Euphemisms have been with us for as long as language has existed – from the time humans began communicating with each other through speech.
As the art of language advanced, the use of euphemism – as a tactical way in which to express something in a more acceptable, and oftentimes in order to hide something’s real adverse gravity – also became more sophisticated, and even comedic.
How many times has some unemployed person said he was currently “in-between jobs”, or someone broke claimed to be “financially constrained”?
We have witnessed a similar trend in other facets of life – with prostitutes being referred to as “commercial sex workers”, or dying being described as “passing away’.
Zimbabwe has not been left out – with the government playing a leading role in employing euphemisms to hide its long-running failures in fulfilling its lofty promises of uplifting the citizenry’s livelihoods, and a prosperous stable middle income economy.
How else can we describe a ruling establishment that comes into power promising “castles in the air” – more specifically, the current crop that grabbed power through a military coup d’etat in November 2017 – touting themselves as a “new dispensation”, regardless of the fact that these have been the same faces we have seen in leadership since Zimbabwe attained independence in 1980?
Did they not proclaim themselves as “hitting the ground running” – promising to quickly stabilize the economy (specifically, after the ill-considered reintroduction of the local currency), vowing to construct 1.5 million houses before 2023 (at an alarming average rate of 821 per day), “opening Zimbabwe for business” (with assurances of millions of well-paying jobs, especially for the youth)?
Yet, is the local currency – which was at one point disingenuously packaged as the “strongest in the region” – arguably the weakest not only in the region, but also the continent…whose value has been nosediving at a frightening speed, even at the questionable state-run foreign currency auction?
Are Zimbabweans not poorer than what they were only four years ago – when the so-called “Second Republic came office – with over 7.9 million people (more than half the population) being classified as extremely poor (earning less than USD1.90 per day, according to both the UN and World Bank), and more than 75% per cent living under the poverty datum line?
Did civil servants – who earned an average of USD540 in 2018 – not hopelessly watch their salaries being callously reduced to less than USD200…a catastrophe that also befell the rest of the employed, and those operating private business entities, whose savings and earnings were wiped out seemingly overnight?
Therefore, when the ruling elite loudly proclaim that they are “building the country brick by brick” – what does that actually mean?
What changed from “hitting the ground running” and promises of constructing nearly a thousand houses a day, and the assurances (repeated every year since 2019) of stabilizing the local currency and harnessing inflation – to “building brick by brick”?
Are these statements not poles apart – and, can even be characterized as contradictory?
One can not claim to be sprinting – then, suddenly change tune, and say he is actually simply taking a lazy stroll.
What, then, is the truth?
That is why this whole “building the country brick by brick” is nothing more than a sick euphemism intended to hide the dismal failures – whilst, packaging this as some slow progress, but progress all the same.
Let us be frank with each other as a nation – we are not progressing anywhere…no matter how slow or negligible.
As a matter of fact, any discernable movement has been backwards.
How else can we describe someone who earned USD540 in 2019, now receiving less than USD200?
Can this ever be labelled as “building brick by brick” – no matter how creative one wants to be with the English language?
It would have been more believable had those in power called this, “demolishing the country brick by brick” – although, I have often said, “wall by wall”.
The government of Zimbabwe should stop hiding behind a finger, in its shameful attempts at deceiving the citizenry.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: email@example.com