By Chenayi Mutambasere
As winter sets in and as Zimbabweans remain hidden away – a looming grey clouds lowers itself above the nation. Hidden in its darkness are silent wails of hunger, fear , poverty and a deep deception that is silently becoming the order of the day.
With no government announcement an ad infitum lockdown means a visible end to lockdown is not in sight. Zimbabweans continue to heed the global call to lockdown to curb a common global enemy.
This call becoming a huge sacrifice for most, a loss in education for that child who can’t afford the data to access online portals, an income for that parent who relies on street trading, a surgical hospital procedure for that orphan waiting their turn on available state resources …. A sacrifice that is fast becoming meaningless as the custodians of national interest like mice prey while the people are away.
The good book tells that a destructive force whether death or lucifer or the devouring lion aims to steal, kill or destroy you when you least expect it.
This has rung true in the recent weeks an almost silently but deadly force has struck in Zimbabwe in relentless fashion guaranteeing a free fall inflation, a lock away of investors and a further plundering of government resources. The irony is, while the covid cases are increasing the country’s issues seem to stem more from government’s activities during the lockdown.
A stronghold has gripped Zimbabwe that seems to have emanated from the Khupe ‘Corona’ Judgement. This was announced on the first day of the national lockdown. The judgement as stipulated in Morgan Komichi’s prepared acceptance speech was to rebirth the MDC- T (Tsvangirai) party to its 2014 status.
As bizarre as it sounds that anyone would want to reverse their lives to 6 years ago and then actually get away with so. Quite literally shot of resurrecting the Democratic Movement’s icon Morgan Tsvangirai Khupe took a time hop back to 2014. She somehow through the courts managed to return inspite of the 2017 Coup and the 2018 elections with the subsequent concourt decision. So bizarre was this happening it felt like a scene out of Star Trek.
On 6 May the bizarreness of the khupe judgement reaches a new depth of bizarre scenes. Even the funniest episode of Only Fools and Horses couldn’t be scripted this well or rather Mukadota and friends !! Either way Baba Rwizi or Del Boy’s comic prowesses we trumped (no pun).
The senate of the MDC Alliance wrote to the speaker of the house to recall legislators from the MDC Alliance but in his capacity as the Secretary General of the MDC-T as per 2014 MDC-T Congress. Trust me you could read the latter sentence a million times and it would still make no sense because there is no sense in it. However senseless and ludicrous as is appeared it happened in broad daylight.
I can’t decide who in this scene is Baba Rwizi the announcing speaker or the one who wrote the letter in the first place. This foolishness was allowed to pass and 4 MDC Alliance MPs were recalled including the party’s Secretary General. Infact instead of discussing the economic crisis and the country’s Covid preparedness that was all parliament met to do. Beyond being comical in nature the implementation of this was to become the start of state orchestrated homicide on Democracy.
For Zimbabweans what that means is that we can hold an election select your legislator and somebody can randomly invalidate your vote by recalling your Member of Parliament. In other words your voice and that of your community is no longer represented in parliament.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse on 13 May to our great disbelief 3 young women leaders from the opposition were initially arrested by the police as confirmed by the spokesperson but went completely missing in broad daylight.
For more than 48 hours they could not be found only to appear at a rural homestead in Bindura. The evidence of their ordeal heavily written by their blood and dirt stained clothes.
This event deeply disturbing as it already was – reached greater depths of shamefulness when nations already grappling with the covid pandemic had to stop what they were doing to tell the Zimbabwean government to stop it and release the girls.
This event alone left a huge dent on democracy while literally shutting the gateway to any potential investment. A huge telling off by other national powers such as EU and America put the country on the unofficial naughty step.
No sane investor wants to be associated to a government that supports brutality against its own female citizens. In other words when next you see the words National Sanctions instead replace them with the blood stained clothes of Hon Joanah Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova because human rights abuses directly result in economic sanctions.
Sadly the absurdity of what happened to these women failed to end there. While they are recovering in hospital the state insisted on a court hearing which they attended from their hospital beds some still attached to drips of very strong pain relief for brain injuries.
This harrowing sin would make even the devil himself feel compassion but it went unchecked. The continued abuse resurfaced with images of these 3 clad in prison gear from their hospital beds.
So while democracy at this point is on the resuscitation table Mthuli and Mangudya not wanting to be outdone by the courts or the police in not keeping to national interest. On 13 May quietly released a new higher denomination bank notes.
Other than representing an artificial injection of cash into the economy (after having failed to secure government caoital from IMF) there is no benefit at all to this new money.
It has all but contributed to the free fall of the rate between local currency and the local US dollar currency which is now at 1:75 having been 1:34 before lockdown. Inflation is also now reported at 753% with bread costing $53 at the time of writing.
Before I move on to the next keep in mind that all this is happening on the backdrop of businesses in complete shut down mode. If ever our country was more desperate for economic stimulation that time is now. But alas of leopards and their spots the lockdown period seems instead to be too appealing to the destructive thief in the night as they continue to strike.
Sadly as things stand democracy and economic stimulation continue to be under siege. Mukadota and friends have gone on to fire Nelson Chamisa with the courts synonymously agreeing and disagreeing that MDC A is a constituted party.
I like many others can’t gather how this is even up for debate given how far the party has come from elections to constitutional court cases. In addition to firing the president they have also gone on to take Harvest House under siege.
To use a metaphor imagine you have a tenant in your house and an agreement in place and your tenant’s ex girlfriend’s from high school’s brother attempts to evict your tenant with the use of the police. The police are firmly on the side of this random guy and go on to lock up the rightful tenant and assault his family .
Presently 5 MDC Alliance leaders are held in police custody including 2 Vice Presidents Lynette Karenyi and Tendai Biti. They are charged with being a nuisance as they attempted to enter their designated place of work at Harvest House.
For Zimbabweans given we are already on a steep downward spiral with a global recession compounded by in country corruption and inflation this does us no favours.
Investors are commonly referred to in economics as rent seekers they want a return for their investment in addition they want an assurance on protection of their investment. A country that exhibits governments to be above the law as displayed at Harvest House yesterday is very off putting for both local and foreign investors as it appears too risky.
So amidst all the world problems the Covid Pandemic and the call for BlackLivesMatter, Zimbabwe continues to make the global news for all the wrong reasons. Will a time come when perhaps the citizens will seize the thief or will perhaps the thief tire from its plundering which of the two will come first?
Chenayi Mutambasere (Msc Development Economics and Policy) is the MDC UK and Ireland Province Secretary for Industry and Commerce. You can follow her on Twitter: @ChenayiM