Hell hath no fury like a suffering Zimbabwean

By Tendai Ruben Mbofana

The recent – and possibly, ongoing – shutdown and protests by the suffering people of Zimbabwe – who have, understandably, have had enough – should serve as a serious reminder to the ZANU PF government that the time to take the people for granted is over, and it is either they finally address their genuine demands, or step down.

Riot police targeting residents in the capital Harare
Riot police targeting residents in the capital Harare

However, the ZANU PF regime’s response to the cries of the nation were typically arrogant and unbecoming of any government manned by real human beings with any humanity.

The callous response by this regime clearly demonstrated to all without a shadow of any doubt – that these people do not care at all about our suffering.

How else can one explain the reaction of a government that chooses to respond to the suffering people who are genuinely expressing their displeasure at how they are being treated, by pointing a figure at a ‘third force’ as being behind the protests?

Are these people in this regime for real?

Instead of responding as any normal human being with a conscience would, by listening to and addressing the concerns of the people that they are leading, and engaging them in serious dialogue, all the suffering people received from the government were threats, arrests, and beatings up.

Even people who never engaged in or advocated for any violence – as myself – were issued with threats of arrests by some dubious character who claimed to be a member of the country’s intelligence services.

What crime had we committed?

Is voicing the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe a crime? Is advocating for them to stand up and demand for their rights, in a peaceful democratic manner a crime?

Such is the regime the suffering people of Zimbabwe have to endure on a daily basis.

Every dissenting voice is treated as an enemy and a criminal.

That clearly shows that the ZANU PF government is not of the people, not by the people, and certainly not for the people.

It is a government of themselves, by themselves, for themselves. Period.

It reminds me of a father and husband who abuses his wife and children for years, and when they finally complain and threaten to report the abuses to the police, he accuses the wife of having an affair, and that her boyfriend is the one leading her astray, so that she can get him (the husband) out of the way so as to enable the boyfriend to take over his wife and kids, and home!

Typical old fashioned mentality.

This shows that the ZANU PF government had become complacent in its mistreatment of the people of Zimbabwe – regarding their passiveness as stupidity and foolishness – and when finally the nation says ‘enough is enough’, the government accuses them of being used by foreign forces – instead of addressing their complaints.

Zimbabweans are not stupid, they are just peaceful and patient – although those are quickly running out.

Such a response by the ZANU PF regine further highlights its gross disregard and lack of acknowledgement of the people’s suffering, because a caring government that appreciates that the people are genuinely suffering should have sought to address their concerns before any other response.

As such, how can a government that does not even acknowledge that the people are suffering be expected to address that suffering?

They obviously can not be expected to deliver, and the only cause of action is to vote them out in 2018.

A government that truly cares for the people would have never rushed to arrest, threaten, and beat up people who are merely expressing their anger and frustrations, but would have tried to understand the people’s bitterness, and entered into dialogue.

Even as a father myself, if my son came home angry with me and started slamming doors, I would not automatically resort to beating him up, or grounding him, but would try to talk to him and understand what was going on.

That is what is also expected of any caring and loving government – and is not a sign of weakness, but actually is a sign of great strength, that invites respect.

However, as I said before, we are dealing with people with an old school mentality – that is why this country needs to be ruled by a modern generation.

I have never, and will never condone any violence – and I condemn all forms of violence – but I completely blame the ZANU PF government for the violence we witnessed recently.

The reason there was this violence is that the people feel trapped and unheard by their leaders.

The reason there seldom are any violent protests in, for example, Botswana, is the fact that the Ian Khama government is constantly engaging the ordinary people through ‘kotla’ community meetings – from the President to the Cabinet and Members of Parliament.

These are truly engaging meetings, not one way rallies as we have in Zimbabwe – where the President just comes and tells people what he wants to tell them, and then leaves.

In Botswana, the President sits down with the local community – not just the party or government leadership – but everyone in that community, and they exchange ideas, openly and freely express their grievances, and the President addresses their concerns right there in a public forum.

Similarly, those who would be critical of the Botswana government and its President are treated with the same respect as everyone else, and are not treated as enemies who should be threatened, arrested, or beaten up.

In such a set up, everyone feels heard and cared for, and no one would ever feel the need to demonstrate or even be violent.

In Zimbabwe, people feel unheard and uncared for by their leadership, and are bound to do anything to force the government to hear their concerns.

This is advice the ZANU PF government must heed if it truly treasures peace in this country, because, if the people continue to feel ignored and taken for granted, hell hath no fury like a suffering Zimbabwean.

°  Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social activist and commentator, writer, and journalist. He writes in his personal capacity, and welcomes any feedback. Please feel free to WhatsApp/call: +263782283975, or email: [email protected] Or follow on Twitter: @Tendai_Mbofana