By Tim Mutsekwa
In a week where Chiwenga returned from the land of the dragon looking as convincing as a Chinese Louis Vuitton, it reminded me of a couple of movies l had watched: The Replacement and Dave.
We are now effectively in the ‘twilight zone’ people. The lines between reality, fantasy and science fiction are now blurred. Guveya has morphed from being a black guerrilla fighter cum-vice-president into a Chinese chicken farmer.
Elsewhere, Mnangagwa’s desperate attempts to secure a financial rescue package from China were once again flatly rebuffed after Chinese Foreign minister Wang Yi emphasised during his visit this week that Beijing was not going to give budgetary support to Harare.
Dismayed by Zimbabwe’s hostile investment climate, Beijing’s premier diplomat emphasised to his hosts that Harare needs to roll out a comprehensive economic reform agenda, and tackle rampant corruption.
This comes on the heels of the United Nations, World Bank Group and the African Development Bank (AfDB) saying Zimbabwe should brace for a long, arduous road to full recovery, with studies indicating that the ongoing economic and political ‘’transition’’ could take up to 20 years.
According to the World Bank report, it took the 20 fastest-moving countries an average of 17 years to get the military out of politics, 20 years to achieve functioning bureaucratic quality, and 27 years to bring corruption under reasonable control.
In addition to starvation, the junta is superintending over a silent genocide in the health sector.
But as in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, many citizens have fled and continue to want to flee to other countries where a better life is guaranteed.
A better life where people can enjoy basic freedoms and rights such as access to basic services like health, education and a decent life.
It is still not clear how many millions of Zimbabweans are in the diaspora. Things are getting worse and more skilled young people are fleeing the country. Hopes for a diaspora return continue to diminish. This is a huge loss to the country.
During the early years of the mass exodus, mainly between the year 2000 and 2008, like me, the majority of diasporas were still hoping to return once the situation improved.
Parents sacrificed their assets, and some went into debt to buy tickets to enable their children to fly overseas for greener pastures. The British pound and the US dollars were selling favourably on the local market so the little earned and remitted from the diaspora made a huge difference back home.
Some families recouped what they sacrificed while others lost all they had. lt quickly dawned on us that it was not as easy as we imagined or led to believe.
The loss in those 20 years is unquantifiable. Some shelved their educational qualifications to take whatever was on the overseas job market.
A few more swallowed their pride and left high sounding, but less paying jobs in Zimbabwe to either return to study or take menial jobs just to sustain a respectable lifestyle in the diaspora.
Others reconfigured themselves from different professions into nurses mainly in England, a profession that absorbed a huge number from Zimbabwe and other Third World countries. In doing so, some families were left behind, separated and others eventually destroyed.
I would like to tackle in time, the impact the Zimbabwe crisis has had on our social fabric, decimation of family units, relationships, marriages and psychological damage to children and all involved.
The local monetary environment has become increasingly flaccid and the remittances from meagre earnings in the diaspora no longer make sense as they used to between 2000 and 2008, putting some in a dilemma on whether to remit for investment back home or just for groceries.
Either way, there are irreparable heartbreaks. The risk of losing investments [some already have] and the lack of personal and family progress associated with it.
Zanu PF’s vapid, lamebrained leadership is giving no one any hope. This has thrust some in the diaspora into a major quandary mainly those who lived “underground” with the hopes that one day they will return home.
Instead of acquiring the necessary documentation to enable them to secure property, invest and take advantage of long-term opportunities in their countries of refuge, they had over the years remitted most of their earnings back home with a view to return one day.
While there is no harm in investing back home, there is arguably greater gain in investing where one is settled, especially on account of not having guarantees of political and economic improvement back home.
The situation could be worse for refugee permit holders scattered across the globe, mainly whose status does not allow them to access gainful employment and have been surviving on host government or charity handouts.
While some of them can make ends meet, it is hard for them to make savings. This group is made up of both skilled and non-skilled people and again they also face various levels of predicament.
But there is also another group of those who held asylum or refugee permits for decades who fear the embarrassing prospects of returning home empty-handed.
Being poor in Zimbabwe and returning without skills and money is also regarded as impossible by migrants due to communal moral pressure. There is an expectation from Zimbabweans in Zimbabwe towards migrants to return wealthy and skilled.
A powerful association between the diaspora and wealth is also underpinned by remittance sending over the course of the crisis. This expectation weighs heavily on many individuals. If the people of Zimbabwe were not insulted with the genes of servility and submission, they would not be tolerating the pain going around.
The people confront life’s challenges with humility and servitude, as they remain steadfastly loyal to the institution of the land, despite being confronted by events and occasions that breach the peace of mind. There is so much that is amiss to cry about, yet the great people’s silence portrays normalcy. It is a travesty, a futility and a false economy of some sort.
Citizens of other countries would go into a trance if subjected to the Zimbabwean experience, where scarcity of honest and trustworthy leadership reigns supreme.
Most of the people of this great motherland stay in shacks that exude poverty on the outside and smell of sub-humanity from the inside. This is one other sign of people’s abject poverty. It does not matter where one looks, there is poverty everywhere.
The rural areas stink with poverty. The farmlands produce poverty as their specialty. The ghettos in towns are an artistic display of suffering. A visitor from outside would think that the people enjoy the poverty they live in.
Zimbabwe has failed to provide comfort to her people. There is suffering in the huts of despair mushrooming all over. There are untold hardships in the urban dwellings that house the jobless workers. The suffering and peaceful people are not raising any complaints about their living conditions. The suffering people accept their suffering wholeheartedly as if they are comfortable in their hardships.
There is so much wrong, too much pain, untold shortages, hatred, insults, unapologetic arrogance and other iniquities that afflict this great country, yet the people choose to remain quiet. The people’s silence only affords the leadership some time to spend money and energy on their rotund selves. Those in power can know that the sufferers have no energy to challenge their indiscretions.
This is the Zimbabwe we left and still live in. The people have to be commended for being too loyal to their troubles, as they sacrifice the safety of their children for the continued existence in blissful comfort of the few.
The people are just too quiet for their own comfort. They need to stand up and tell the leadership that they are suffering and enough is enough. If the people continue to sulk in silence, the powerful few will also continue to suck their blood just for the joy of it.
Zimbabwean political culture, which is largely the product of Zanu-PF nationalism, is divisive, violent, gender insensitive, power-centric and uncivil. That culture makes it difficult for Zimbabweans with honest opinions, viable policy visions, integrity and potential as democratic leaders to find a voice and political space.
Many Zimbabweans in the diaspora outwardly profess an aversion to their country’s political culture and Zanu-PF. But their political behaviour and nature of debate is often strikingly reminiscent of the political culture and Zanu-PF political party they claim to abhor.
This has stopped the diaspora from being an authentic external force for democratic change and rendered it too divided and parochial to tackle Zanu-PF misrule. The diaspora represents a quarter of Zimbabwe’s total population and it wields considerable economic muscle, but it cannot vote in national elections – a human right it will remain unable to exercise without concerted campaigning.
This lack of cohesion sets the Zimbabwean diaspora apart from other well-known expatriate groups, such as the Chinese,Sudanese, Korean and Jewish diasporas. These have made important contribution to their native countries’ development.The Zimbabwean diaspora, too, must coalesce in the national interest in an effort to transform the terrible legacy of Zanu-PF rule.
I will leave you with these words: The universe was created by a collision, if you want to create something, create a new Zimbabwe, there has to be a collision.
Have a wonderful week till next time.
Tim Mutsekwa (Political Science and International Relations [University of Greenwich], Secretary for Party Business & Investments [MDC UK & Ireland], Twitter : @tsumekwa