Zimbabweans are living in a state of confusion. They see something desperately went wrong with their country; they see that every new year is worse than the previous one. They have seen how difficult it is for the ordinary citizen to access the very basic social services.
FROM THE EDITOR NEVANJI MADANHIRE
Ask any expecting mother her worst fear. She will tell you she fears her baby will die at childbirth; she also fears she too might die or, worse still, both of them. Her fears are not far-fetched; Zimbabwe has about the highest neonatal mortality rate.
In 2010 the World Bank said 27 babies in a thousand live births died before they were a month old. According to the United Nations, 3 000 mothers die every year while giving birth due to inadequate healthcare. Between 2010 and 2014, 89 babies out of every thousand live births died before the age of five years.
If you think these statistics are depressing, consider what happens to those who survive. At age five, they must begin school, but there aren’t adequate schools for even the luckiest of them who live in poor communities in communal lands and farms and peri-urban areas. Only the children of the political elite are assured of a decent education.
The dropout rates are massive because the whole concept of education has been degraded.
Many pupils just give up because they know with a great degree of certainty they will never make it. Education has ceased to be the gateway to a decent future.
They know the humiliation that comes with failure at the end of it all. Failing their school-leaving exams means they will be scorned and barred from entering the mainstream economy.
Government will wash off its hands claiming to have given every child a chance yet all it has done is to condemn every child of the poor into deeper poverty.
This should happen only in countries still in the Middle Ages.
We blame Robert Mugabe for all this and many other illnesses that have befallen this country. His charge sheet is long. He is accused of mismanaging a once vibrant economy over 35 years.
He is accused of creating a system of government that rewarded only his closest cronies and neglected the rest of the population. The few he rewarded never ploughed back.
They enriched themselves and sent their children to the best schools around the globe.
Patronage naturally created a kleptocracy that laid its tentacles on the levers of power and won’t let go. Mugabe paid a blind eye to this until it got out of hand; his own political survival began to depend on it. This is the reason he wouldn’t pass the baton even when he knew he was no longer adding value.
The world says he was prepared to kill to remain in power; they cite the Gukurahundi period of the 1980s and the electoral violence that accompanied about every poll in which he has been challenged.
Guilty as charged! Maybe!
Recently one of Mugabe’s long-time allies, Didymus Mutasa, gathered enough guts to stand up to him. He and a cabal of other senior Zanu PF officials that included Vice-President Joice Mujuru had been booted out of the party in a purge that stunk to high heaven for its crudity and sheer madness.
In his futile attempt to fight back, Mutasa accused Mugabe of unconstitutionally assuming power to singly impose leaders on the party, effectively abandoning the one-man-one-vote principle that was the basis of the liberation struggle. He said his group “will remain married to the principles we fought for including one-man-one-vote, where majority rule prevails”.
Great words, if they had not come from an incorrigible hypocrite. Mutasa himself as a senior member of the party over the past 35 years was complicit in everything Mugabe did, including flouting the party and the national constitutions and suppressing majority rule.
He was a leader in the suppression of dissent and the commission of electoral violence to destroy opposition politics which were only meant to bring the necessary checks and balances to any responsible government.
The fad now for any political grouping outside Zanu PF is to call for some kind of coalition of opposition political parties to fight the Mugabe monolith. Mutasa has also joined this bandwagon and if speculation is correct that he stands for Mujuru, so has she.
The bandwagon includes failed politicians like Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T and organisations that have split from him since 2005.
But the theology of the Grand Coalition will fail, because its leaders have failed to grasp the issue at the heart of the matter, and the issue is not Mugabe or his personal failures.
The issue is how Zimbabweans collectively gave away their responsibility for their own country. We collectively as a people gave our country away to a rapacious elite that blew it out like a candle while we watched. We are to blame for this.
In the past 35 years we got the government we deserved and we will continue to do so if we don’t reclaim that responsibility. Mugabe is only partly to blame for the mess we find ourselves in; we, collectively, are more blameworthy because of our collective negligence, our collective amnesia!
But, how to reclaim our country?
We need a new people’s movement. We need fresh voices. We need fresh thinking. We need to revivify our political consciousness. And, that cannot come from the minds of tired politicians of yesteryear. It can’t come from Mugabe or his dissidents, or from Tsvangirai and his dissidents either.