Are ZANU PF and MDC shameful governance failures proving Rhodesia’s Smith right that Blacks not ready to govern themselves?

There are issues that are so emotive and sensitive, that even I try my best not to provoke them unnecessarily – or, at least, tread very carefully, being alive to their potential explosiveness – nonetheless, a time eventually comes when what needs to be said, has to be said.

Source: Are ZANU PF and MDC shameful governance failures proving Rhodesia’s Smith right that Blacks not ready to govern themselves? – The Zimbabwean

I have never been a proponent of this weird creature called, “political correctness” – since, I regard such a concept as nothing more than lying and deceitfulness, which has led to the failure of the human race as we witness today, largely due to the inability, or rather unwillingness, to tell each other the brazen and unadulterated truth.

As a matter of fact, this monster deceptively referred to as “political correctness”, has been the main weapon used to hide our faults and weaknesses as humankind – a trait that has caused so much intolerance and defensiveness, predominantly at the hands (and mouths) of those who seek to live in a world where there is a justification for anything that we do, or do not do.

Nonetheless, today is one of those days when I felt it necessary to come out with something that has been bothering me for many years, but had never found enough guts to spill it out, as I feared the expected toxic response of my overly reactive kith and kin.

However, there comes a time when the truth becomes so powerful that it can not be contained or suppressed any longer, and needs to either be released, or we all brace ourselves for the inevitable explosion.

This is one of those times.

After enduring forty one (41) years of ruinous, retrogressive, counter-developemental, and barbaric misgovernance authored by the ruling ZANU PF regime – whereby, the people of Zimbabwe have been subjected to cruel, unspeakable, and indescribable poverty, torment, and repression – there was a glimmer of hope in 1999, when the opposition MDC was established, with the majority, who had lost all hope for nearly twenty years of darkness and misrule, were finally injected with a renewed sense of hope and aspirations…akin to how they felt at the dawn of an independent Zimbabwe in 1980.

Yet, just as with the painful devastation of those pre-independence dreams, which came crushing down not too long after the celebrations and euphoria of 1980 – as the ZANU PF regime did not waste any time displaying its savage, sadistic, incompetent, and corrupt tendencies, resulting in an even more divided nation (predominantly along tribal lines), the massacring of tens of thousands (and maiming and displacement of millions more), whilst, the rest of the nation finished off the little prosperity and developmental remanents leftover from the Rhodesia era.

By 1999, nothing was left of those leftovers – as the country was reduced to a mere shameful and sad shell of what it had been in 1980 – characterized by dizzying levels of corruption (that had long surpassed sane levels, but clearly bordering on psychosis), with the shortage of nearly everything from fuel and foreign currency, to basic commodities in the midst of a looming hyperinflation, as well as joblessness of unprecedented records (igniting the mass migration of million of Zimbabweans into the diaspora).

As such, the coming in of the MDC was a long-awaited “savior” and hope for the hopeless.

Needless to say, after a whole twenty two (22) years – flooded with ruthlessly brutal repression at the blood-soaked hands of the ZANU PF junta, where hundreds of opposition supporters were murdered, many more mutilated, abducted, beaten up, and repeatedly arrested on spurious charges, with even more fleeing the country, whilst several elections clearly won by their candidates being shamelessly stolen under their noses – the MDC has virtually nothing to show for all their pain and suffering.

As with their main rival, ZANU PF, the MDC has unquestionably proven to be a resounding and absolute failure.

In spite of being fraudulently denied their election wins, that would have enabled them to run the entire country – they, however, were allowed their victories in urban areas, in which they have had a good twenty years to run and manage…or, more aptly put, to ruin and mismanage.

Previously well-tarred, enviable, and picturesque urban roads have been reduced to worse than gravel (or, even strip) rural roads, street lights that once illuminated the urban nights have all gone (turning cities and towns practically invisible even from the sky), whilst most residents have not seen consistent running water for some time (others, in years, with a strong belief that children born after 2000 may have never experienced a flushing toilet, or water coming out of taps or showers), and garbage being transformed into a regular and permanent landscape.

What, then, troubles me in all this is that, why have both our post-independence “black” administrations – ZANU PF and MDC – failed in such horrendous and large-scale proportions?

Does this say something about our capabilities as black people in governance and management?

One can never say, there were any other causal factors, except inaptitude and an insatiable greed for corruption.

Otherwise, how would anyone explain the ruling ZANU PF central government’s inability in regularly maintaining and upgrading the country’s electricity generation capacities (which has led to the perennial power shortages witnessed over the past decades) – or, MDC local authorities’ inability in renovating water pipes, and investing in more water bodies, with the subsequent drying up of residents’ taps?

Can anyone explain how world-class sporting facilities – dotted all around the country – which could have easily hosted international events, became eyesores and global embarrassments?

Yet, both central and local administrations are notorious for looting, or misappropriating our vast resources, or misplacing their priorities – resulting in the vanishing of billions of dollars, or pumping them into unnecessary self-serving pursuits.

Why on earth would the government allocate high ranking positions in state enterprises to their clearly under-qualified, and inexperienced relatives, friends, and even potential (or, current) sexual partners?

Just imagine someone, either coming straight from the bush (liberation struggle), or some university outside the country, being handed over the heading of a global player, such as the iron and steel making giant, ZISCOSTEEL in 1980.

Let us be brutally honest with ourselves for once. Is there something seriously flawed with us as black people?

Why are we unable to even maintain the levels of development and standards that we inherited from the Rhodesian era? How did we end up messing everything up, and virtually destroying everything?

Even those once glamorous houses, buildings, schools, hospitals, and infrastructure we bought, or took over, after independence, have only their superstructures still standing, yet are revolting at worst, and sorrowful at best – as we simply watched them disintegrating and decaying, slowly but surely.

I am reminded by the well-documented statement by then Rhodesian prime minister Ian Douglas Smith, that majority rule would lead to the lowering of standards, with everything being destroyed, and filth even running down our streets.

As much as many castigated these words, as typifying an ingrained racist mentality – the question is, was Smith wrong, or have we ourselves not gone out of our way in proving him right?

That is why, at the beginning, I made it clear that, one thing that I distasted the most was the so-called “political correctness” – as this is what we use to conveniently hide our own weaknesses as humankind.

We can never progress as people, when we are too afraid to ask ourselves those tough questions – as that is the only way to genuine introspection and self-evaluation…the only key to true change and positive reformation – because, I do not believe that this is an inherent flaw, but simply our unwillingness to do the right thing.

For, as long as we are comfortable in sweeping our mess under the carpet, then we will forever be in denial, will never learn, and will never strive to be better people – as the only way to respond to Smith’s claims, is to prove him wrong – but, certainly not by hiding behind the racist card, since that only proves him right, as we have done for the past forty one (41) years.

© 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: +263733399640, or email:


  • comment-avatar
    Mickey Mouse 2 years ago

    One word answer to the title of your article…… YES!

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    Fallenz 2 years ago

    Mr. Mbofana, a brave man you are.  Your articles always seem insightful and poignant, but this one is classic.  

    If you, a black African, were President, or even some other high-level, influential government official, would you conduct yourself as those in charge for the past 41 years have done?  I would be thoroughly disappointed if you even considered that a possibility.  I know any number of black Zimbabweans like you.  I know them well enough to have the confidence to say they are honorable men of high integrity and moral values.  Such men would rule fairly and honestly, and have respect not only for the people, but the laws of the land, as well. 

    Whether black, white, green, or blue, the matter is not color at all.  You state it well when you wrote, “One can never say, there were any other causal factors, except inaptitude and an insatiable greed for corruption.”  For clarity, I would only add “greed for power and wealth, and lack of respect for the human race”.  That’s it in a nutshell.  You’ve described perfectly those who have been in power in Zim and elsewhere.  They haven’t ruled well because that has never been their intent.  That’s not why they took up arms, or whatever method they used, to gain and secure their place.  Not at all for the people, or for the good of the nation… it’s only been for themselves.  

    Only when men of conviction to rule well, for the people and for the nation, come to power will a nation anywhere have freedom and prosperity… and it certainly won’t happen under ZANUPF and those like them. 

  • comment-avatar
    Doris 2 years ago


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    J. Matabeleland 2 years ago

    Seems that many of our people who had been equipped by education and a cosmopolitan disposition to maintain the commercial and social status quo after our independence, actually left Zimbabwe with the Rhodesians.

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    “The only thing required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.”
    Every Zimbabwean who considers themselves included that statement can make a decision to do something within their social and economic scope to change and improve their own patch. And I notice many are doing it, so everyone can join in.

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    Ndonga 2 years ago

    What could have been in Zimbabwe if we had been led by people with decency, honesty and integrity but sadly that did not happen.
    But what is more painful for me is that even as a young boy I could see that the our “Freedom Fighters” that moved among us in our “Struggle” were neither honest or had any integrity and even decency.
    I saw them steal and take from people who had nothing while they had plenty.
    I saw them demand and take “sleeping rights” with young school girls but I was always too afraid to say anything.
    But it troubled me and now I see that instead of bringing us freedom they brought us much worse than Smith did, and that was not always good.
    Now I am in exile and fear that I will die here and Zimbabwe will never be really free.
    Please keep writing Tendai as you give me some hope that Zimbabwe will flourish again and I can leave this cold and wet place I am in.