The debate on whether there is a crisis in Zimbabwe has been raging on ever since the early 2000s – and, is as old as whether targeted sanctions imposed on certain top individuals, or economic mismanagement, rampant corruption, and political instability were the cause of the country’s shamefully record-breaking economic downfall, from a once jewel of Africa (that the late Tanzanian iconic president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, once described as the ‘Switzerland of Africa’, when he warned the incoming post-independence ZANU PF government not to destroy, as if led by some prophetic anointing) into the ‘basket case of Africa’.
Surely, Nyerere has proven to be the only African statesman who had a genuine love for the people of Zimbabwe – as he has been the lone voice, true to his Mwalimu title (which is Swahili for ‘teacher’), in doing his best in teaching his fellow leaders in Zimbabwe not to betray the cause of the liberation struggle, which was to ensure a dignified, respectable, and prosperous life for all citizens – considering that there has never been a similar voice of reason and wisdom, as witnessed by the worrisome Hitler-like appeasement policy, whereby other continental and regional leaders have preferred to look the other way, and desist from taking any firm stance against a clearly brutal, oppressive, and corrupt regime that cares nothing about the welfare of its people.
Honestly, how can any leader who is sincerely concerned about the livelihoods of the people of Zimbabwe – and, any other person across the world – do nothing, or say nothing concrete in tackling the cause behind their untold suffering and impoverishment?
Do we not make noise over the repressive and apartheid polices of Israel upon the Palestinians? Do we not say so much against Morocco’s occupation of the Saharawi? Do we not condemn the systemic racism in the United States of America (USA) against the largely minority people of colour’? Do we not rebuke the anti-immigrant and xenophobic tendencies of some right-wing European governments?
Why, then, do we keep quiet when a fellow African state apparently finds unbridled psychopathic pleasure in plundering the country’s resources, such that the vast majority of the citizenry is left destitute, whilst savagely and barbarously suppressing any who may attempt to speak out, and stand up, against such brazen greed, selfishness, and cruelty?
As that is exactly what we witness with regards to Zimbabwe, with both continental and regional leaders – unlike the great leader Nyerere – pretending as if they do not see what is taking place.
Well, if the people of South Africa – Zimbabwe’s southern neighbour, where over three million impoverished and suffering citizens have fled to, both legally and illegally – still claim not to understand the presence of any real crisis in their neighbour’s home, then they need to take a trip to the Beitbridge border post, which separates the two countries, where they will be met by thousands upon thousands of desperate Zimbabweans, eager to leave the ‘hell on earth’, that their own leaders have evilly cast them into.
Travel between countries is a normal phenomenon – most particularly, under this global village we now live in – but, when a people become so desperate to flee their homeland, at any expense, and taking the most perilous risks, no matter how dangerous (crossing the heavily flowing and crocodile-infested Limpopo River, some with babies strapped on their backs), then there is a real crisis, which demands urgent and serious attention.
I am reminded when we moved to Redcliff soon after Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, where we had an alcoholic and very abusive neighbour – such that, all too often, his beaten up wife and children (who were of a similar age as I – around seven years old), would run screaming into our home, seeking refuge, and requesting to use our telephone to call the police
The traumatized, shaken, and tearful mother and children would then hide in the adjacent bush – since, they knew that their abusive and drunk husband and father would follow them to our house, and possibly cause more harm – as they fearfully waited for the police to arrive.
How would we have characterized this family’s plight? Was there any doubt that there was a huge crisis in that home? As responsible neighbours, were we not obliged to assist – not only in providing refuge to these battered and bruised wife and children, but also help bring to an end this abuse, by taking firm and uncompromising appropriate legal action against the perpetrator?
What manner of neighbours would we have been, had we simply looked aside, claiming that this was purely a ‘domestic issue’, which we had no business interfering in?
There is no such thing as ‘interfering’ when the lives of innocent people are at stake. A caring, loving, and responsible neighbour would never wait to be invited by the abuser and perpetrator to interfere. That would be utterly ridiculous, and possibly making the neighbour complicit and culpable in the abuse – akin to a person who merely watches someone drowning in a river, is also to blame for the resultant death.
As South Africa, the southern African region, and the world at large, lamely watch the painful and desperate happenings at the Beitbridge border post, no one can deny that there is a serious crisis in Zimbabwe – which demands immediate, swift, and bold intervention because this is not about the ruling elite, but the suffering and impoverished citizenry, whose only desire is to live a dignified, respectable, and prosperous life in their our homeland – yet, cruelly denied this God-given right by a regime that knows nothing else, but to steal, kill, and destroy…something Mwalimu Julius Nyerere possibly foresaw four decades ago.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263733399640 / +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975, or email: email@example.com