As much as I pray each day for God Almighty to strengthen Zimbabweans so that we finally have the boldness, decency, and self-respect to stand up, in demanding our rights for a divinely-appointed dignified, respectable, and honourable life – that we so richly deserve, yet denied by a ruthless, cowardly, and corrupt ruling elite – there is always someone, or some people, out there, who seem intent in going against these earnest prayers, through their cowardice, quivering, and wavering – which, appears, to know no bounds.
The latest, in this never-ending string of unparalleled cowardice – with each episode being worse than the last, with maddening regularity – is the reported about-turn by nurses, who are said to have issued a shameless apology to the ministry of health and child care, for demanding salary increments, personal protective equipment (PPEs), and improved working conditions…including a return to flexible working hours, which their minister (Constantino Chiwenga) had revoked, in spite of there being a prior contract between the employer and employees.
Initially, I assumed this was just another prank by malicious peddlers of lies – especially, in this age of fake news – but, the more I studied this matter, the more I was convinced that it was true.
Of course, I am still praying that this will, eventually, turn out to have been one huge misunderstanding.
However, as the situation pertains, I am still gravely petrified and dumbfounded, as to exactly why extremely underpaid, overworked, and ill-treated workers – who, since June 18 this year, and other numerous times before, had embarked on protracted industrial action, demanding their God-given rights from their employer (the government of Zimbabwe) – had suddenly found it ‘prudent’ to relinquish this struggle, fall on their knees, and beg for mercy.
Surely, 1,110 nurses, out of the 1,200 employed at one of the largest public health care facilities in the country (Sally Mugabe Central Hospital) – who are said to have rescinded on their dignity and worthy cause – is not something to be taken lightly.
To add insult to injury, these same nurses had, in last month’s (November) high court ruling, effectively won their case challenging the health minister’s unilateral cancellation of the flexible working hours arrangement between the nurses and government – yet, in what can only be described as twisted, perplexing, and inexplicable, they turn around, apologize for winning their case, and promise to comply with the illegal move by their employer.
Talk about ‘shave reurombo’ – Shona idiom, referring to someone who acts as if possessed by some malevolent spirit of self-inflicted poverty.
Honestly, why – after going through that commendable, self-respecting, and, most times, perilous successful journey of industrial action, and litigation against their employer – wake up one morning and decide that they were no longer interested in a better livelihood – yet, in the same breath, declaring their preparedness in pursuing an “amicable resolution to problems”?
What “amicable resolution to problems” do they truly expect – considering that the main reason they undertook these actions, in the first place, was largely due to their employer’s arrogance, stubbornness, and unwillingness for an “amicable resolution to problems”?
Are we, as Zimbabweans, then to be taken seriously – if this is the seriousness, or lack of, that we perceive our God-given rights to a dignified, respectable, and honourable life?
Were these nurses threatened – taking into account that their minister is a feared former military general, known to have led the coup d’etat, that ousted the late ruthless tyrant Robert Gabriel Mugabe in November 2017?
If that is the case, then we are a lost, hopeless, and ‘future-less’ nation – as, there can never be a prosperous, democratic, and developed society, without a people who have the guts to fearlessly and unwaveringly stand up, and speak up for their rights – no matter the consequences, and the apparently menacing nature of their leaders.
Need we be reminded that, even those in the so-called ‘developed’ and ‘democratic’ world, did not get these rights on a silver platter – but, unflinchingly and gallantly ‘fought’ for them at the dawn of their republics, having suffered untold brutality, corruption, and injustices at the hands of their tyrannical leaders, usually monarchies…and, are still struggling for a better life, as witnessed by the likes of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States of America, in the face of police brutality.
Therefore, I always find it utterly ridiculous and laughable how we, in Zimbabwe, are so prone to envy these nations – and, like making comparisons with them, against our own sorry state – yet, without appreciating how they attained such a livelihood.
Any people who are prepared to compromise on their God-given rights, also deserve compromised rights. Half-baked action, always breeds half-baked results. As we can not have it both ways.
The world does not work that way. It is akin to a fish craving a successful life on dry land.
It is time that Zimbabweans were clear – firstly, within each and every individual’s own heart – as to exactly what we want in our lives, and this great country. Once we know that, we then, have to be brutally honest, within ourselves, whether we know what it will take to achieve this desire, and are prepared to do so.
If we are not, then, please let us stop fooling ourselves that this ‘dream life’ will ever be attained – as those who choose to sleep, will not reap. It is as simply as that
The time has come, when we stopped always pointing the finger at the government for our suffering, as we need to grow up, and own up for our own role in this.
We are culpable, by virtue of our own cowardice, and that blame can not be transfered onto anyone else.
We can not have our cake, and eat it at the same time. What do we really want as Zimbabweans? Do we even know?
© 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, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.