Tendai Ruben Mbofana: Zimbabwe’s tragedy is being led by a coward!
Over the past few days, I was in the breath-taking mountain city of Mutare – attending a dear cousin’s funeral.
During this visit to this captivating and awe-inspiring place – besides the immerse sorrow and heartbreak of losing such a beloved beautiful soul, who was more like a sister to me, as we grew up in the same home – there was something else that filled me with enormous revulsion, thereby casting deep shame over the type of leadership we have in Zimbabwe.
In my numerous interactions with the rural folk in that part of the country where we were grieving my cousin – several people shared their harrowing testimonies over the reprehensible intimidation they were being subjected to by the cowardly ruling ZANU PF party.
These villagers – who, themselves, have endured the brunt of this Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa led outfit’s increasingly sadistic cruelty, in the face of indescribable state-authored misery and poverty – could not hide their utter disdain at the callous nature of this failed leadership, which has shamefully resorted to brazen brutality, and threats of brutality, to hold on to an office that has been turned into a laughing stock.
What else is anyone expected to think, when the country had to endure the misfortune of a leader whose only claim to power is on the basis of instilling terror in the population – rather than endearing himself to the citizenry, through programs and policies that uplift their lives and livelihoods?
It was so shocking, but definitely unsurprising – particularly for a government and political party that was founded and thrived purely upon violence and savage massacring of innocent civilians – when these hapless and fear-struck rural folk narrated how senior officials, with their brainless buffoons in tow, were going door-to-door demanding confirmation of voter registration, subsequently taking these villagers’ photographs, under some ridiculous claim that ZANU PF would be able to tell who voted for which party during the coming crucial harmonized elections.
These sick threats do not stop there – but, people in these remote areas (neglected from the colonial era, and further rundown and ruined under the Zimbabwe regime’s misrule and corruption) are being threatened with a return to the nightmarish 2008 scenario – where hundreds of suspected opposition supporters were heinously murdered by both ZANU PF thugs and state security agents, whilst possibly thousands more were barbarically mutilated, as arms and hands were hacked off, for ostensibly voting for Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, who beat then president Robert Gabriel Mugabe, in the first round of polling.
So is Mnangagwa seriously telling us – despite his laughable proclamations of ‘developing the country, whilst leaving no one and no place behind’ – he is still not confident of winning a free, fair and credible election?
Surely, after doling out endless ‘freebies’, such a agricultural inputs and so-called ‘empowerment projects’ – which are actually funded by the taxpayer – the man still does not see himself being chosen by these same people to remain at State House?
And, his party’s ‘only’ option is to threaten those poverty-stricken defenceless folk with murder, if they decide not to vote for him!
I have an inexhaustible reservoir of adjectives to aptly describe such a scenario – most of which will certainly not augur well for media publication – but, the only decent word I can say for now is, ‘coward’.
How else can we label someone who believes that he is so unloved, unlovable and despised that – irrespective of distributing all these ‘freebies’, and issuing empty promises – the ‘only’ way that can get villagers to elect him is through shouting ‘bloody murder’!
In fact, there could be many reasons why Mnangagwa and his comrades do not believe that they can win a free, fair and credible election – even against a severely restricted opposition challenger, who not only has had his own campaign operations ruthlessly and unlawfully clamped down – but, his party has been a huge dismal unmitigated embarrassing flop in its management (or rather, mismanagement) of urban areas.
There is very little to show for Mnangagwa’s much touted ‘development and not leaving anyone and any place behind’.
The roads in these parts are impassable – far worse than the landmine-like craters witnessed in our towns and cities – since those in rural areas have largely remained unpaved and untarred since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, making driving a most traumatizing and heart-stopping experience.
In spite of the huge populations in these rural areas – it is always perplexing why there are so many places that lack even something resembling a road – whereby, people are forced to either risk damaging their vehicles traversing the hostile terrain, or forced to resort to walking.
As much as the section of which I visited was joyfully electrified – something positive in an ocean of one mega disappointment after another – the power was seldom there for more than twelve hours a day, as a directly consequence of the Mnangagwa regime’s inability in addressing the electricity crisis that has gripped the country for the past two decades.
I will not even go into detail over the shambolic nature of the few schools dotted around these areas – which appear more like abandoned forgotten structures from the 1960s and 70s – with the glaring absence of any meaningful learning facilities and material.
As we mourned my cousin – who had been a devoted teacher at one of the local rural schools – I had the opportunity not only to engage with her colleagues, but also encountered some of her pupils.
It was clear that these learning institutions were poorly resourced and severely constrained in their capacities in fulfilling their obligations of creating young man or woman who can successfully function in today’s world, especially going through the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Then, there are the health care centres!
For personal reasons, one of the first things I enquired about when I arrived in this rural area was the location of the nearest clinic or hospital.
I cannot say that I was particularly surprised with the response – with the nearest clinic some kilometres away – meaning that, in the event of an illness or even an emergency, the likelihood of not receiving any medical assistance, and dying at home, is very high.
My question is – where is this claimed, ‘leaving no one and no place behind?
Is it not being ‘left behind’ when the only ‘shopping centres’ in these rural areas are some so-called ‘general dealers’ – whose only stock are some alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, packets of maputi (popped corn), and a few basics – without access to any significant major supermarkets and retail outlets, or banks?
What does this show?
Does this not show that rural folk have been so impoverished by the ZANU PF regime – such that, they are not expected to buy anything of substance, as clothes and movable properties, or possess substantial amounts of money to bank, or even seek the services of lawyers and private doctors?
These are the things rural folk should be enjoying today – had the government genuinely desired not to ‘leave no one or no place behind’.
It would appear the ‘development’ Mnangagwa seeks to entrench in Zimbabwe’s rural areas is to keep them in their current subsistence state – whereby, their only dream to grow some few crops under ‘Pfumvudza’, with absolutely nothing much to sell, so as to earn good profits for themselves – which will enable them to desire the same material as their urban counterparts.
This also helps explain the lack of proper roads in these areas – which I honestly believe is a deliberate ploy to condition our rural folk not to ever harbour any dreams, or even think about owning their own cars.
However, people in rural areas are not idiots – as they know very well what they want in their lives.
They also have great ambitious – just like, if not more than, those of their urban compatriots.
They are fully aware that they are being oppressed and marginalized by the Mnangagwa administration – which not only impoverished them, but is also intent in keeping them in that state.
That is why – regardless of endless agricultural inputs and ludicrous ‘empowerment projects’ (which are nothing more than programs to keep these people from entering the mainstream economy) – Mnangagwa remains highly unpopular and even unwanted.
Let us remember that, some of these rural areas – as is the case with the one, in Mutare, that I have just returned from visiting – are located on massive wealth, such as diamonds, gold, platinum, lithium, and much more.
Yet, their people continue to wallow in abject poverty.
Which is why his ZANU PF party can only hope to ‘win’ elections via the use of blood curdling threats of death and limp-cutting – since they really have nothing of significance to offer the rural folk.
Mnangagwa and ZANUPF have been reduced to schoolyard bullies – whose only hope to get the ‘loyalty’ they crave, is by instilling terror in a poor defenceless population.
That is what I call being a coward!
● Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +26371566700 | +263782283975, or email: [email protected]