I knew no politics by 1980 because I was still too young. I remember well in the early 1980s we used to read about Mugabe and Nkomo but this history made little sense to our young apolitical minds by that time. However, what I remember very well is that Mugabe was a well-respected person, we knew him for his nice safari suits, goggles and his good speaking skills.
I would like to admit that apart from Gukurahundi, Mugabe’s rule in the 1980s was perfect. Mugabe built schools, clinics, roads, funded tertiary education, funded rural farmers through the Agricultural Finance Company (now Agribank), civil servants were well cared for, and our Zimdollar was very strong etcetera.
Nobody knows the real genesis of Zimbabwe’s challenges, but what we know is the introduction of ESAP in 1990, the introduction of repressive laws like AIPA and POSA, and the killing and persecution of political opponents in early 2000.
I remember one Sunday morning walking at Gokwe centre. I wasn’t aware that Tsvangirai had scheduled a rally that Sunday at Gokwe centre. Suddenly three Zanu-PF thugs demanded to see my “party” card. I haven’t bought a Zanu-PF card in my life and so I failed to produce the “party” card. They went on to ask me to tell them, my branch chairperson. I wasn’t a Zanu-PF supporter and so I couldn’t name any chairperson of any branch. I was beaten all over my body by feasts and one of them removed his hilled shoe and used the shoe to beat me on my face and head.
After their departure, I felt pain in my left arm. I thought my arm was broken and so I rushed to Gokwe Hospital. I was shocked by what I saw there. I saw tens of MDC youths severely injured just lying down on hospital floors, some with their clothes soaked in blood and some of them were completely naked. Their wounds looked as if the Zanu-PF thugs were using axes, pangas and some sharp objects on them.
The biggest surprise was that medical personnel at Gokwe Hospital were not attending to the injured MDC supporters. They were just watching them dying on the hospital floors. The Gokwe police failed to prevent Zanu-PF thugs from disturbing Tsvangirai’s rally. They only reacted after cars had been burnt and after people had been beaten. They were driving in their Santana picking the injured to the hospital. Violence perpetrators were never arrested.
As the country’s political violence continued unabated and Zimbabwe’s human rights continued to deteriorate and so was the national economy not spared. Shops were closed in 2008. The Zimbabwe dollar became valueless. I remember in 2008 when I went to South Africa for the first time, I went to the toilet to relieve myself at Musina Border Post I found hordes of the worthless Zimdollars used as toilet paper there. I was shocked!
There has been a single Zanu-PF since the 1987 Unity Accord. Later we started to read in the press of Zanu-PF factions. In 2008 there was Simba Makoni backed by Solomon Mujuru (according to the press). We later read about the Gamatox, then G40 and Lacoste. I am made to believe that these Zanu-PF factions had contributed immensely to our current political and economic challenges.
The Lacoste faction outfoxed all Zanu-PF factions with the help of the army in 2017 through a military coup which was declared ‘not a coup’ by the High Court. Today Zimbabwe has a government that is struggling to identify itself. Despite the fact that the current government forced Mugabe out of power for alleged incompetence the Zanu-PF party failed to fire him from party membership lists. The current government tries to associate itself with Mugabe’s legacy when it suits them but calls itself the ‘Second Republic’ the ‘New Dispensation’ when issues of corruption, human rights violation, economic instability and a number of social and developmental failures which started during the Mugabe era comes into question.
There is no new dispensation or second republic to talk about in Zimbabwe. Wasn’t Mugabe a Zanu-PF president? Wasn’t Ngwena elected at the Zanu-PF congress to replace Mugabe as both the party and state president? So is the current government new? Do we have in any way gained the ‘Second Republic’ status in 2017? Not all. We are being ruled by the same old faces of 2008. There is nothing new to talk about.
Maybe by using the terms ‘new’ and ‘second’ the current government is trying to tell the world that Ngwena will rule in a different manner than Mugabe but the biggest question remains, is he indeed ruling differently. If the answer is yes then why did the army kill innocent people on 2018 August 1 in Harare, why the same corrupt traffic officers of the Mugabe era back to their corrupt game? (the only difference being that now the corrupt traffic officers are backed by army personnel at roadblocks), why are our rural roads still impassable especially Gokwe, Sanyati and Binga roads? Why is there no real devolution taking place (the current devolution development fund is just a cover-up, real devolution as spelt in our constitution hasn’t taken place or will never happen), why are our industries still closed, why are our civil servants still earning peanuts, why are Zimbabweans still flocking to South Africa if our beautiful country is full of milk and honey? Why were victims of 2018 August 01 army killings not compensated in terms of the Montlante Commission recommendation.
I was in Kadoma in January 2021 and suddenly our attention was drawn to the presidential motorcade sirens. I was told Ngwena travels from Harare to his farm in Sherwood every weekend using the Harare-Bulawayo road. I wondered if Ngwena can travel at 120km/hour by his presidential motorcade by road from Kadoma to Sanyati Arda or from Kadoma via Venice Mine, Empress Mine, Masoro then Gokwe centre. I concluded that he won’t attempt to do that. ZINARA only services roads which the rich and powerful use. This government had completely forgotten remote villages in terms of the road network. Those areas are remembered during election time when they make trips to those areas using helicopters to go and make false promises which will be repeated after every five years but never fulfilled.
There was much debate when the current government indicated that it was ready to compensate white farmers or return the land back to whites. Progressive thinking Zimbabweans asked why compensate the ‘thief’. However, the greatest question was not asked. Why communal land is said to belong to the state while townland is privately owned. Look! We are all Zimbabweans but urban dwellers can buy or sell land but rural dwellers cannot buy or sell their land. One of the stanzas in our National Anthem reads as follows “Ilizwe labo koko betu tina sonke”, how then can this land belong to our forefathers if we can’t privately own it in rural areas. The state has appropriated the land of our forefathers’ thereby improvised rural communities but enriching the rich urban dwellers. Our constitution must be revisited. We want title deeds for our communal stands and farms, plots and gardens. There must not be inequalities in land ownership. If urban dwellers can have title deeds to their pieces of land, the same must happen to rural landowners. The so-called ‘new’ or the ‘second’ republic must look into this issue including giving title deeds to new farm owners.
The ‘new’ government had ignored or neglected to improve school infrastructure. One wonder who exactly must build or maintain school infrastructure between the SDCs and the government. I believe it is the responsibility of the government to build and maintain school infrastructure. In South Africa we see parents demonstrating against the department of education if school facilities are in bad shape but in Zimbabwe we were cheated into believing that it’s us parents who must build schools for our kids and not the government. The government must budget and give each school a developmental or capital budget. Our rural schools are in a mess. Some schools don’t have toilets, library buildings, classes don’t have doors (imagine a teaching in a classroom without a door or window panes), no water or electricity (not even a single solar panel to power the school head computer) it’s pathetic.
We were taught and we are always told that Zimbabwe is a rich country but one would wonder where this richness is amidst the miseries, poverty, sufferings, economic instability, poor roads and poor internet connectivity (especially in the rural areas).
In this paper, the author had pointed out where the current government had failed Zimbabweans. The article further points out inequalities between rural and urban dwellers in terms of land ownership and the reader will be left to think on his/her own whether there is light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the unending Zimbabwe’s political and economic challenges.
Etiwel Mutero is an archivist, political analyst and a Gokwe peasant farmer. [email protected], +263773614293 SMSs only
Ministry of Education,Arts & Culture
Source – Etiwel Mutero