As I was walking in the Kwekwe CBD, this past Friday, I came across a loyal reader of my articles, whom I know very well.
Tendai Ruben Mbofana
He was so excited about the Al Jazeera documentary exposing corruption, money laundering and gold smuggling involving high-ranking officials in Zimbabwe – which had been screened the previous day.
The first thing he wanted to know from me, immediately after the meeting, was whether I had already penned something about this shocking exposé – carried out by undercover investigative journalists over a two-year period.
I did not want to dampen his exuberance, so all I said was that I would look into it.
I am not sure if that response shocked him – since he justifiably concluded that such mind-blowing earthshattering revelations would automatically be the stuff that made my blood rush.
The same sentiments were, understandably, expressed by other readers and friends.
Indeed, they would have been correct – under normal circumstances.
However, in this regard, the situation was a bit different for me.
I just did not feel the same enthusiasm, as everyone else.
In fact, after watching the documentary, I was overcome with a deep sense of depression – at seeing with my own eyes the extent of the alarming looting of our national resources, in this case, gold, by those connected to power.
In spite of having written a lot about such grand plunder of our national resources by the political elite for years – nothing beats actually witnessing it in full view – right there, as these despicable criminals and crooks spoke about their dirty deeds, and actually filmed busy at work.
What even got me riled up was the manner in which they appeared exceedingly and unashamedly proud of their nefarious activities – regardless of the damage this caused to the country.
Even today, a good three days later, I am still stunned as to how there could be such wicked and evil people on earth – who have been overcome by pure unadulterated greed and lust for personal wealth – that they are willing to cause unimaginable ruin to our country, as well as untold suffering upon millions of ordinary Zimbabweans.
Nevertheless, that was not the reason I had not written anything on this so-called ‘Gold Mafia’ – which is prejudicing Zimbabwe of more than US$100 million each month through gold smuggling, and driving the ordinary citizenry down the pit of indescribable poverty.
As a matter of fact, what is contained in this four-part documentary is only a tiny fraction of the tip of the iceberg of the unbelievable magnitude of the plunder taking place in this country.
What left me totally dejected, though, was the knowledge that – despite this most commendable work by our fellow journalists from Al Jazeera – that was as far as this entire rotten affair was to go.
There was truly nothing more to expect from Zimbabweans – who are the main victims of this looting, and finding each waking moment a daily struggle.
Of course, deep down I silently wished that this time around I would be proven wrong.
Nonetheless, three days down the line – we are going about our everyday affairs as if all was well – without a care in the world!
I wonder why Al Jazeera even bothered undertaking this thankless task – expending and investing so much time, effort and money (even risking their lives, had these journalists been exposed) – in a project that would likely never be received with the seriousness it deserved by ordinary Zimbabweans.
My fervent prayer is that they, at least, somehow recoup their expenses from this piece of outstanding journalistic brilliance.
As far as helping ordinary Zimbabweans come out of the misery callously orchestrated by these thieving people is concerned – both history, and the past few days, have already proven that we are an unhelpable lot, who are unable to stand up for ourselves, and the futures of our children and grandchildren – whose lives are being wantonly destroyed before some have even been born yet.
As to be expected, this documentary has only managed to be a source of excitable social media, street and household conversation.
Yet, there is really nothing to expect from Zimbabweans beyond that!
No action. No rage.
When I was listening to an audio recording making the rounds, in which the female speaker was ranting and raving against the exposé – thereafter, referring to Zimbabweans as ‘dunderheads’ and ‘ignorant fools’ – I could not help wondering if there was not some truth to these insults, as much as they were so painful to hear.
Surely, what type of people would watch such massive looting of their own resources – which directly impacts their livelihoods in a most harrowing way – but, still see no reason to be engaged?
When I mentioned this yesterday, I was not particularly surprised in receiving the usual excuse – fear.
Zimbabweans are so fond of, and have somehow found solace in this disturbing comfort zone – whereby, we simply cite the fear of the brutal regime, in what clearly appears as something we now regard as a plausible justification.
These are times I really question whether Zimbabweans were the ones who actually waged the liberation struggle against an equally heinous colonial Rhodesia regime – or, did Mozambicans, or other nationals do the fighting for us?
Furthermore, in this instance, no one in his right mind is even calling upon anyone to take up arms, or go on a rampage, or even undertake street protests – as we are fully aware of how that will most likely end.
Who can forget 1 August 2018, or 14 January 2019 – whereby, scores of unarmed protestors were gunned down, in cold blood, as they fled trigger-happy security forces – who had been deployed to crash demonstrations?
However, that can never, and should never, be an excuse to simply fold our arms, whilst those in power turn our lives upside down, through their own insatiable greed for self-aggrandizement.
I honestly can not understand why we do not even bother trying other non-confrontational means of expressing our displeasure and outright rage at this looting by those in power.
What is so terrifying about staying in our homes for an agreed concerted length of time, as we grind the country to a halt, as a form of piling pressure on this criminal regime?
Only last week, South Africans staged a very successful national shutdown – called for by opposition EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) leader Julius Malema – in order to force the President Cyril Ramaphosa administration to seriously address the long-running electricity crisis crippling their country.
Of course, results can not be expected after a single event – but, such a massive display of strength is a powerful first step.
If only one event was enough to bring the much-needed change – then, Zimbabwe would have attained her independence soon after the Sinoia (Chinhoyi) Battle – in which, a small unit of liberation fighters engaged Rhodesian forces on 28 April 1966, but were all killed.
This can never be regarded as a monumental failure or even an ill-conceived idea – but, will always be recorded in history as a powerful signal of the unflinching courageous desire for independence by the
people of Zimbabwe – resulting in a much larger, better equipped and strategized protracted armed struggle.
So, it does not make any sense to me, when we refuse to stand up for ourselves as the oppressed, impoverished and marginalized people of Zimbabwe – by disingenuously claiming that such mass action, as nation stayaways, will not change anything.
Indeed, a national stay away, no matter how impactful, may not seriously be expected to force a stop to those plundering our resources, or immediately put an end to all those flights to Dubai (UAE).
Nevertheless, it will give those in power cause for concern, and serve as a loud warning for further action – should the people’s demands not be heeded.
What will give these kleptomaniacs sleepless nights – when it is clear that we will not do anything about this looting – and, in all likelihood, all this noise will have died down, and even forgotten, in just a month or so?
If anything, what makes us think that the same government and ruling elite behind this thievery will ever hold those exposed in the documentary to account – more so, in the absence of any meaningful pressure from the citizenry?
Maybe, one or two may be used as sacrificial lambs, through some cosmetic dismissals or prolonged court cases that go nowhere – as witnessed with the US$60 million COVID-19 PPE (personal protective equipment) scandal in 2021 – where no one was really held to account, in spite of the sacking of health minister Obadiah Moyo.
As long as we sit back, always making excuses for our docility and passiveness – then, maybe we are, indeed, nothing more than ‘dunderheads and ignorant fools’.
Honestly, if we do not believe such peaceful non-confrontational mass action as stay aways will work – why, then, do we think making noise on social media, or penning endless articles, which hardly touch those in power – will yield any positive results?
That is the main reason I never really felt the need to jump onto the feverish excitement over the airing of this Al Jazeera documentary – since, I knew that, the only thing we will do is talk, talk and talk – with practically no action to buttress than talk.
I may be a prolific writer – penning articles nearly on a daily basis – but, I do not do this for fun, or as some hobby to while up time.
I write with the hope of motivating Zimbabweans into real meaningful action that will finally end our misery and suffering – as we pile irresistible unbearable pressure on those causing our poverty.
Writing articles in newspapers, or posting protest messages on social media has its own place – nonetheless, it becomes moot, pointless, and a sheer waste of time, if not followed by a courageous show of strength on the ground.
Surely, what is the point in shouting on rooftops about corruption in Zimbabwe – especially, after this Al Jazeera documentary – when we are not ready to take the necessary action?
Zvirinani tinyarare zvedu!
It makes more sense if we kept quiet, and got used to our continued suffering – whilst, we allowed those in power to do whatsoever pleased them.
Is that what our passivity actually means?
Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: email@example.com