IT has long been a public secret that Zimbabwe was open for socioeconomic policy change. Although President Emmerson Mnangagwa was inaugurated in November last year, the voice of the people is unanimous that it was mere symbolic. His sameness with the former President Robert Mugabe deters change.
Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana
They walked and talked together for 38 years in government, abiding in the same conspiracy mind-set. Their half a century plus commune distilled them into sworn adherents of the same hard-hearted school of thought. If you knew one, obviously you would have known the other.
Emerging electoral scandals are reminiscent of past predatory attacks on democracy. They are proof that though the dictator-in-chief might have been deposed, his machinery and modus operandi remained intact in the custody of his equally “notorious” former lieutenant.
Manipulation of the entire electoral process characterised by a chaotic voter’s roll, were an integral part of our post-colonial history. In fact, someone remarked back then that if elections benefited citizenry, the government could have outlawed them in the first instance.
As such scandals as the postal votes expose the sameness of Mnangagwa and Mugabe, continuity of electoral thievery is to be expected. When the former deposed the latter, it was not for change, but essentially to shed off the dead outer layer of the skin, jus like snakes.
Speaking at the dawn of change in India, legendary nationalist, Jawaharlal Pandit Nehru said: “A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance”.
As I see it, a likewise moment has dawned for Zimbabwe. When youthful presidential candidate, Nelson Chamisa led a protest march in Harare last Wednesday, his deportment was typical of the epitome of stepping from the old into the new.
He looked destined to take the pledge of dedication to national duty. The march was prompted by the brashness of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson, Priscilla Chigumba who wearied opposition parties by showing them her seamy side.
By his own admission, Mnangagwa revers Mugabe, and he is indebted for mentorship, hence, the lyrical accolades he paid him in his inauguration speech. Henceforth, he hit the ground running to sign a generous retirement package for him, despite having deposed him.
Recently, Mnangagwa said life was better than in heaven under Zanu PF. He came short of saying only for the elite. He had in mind the corrupt accumulation of wealth and power which is a privy of the ruling class who afford mansions, even in their rural homes.
When news broke out that former Zanu PF stalwart, Didymus Mutasa had fallen on hard times, he quickly retorted that it was inevitable, because he never stole when he was in the party and government. His retort gave credence to the prevalence of high office corruption by the ruling elite.
Moreover, it has been said umpteen times that it is cold outside Zanu PF. The comfy Mnangagwa lavished Mugabe with, which includes designation of his birthday, February 21, to be a national holiday, is evident that life is better than in heaven for the select few.
Although there already is a national Heroes Day holiday, on which all who sacrificed for country are remembered, strangely, Mnangagwa thought it prudent to have a day, especially, to honour Mugabe. Yet, if looked at critically, the veneration was an appeasement.
There is no sacrifice for country which Mugabe did to warrant a holiday in his honour. He did not go the extra mile to deserve even the gratuitous retirement package, let alone roads and the airport named after him. If truth be told, there are no fundamental particles in him.
With his 38-year rule culminating in industrial machinery gathering rust and dust, it is injudicious to award him such honour. He truly does not deserve even a dime. Given the ruination that abounds, it is a lack of probity that ineptitude was handsomely rewarded.
When Mugabe took over the country on April 18 1980, all roads were leading to Zimbabwe. It was a well-endowed country, adored as the Jewel of Africa. Multitudes from the near and far afield were desperate to migrate. As I see it, life was better than in heaven.
It was unimaginable that the country would ever import food. The breadbasket of the region could never be empty. If anyone told me then that thorns and thistles would grow where cash crops used to abound, I would have rushed such a person for psychiatric evaluation.
Yet, the unthinkable happened, granaries are empty. Blatant misrule resulted in tractors and combine harvesters being conspicuous by their silence. How I wish it were just a dream. Despite Mugabe having an economics degree, the economy was ruined to such an extent that it needed to be structurally adjusted. Following a series of stop/go resuscitation endeavours, the Zimbabwe currency ultimately became valueless, just like counterfeit.
The currency crisis has caused the citizenry nightmares. Whatever remedial measures Mugabe came up with, including printing paper money, to the contrary, fuelled inflation, prompting all roads to lead from Zimbabwe as citizens emigrated to seek economic refuge.
With infrastructure in progressive dilapidation, public service delivery suffered terribly, grounding to a virtual halt, in particular the healthcare. It is so rundown that the corruptly monied ruling class shuns it, unashamedly seeking treatment far and beyond our borders.
Mugabe is accountable for the plight of citizens who now reside in squalid settlements on the outskirts of Harare — Eastview, Southlea and Solomio. By awarding him a handsome package, Mnangagwa proved the sameness of his ideology with that of his predecessor.
Hence, his ascendency to power, courtesy of military intervention, did not quench the longing for socio-economic policy change that has been evident on the person of all and sundry. His predominantly Mugabe remnant Cabinet so as him, are dogmatic.
However, there will be no room for sentimental persuasions in the harmonised elections. One segment of voters which will be scrupulous with their vote is that of the born frees. They will not scatter like the biblical sower, nor be swayed by recitation of tedious mantras.
Save for being born after the colonial flag was lowered, folded and archived, the born frees have borne the brunt of socio-economic ruination throughout their lives. As if the economic throes were not sufficiently battering, repression became the government norm.
A born free who was born a day after independence had the misfortune of going through their last teen years at the peak of economic meltdown following the introduction of the multi-digital worthless notes in 1999. Since then, the economy has been in dire dysfunction.
It is this age-group whose call for change is as loud as that of the blind man in the Bible who cried out, “Jesus of Nazareth, have mercy on me.” Amid the backdrop of a history blemished by disputed elections, they are intent on one of their own to lead them from the old into the new.
In spite of the arrogance of foes of democracy, whose perfidy is unparalleled, born frees are pregnant with expectations of the dawn of the rare moment to step from the old, into the new. As I see it, now is the moment the soul of a nation, long suppressed, found utterance.
Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana, email muketiwa. firstname.lastname@example.org is a public speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist