By Chenayi Mutambasere | Nehanda Opinion |
It’s fair to say 2020 thus far has not been without its knots and graces. Being in England there are days it literally feels like we have walked onto a set on some American Sci-Fi or you fell asleep while watching a movie and now your dreams reflect the movie but you will wake up and all is ‘normal again’.
For some of us still in lockdown we reached a new level of despair on Sunday 8 November when those of us that start the day with Watsapp were confronted by the video shots of two young women screaming for help as their still alive bodies burnt to ashes.
Passersby only able to watch in despair as this horror scene unfolded. I am sure the majority of us are by now secondary trauma victims and it will probably be a while before we can evade the sounds from memory.
I will admit to really having known (not personally ) only one of the four victims. I had never heard of either ladies but as a mum I equate their screams to that moment you are in a grocery store and you hear a child say mum – you automatically turn even when you know your own kids are nowhere nearby. I can say I heard their screams almost as if they were my own.
While zwitter is ablaze with conspiracies and thoughts, prayers etc I thought it would be right in the heat of the moment to unearth some truths. I personally would prefer never to relive those moments even from a distance. The time is right right now to unearth some truths and confront some real life devils that we all, yes all of us see every day …. I know for the four it maybe too late but it must become difficult for us to be witnesses but choose to carry on …
My silent plea is that we all take something away that changes us in a positive way – because it is only us that can save us.
1/ Let us normalise driving at normal speed …, Inspite of having very poor roads and hardly any street lights Zimbabweans seem to think that bad driving is cool. It’s not cool it kills.
As a community if we decide that speeding isn’t cool we must shame those that do it. While some of our police forces remain in a deep slumber over their role to protect citizens it is up to us to encourage the right behaviours …
In England some village communities create their own speed deterrents, a good example is a police scarecrow other parts neighbourhood watch members actually take photos and record speeds of motorists that are over speeding using handheld devices. These are used to fine the Motorists.
2/ Drink Driving quite frankly isn’t cool . Don’t Do it . Alcohol slows your reflexes down and affects your body’s responses. A drunk driver is not only a danger to themselves but to others in the car or outside. You may have done it a million times but the cost of that one accident is unimaginable it’s not worth it. Care enough about yourself and your passengers to be a responsible driver.
The prevalence of this menace in our society shows off our indiscipline as a people. In Zimbabwe if one wants to open a nightclub one of the prerequisites would be somewhere where there is parking. This should not be the case.
When planning to go out agree who is driving and that person isn’t allowed to drink the whole night. Some countries call this kind of driver ‘Des’ short for DESignated driver. If everyone is drinking then book a taxi in advance or buy in a driver for the night. That is real Adulting!
Those top 2 things are on us nothing to do with corruption or sanctions simply you and I staying woke looking out for ourselves….
3/ Can real police please stand up
It really isn’t good enough when the police boast about being aware of someone’s speeding habits or indeed if they actually witnessed it and chose to do nothing.
In any functioning society the police would be culpable of homicide by choosing to ignore to act on something that may have saved someone’s life.
Police in Zimbabwe must unanimously reform towards protection of all citizens including traffic offences . Honestly having a radio license pales in significance to not adhering to speed limits.
Next door in South Africa motorists easily spend time in remand if they are caught either speeding and or intoxicated. In other countries you repeat this offence and the second time you lose your license.
4/ Are luxury sports cars right for our roads. In as much as wealth is personal. Whilst Mthuli is cooking up his surplus can he consider the levies applied to these cars with speed limits of 157 to 195 mph.
If you want a luxury sports car then they must be steepened levies linked to speed , fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. I would also go further and suggest age limits placed on who is considered old enough to drive such.
5/ Nightclubs Opening Times … City councils must enforce reasonable closing times call me old school but nothing holy is happening after 2am. At this time individuals are both too drunk and too tired.
Further town planners should make serious consideration of where nightclubs are located and available parking. High parking fees or vicinity can be good deterrents for drink driving while also generating revenue.
During citizen protests we witness hoards of riot police on the streets. Police should man entertainment areas to protect citizens and question those that are too intoxicated to be behind the will.
6/ Could the president loan the citizens some emergency services … I am certain I wasn’t the only one shocked by the scene of the deceased on the road for what seemed like way way too long. Or even more appalled by the police who turned up with an axe to open the doors.
The delay of the fire service …. I know no one can call what would have happened had any of these services arrived fully equipped and promptly and we will never know. However the point is when they screamed those that could help where nowhere near.
In the end it’s true no one knows the day or the hour but as we mourn with those who mourn let’s strive to ensure their deaths are not in vain. Let’s agree that even when the hour comes we owe ourselves a better flight home.
Don’t sign your own death certificate No To Drink Driving; No to Speeding and use that belt … As a community for the sake of the departed let’s strive to be good stewards of the lives we are gifted with.
Chenayi Mutambasere (Msc Development Economics and Policy). You can follow her on Twitter: @ChenayiM