Last week, when my mother and I were walking in the city of Kwekwe CBD, we overheard one of the numerous street vendors loudly proclaiming, “Nyika ino iri padivi pegeyena chete” – which translated literally means, “this country sits on the verge of hell”.
Of course, my mother and I – including all those within earshot of this quick-witted remark – had a hearty laugh.
In spite of the loaded truth behind this cry of anguish and despondency – in real Zimbabwean fashion, we always find a humorous way around our suffering, as a way to dampen the pain – and true to nature, laughter is the best medicine.
As we walked away, my mother threw in her own banter by saying, “I’m sure if a Zimbabwean were to be adjudged by God to a life in hell, his best defence would be that he had already lived in hell, whilst still on earth”.
In the midst of this good humor, and a well-deserved laugh – in a life of seemingly never-ending affliction and torment, whose country’s economy appears determined by the force of gravity, and only knows how to go down – I could not help wondering who the street vendor voted for during the recent March 26 parliamentary and local government by-elections.
As is common knowledge – and, the t-shirts telling the story – most of those allowed to freely operate in undesignated areas, albeit illegally, within the city centre, are usually ruling ZANU PF supporters.
No wonder, when the party lost the seats in contention in Kwekwe, some of these vendors were forced out of business, on accusations of “selling out” by voting for the newly-birthed opposition CCC – regardless of one’s electoral decision supposedly being a secret.
Nonetheless, whether these vendors (or, anyone else who publicly purport to be ZANU PF avid loyalists) are genuine in their pronouncements, or merely pretending in order to make a living (and, voting for the opposition when it matters the most) – it is undeniable that there are still those who vote for the ruling party.
As such, it then begs the question – why cry of living next to hell, when he chose to be in that torturous and unbearable place of wrenchedness, by deliberately and voluntarily electing into office a political party, whose disgraceful 42-year-long record is filled with killing, stealing, and destroying…an apt description of the devil himself?
Surely, what did he, and others of his ilk, expect?
It would have been totally understandable had these people in power been an entirely new and untested group – having been given a chance to govern in order to prove their mantle – yet, were clearly finding the going tough.
However, this is undoubtedly not the case – considering that, this regime is led by the same faces who have been hogging the echelons of power for the past 42 years, since Zimbabwe broke free from British rule in 1980, with the same ideology of self-serving interests, characterized by gross incompetence, rampant corruption, with a propensity for divisiveness and toxic politics.
Thus, how can someone sit on the street of a city, selling whatever wares he may have on offer, and complain of living on the edge of hell – when, in all probability, he placed his precious X next to the authors of his misery?
What is there that such people fail to understand?
Who does not know how this once prosperous country has been on a downward spiral well before the supposed sanctions by western states were imposed in the early 2000s?
Who has forgotten why the then MDC (led by Morgan Richard Tsvangirai) received such overwhelming support from Zimbabweans in 1999 – and, nearly defeating ZANU PF the very next year in the June 2000 general elections?
In fact, even today – with all this talk of “sanctions” – all those I have had the privilege of engaging with, have totally fallen short of linking all the myriad of challenges we face on a daily basis to these alleged economic restrictions.
I am one person who loves incontrovertible proof, in our intellectual discussions – as the usual generalizations do not hold water with me – but, I have never come across anyone who has been able to link each and every problem we have in Zimbabwe to a particular restriction.
No one can even explain to me why challenges faced in urban areas, such as the perennial water crises, unrepaired roads and street lights, are as a result of mismanagement and corruption by opposition-run local authorities – yet, electricity, educational and medical material shortages, as well as the ever-depreciating local currency (leading to high inflation and unaffordability of most basic necessities), and joblessness in the country, are all faulted on sanctions.
As I have learnt over the cause of time – something that does not make sense is usually a lie.
With that in mind, I still find it extremely difficult to understand why anyone, especially those who are suffering untold impoverishment in Zimbabwe, would still be voting for those with a long shameful track record of unfulfilled promises, ruinous policies, and utter inaptitude – which have combined to bring down a country that once stood unshakable and overcame real UN economic sanctions imposed in 1965, after the UDI by Rhodesia’s then prime minister Ian Douglas Smith.
If anything, the country prospered and achieved phenomenal success – amidst, this economic and trade embargo, and a liberation war raging in most parts – being listed amongst the strongest performing on the continent.
This was certainly no mean feat – considering that, the best of countries, more so not even under the yoke of sanctions, can easily be brought to her knees in the face of war.
Unless, if we are to conclude that the liberation struggle was basically ineffectual, and did not have much of an impact on Rhodesia.
This is the country we inherited in 1980 – and, in spite of living off the remanents of this Rhodesian success story for the better part of the first two decades (regardless of the already prevalent gross misgovernance and high-level corruption), the bottom could not hold for too long, and the consequences of such failings eventually come out.
What sense it there in then complaining of a problem one caused for himself?
There is a Shona adage, “kurumwa nechekuchera” – which loosely translated means, “being bitten by what one dug up” – in other words, suffering the consequences of one’s own actions and decisions.
This is, indeed, what most of us, especially those who voted for the disastrous ZANU PF, are going through today – as they moan of the unbearable scorching economic heat, in a Zimbabwe sitting next to hell!
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org