The nation is crying, who can hear them?

Open letter to the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe

By Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, ROBERT GABRIEL MUGABE, It is with a heavily bleeding heart that I humbly write this letter to you, as the people of this great nation of Zimbabwe have hit a brick wall.

President Robert Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe

Through untold despair and suffering we have decided to cry to the Father of the nation, in the hope that finally someone may hear us, and extinguish the fire that is burning us alive. 

All the nation’s hope is now on your personal intervention, as we have cried for so long – dripping tears of blood – and yet no one hears; and as abandoned children, we have been left in the cold night to be drenched by the unkind and cruel rains of poverty, whilst the little dignity we have left is devoured by merciless government and corporate monsters.

YOUR EXCELLENCY, it is not easy to come before the Head of State and Government to cry for a morsel of food, but we are hungry and we are left desperate and with no hope. The people of Zimbabwe are jobless and without any means of survival – as most are now living from hand to mouth, as we scavenge for food in the most undignified and dehumanising ways.

Millions of Zimbabweans are wallowing in abject poverty, without any hope for the future. The people of Zimbabwe are a hardworking and educated lot, but there are no opportunities for us. The so-called empowerment has largely benefited those who already have, and the have-nots, still have nothing.

As we scrounge around for a semblance of decency, we are only met by scorn by corporate sector that has lost all morality. The vast majority of workers in Zimbabwe have not been paid for months, if not years, leaving them with nothing to buy food for their families.

Employees of such companies as Greenfuel Ethanol Plant in Chisumbanje, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Ziscosteel), and endless others, are now leaving like beggars, yet they have sacrificed their lives for the very survival of this country through their hard work at these companies.

These companies have ensured that there is enough fuel, food, industrial products, you name it – for the country to survive – and yet the workers do not even know where they will get their next meal. Employers are firing  workers without any just cause, and most of these workers are not even being given their terminal benefits that they would have contributed to these companies for all those years of hard work.

After being used to earn these corporate sharks the wealth they now possess, these workers are simply thrown to the kerb, as if they were dispensable dippers. Most workers are being summarily dismissed without any due process, and without payment of outstanding salaries and benefits, and yet those workers are being replaced the very next day. The employers lament their inability in paying employee salaries, so where do they get the money to pay the ones they readily employ as replacements?

Whilst these corporate bosses complain of their businesses’ viability problems, they still manage to send their children to the most expensive schools, stay in upmarket houses, and dine at the finest hotels – yet their workers can not afford to pay fees at the cheapest schools for their children, at the same time they are being evicted from their homes because they can not afford the rentals, and their families go to bed hungry as they can not afford even one decent meal a day.

In fact, some of the most abusive and heartless employers are ranked in the top 50 of the wealthiest people in Zimbabwe – and they have the audacity not to pay their workers the measly salaries that they were supposed to pay them. Those that were staying in company houses are told to vacate, or else pay commercial rates, yet these companies have not been paying them for months. Where are they supposed to get the money from?

Are these employers who whine and whinge everyday about the poor economic situation in Zimbabwe sincere in their cries? If they were seriously suffering in the same way as the workers are suffering, then should they not be more empathetic to the plight of their employers?

Who will hear the genuine cries of these workers? Does anyone in government really care? Are these not the same people that the government says it wants to empower? Who cares about the hundreds, if not thousands of children who could not go to school this year?

Can the government not see those children of school going age roaming about the streets during school hours? Mr. President, sir, a whole new uneducated generation is being created, and a ticking time-bomb, as these children will easily be drawn into a world of crime, and hopelessness – which can easily lead them to  rebellion and civil strife.

This hopelessness has already led to numerous children delving into drugs and alcohol, and girls as young as 12 years old prostituting themselves. An uneducated generation will also lead to further economic disintegration in the future. What type of nation is this leading to Mr. President, sir? 

Is this the type of nation you and others so gallantly fought for? Is this the type of livelihood that you sacrificed your own freedom and family life for? Is this the type of life you dreamt that Zimbabweans would have? Is this what you envisaged an independent Zimbabwe to be like, when you were in Mozambique, planning the liberation struggle?

When I watch the video that was usually shown on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) television of the unrestrained joy and jubilation of the people of Zimbabwe on 17/18 April 1980 at Rufaro Stadium on the event of our independence, I can not help but shed a tear. 

The radiant hope on those faces was undescribable and nothing short of awe-inspiring. The men, women, and even children, singing and dancing with such zeal, genuineness and shining eyes full of hope for finally getting a decent livelihood worthy of a respectable human being.

They could just picture the future – where they would no longer be oppressed, no longer fail to go to school, and no longer be limited in their opportunities in life. The unsurpassed joy and hope on those people’s faces in that video is forever engrained in my mind, and I will never forget it.

My own late father and mother travelled all the way from Redcliff to attend those celebrations – he even lost a shoe in the massive jubilant crowd, but that did not matter, as the joy of a new Zimbabwe and new hope overshadowed everything.

I remember how emotional you also were, Mr. President, on that day. Who can forget when you came forward to take your oath of office as the new Prime Minister of an independent Zimbabwe? The way you said that oath, and the way you were so emotional that you even took off your spectacles was so touching and infectious.

That was a great moment indeed – inspiring millions across the world. However, what has become of that joy and hope? I wish my father was still alive to ask him how he felt now – as we even hosted Cde. Chinx and the ZANU PF choir at our house when they came to sing in Torwood, Redcliff in the early 1980s.

Actually, I plead to anyone who was in that video to contact me and tell me how they feel in today’s Zimbabwe. Mr. President, sir, please hear the cries of your nation. Please restore that hope of 1980. We plead with you to intervene in the plight of these abused workers and the unemployed, so that their dignity may be restored.

We plead with your good office to ensure they these workers receive what is due to them, and that the government and corporate sector are more responsive to the needs of the people. 

Please protect them from the malice of government officials and employers who are only concerned about their own stomachs and would not care less even if these workers who served them faithfully and diligently, and the generality of Zimbabweans, were to rot on the streets.

Our hope now lies with you Mr. President. 

Please take charge of the nation and put this house back in other, for at the moment it is huge mess. A humble plea to you Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, from the suffering and desperate people of Zimbabwe.

° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a community activist, communications specialist, journalist, and writer. He writes in his personal capacity, and welcomes any feedback. Please call/WhatsApp: +263782283975, or email: [email protected]