Yes, that is the most appropriate term – for I can not think of a more fitting word!
This is exactly how I felt when I heard the finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, describing the United States Dollar (USD) indexed bonuses awarded to civil servants – as, “a gesture from His Excellency (President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa)”.
So, in Zimbabwe, providing workers with what they deserve – a living wage, that can actually buy something – is described as a ‘gesture from His Excellency’?
In other words, if the president did not feel like being nice and generous with our own tax dollars, we would all be dead by now – out of sheer starvation!
That is not only extremely worrisome, but outright disturbing!
What manner of a country survives on the mercy of its leader?
Honestly, this is precisely what we have been witnessing over the better part of the past two decades.
We have more than 7.9 million Zimbabweans (more than half the population) living in extreme poverty (earning less than USD1.90 per day), with ninety-three percent (93%) of six month to two year olds not consuming the minimum acceptable diet.
Who, then, have to survive on ‘gestures from His Excellency’ – through food handouts, and yearly agricultural input donations.
Does that sound ‘normal’ to anyone?
Over seventy-two percent (72%) – a very conservative figure, as the real number is far much larger – live below the monthly total consumption poverty line of ZWL6,654 (approx. USD40) per person, and food poverty line of ZWL4,734 (approx. USD30) for one person (in September 2021).
Yet, an average civil servant earns less than USD200 per month!
As a result, they needed a ‘gesture from His Excellency’ to, at least, have something fairly reasonable to eat during the festive season!
It was so heart-rending watching huge queues of civil servants and pensioners lining up outside banks for hours, in the sweltering sun (and, in some places being drenched by heavy rains) – in a desperate bid to have some money that would buy the bare basics for their families…even if it were just for one month.
Some of the pensioners I talked to yesterday – as I also waited in the slow-moving queue with my elderly mother – said they were hoping to receive a paltry USD78!
How else can any open and fair-minded person describe such a scenario in our country – where queuing to receive ‘gestures from His Excellency’ has become the norm, rather than the exception… which, in former years, was preserved for a tiny less-privileged and disadvantaged minority.
However, in the Zimbabwe of today, nearly the entire population can be honestly labelled, ‘less-privileged, disadvantaged, and poor’!
Again, what does that say about the country?
Or, more appropriately, what does this say about ‘His Excellency’ and the government he leads?
In a few apt words – the Zimbabwe regime has reduced an otherwise gifted and richly-endowed country into a pathetic and shameful failed state.
There is no normal country on this planet, whose majority survives on the mercy of its president, and handouts thrown at them?
Actually, the mere fact that there are those amongst us, who have become conditioned to glorify being beggars, and even celebrating this disgrace and loss of human dignity – as witnessed by so many praising these ‘gestures from His Excellency’ – proves just how long such injustices have been meted upon the people of Zimbabwe.
In this country, poverty has become normalized, and the people have become accustomed to being beggars!
This is unacceptable!
We, as Zimbabweans, finally need to realize that, we are worthy of enjoying the fullness of our country’s vast resources – which are more than enough to guarantee a good life for each and every citizen.
Just imagine, from the USD15 billion that was looted by the ruling elite, in cahoots with their shady and questionable ‘investment’ partners, from our diamond sales a few years ago – each Zimbabweans (man, woman, and even a newly-born baby) could have justifiably received USD1,000.
How much more could we have expected to get from all the other subsequent diamond and gold looting that takes place nearly on a daily basis – not to mention numerous other dubious underhand dealings and fake tenders?
Why, then, should we be paupers in such a wealthy nation?
Zimbabweans can choose whether they want to remain beggars – who continually have to look up towards the ruling elite for some ‘gestures from His Excellency’ – or, we fearlessly demand and reclaim our dignity.
It is all up to us!
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: email@example.com