HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsDependency — the art of losing self-dignity

Dependency — the art of losing self-dignity


I was in Bulawayo recently to attend a youth meeting where the common refrain from many who spoke was the need for government “to help young people start income-generating projects (This has become such a cliché)”.

The youths, most of them university graduates, displayed stunning hopelessness and they firmly believe in some form of messianic fervour from government which should give them loans, grants, tools, market stalls, jobs and anything to take them out of their misery.

To an extent, the youths are right considering the high unemployment bedevilling this country due to depressed capacity employment in industry, low appetite for goods and services and the paucity of cheap finance on the market.

At the meeting, a colleague made an interesting observation. She singled out one young lady with a hairstyle which I heard cost the same as a government teacher’s salary.

The trendy youth had made a passionate speech expressing her hopeless situation and advertising herself as a charity case.

Yes, she needs help to do something that would give her a living wage, but, more importantly, I felt she needed someone to help her to change her hairstyle first and concomitantly her lifestyle and priorities.

At the same meeting a young man lamely asked a diplomat present what his country was doing to help improve the education system in the country. My foot!

This country has a problem which must be exorcised for us to achieve meaningful development. We have become a nation that is fascinated with material things like expensive phones, fancy clothing, jewellery, cars and so on.

Most of the time we cannot afford these and we depend on outsiders for help. We have developed attitudes and a belief that we cannot solve our problems. This is a weakness that is made worse by charity.

Zimbabweans today have a strange belief that saving money and investing is the preserve of the rich only.

They believe low wage earners cannot save, but can buy gadgets and drink themselves into a coma every time they have an extra dollar.

The annual spendfest by tobacco farmers is emblematic here. As soon as they get cash, they rush to buy cars, electric gadgets or marry another wife. Many of the farmers do not think of savings.

When they are broke, just listen to them being interviewed on television. They all sing the same tune. They have a long to-do list for the government. They become charity cases notwithstanding their debauchery a few months earlier.

More often than not, this is encouraged by officialdom. President Robert Mugabe and his party have over the years positioned themselves as national benefactors who doled land, tractors, farming inputs, cash and one aspiring MP went to the extent of buying women in Kadoma underwear! The knickers were warmly received underlining how we have lost our dignity as a nation.

Zimbabweans have generally stopped valuing work. They now rely on Mudhara. Mudhara is anyone from the President to any chap who can buy a fellow villager a cup of skindo.

There are people in this country who have taken receiving alms as a career. They have become instruments of Mudhara. They will do anything for the big man. They are owned by the big man.

They are his “young men” who are prepared to run any errands in exchange for a few greenbacks or beer.

This is a recipe for a disaster. There is no country that has ever developed on the back of this nature of dependency.

It is the reason our young people are easily turned into violent monsters ready to chop off neighbours hands.

It is done in the name of Mudhara.

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