I am sure most of those in my age group can still remember those weirdly strange questions we would ask each other whilst we were still primary school children – “Who would hurt you the most were they to pass away, your father or mother (brother or sister, or wife/husband or mother/father?”).
I honestly do not know why we would even think of such things – probably, just the usually over-creativity of the similarly over-active child’s mind – however, those questions were brought back into remembrance this morning when I was thinking on how our Zimbabwe regime had destroyed citizen’s lives and livelihood, such that I ended up uncomfortably wondering which was more devastating for the people of Zimbabwe…their own government, or the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just as those troubling childhood questions, this was not easy to answer, as both this ravaging pandemic – that has mercilessly cut short the lives of numerous Zimbabweans (accumulative deaths from March 2020 till yesterday being 1,574), and the country’s ruling elite (who have presided over the demise of the once prosperous economy, leading to untold suffering and unspeakable poverty) have seemingly competed in ensuring that we never enjoy even a single day of peace and tranquility – that is, if we are fortunate enough to even see the next day.
In my disturbing thoughts this morning, which I believe was quite understandable as to why I would go that route, I pondered how a small group of people (who call themselves our leaders) could – like a microscopic virus – manage to ruin the lives of over 15 million of the country’s innocent citizens.
Indeed, the COVID-19 virus has unleashed its wrath on an unacceptable number (1,574) of Zimbabweans, nonetheless, we can not ignore that, at least, of the total accumulative cases of 38,357, the recovery rate is an encouraging 93 percent – which renders this child’s play (for lack of a more suitable word) compared to the lives this ruinous regime has cold-heartedly destroyed.
Who does not know the deplorable state of the country’s health care system, that this regime callously ignored and allowed to rot (with most once enviable hospitals dilapidated) – as those in power chose to regularly fly overseas to receive treatment, presumably even for a cough, at some of the most expensive facilities – yet, ordinary Zimbabweans were abandoned to the caprices of a lack of the most basic medications in our public hospitals and clinics, thereby left to perish in their homes, since they could not afford the exorbitant charges at privately-owned centres?
Does the government even care to know how many people actually died due to preventable conditions, as a result of their inability to procure essential medication, or pay for urgent and necessary procedures, such as the removal of certain cancerous tumors, or lack of ready access to dialysis for those with kidney ailments?
Are those in authority, who do not tire megaphoning just how much they have “improved” the welfare of Zimbabweans, aware of the exact number of unborn babies who died as a consequence of the unavailability of nearby health care facilities, especially when disaster struck in the middle of the night – for instance, a breached baby during labour, something that I personally experienced with my wife, when we lost our baby girl.
Yet, it is worse in the rural areas.
Let us move on to the issue of hunger. As much as the government may boast that they would never allow any Zimbabwean to die due to hunger, do we really know for sure if no one has died from this painful and cruel misfortune?
Be that as it may, hunger does not need to kill someone directly in the form of starvation, but can easily accomplish the exact results via various sicknesses caused by poor nutrition and a compromised immune system.
In fact, with a fairly large population of people living with HIV/AIDS in the country – whose immune systems need to always be at their optimum – a poor diet could very well be a death sentence…and, with such global institutions as the World Food Program (WFP) stating that over half of the country’s 15 million citizens were food insecure, how can the powers-that-be be so confident that those who passed away due to sickness, was not as a direct or indirect result of hunger – which the same WFP attributed to several causes, including recurring droughts, but also government incompetence and mismanagement?
We can move on to our youth, whose future has been destroyed through a dysfunctional economy, and an education system (once touted as one of the best on the African continent) being reduced to a laughing stock of the entire world – as teachers are shoddily paid and severely demoralized (thereby, incapacitated to even attend to lessons on a daily basis), thereby leaving pupils without much learning to talk about.
In the same vein, these children have since seen that there is practically nothing of worth awaiting them after their school life – as the economy has been crippled and comatosed by a ruling elite that thrives on grand looting of the country’s vast resources, whilst notorious for chronically flawed economic policies.
As such, these children have lost all hope of a bright and prosperous future, and have embarked on a dangerous occupation of being constantly immersed in sorrowful and sickening drug and substance abuse, whilst some engage in illegal alluvial gold mining (Makorokoza), and bus touts (Mahwindi) – yet, all with one thing in common… rampant criminality, either stealing (and even killing) in order to finance their addictions, or fighting over gold claims.
On the political front, we are faced with a government that has no qualms at all shooting to death protesters – as it places more value in property than in people’s lives – as witnessed by the cold-blooded killing of scores of people on 1 August 2018, and January 2019.
In all those cases highlighted in this piece, can we not conclude that thousands of Zimbabweans’ lives have been destroyed by this regime – to the point of directly or indirectly being led into their graves?
Is it not unequivocally clear that, due to unadulterated corruption, shameful incompetence, and barbaric brutality, far much more Zimbabweans have lost their lives at the hands of their own leaders, than the COVID-19 pandemic – such that, we have more to fear from our government than we have from this virus that have ravaged the entire globe.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263733399640, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org