When trivialities dominate national discourse


Some eight years ago I travelled to Sweden on business. While there, I was surprised to learn that their parliament was debating the expansion of pedestrian tracks and increasing the number of government supported professionals providing homework support for school children in their homes.

Sweden is a developed country with one of the best welfare system in the world.
But for someone coming from Zimbabwe, a country where the state of the roads is increasingly deplorable, discussing pedestrian tracks seemed trivial. I was also so envious of the idea of having government-paid professionals coming to help my child with homework, while I focus on other things. In Zimbabwe teachers are either underpaid, unpaid or both. That is how our worlds differ.

I am imagining a similar scenario where one is visiting Zimbabwe for the first time and they grab our newspapers to catch up on topical issues in the country.
It is amazing how low we have stooped as a nation. Some of the issues that made headlines include; what some in Zanu PF call social media abuse, underwear stolen more than 36 years , which is now found hanging on someone’s twitter account, a war veteran imposing a father on a Cabinet Minister, a war between a Cabinet minister and civil servant, an attorney general facing charges of criminal abuse of office as a public officer or obstructing the course of justice and of course, there are many others.


All this is happening during the same week the government has declared a state of disaster in most rural parts of the country which are severely hit by a drought, with 26% of the population in need of food aid.

While declaring a state of disaster was both timely and commendable, as it allows the international community to mobilise resources quickly to rescue the situation, one would also expect such an important issue to be part of the central national discourse. But alas, Zimbabwe has other issues to focus on.

If these issues were talk of the night clubs, roadside gossip or weekend discussions, no one would be bothered to write about them. But then they represent a serious problem in our society because they do not only occupy, but contaminate our strategic policy spaces. They are also being enacted by individuals or policy actors who occupy positions of strategic importance in the country.

This means, somewhere somehow, we as a nation are being short-changed, as these individuals engage in public spaces on issues that are not of national importance.

Firstly, despite how trivial these issues are, they have monopolised the media landscape obliterating other important issues. Secondly, some of these issues have become the dominant political narrative off-shooting from the long winding succession soap opera.

It seems he who throws dirtier underwear at the other is more likely to win the “war” than one, who presents ideas needed to take Zimbabwe forward. Despite Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere’s attempt to downplay that suggestion that the stolen underwear that dominated social media the past week will not be part of the politburo agenda, it remains unretracted by Simon Khaya Moyo, the Zanu PF spokesperson, who suggested that abuse of social media will be part of the politburo discussions.

Assuming the stolen underwear found on social media finds space on the politburo agenda, the discussions would be an interesting recriminatory one, where one party identifies whose underwear was stolen and sold to who and how one was fathered by who. The minutes out of that meeting would read like a record of an informal discussion. There is a lot of work to be done. Zimbabwe deserves better.

Thirdly, government ministers, who are supposed to implement national policies have resorted to pursuing the succession race facing backwards just to make sure their enemy spear does not land on the wrong part of the body. And then a civil servant, whose remit is to administer government programmes, has also seen it fit to speak on behalf of many spaces as if he is not enough to speak just on his behalf.

Finally, the judiciary and constitutional space is not spared with the Attorney general Johannes Tomana being dragged to court. My point here is not about how irrelevant these issues are, but how damaging they are to the spaces they are occupying.

In fact, these issues take away the sanctity, respect and confidence bestowed on the spaces and actors from which they are being discussed as they become nothing, but centres and faces for settling personal and political vendettas.

I shall not comment on the Tomana case out of respect for the courts. But what is clear is that the 2,44 million people who need life-saving food assistance right now are left in the hands of international donors and NGOs.

One would imagine that it is issues like these which should occupy public debate on how our people are going to survive the drought and how much the government has set aside for food importation and what is the gap. One would also imagine the next politburo, instead of worrying about stolen underwear on social media, would devote most of its time on drought, unemployment and the economy.

●Tapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa


  1. Now its time we need to take action as Zimbabweans collectively . Lets stop this finger pointing game and the power fight saga and concentrate on more pressing . This is a mere man observation, but what I know from my research and a critical analysis from the interviews and news paper articles published as prior independence error, the Zanu Pf government will not concentrate on any other issues regardless of how many casualties are involved or what in terms of monetary value is at stake, as long as the POWER is at stake nothing else is important. Mugabe once said the main reason they as ZANLA forces then decided to attach the petrol tanks of the Whites and later divided to do it the guerilla style as they call it so as to get to the source of the problem which is POWER. So if a party founded and premised on power feel that POWER is at stake they will use whatever they have to secure it at the expense of anything. I’m not saying we Zimbabweans should violently remove the government but lets insure that will not be blinded again when the balloting comes, we should also stand as individuals, groups and as one to counter play the drought which have befallen us as a people and leave Zane Pf to fight their last POWER battle of succeeding a loosing party. Lets rally behind those who have the vision of a better Zimbabwe because crying loud to Zane Pf is a worst of now important voices that we can use to discuss strategies on how to destroy the foundation of the enemy nine a peaceful way but if that can’t happen ten we are left with no option. Comrades and friends Martin Luther King once said” the hottest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral times of a revolution”. We are at a war and lets stand together as one we will make it, like it was said by the great Josiah Tongogara “victory is certain “, and indeed its certain when join as one and fight this government.

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