By Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
We all claim to love this wonderful country of ours, we do. To a man and woman, we speak about ‘Zimbabwe’ with a proprietary tenor, like it belongs to us, lives in our pockets, and everyone else be damned. Which is largely true, but that’s for another day.
We express this patriotism differently though, and that should be okay.
Some get a flag and go around releasing videos about the rot in the country. They might get carried away and think that they speak for us all, but that’s a different story, it starts off from patriotism.
The President gets misguided people criticising him for keeping his scarf on, but in this symbolic gesture, he reminds us of what he does every day: defend the constitution and serve with the same patriotism that has guided his life since his teenage days.
We have war veterans, who fought for the liberation of this country and now face ridicule from the so-called independent media each time they speak on governance and land. Their patriotism is not dented by these unfair attacks, the fruits of their patriotism are there for us all to see.
But, these examples do not cover us all, but a section of the population only. Where, one must ask, are the rest of us?
Yes, the economy is bad, things have been tough. And with the Minister of Finance patriotically trying to rescue us from the abyss, things might get tougher.
But, when one stands on Fourth Street trying very hard to increase the exchange rate between the Bond note and the US dollar in order to maximize their profits, do they ever worry about Zimbabwe? Is patriotism not for them?
When a seller of fruit trees, grown from seed, turns around and says they must be paid in forex because imports are expensive, what is that? Does Zimbabwe feature in that matrix?
Where is the patriotism of the cooking oil wholesaler who withholds goods from the market in order that prices might go up?
Is it expecting too much to think that those who choose to close their shops ‘for renovations’ should have some patriotism and fight the fight with us all instead of making things worse?
The person on three quarters of a full tank of petrol who joins a queue for more petrol ‘just in case’, what’s with that?
The politician who claims to have an answer sheet to our problems, but doesn’t share it yet sends his sneering spokesperson to gleefully point out each and every difficulty, where is his patriotism?
The civil service employee that spends a good part of three minutes on the phone about how things are tough while a citizen is waiting to be served (so that things aren’t tough!) and then proceeds to shout and bark at the citizen instead of helping, where is their patriotism?
We can collectively believe, thanks to Twitter and WhatsApp, lies about VP Chiwenga being dead, costs of charter planes, and many other negative things, but can’t collectively agree to gird our loins and pull this country together. This country we all claim to love. Why is that?
Why can’t we channel our feigned patriotism for good? To stop going through red lights at intersections? To stop sending children to selling tomatoes on the road but to school? To stop marrying off under-age Zimbabweans. To stop trying to get one over each other every time? To stop complaining about how bad things are and look for what we might do to get them better?
When is it ever going to be time to show our patriotism? For this country we claim to love?
It shouldn’t be too much to ask.
Tinomudaishe Chinyoka is a Harare based lawyer and a member of the ruling party Zanu PF