Happy New Year! I got a call from a friend, a member of the uniformed forces, asking for money so he tries his luck in neighbouring countries, Botswana, South Africa or Zambia. Please do not ask me what he intends to do, because I do not know.
By Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje
One thing I very sure of is that this was quite a difficult decision, as he later explained that anything, anywhere was much better than continuing to live such a hard life in Zimbabwe.
I wonder what 2016 has in store for each of us. The year has started on a somewhat sour note for many of the civil servants. I have friends and relatives telling me their stories and these are quite painful, as that phone call confirmed. My heart bleeds as I question many things and yet have no one to offer a response. Oh my, what a way to start the new year.
The so-called middle class has always joked about a “January disease” that has seen many people struggling through the month as a result of over-excitement induced spending during the festive holidays.
However, it can no longer be named “January disease”, as it seems to be the reality of most of the Zimbabwean populace as people eke out a living and do whatever they can to make ends meet. This in itself is not a bad idea as life actually has to do with ensuring that as human beings we have our most basic needs met such as food, shelter, clothing and so on.
However, the challenge is when the government fails to pay its workers. I am praying that today being the day it is said they will pay, we will see that happening. I do not understand how any leader could live knowing that the very people they lead are having a torrid time. Honestly, we cannot reduce our medical and teaching brilliance to queuing for bus fare and think that is OK.
OK fine, they get bus fare and how do they pay rentals, foot medical bills, prepare for their children’s back-to-school issues, the list is endless? Is it me or there is something really wrong with how we have chosen to lead? Just how do we do that as a people particularly as a people who are responsible for other people’s livelihood?
This is more than factional partisan political games, this is people’s lives we are talking about. My heart bleeds. How do we honestly have leaders, who seem not to have a heart for us, the very people they lead? Do they actually know that the state of the economy is devastating? That we are suffering at unprecedented levels? Yes there are some, a handful, who might be making it, but even they are suffering because we have a communal socialisation. They might not be directly suffering, but their close friends and relatives are feeling the pain and this affects them. Cry my beloved country, this is ridiculous and uncalled for!
The government currently has a lot to take care of. Their plate is full, I am sure, of course, it’s true considering the status quo. I, however, think that there is need to get real. How about we start by acknowledging that there has been failure to address the current issues? So fattening pockets, corruption and all sorts of ills have been more real than we care to accept at a leadership level. How about we begin 2016 by thinking like there is no box that exists — how about we do business unusual? Get some of these brilliant young minds that have ideas and solutions to what they live and explore how that can be harnessed to begin to transform the status quo.
There have been some great leaders who have chosen to step down and pave way for freshness at many levels in a bid to correct whatever, wrongs that have been witnessed. Can we possibly consider that? Zimbabwe has developed many models in an attempt to address the current status quo, 10-point plans, ZimAsset, whatever the plan, how can we implement that and see how it goes?
There has got to be a way out, we got ourselves into this mess, now we might as well see how to get ourselves out of it. It does not matter who got us here, but it is critical we start realising that there is need for us to do something about it and step up.
This is very urgent for our sanity and states of mind. Pointing fingers is easy, it is the reconstruction that I think is critical and we need to work on so we get things working once again. I will reiterate that we also need to play our part as Zimbabweans. There are those little things we can also do to make a difference. Be polite, no road rage, share a meal, pay fees for another, stop paedophilia — I do not know what you can do, just do that small thing in order to chip at the system and make a difference. Life is hectic as it is and we need men and women, girls and boys who will step up and make a difference.
It has nothing to do with your financial status, skin colour or whatever excuse we tend to whip up. We can critically look at our current lived realities and see how best we can make a difference. It is not a one-person job or the mere responsibility of the government, it also needs you and me to hold hands and do whatever it is we can. It might also have to do with standing up to this system so that we make the difference, because defiance is healthy when things get to where we are and that too is action.
This is a call to peaceful means of resolving conflict so that we are able to make a difference. Honestly, this current way of being is unacceptable, there is surely a better way and we must find it so we live it. Having said that, the leaders and
powers-that-be, should stop taking us for granted and be part of the solution, they created this drama, are acting it out and should do the most honourable thing and get up so they work a solution that is tangible, you owe us that little. Maybe, just maybe, a few serious ones might help us make 2016 a brighter, better and more inspiring year than it already looks like.
We remain hopeful and trust that we shall overcome and live life with joy, smiles and with our basic needs met so that we cease to explore neighbouring countries as a solution, but that we focus on making it work in Zimbabwe. Let’s do this!
●Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje writes in her personal capacity and loves stimulating conversation. She would be excited to hear from you. You can contact Grace on firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on twitter @graceruvimbo or Facebook: Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje