Happy birthday Mr President!
By Vince Musewe
OPINION – Well here we are, you are 91 now! What a feat and what a roller-coaster of a life! I am sure sometimes you pinch yourself just to check if all this is all real. Well, congratulations to you and I wish you many more years of a quieter and more contemplative and peaceful life.
After all is said and done, we all wonder what our lives have really been about. I myself still ask that often and reading the book Eccelestais depresses me while Proverbs teaches me a lot, and the wisdom of the Psalms emboldens me. I am sure it does the same to you?
There was a report recently that claimed that the living conditions through your reign have deteriorated to 1960 levels. That is to say, since you have been in charge, the social indicators of Zimbabwe have regressed to pre-colonial Southern Rhodesia standards. That must make you sad. It does that to me too.
Imagine that all the effort and sacrifice that you might have put in building Zimbabwe all your years here on earth have merely resulted in things getting worse. That is truly sad.
I am still here in Highfields where my father grew up and I tend to agree with the report. The grass is tall and hardly cut at all by the City council and I am convinced that the number of mosquitoes per square metre must be one if the highest in Zimbabwe!
However, I hear that we pay the Harare Town Clerk lots of money every month. We even give him two cars to drive as if one is not enough, we pay his cell-phone bills and we no doubt also pay his children’s school fees, his rent and golf club fees! Surely that should be totally unacceptable to you too?
Old pensioners who will be lucky to get more than USD60 a month pay the rates that afford our Town Clerk such a comfortable life without him delivering at all. The sad fact is that he is even arrogant about the matter! Can you please do something about that? Apparently that is now the case in most cities- could you please talk to Minister Chombo about that?
I am sure you remember the old times in Highfields, where even the milk man would leave milk at your door step. I also vividly remember the fresh smell of hot Lobels bread, hot buns, ma cream buns, and zviponda moyo when bakers would come on their tricycles every evening. The fresh smell of cut grass as we watched the tractors that used come to Highfields to cut the grass is a thing of the past. Did you know that there is now no grass in Zimbabwe Grounds- ra huruva chete. Those where surely the best of times!
I truly feel sorry for today’s kids who have never experienced such.
I also remember how we would go to CJ Hall and watch movies every Saturday afternoon for 5 cents. My father, William Simpson Musewe, your friend, always made sure he gave me 10 cents every Saturday. A good man he was.
There was even a library there and I remember mukoma Lovemore, who coached us for soccer and karate at CJ. It was a crucible of the passing down of good values of discipline, hard work and responsibility down to us-all that is gone now.
Mr President, I don’t know if you have been to CJ lately. The grass is uncut and I hear it is now a museum which stays virtually locked up all the time with a lone security guard there. What is that all about?
On a positive note, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you once more for my education. I am particularly grateful for the grant that I received from this government to go to the University of Zimbabwe. I went there from 1983 to 1985 and studied economics when standards were really high. I hear that this is no longer the case now?
Personally, I think you did a lot for us that time and my gratitude must not be unnoticed. However, we have lost the fruit of all that effort and sacrifice which has not been paid back to our country because most of us have left.
Sadly, Didymus Mutasa your former friend, once said it was okay for millions of us to leave the country and go elsewhere, as that would mean that those who remained in the country where only ZANU(PF) members. Can you believe that?
I remain convinced, however, that we can quickly turn the situation in our country around. We know what worked in the past, we know how to do it and have the skills to do so. We just have to pull up our socks and get on with recreating better economic and social conditions for all. It is not a hard task at all.
I think that one thing we must do, is to try and attract all the talent back to Zimbabwe so that we can rebuild our great nation. This requires that we change a few things and I have some ideas on how we can do that.
More important, I think we need to sit and consider everything that hasn’t worked and try different approaches at solving our problems. My friends continue to tell me that insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results. I tend to agree with that.
If we are to achieve much, we need to unite as Zimbabweans first and all work with one purpose. Sadly we remain a house divided and as you know, a house divided never prospers.
If you could help in uniting us, we would be forever grateful. Let us all get together like the old times and debate honestly on what has gone wrong and come up with our own Zimbabwean solutions. We have the skills, we have the resources and some of us still have the energy to make it happen.
I do wish you the best Mr President. I also think that best birthday present we the young ones can ever give you, is to rebuild Zimbabwe and I look forward to making that happen.
Vincent Musewe from Highfields.
Vincent (or Vince) Musewe is an economist, author and President of Zimbabwe First! You can contact him on [email protected]