What balance and fairness can one truly give a wicked cruel government?
As much there is always overwhelming acceptance and approval of my articles on social justice in Zimbabwe – now and again, there are, nonetheless, some who demand fairness and balance in my analysis.
They view my writings as being too biased against the ruling establishment in the country – with very little attention given to the mess being created by the opposition in their misgovernance of urban areas.
Indeed, I do acknowledge that the vast majority of my work is targeted towards the unbelievable poverty and suffering authored by the ZANU PF regime.
Yet, for those who want to be sincere, I have also touched on the indescribable and disgraceful mess caused by opposition-led councils in our towns and cities.
This is more so in my own small town of Redcliff – where we have gone for over a year without potable water in our homes, potholed roads remaining generally unrepaired, streets lights a thing of the past, and refuse rarely ever being collected.
All this, however, taking place in the midst of endless reports of corrupt and underhand dealings – which have prejudiced our town of land and assets worth millions of dollars – without much translating into improved service provision for residents.
I have highlighted these issues – yet, there are still those who want more.
Well, as much as I would want to write more, I can not create issues that are not there.
Even state-controlled media, and ZANU PF mouthpieces – in the form of The Herald, Sunday Mail, and ZBC – struggle to come up with anything more than what I also touch on.
What I make very clear to those expressing their reservations over my supposed bias is that – as a social justice advocate, I only deal with what is available on the ground, and nothing more.
Therefore, to be brutally honest, nearly everyone in Zimbabwe – including urban dwellers – are more aggrieved by the poverty and suffering created by the ZANU PF, than the chaos in our towns and cities.
That is an undeniable fact.
In addition, considering the cruelty and wickedness the Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa admission has meted upon millions of innocent ordinary Zimbabweans – surely, what balance is one expected to give to evil?
In what way can even the best makeup artist make a warthog look handsome?
As far as I am concerned, what I am doing is the best objectivity I can provide – in which I treat each case on the basis and weight of its gravity.
As the situation stands in the country today, both the opposition and ruling party have caused untold suffering on ordinary Zimbabweans.
However, no one can deny that the greatest pain has been at the hands of the ruling establishment – which far outweighs that of the opposition (restricted only to urban areas).
There can be no way I can treat as equals those who have caused unimaginable poverty and mayhem on a nationwide scale, and those whose mismanagement has only affected service delivery in towns and cities.
There has to be a difference in approach.
That, to me, is what constitutes fairness – since balance also entails the ability to judge the gravity of which to attach to specific cases and incidents – in determining which needs more attention than the other.
As much as what I pen are simply Opinion Editorials (Op-eds) – which are merely a writer’s views regarding particular issues, not held to any journalistic guidelines – I am, nonetheless, also a trained journalist and media practitioner.
In this regard, I understand what balance and fairness mean – and it does not entail giving equal coverage to everything and everyone.
Fairness and balance also constitute the ability to weigh which aspect requires more emphasis or attention than the other, based on their gravity, especially to the specific audience.
For instance, let us say there are two separate road traffic accidents – one in Murewa, in which 120 passengers perish in a horrific head-on collision between two speeding busses – and another in Kwekwe, where two people are killed when a car veers off the road.
If a media house wants to be fair and balanced, how will they treat these two incidents?
Will it mean giving them both equal space and coverage during their news bulletins?
Or, will there be one worthy of more attention, due to its gravity?
Surely, being fair and balanced will not mean treating the two incidents in the same light.
As much as both accidents would have been truly tragic – as every single human life is important – nonetheless, the Kwekwe car crash may actually be totally ignored (at worst), or given very minimal mention (at best).
Therefore, the same logic applies to our politics in Zimbabwe – especially, as far as the failings of the major political players are concerned.
They can not be expected to be given equal attention regarding their coverage and analysis.
One side has caused more devastation to the country, and unbearable suffering upon the people – than the other.
Even if one speaks to urban dwellers themselves – in spite of the misery brought upon them by opposition councils – they still cry more about the broader economic crisis and poverty, than lack of water or waste not being collected.
They may complain here and there over potholes and a lack of street lighting – but, I bet you, they are more angry over their poor wages, or unaffordable goods and services, or inability to access medical treatment.
In actual fact, had the political powers in Zimbabwe not ruined the economy – most urban dwellers would have had very little to moan about – since we could have simply sank our own private boreholes, for instance.
Which explains why, amidst all these challenges in urban areas – the opposition still wins most seats.
This means that, as much as residents are having a torrid time under opposition-led councils – the poverty and suffering under the ruling party has causes far worse pain and misery.
That is why elections in Zimbabwe are also a tricky proposition for people as myself – where it all boils down to choosing who is the better devil.
Which is why I have never made a secret of the fact that the only times I actually participated in a national plebiscite was in the June 2000 general, and March 2002 presidential elections, and the 2013 constitutional referendum.
Needless to say, in both the elections, I voted for the then new opposition MDC and its leader Morgan Richard Tsvangirai.
However, I was soon to be thoroughly disenchanted by the corruption, incompetence, and power greed I was to witness – which made me lose confidence with the opposition – a scenario still persisting today.
However, the ruling establishment’s mismanagement has always been more pronounced than the failures of the opposition.
Therefore, based on the need for balance and fairness, surely which requires more attention and coverage?
Let us also not forget that urban dwellers only constitute less than 40 per cent of Zimbabwe’s population – thereby, further depreciating their challenges in the broader scheme of things.
As a result, I would rather speak for the majority of the suffering – particularly, those in rural areas who, in most cases, do not have anyone to stand up for them, nor the means to do so for themselves.
We, in urban areas, are quite capable of speaking for ourselves – as witnessed with the City Parking debacle – outrage against whom Harare residents made abundantly clear, without the need of any social justice advocate or writer.
In conclusion, as much as I try to cover all aspects of injustices faced by ordinary Zimbabweans – there are some issues that deserve more mention and prominence than others.
Furthermore, it goes without saying that the boundless wickedness and evil by the ruling establishment should naturally grab the bulk of the attention.
● 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]