ORGANISERS of First Lady Grace Mugabe’s rally in Harare on Thursday distributed water branded with the Zanu PF matriarch’s face.
On the face of it, this is an innocuous gesture connecting Grace with the people, but a deeper analysis of the move reveals an underlying condescending and out-of-touch attitude from the ruling party and the First Lady.
Residents of the suburb surely welcomed the bottled water, but after the clean water, what next?
It would be folly for Grace or anyone in Zanu PF to think they have done well by giving the residents bottled water, when after the rally, most had to return to drinking municipal water, which many often condemn as unclean.
Instead of the piecemeal solutions of giving people bottled water, Grace and her party should work on improving water supply to Mbare and other suburbs of Harare.
It is disconcerting that at a time Zimbabwe is preparing to host the International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa (ICASA), delegates to the summit have already been warned against drinking tap water, as it may be unfit for human consumption, yet Grace and her supporters feel it is appropriate to concentrate on peripheral issues.
A common cliché is that we are majoring on minors and minoring on majors and we are afraid Grace and Zanu PF are excelling in this regard.
Residents of Mbare and other parts of the capital often go for days without water and the bottled water, instead of appeasing them, should be seen as an insult to discerning people.
After 35 years of self-rule, Zimbabwe should move away from the culture of handouts to demanding service delivery and the rallying call should be about potable tap water daily, rather than self-serving branded bottled water.
The irony is not lost on ordinary Zimbabweans that the reason questions are asked about the cleanliness of Harare water is because of her husband, President Robert Mugabe’s ruinous policies.
It is patently clear to anyone that Mbare has remained an urban backwater, as if stuck in some colonial time warp, because the Zanu PF government has not prioritised the country’s development and most of them are keen on dipping their hands in State coffers.
So Grace may have managed to hoodwink a few with the bottled water, but the majority of Zimbabweans should see through this empty gesture.
If Zanu PF and Mugabe had made sure Mbare received reliable and clean water supplies, then no one would have bothered to queue for the bottled water, in fact, there would have been no need for it.
Taking the branded water to Mbare might have at first seemed like a stroke of genius, but in reality, it was a subtle admission of failure by the party Grace represents.
We have no doubt that if Zimbabwe was properly governed, without the pervasive atmosphere of fear, Mbare residents would not have taken the water at the rally, but would have told Grace, in no uncertain terms, to “Stop it!”
It is at this point that we ask what the point of these rallies — which are broadcast live on State television — is.
Surely, Zanu PF should be concentrating on governing the country rather than have Grace travel the length and breadth of the country reiterating what everybody knows.