Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye: Dambudzo: This gargantuan suffering foisted upon us

By Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka

Dambudzo is a Shona word that refers to that which causes massive suffering.

Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye with Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka
Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye with Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka

Twenty months after the coup and almost a year after the stolen election of July 2018, it may be necessary to unpack the symptoms of the legitimacy crisis as manifesting through Dambudzo, the suffering, as authored by Dambudzo, the person.

Dambudzo is Mr. Emmerson Mnangagwa’s middle name. This means that in our case, Dambudzo is both the cause and the consequence, the genesis and the result.

Since the ouster of Mr. Robert Mugabe through an the odd mixture of the brute condign force of the military and the soft power of the people in November 2017, the situation has sunk to plumbing depths under this Lacoste cabal.

Sometimes leaders should be brave enough to tender their resignation before they are stampeded out by the people, especially when they fail to deliver.

Yes, there are times when shame becomes a virtue and African leaders ought to have derived vital lessons from Egypt’s AFCON debacle.

Only last week after the host nation’s AFCON defeat in Cairo,  Egyptian FA president Hani Abou Rida first sacked coach Javier Aguirre and then immediately announced his own resignation out of what he called a “moral obligation” just hours after the defeat.

The resignation for moral reasons paved the way for a vast shake-up within the organization.

True, Mugabe deserved to go and the same consequence must befall those under whose leadership the national crisis has deteriorated to despicable plumbing depths.

A quick glance at the dashboard will yield an astounding reality.

The country has literally been plunged into deep darkness.

The national power grid is switched on at night. It is then immediately switched off at the sheer sign that any Zimbabwean wants to scramble out of bed and cook a meal for the hapless innocent children lying still and prostrate due to hunger and exhaustion.

Indeed, waiting for power in our homes has become akin to waiting for the coming of the Son of Man.

No one knows the day or the hour.

It was with unprecedented glee and merriment at a clean-up campaign rally in my rural hood of Domboshava last week that Mr. Mnangagwa announced they had paid Eskom US$10 million as part settlement of arrears to the South African power utility firm. He was later to meet with SA President Cyril Ramaphosa at an AU summit in Niger in a meeting the pliable State media dutifully reported as a solution to the nation’s power crisis!

At the rally in Domboshava, ED gave the impression that there will now be respite on the national power outages. But given our huge arrears to Eskom, the miniscule payment is unlikely to provide any respite.

It is lost on the broke and clueless regime in Harare that US$10 million is too puny and too inadequate an amount to cause any national celebration. Yet Mr. Mnangagwa very much appeared like a man content that his boisterous fart would douse a raging inferno!

On the fuel front, the situation is the same. Zimbabweans are spending hours, sometimes days, in fuel queues, again playing the waiting game for the scarce product.

As if that is not enough, most of our farmers are reported to have ploughed into the ground their huge winter wheat crop to stem massive losses. This because there is neither power nor fuel to enable them to irrigate their crop, which is urgently needed both for export and to boost local flour production.

The domino effect to the economy is huge and yet the crocodile continues to bury its head in the slime.

May be it is time Zimbabweans ‘luke’ the beast in the eye.

Hospitals too have become a sorry site of the national calamity. There are virtually no medicines while doctors and other medical staff are on a go-slow due to inadequate salaries and dreadful working conditions.

I have felt this medical crisis at a very personal level as my eldest lovely daughter, Lynn Taungaimunashe, needs an urgent medical procedure on her kidneys. The bill for private medical service for the life-saving procedure runs into several thousand United States dollars, a scarce currency that in any case has been banned as legal tender for any transaction in the country.

I am now pinning my hopes on the Almighty and the angels, who have firmly stood by me in my tenuous life.

There is no foreign currency in the country due to the colossal mismatch between our puny exports and our huge import bill. It is this shortage of hard currency that has hit critical national requirements.

Elsewhere, civil servants are agitated while unemployment rate is almost 100 percent.

Last week, I accompanied President Chamisa on his tour into Harare’s township suburbs.

In Budiriro, I saw one woman who earns a living by scraping off dour soil from anthills and selling it to pregnant women to boost the iron in their bodies. I saw this woman parading her small packets of soil on the pavement and selling them to put food on the table and to send her children to school.

Such was the dramatic illustration of the national crisis—selling soil for a living!

The cost of basic commodities has hit through the roof and a 2-litre bottle of cooking oil now costs about 30 RTGS, meaning the average salary of our hard-working civil servants can only buy them just about 10 such bottles.

Commuters from Highfield, Mbare and Warren Park are now walking to the city center as they can no longer afford bus fare. Most Zimbabweans cannot afford the stampede at the few ZUPCO buses, whose number cannot service the huge number of commuters.

At the Showgrounds bus terminus at my rural home in Domboshava, I saw a man handing a woman her brassiere, which had been torn off as people clambered into the bus through the shattered windows that had been broken during the stampede!

They say the more things change, the more they remain the same. This is certainly not a Second Republic but a continuation of the First.

We are definitely going downhill, almost catching up with the sorry scenario of 2007 when Zimbabweans would bring bread from their trips to neighbouring countries.

I remember 2007 when a whole Harare-bound plane smelt like a bakery or a confectionary after weather-beaten Zimbabweans had bought their bread in South Africa.

In fact, bread has become a delicacy in the country and word doing the rounds is that very soon, school-children could be embarking on school trips to see bread.

There is a real danger some might miss the sight of bread during their childhood!

And in November 2017, this scarfed fellow was giving the impression to the gullible that he understood economics and would improve the lot of our people.

Indeed, some gullible Zimbabweans mistook brass for gold.

Our current sad national predicament is the dambudzo (the suffering) which Dambudzo (the person) has brought upon us.

There is a direct causal correlation between the human and the conceptual definition of our crisis.

I have faith in the heroism of the Zimbabwean people. Throughout history, the people’s gallantry has triumphed over tyranny and oppression. They decisively dealt with the oppressive Mugabe just as they dealt with the racist repression of Ian Smith.

Vachapedza Dambudzo. 

Indeed, they will decisively end this suffering!

I retain the faith once again; the heroic people of Zimbabwe will decisively deal with this gargantuan suffering!

This last week, and some imagined fissures between myself and the MDC vice chairman Hon. Job Sikhala. A day after his controversial statement I spoke to Hon. Sikhala about the Newsday story that caused so much furore. On the same day, on 8 July 2019 in a story published the following day, both of us clarified the statement made in Bikita, which I still maintain was misconstrued and misinterpreted. The following day, Newsday correctly quoted me as saying:

For the record, the MDC believes in constitutional, peaceful, democratic, non-violent and legal means of resolving the crisis.” 

And Hon; Sikhala told the same publication: “Let it be clear, that neither the MDC nor anyone associated with it, will ever engage in any unconstitutional way of assuming the governance of our country. The MDC is a party of constitutionalism and legality.” 

Section 59 of the Zimbabwean Constitution, made by the people and affirmed by them in a referendum, provides Zimbabweans with a legitimate and constitutional avenue to express themselves.

 I rest my case.

On another note, Pfee is a Shona ideophone that refers to violent imposition. In the 2018 pilfered elections, a huge Economic Disaster (ED) violently imposed itself to steal and pilfer the people’s collective dignity.

Hence ED pfee. 

The cardinal lesson to all burglars is that they must remain vigilant even after what they may presume to be successful break-ins.

Burglars will never know how and when the victims will come to retrieve their stolen bounty!

It has always been the people, and not the courts, who are truly sovereign.

Given the current load-shedding, citizens may also decide to shed off the load of an unwanted political leadership that they never voted for in the first place.

And they will do it using constitutional, legal, democratic and non-violent means.

And throughout history, the true, repositories of sovereignty, the people, have always kept many secrets closeted in their hearts.

Not least the manner and form in which they will relieve themselves of the human and abstract expression of their suffering.

Indeed, the people are sovereign.

Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka is the Deputy National Spokesperson of the MDC. He is a multiple award-winning journalist and an ardent political scientist. You can interact with him on Facebook or on the twitter handle @luke-tambo.