By David Siampondo
While the liberation struggle remains indelible in the annals of Zimbabwean history, its aftermath however brought about new challenges that equal or surpass colonial oppression and suppression.
It must be acknowledged that the segregationist colonial administration generated inequalities, poverty and deprivation. Governance and resource allocation of the colonial regime was premised on racial inclusion and exclusion, the white minority constituted the greater portion of beneficiaries whilst the black majority were under served and left vulnerable.
By and large the post-colonial government inherited and perfected the very systems of oppression and repression which the masses had taken arms against. The historical question remains; where did we go wrong?
Upon attaining political Independence in 1980, the delirium and frenzy by a black minority of assuming political power without economic authority suffocated any chances of total emancipation and empowerment; the black majority remained impoverished, suppressed and cheated of the proceeds of the liberation struggle.
The liberation ethos was built on fighting inequalities, poverty and oppression, therefore total annihilation of the white race was the major objective of the oppressed natives. The new government however pulled a positive when it called for reconciliation and offered to turn swords into ploughshares. Nonetheless the majority remained in abject poverty and vulnerable.
The participation in the liberation struggle generated a sense of entitlement that bedevil the nation till today. Impunity deeply ingrained in the body politic and governance of the country, massive embezzlements, looting and corruption were condoned. Culprits were only transferred ministries and offices but the rot continued.
Upon independence the government adopted a socialist path/gutsaruzhinji. Basically pronouncing itself as a Welfare State. Simply defined, a Welfare State is a system of governance where the state undertake to protect the health and well-being of its citizens, especially those in financial or social need.
This can be achievable by means of grants, pensions and other benefits to cushion against vulnerabilities. Debate is however intense on whether the government as it existed in 1980 can be described as a Welfare state.
Although this is not the purpose of the article, it is pertinent to note that some characteristics of Welfarism did exist, such as subsidies on basic commodities, free amenities like primary education, primary health care and other pro-poor services.
These quickly vanished by the pronouncement of the Economic Structural Adjustment Program [ESAP] of October 1990 whose implementation began in March 1991. This exacerbated the conditions of the poor and the black majority who already were in the doldrums.
The summation of bad policies of governance and the predatory behaviour of the liberation struggle leaders transformed a cutthroat colonial regime into a vampire state. The insatiable acquisitiveness of the former guerrillas permeated their administration which sparked a scramble for looting.
Those who went to war and their cronies demanded positions of influence regardless of level of education and expertise. They positioned themselves strategically to loot and amass wealth, the country’s economy bled uncontrollably as pillaging went unchecked.
As the economy went south, political grip and power began to crumble, the emergence of an alternative solution in the form of the Movement for Democratic Change [MDC] worsened the situation. The MDC a labour movement successfully sold its manifesto to the people. Chief among its manifesto was the land question and the right of workers.
Evidently the MDC won the political hearts and conscience of many which sent ZANU PF panicking and without strategy usurped the land idea. They went on to violently grab land from white farmers and killing some of them in the process. This violence was not only targeted at white commercial farmers but all MDC members. Zimbabwe turned into an outpost of tyranny.
Minus the violence and murders that occurred the land grabbing didn’t settle the fundamental deprivation that existed as land was parcelled to politicians as led by former liberators, ordinary or private citizen who did not belonged to Zanu PF could not get the land.
Up to the present day the once productive tracks of land lie idle and some who grabbed or benefitted have sublet the previous owners as they failed to work on it due to capacity issues.
Nepotism, patronage, cronyism and partisan governance defined the Mugabe regime till his removal via a military coup which occurred in November 2017. At gunpoint Mugabe was forced to ink his resignation and the leadership of his party ZANU PF and country was handed to another henchmen Emmerson Mnangagwa who was fired as Vice President and had skipped the border into South Africa via Mozambique.
Mnangagwa inherited the Mugabe system and returned the bulky of the dead wood which plundered the economy during Mugabe’s regime. He of course invited a few new faces from the army as a token of appreciation for the coup and some forgotten war veterans who were neglected by Mugabe some of them whose liberation credentials are doubtful such as Victor Matemadanda.
Mnangagwa intensified a reign of terror where on different occasions live bullets were used on peaceful protesters attacking and murdering them in day light before international media houses. Abduction of opposition members became the order of the day, treason charges escalated to cow opposition into submission to an extent of having 20 activists being charged with treason in less than six months of his rule.
The so called new dispensation is old wine in new packaging. It is still obsessed with power retention with no regard to people’s well-being. The new dispensation is marred by corruption and a fierce competition of looting.
The new dispensation remains captured by a cartel whose roots can be traced to a military establishment. The new dispensation is void of policies that generate public confidence and remain as loathed as Mugabe’s dispensation.
David Siampondo is a social scientist
Next article will discuss vulnerability in the context of a disbanded welfare system: Citizens at the mercy of political vultures.