Unless we stop cheering mediocrity – ruling elite will always loot from us
I remember my dear late father telling me how some companies during the former times determined salaries for their employees.
He said that the management would sit the employee down, question him about his lifestyle, financial responsibilities and average household budget, as well as plans and goals in life.
In so doing, the company would work out how much the worker really needed – as opposed to giving someone money that he would simply waste on frivolity, such as drinking or other reckless irresponsible behavior.
That way, it was hoped, the company would ensure that its own expenditure was strictly managed – particularly, the payroll, which, in most cases, is the biggest expense in any organization – since, workers were not paid money what they did not know how to use.
I thought that was a pretty good way of running a business – as it not only showed astuteness on the part of the company in saving money – but, also encouraged the workforce to be more responsible with the money they earned, as a way to actually be paid more.
This story by my dad came back to my mind, as I watched how Zimbabweans appeared so fond of celebrating and cheering mediocrity – more specifically, by way of shambolic and laughable government programs, which are supposed to be regarded as the height of achievement and development.
Surely, why would anyone in their right mind find anything particularly exciting about being given handouts and free agricultural inputs, or being reduced to a subsistence small scale farmer all his life – through such programs as ‘Pfumvudza’?
Yet, there are those in power, or close to the ruling elite, who are enjoying the fat of insanely huge tracts of land – earning them millions of dollars, through commercial farming.
How does anyone see something to celebrate, when a rich country, endowed with the world’s most sought-after mineral resources, cannot construct its own parliament building – in spite of legislators being crammed like sardines in a late 19th century colonial structure – celebrates, and is more than happy with donations from other countries?
Or, feels that the building of just one traffic interchange, the refurbishment of an airport, the resurfacing of colonial era roads, or erecting of one or two school blocks or clinics (yet, lacking the most basic of necessities) can ever be considered ‘development’, no matter how one tries to stretch their imagination?
How does sinking a couple of boreholes in towns and cities – which have been callously reduced to something akin to rural areas or farming compounds, and going for months or years without any potable water in their homes – ever be regarded as an ‘achievement’?
This is where my father’s words came back into remembrance.
Is this apparent gratification and contentment with the mediocre not, inadvertently, telling those in power that we do not value who we are as a nation, as well as not appreciating the life that we could live, had we demanded our rightful share from our abundant resources?
Similar to those companies that determined their employees’ salaries on what they used and needed the money for – is our acceptance and celebration of ‘peanuts’ not saying to the political elite, “We’re are more than happy with what you’re giving us, and you can keep the rest”?
That is what I personally feel we are doing.
We are actually encouraging the grand looting of our vast national resources by a few – whilst they live in vulgar opulence, enjoying the lavishness of what we should all be a part of – yet, we seem satisfied with our near-poverty situation.
What signals are we sending those in power when we jump for joy – whilst, ululating and singing the praises of the national leadership – as we are handed a borehole, or small little clinic without even paracetamol, or a classroom block lacking electricity?
Yet, we seem not to see anything particularly amiss with those governing the country staying in grandiose mansions (with all the creature comforts), sending their children to the most expensive well-equipped schools, and can readily fly overseas for medical treatment – all sponsored from our national treasures, which should be shared equitably amongst the people of Zimbabwe.
Are we not saying, “We don’t really need all that stuff, and you can have it, because we’re quite okay with the rubbish you’re giving us”?
Is this not a way of signaling, “We wouldn’t know what to do with all that wealth, even if given to us”?
Zimbabweans are their own worst enemies, at times.
Why do we cry over ‘how difficult life is in Zimbabwe’, yet we are the ones who celebrate poverty?
How can we claim to reject and despise the suffering we are facing, but at the same time, cheering our leaders when they hand us rubbish?
Do we not see something terribly contradictory in all this?
If we genuinely hated the dire circumstances we find ourselves in, then should the logical response not be to demand what is rightly ours?
Should we not be rejecting all these handouts and free subsistence agricultural inputs – but, demanding real land, suitable and prepared for productive and profitable farming – so that no one would ever need to be given anything for free ever again?
Why are we not demanding state-of-the-art learning and health facilities – that are well-quipped with the latest technologies and necessities – where even those in power feel comfortable receiving treatment?
How come we are not expecting the construction of traffic interchanges and totally new modern roads all across Zimbabwe?
In fact, why should anyone be content with a salary that is well below the poverty datum line – even opting for some foolish so-called ‘empowerment projects’, in order to augment the paltry earnings?
Do we not deserve some of the highest salaries, not only in the southern African region, but also the continent – based on the vast mineral wealth this country possesses?
Until Zimbabweans finally stand up for what is rightfully theirs, then we will forever be oppressed.
Unless we get to a place where we stop celebrating and cheering mediocrity – the ruling elite will always loot from us – since, we would be sending the message that we did not need a better life for ourselves and our families, and we are more than happy with the little we have.
Just as those workers in the olden days – only when we finally appreciate what kind of life we deserve to live, will we demand it, and get it!
● Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: [email protected]