ZIMBABWE has, in recent weeks, found itself in the grip of widely organised protests against the government’s monumental failure to deal with a plethora of issues affecting the citizenry since the end of the Government of National Unity in 2013.
Source: Nothing treasonous about demanding good governance – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 2, 2016
ZIMBABWE has, in recent weeks, found itself in the grip of widely organised protests against the government’s monumental failure to deal with a plethora of issues affecting the citizenry since the end of the Government of National Unity in 2013. Among the major issues are endemic corruption in government structures, escalating poverty, closure of industries, massive unemployment and the crackdown on vendors. The people of Zimbabwe have raised genuine concerns; concerns arising from the basic need to live. It is no rocket science that over 85% of Zimbabweans are jobless and, naturally, as breadwinners they have to vend to keep wolves away from their doors. However, this honest route of making a living has been thwarted and criminalised at every turn, with endless battles being fought between the police and vendors in the streets of Harare every week. Even the foiled march by unemployed university graduates last week is another clear indicator of the quandary that Zimbabweans are in: highly educated, but with nothing to do. Education should be a means to an end, not an end in itself. Virtually, everyone in this country — from the vendor, civil servant, businessman, entrepreneur to the honest person outside the elite governing group — is in the throes of the sickening business atmosphere created by the government. The difficulties facing industry are quite insurmountable resulting in the unavoidable retrenchment of men and women who should be fending for families. It’s sad, but industry can’t be faulted for trying to ensure survival under the circumstances. Zimbabwe is a country saddled with crisis after crisis. What is worse is that the government, in its wisdom or lack thereof, continues to make decisions that are revolting, almost insensitive to its long-suffering citizens like the ban on imports and the continued hounding of vendors.
GUEST COLUMN LEARNMORE ZUZE
Against this backcloth of an economy in disarray and a dying industry, it is quite depressing that when downtrodden people voice their concerns or ask for accountability from the government, they are labelled as rebellious and “foreign”. They are labelled as “not being part of us”. May be someone has to break down the word “us” for the generality of Zimbabweans to know. Honestly, isn’t it an insult on the highly-literate nation of Zimbabwe to suggest that each time people express dissatisfaction with the government they are being influenced by some third party?
Isn’t it tantamount to savaging Zimbabweans as imbeciles incapable of thinking on their own? Does it call for a third party to realise that the electorate was taken for a ride when it was promised an imaginary two million jobs? Are Zimbabweans so intellectually-dwarfed that they cannot see for themselves how self-defeating things like the indigenisation policy are? What do foreign nations have to do with people realising that the government tolerates the vice in its institutions? Surely, Zimbabweans are people with a mind of their own; impoverished they may be, but they are not blind to the excesses of the government and its propensity to blame everyone else for its inadequacies.
It’s the Zimbabwean citizen, not the American or British citizen, who feels and lives with the harsh reality of a crippling liquidity crunch. It is the Zimbabwean who has to deal with painful bank queues to withdraw paltry amounts. It’s the people of Zimbabwe, who face retrenchments and massive hardships daily and, as such, know what they mean when they demonstrate. No one needs to remind or tell Zimbabweans that they are being misgoverned; the reality is everywhere to anyone, who cares to visit Zimbabwe. Government must own up; it must accept responsibility and stop seeing shadows everywhere.
It is worrisome when the government stands ready to charge its citizens with legal instruments each time they exercise their constitutional right to demonstrate and petition (Section 59 of the Constitution). Yes, Zimbabweans have a right to demonstrate and petition peacefully. Yet for exercising this right they are threatened with attempting to subvert a constitutionally-elected government. The very national charter from which government draws its mandate to charge offenders justly grants citizens the right to protest and there is absolutely nothing criminal or “unZimbabwean” about demanding good governance. There is a world of difference between sabotaging a government and asking that a government performs to expectations. The threats, for example, levelled against Evan Mawarire are quite unfortunate and indicate intolerance to divergent views in a supposed democracy like Zimbabwe. Mawarire has the full support of the Constitution in calling for the government to act for the common good. He is well within his rights to demonstrate against corruption. What he has emphasised is a peaceful protest and one wonders how peaceful protests can destabilise a government. It’s the citizenry’s way of showing displeasure; the government does not govern robots, but people made up of flesh and blood with the ability to think; people who can see distinctly between right and wrong.
There is a world of difference between violent protests aimed at subversion and peaceful protests demanding the government to act for the good of all.
Demanding good governance is not treasonous.
Learnmore Zuze writes in his own capacity. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org