praising the ruling ZANU PF government for building them a clinic that was near their homesteads.
What is wrong with being excited over the construction and opening of a much-needed healthcare facility, as well as profoundly appreciating this great gesture?
Surely, an ungrateful heart is akin to being a witch – so goes a local adage.
Nonetheless, there is something I found particularly bewildering, if not downright bizarre!
These same people also mentioned that the clinic was a much welcome relief – since, before this, they had to walk a distance of 16 kilometres to the nearest medical institution!
In all this, there is one simple matter which I found seriously baffling and disturbing.
Why were these people so thrilled and jubilant over what the ZANU PF regime had done – as evidenced by most of those present donning party regalia?
Is ZANU PF not the same political party that has been in power for the past 43 years – yet, failed to provide these rural folk with a close enough health care centre – thereby, forcing those desperately requiring medical attention to travel, in most instances walking, for up to 16 kilometres?
Should these people not have actually been enraged and outraged by this indifferent, and quite frankly arrogant and uncaring, attitude by a party and government that supposedly ‘liberated the nation’, with the hope of an equal and equitable society, where every citizen had access to a decent respectable life and livelihood?
Let me look at this from a different angle.
Let us say that I were to deny my son enough nutritious food to eat, failed to send him to school, and refused to buy him any clothes for years.
Yet, in all this, I managed to secure for myself a comfortable living – acquiring flashy cars, living in an upmarket lavish mansion, and dining on the most exquisite food and drink.
Then, for some strange reason, some years later, I finally decide to buy him a pair of jeans and a shirt, as well as a ‘two piecer’ and drink at a local fast food joint.
How is he supposed to react?
Should he jump in exceeding jubilation, whilst expressing unsurpassed gratitude, over what he may regard as a sign of my unparalleled love and affection for him?
Or, should he actually be extremely irate and repulsed with me for having neglected him for all these years – rendering my ‘little gesture’ insignificant, and even an unforgivable insult to his dignity – as I had already exhibited my lack of care and concern for him?
So, why were the people of Chingwaru so overwhelmed with joy over this clinic – in spite of having been ignored and abandoned for over four decades by the same ZANU PF they are so pleased with today?
I am quite sure, these same people still do not even have decent roads leading into their villages – rendering most of their homesteads inaccessible to anyone driving a motor vehicle.
In fact, this terribly unbelievable and strange behavior is far from being restricted to the mentioned community – but has become a most disturbing facet of Zimbabwean society.
Are the people of Zimbabwe so easy to oppress and abuse?
Why does it seem so incredibly effortless to turn the population’s livelihoods into a living nightmare and hell – but, suddenly when the oppressor comes bearing a few mediocre trinkets, then all is quickly forgiven and forgotten?
Surely, should we not be holding our leaders accountable for their actions and inactions – especially, when they fail to deliver to such extreme proportions?
However, what we witness in Zimbabwe are a people who can be neglected by the government for over forty years – and, left to languish in unimaginable poverty, with each day a daily struggle – but, still see nothing at all untoward and unacceptable about that.
At times, I am tempted to exonerate the ruling elite for being such insensitive, uncaring and even arrogant leaders – since it would appear we, the citizenry, make it nearly impossible for them not to become such people.
I even fear that had I been a leader of a nation such as Zimbabwe – in all honesty, would I have been able to resist turning into a heartless uncaring tyrant?
It is akin to leaving a child alone in a confectionery, and expecting him not to gorge himself on all the cakes, biscuits and sweets!
Zimbabweans are too tempting and irresistible to oppress!
I am sorry, but how else can anyone characterizing people who can earn something in the range of US$100 a month – way below the poverty datum line – and yet, remain unmoved and unconcerned?
Goods and services are becoming increasingly out of the reach of the majority of Zimbabweans – but all we do is mumble and grumble in supermarket queues.
Here is a country where half the population can earn less than US$1.90 a day, with 68 per cent not accessing balanced or nutritional meals – and we all act as if all is well.
We have thousands of graduates being churned out of our universities each year with no hope of survival, except venturing into street vending, prostitution or thievery – yet, we seem not particularly unfazed or troubled about this whole scenario.
Those in urban areas can go for months at a time, or even years, without any potable water coming out in their homes – and, that is treated as normal, with not a single soul raising any ire.
Just like the folk in Murewa, most Zimbabweans have no access to sufficient health care services – with cancer patients unable to receive required care (due to dysfunctional radiotherapy machines), basic medication too expensive for the average citizen, and most clinics and hospitals (possibly, including the recently opened in Chingwaru) lacking the bare basics as antibiotics, paracetamol, antiseptic, protective gloves, and other necessary equipment.
Our children are learning under trees, or in disused ramshackle unreliable structures – without any meaningful materials as books and modern science and technology facilities.
Some of these schools have become death traps – on account of illegal mining activities causing havoc and damage to the superstructure, as happened only a day ago in Kwekwe – where a classroom block caved under, leading to the injury of several pupils, due to shafts dug underneath by those in search of gold.
Of course, no one has ever been held answerable for such catastrophic activities – since these illegal miners are permitted to operate with impunity, with the blessings of the political powers – who either benefit directly from the proceeds, or these are what are considered ‘empowerment projects’ for the youth, in exchange for votes.
No one gives a hoot that schools and our children are in grave danger – which is a similar fate facing nearby private residences, the CBD, and other structures.
Local communities, mainly in rural areas, are forced off their ancestral lands, to make way for Chinese mining companies – with very little, if any, direct benefits to these people from their own resources – yet, enriching foreign entities and their local enablers (the ruling class).
In the same breath, those in power live in vulgar opulence – with life only comparable to Hollywood mega stars, without a care in the world – through ill-gotten wealth derived from the plunder and misappropriation of national resources, which should have benefited the ordinary suffering citizenry.
In all this, the people of Zimbabwe are as silent as a grave!
If anything, we are ever so ready to celebrate and express overwhelming gratitude should we be given some handouts (such as ‘free’ agricultural inputs or a few groceries), a borehole sink here and there, or a clinic opened after 43 years.
Surely, who would not end up being a stone-hearted ruler under such circumstances?
In fact, I feel it is much harder to be a democratic leader in a country like Zimbabwe.
It is like a man who finds himself all alone with a very seductive temptress.
Not many can resist – and, it is equally hard resisting becoming a self-centred tyrant in Zimbabwe.
As a matter of fact, the same people one is oppressing and abusing end up being his staunchest and most fanatical supporters and defenders!
All I can is, please never elect me into any office of power in Zimbabwe – since handidi hangu kupinzwa mumiedzo!
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You are 100% correct – “On the money”, as they say.
However, on the face of it, maybe you are not looking deep enough. Perhaps you should consider that the Government is behind the glee and celebrations. To wit: We have just put in a hospital for you. Now come and show your appreciation and happiness or we will close it again.
Something of that order.
ZANU-PF are unscrupulous, not even short of committing crimes most foul to prosecute their agenda.
Deep down the people have been cowered into obedience. Perhaps a lesson from Mahatma Gandhi ‘s “passive resistance” should be taken up to commence the change that is both objective and required.