via Mugabe is a hypocrite – The Zimbabwean 31/01/2016 by Mutsa Murenje
It isn’t, hasn’t been and won’t be about a prophet not having honour in his home country. It’s about our lived experiences. I am not influenced by standing ovations by people who don’t share our daily struggles but by the very struggles that our daily lives have come to be associated with. It’s unfair and quite hypocritical for President Robert Mugabe to call for reforms in the United Nations Security Council yet he himself and his violent party are refusing to institute the necessary political and economic reforms that can qualitatively and quantitatively change our lives. Hear me for my cause dear beloved reader.
I am a Zimbabwean and always will be one. I love my country and its people. Any caring and concerned citizen would be angry with the state of affairs in our country. Being outside the country is a deliberate decision that I have taken in an attempt to not only achieve personal and professional development but to also contribute to the social, political and economic development of my country. Being here enables one to hone their skills so that instead of complaining about brain drain, we also will be talking about brain gain. There are plenty of opportunities out here for people who know what they want in life and it is these opportunities that we have always shared with like-minded citizens so that we will become a community of learned and committed citizens who will bring about the necessary changes to the way we do things in our country. It is our sincere hope that after having gone through copious and elegant manuscripts, we will be able to put the highest standards of academic excellence in the service of humanity.
We became independent in April 1980 after a protracted liberation struggle against the minority white government then led by Ian Smith. The presumption was that there would be a qualitative difference between life as lived in Rhodesia and life as lived in post-independent Zimbabwe. I don’t know much about what life was like before independence but overwhelming literature and narratives from those who lived in Rhodesia show beyond any iota of doubt that the Zimbabwe we live in today is far below Rhodesian standards despite the oppressive nature of the Smith regime. I don’t mean to praise the oppression we suffered but that if such a government was bad and evil and still managed to do well then we expect a lot more from our current leaders.
I was born and raised in Manesa village under Chief Mutema in Chipinge. Like most parts of the country, we receive annual rain in summer usually from October to March. Our winter is extremely cold and dry. We don’t have a huge piece of land but a very small portion left by our late father. Because our father passed away in our infancy, our family had to work hard on that small piece of land to enable us to meet the basic necessities of life. We used to produce tomatoes and for several years proceeds from the land have been able to make a fundamental contribution to household income. Those familiar with the environment are aware that I am talking about the whole Mutema Irrigation Scheme that we have always been proud to be associated with. However, despite the presence of Mr Mugabe in office from 1980, there hasn’t been any attempt to give us a decent road from Mutema turn off to Birchenough Bridge. This is a stretch of roughly 20km and yet the whole area subsists on agriculture for both commercial and subsistence purposes.
I am an advocate of land reform and rural development as migration controls in Africa but couldn’t it be that we are encouraging an exodus from our villages because the villagers increasingly feel they are treated differently from other villagers say in Zvimba where Mugabe comes from? In fact, our village has been deserted. Young people haven’t left for urban areas, they have all trekked to South Africa because they feel it is there where their economic needs will best be met! I still feel that our rural population census statistics are being manipulated by the ZANU PF government to make sure they rig elections. Our current population is estimated at 13 061 239 people. Of these, 6 280 539 are males while 6 780 700 are females. I doubt these figures, I really do. Will it then be unfair if I were to ask for a government that really worries about our development needs?
Honestly, is it too much for the people in Matabeleland to call for the government to seriously consider decentralisation because they can’t seem to see what the central government is doing to improve their lives? Why is it that we don’t receive standing ovations if we complain that our educated children cannot get jobs? Why is it a problem if we say we need to move from an authoritarian way of doing things to a more democratic way as seen in the most advanced parts of the world? Could it be that we are choosing to ignore the benefits that come with democracy and economic development?
Please help me, does it make any sense that we boast of having an above 90% literacy rate and yet our life expectancy is merely 38 years? If Mugabe was doing very well for us as citizens why then is it that millions of Zimbabweans have left the country for neighbouring countries though mostly to South Africa? Will I get standing ovations if I were to tell you that most of our people are confronted with material hardship, psychosocial stress and sexual and gender-based violence? It is a fact that because of ruinous government policies and actions, many Zimbabweans have begun engaging in negative coping mechanisms and survival strategies such as prostitution, exploitative labour, illegal farming and substance abuse. It is these matters that we need to attend to before we pay a lot of attention to standing ovations in foreign lands. We can only expect that from demagogues for that is what Mugabe is.
Finally, institute the necessary concrete and democratic reforms at home and refrain from all forms of partisanship. Accord all competing internal constituencies access to state resources as the lack of this lies at the heart of Africa’s conflicts and population movements. The struggle continues unabated!