Economic paralysis has robbed us of our humanity

By Learnmore Zuze

It must only be a tough-minded optimist who sees an economic turnaround in a country where the government can’t pay its own workers and pensioners have to endure endless unfruitful trips to collect the little owed to them.

Learnmore Zuze
Learnmore Zuze

The last few weeks have proved to be frustrating for pensioners. Bonuses have remained elusive, they are only available in the newspapers.

It remains a surprise to hear some among us who keep talking about the economy recovering and that all is well. Honestly, I think it is the height of insensitivity to be telling a man sitting on a thorn that all is well. Zimbabweans are feeling the heat.

It is sad that the economic crisis has robbed even the elderly of their dignity. These are people who toiled during their prime and deserve the little in pension funds, but for the last two weeks they have become a menace, begging from relatives to make the pointless trip to the bank. Why can’t the government do the honourable thing and come up with dates they can adhere to, rather than treat these elderly people with disdain?

A close look at Zimbabwe presently makes poverty a real crime and by insisting that all is well, the powerful in our country prove that they have lost the little humanity that should be in their hearts. At this time of suffering, they cannot make a sacrifice to at least ensure the civil servants get their meagre salaries before Christmas. It is indeed disingenuous for the national leadership to pretend that all is well when the majority is suffering.

Last week, I came across an awful sight near Town House. Two huge ladies held a small boy, a street kid I suppose, with heavy blows descending on the boy like a torrential rain. He had forcefully taken a hamburger from one of the ladies. While his act is unpardonable, it is evident that hunger sent him to do the act.

It would appear even the street children realise that there is no one anymore with the little humanity to extend a little kindness this festive season. It is deeply sad that the disease of the rich and powerful of insensitivity is slowly creeping into the lives of ordinary citizens. We have become insensitive to the suffering of others.

An old reggae tune has the following line, “To be poor is a crime.” The few who are privileged in this environment have become the ones right with the law. The crisis has made us not notice the beggar in the street, it has made us act as though we can’t see them. It has made us behave as if we have no parents to look after.

And when our less privileged friends and relatives have pestered us for financial help, we have treated them with disdain like rabid dogs. The insensitivity typical of the elite of this country seems to now define our ethos as a people. As long as our needs and those of our family have been met, the rest of humanity can go hang is quite a destructive mentality devoid of morality.

A trip into Harare, the country’s capital will shock one to the core. Bentleys, latest versions of Mercedes Benz, Ford Rangers and Rolls Royce are a common sight, gliding through the hardscrabble and potholed roads of Harare. For a select few, life in Zimbabwe can never be better. The inequality is astounding. Against this background of opulence, thousands of informal traders are scrounging for a living on the streets

There is a common phrase that has even been coined, showing how deeply the insensitive mentality entrenchedis in our lives.

You often hear people say “zvanguzvaita” (I have benefited). It is this zvanguzvaita mentality that has dehumanised the citizenry. We have lost all sense of responsibility and, in my view, one is not educated who lives only for themselves.

It is true, our suffering is there for all to see, but we can do with little acts of kindness this festive season. The insensitivity and selfishness of our generation has made the so-called mushrooming prophets appear like better people each time they come through with a few thousand dollars from the hundreds they wreak in every week.

We have become a nation at the mercy of the so-called prophets who have to install boreholes at State institutions and pay bills for national teams.

The gap between the poor and the rich in Zimbabwe continues to spiral. At least 76% of the country’s 7 million adult population lives on less than $280 a month, according to a consumer survey conducted by the country’s official statistics agency and a regional independent research house, showing worsening socio-economic conditions over the past four years.

However, grim as things stand, let’s spare a thought for the needy, the handicapped and the underprivileged this festive season. Let’s reclaim our humanity.

Learnmore Zuze is a legal researcher, author and media analyst. He writes here in his own capacity. E-mail:[email protected]

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