HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsWhy Zimbabwe is desperate for a ‘Lameck moment’

Why Zimbabwe is desperate for a ‘Lameck moment’


Like most Zimbabweans, I have watched the Lameck graveside eulogy, where he lambasted a dead woman for the evil she had wrought and I have followed debates on his actions more as a disinterested and indifferent observer.



Ordinarily, I would not have an opinion on that because I do not have the whole context and obviously, the dead woman cannot respond – or as we say in journalism – this was the equivalent of a single-sourced story, which should not make the news pages.

For those with no idea who Lameck is, here is a brief version of events.

Instead of the usual niceties at funerals, he lashed out at a dead woman, saying the gushing graveside praise she had received was insincere and he believed she was the devil incarnate.

Lameck narrated how the dead woman had abused his daughter, who had fallen pregnant by her son, and emptied a jug of urine on her.

Debates on Lameck’s actions vary from whether it was the cultural thing to do, that he was a coward for waiting for the woman to die before berating her and that he was right because someone had to say the truth and stop the pretentious talk.

As I said earlier, I am absolutely indifferent on what happened, but I think the time is ripe for Zimbabwe to have its Lameck moment, where we are honest about this rot that the country is in and how we can extricate ourselves from this mess.

I watched in shock as President Robert Mugabe said Zimbabwe is the second most developed country in Africa after South Africa, as it clearly is not and is instead at the bottom of the development pyramid.

My take from Mugabe’s address was that he is either in denial or has not clue of Zimbabwe’s decline, which means he certainly has no clue or is unwilling to turn Zimbabwe’s fortunes around.

As author, Zig Ziglar said: “The first step in solving a problem is to recognise that it does exist.”

Mugabe does not recognise that Zimbabwe has a problem and thus he can pontificate that we are the second most developed country in Africa, when clearly we are not.

Mugabe goes on to mention Zimbabwe’s literacy, which he says is the highest in Africa and our minerals, which he thinks make us stand out.

Let’s start with the minerals, shall we?

A few years ago, diamonds were discovered in Marange and we celebrated, with Obert Mpofu, then Mines minister, saying Zimbabwe would never have to beg again.

Hardly a decade later, our situation is worse than it was compared to when the diamonds were discovered.

This situation is further worsened by Mugabe’s claims that we lost $15 billion in diamond revenue through opaque deals.

We can have as many minerals as there are stars in the sky, but as long as they are looted and do not benefit the majority, then they are as good as useless.

Only an elite few have benefitted from the minerals and not the generality of Zimbabweans and for the ordinary person, particularly those in Marange, the discovery of minerals has been more of a curse than a blessing.

Mugabe can talk of the intrinsic value of the minerals and value addition and all the other rhetoric, but it counts for nothing if more Zimbabweans are starving and are having to get food donations from countries that do not have as much of a reputation in agriculture, like Equatorial Guinea, which donated bananas to us last year.

A recent report by AfrAsia revealed that Zimbabweans had the lowest average wealth in Africa of just $200 yet citizens of countries like Mauritius and South Africa had an average wealth of $25 700 and $11 300, respectively.

This is made even more remarkable by the fact that in 2000, just 17 short years ago, Zimbabwe was one of the wealthiest countries in sub-Saharan Africa on a wealth per capita basis, ranked ahead of the likes of Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, Zambia and Ghana, but has fallen far behind.

Zimbabwe’s stock on the global and continental scene has fallen so badly that novice demagogues like South Africa’s Police minister Fikile Mbalula can all, but blame Zimbabweans for crime in that country.

We pride ourselves with our high literacy rate, but what good does it do us, when estimates put the number of unemployed people at more than 90% of the population?

People from Botswana and Namibia used to come to Zimbabwe for our education system, but — newsflash — their literacy rates are now higher than Zimbabwe’s according to the World Bank.

While we like to claim our literacy rates are around 90% and the highest in Africa, the reality is that it is at 86,9% and we trail South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland, with Zimbabwe only ranked 11.

What Zimbabwe needs now is brutal honesty, where we recognise our shortcomings and problems and deal with them instead of pretending we are still in the Big Boys’ Club.

We long left that club and Africa is trudging along, leaving us behind.

The propaganda that we are served by our leaders is akin to the urine that Lameck alleges his dead neighbour poured on his pregnant daughter, as she slept outside her house.

There is no point in us beating our chests and believing in our own exceptionalism when everything around us has all but collapsed.

Nationalist chauvinism should have no place and like Amilcar Cabral once said, “our struggle has reached a stage where we must look into each other’s eyes” and say this is not the Zimbabwe we want.

It is time to cast away the chains of political correctness and like Lameck, speak out about how dire our situation is or our politicians will continue misrepresenting the state of the nation and making their gullible supporters believe that all is well.

Feedback: nmatshazi@southerneye.co.zw

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