Tendai Ruben Mbofana
Out of the blue, I received two pleasantly surprising messages from members of the ruling ZANU PF, one of whom I have been communicating with and debating over some of my writings – yet, this time around, carrying words of support for the work I was doing, and motivating me to keep going.
The first contained these touching words, in response to an article I penned, titled, ‘Why does ZANU PF become so bitterly angry with those desiring Zimbabwe to succeed’:
“Hello my brother. As a ZANU PF member l felt a myriad of emotions after reading your piece on patriotism ranging from sadness, anger and shame. The problem in our party is that of greed and fear of the next person.
“Members always fall over each other whenever an authority pops up, in order to show what a loyal and patriotic member one is, and therefore worth to also be considered when the feeding trough is filled up.
“No one is brave enough to say the truth lest one is deemed a ‘mutengesi’ (sellout), something that is so horrendous even to contemplate. So we talk no evil, hear no evil and see no evil. That way, shameful though it may sound, we hope to survive.”
Then, the second message from another reader (a liberation war veteran) was as follows, although I have omitted huge chunks, for reasons of space:
“Your presentation is quite plausible. The naked truth is that our rulers do not want people to know the real situation in the country; they love to lie, and pretend. When you see the lie and grumble, you are automatically labeled ‘unpatriotic’.
“During the armed struggle, we were taught to lie, to give false information to the white soldiers who fought against our brothers . That falsification was part of our struggle, and we were all liars, drunk with enthusiasm for national freedom.
“But now, being in new Zimbabwe, those years of lying and pretending mustn’t be re-lived and used amongst ourselves. What will our dear children learn of us if we give them a scorpion for a fish?”
Hearing these refreshingly honest words was so touching, and yet at the same time, disturbing – since they made me wonder exactly where we were going as a nation with such shameful levels of fear, lies, greed and selfishness within our people.
What I found rather inspiring in these two sets of messages, though, was the fact that there are clearly some within the ruling party awakening to the realities in this country, and the real reasons we are in this miserable predicament as a nation.
Yet, why is it taking so long for more and more ordinary Zimbabweans to realize this fact – that we are all victims of oppression and marginalization by the ruling elite, irrespective of political affiliation – such that, we all need to stand together in unity, rather than allow ourselves to be divided by those in power?
The answer lies in the deep hole of sickening and destructive polarization, into which our nation has been thrown.
This can even be seen in the first reader that I quoted.
As I mentioned before, we had already been communicating prior to his latest message – however, our initial interaction was more on the aggressive side – since, due to the nature of my articles he had read, which castigated the political elite, he automatically assumed I was an opposition supporter.
Tragically, the knee-jerk reaction by those in ZANU PF is always to attack, mercilessly and viciously, any perceived ‘enemy’ – regardless whether what had been said was factual or not.
As such, many of my articles’ readers erroneously conclude that I am a staunch opposition (CCC/MDC or whatever brand) sycophant, as well as a ‘western puppet’.
In fact, this error of judgment is also to be found in the opposition camp itself.
On a local level, in my hometown of Redcliff, I am more known for my relentless and fearless exposing and condemnation for our corrupt and inept opposition-led council.
In so doing, those who have never come across my articles that are published at national or international level – which predominantly speak against the government – strangely believe I am actually a ZANU PF follower.
Some have even gone to the extent of suggesting they introduce me to President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa – since, our district of Kwekwe is also his hometown – so that we can work together in bringing sanity to Redcliff!
In all these weird occurrence, what I find most worrisome and unsettling is why, as the people of Zimbabwe, we have allowed ourselves to be reduced to partisan animals?
How did we get to this point, where we only see the country through the lens and colors of political parties?
Whatsoever happened to pure patriotism – in which, the only thing that drives, motivates and guides us is the love for our country, and to see all its people living in dignity and comfort?
Had we all been inspired by this uncompromising sense of patriotism and an unflinching love for social justice – we would have never been reduced to seeing our dilemma in Zimbabwe only as ZANU PF versus CCC versus MDC versus whatever other parties there are.
We would have been ferociously opposed to any forms of oppression and injustice – regardless of the perpetrator or instigator, and what color shirt he or she was wearing.
I am quite convinced this was the case with those two ZANU PF members, who sent me the highlighted messages – as it finally dawned on them that my passion and activism was not motivated by any partisan considerations – but, a genuine love for my country and people.
We need to come to a place, as the people of Zimbabwe, where we loath oppression and injustice with such fire, that we stand up together as one people against anyone in authority who may make our lives and livelihoods miserable.
It should never matter whether those authoring our pain and suffering are ZANU PF, CCC, MDC, NCA, or whatever cloak they may don.
If only we realized that the source of our daily struggles was largely those in power – be it on the national level (ruling party), who have callously destroyed our once prosperous ‘jewel of Africa’ into a basket case – or, local authorities (opposition) that have turned our formerly glittering towns and cities into inhabitable shantytowns.
In order words, we the people are on one sides – whilst, the political elite are on the other.
That is why – in spite of the vicious fights we have witness between our main political players – when it comes to the looting and sharing of our national treasures (in the midst of untold poverty faced in the country) they suddenly come together, singing from one hymn sheet, in complete unison.
Which shows us that, their differences have really nothing to do with the ordinary people’s welfare – but, more to do with the fight for power and political dominion.
So why, then, do we allow them to use us as pawns in their little political games?
Do we not feel ashamed when we even go as far as defending this oppression, incompetence and looting – which is causing our own suffering – simply because it is at the hands of those leaders we support, for whom we end up shielding and making excuses?
How long will it take us to wake up to this truth?
Instead of fighting amongst ourselves – a typical divide and conquer tactic – we need to finally awaken to this brutal fact that…politicians are never for us, but only care for themselves.
We are merely a necessary tool in the attainment of their own self-serving goals, through our voting for them during elections.
That is why they need to come to us – usually only at election time – with all their empty promises, as well as their faked love and concern for us.
Yet, we keep falling for this trick, time and time again!
When will we learn?
Will it take one, two or three generations from now, for Zimbabweans to finally band together in standing up for our rights – be it at national or local level?
The only reason we are not making any progress in demanding justice from our leaders – thereby, sinking deeper into the abyss of poverty and suffering – is our own disunity, and permitting politicians to divide us.
I strongly believe that, had we stood together as one nation – all these challenges and crises we cry about each and every day, would have long been a thing of the past.
However, sad as it may be for me to admit – our supposed misfortunes will be not leaving us any time soon.
Instead, for as long as we continue this way – we, our children, and their children will always be moaning over how life in Zimbabwe is so unbearable.
- 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