May the last person to leave, turn off the lights

Nqaba Matshazi

ONE of the questions that I ask myself daily is: Is there a point to this?

I have to be honest, I feel defeated and I wonder if there is any hope that this country’s fortunes will improve anytime soon.

I would like to believe that I am not a pessimist, but rather I am being pragmatic, our fortunes are not likely to change in the foreseeable future and instead things are going to get pretty worse.

My assessment of this leadership is that they are either aloof, they do not care or finding a solution to this problem is beyond their capabilities.

Instead, they are prepared to hide their heads in the sand and pretend that everything is okay, when we know it is anything but.

Our Finance minister Mthuli Ncube boasts about an abstract and meaningless budget surplus, which President Emmerson Mnangagwa also touts as evidence that his administration’s economic reforms are working.

When statistics are not in their favour, they respond by dispensing with them, a good example being that of inflation figures.

What they do not know is that no matter how much they cook the inflation figures or hide them, we, Zimbabweans, live with the pain of seeing prices astronomically going up on a daily basis.

Just this month alone — and we are only 10 days into October — the price of fuel has gone up by more than 25% yet Ncube is trying very hard to convince himself and the few praise singers he has that inflation has slowed down and will come down to about 10%.

This administration cries that it is failing to procure basics like drugs because of sanctions, but somehow it finds money from somewhere and is able to bust sanctions to pay some public relations firms in America and Britain.

Scapegoating is what they are good at, running the government, not so much.

The very optimistic among us say we should wait for 2023 and maybe the government will be changed through the ballot.

Fat chance.

My question to those people is: What would have changed?

Right now, Parliament has passed a draconian law known as the Maintenance of Public Order Bill, which is as bad as the Public Order and Security Act that it purports to replace.
Demonstrations are all but barred, and freedom of association does not exist.

The government is in the process of drafting draconian laws to replace the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, meaning that probably in 2023, the media space will be as constricted as it is today, if not worse as this would be coupled by an economic crisis.

For good measure, Priscilla Chigumba will still be at the helm of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, unless she chooses to leave sooner.

So, gazing into my crystal ball, 2023 will be a difficult year, where the opposition will have no access to State media, where, because of the economic situation, private media will be expensive and out of the reach of many.

Mobile data and WiFi will be a preserve for the extremely privileged, meaning that there will be little diversity to the information that Zimbabweans will receive.

In addition, the holding of rallies for the opposition will be quite an onerous task and demonstrations will continue to be outlawed or put down in the most ruthless of manner.

Finally, the opposition will have little confidence in Chigumba and the electoral management body, creating the possibility of another disputed election that will further escalate the crisis.

From how I see it, the opposition has as a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the 2023 elections.

It is clear that as things stand today, there is no appetite for reform and neither is there a genuine call for talks.

In a nutshell, we are stuck in a rut and tomorrow, the situation will be worse than it is today.

Those who are hopeful for a better tomorrow, I would really love to hear what you think is suddenly going to change and see Zimbabwe snapping out of this vicious cycle of failure, scapegoating and fear mongering.

On Tuesday there were massive queues at the passport office; this is not a sign of a people with confidence in their government, but rather of a population that is looking for and hoping for a way out as soon as possible.

It could be a simple thing as wanting a passport to go and buy groceries in a foerign country or maybe bigger ambitions as leaving the country for good because they do not see hope at all.

The youth, who are supposed to be energetic and giving life to a prosperous future are busy plotting their exit, because they do not see any hope for a brighter tomorrow.

When I saw the queues at the passport office the first thought that crossed my mind was; may the last person to leave Zimbabwe please turn off the lights (paraphrased from The Sun newspaper).

Oh wait, there is hardly any electricity already and there are no lights to turn off.

For many people, the only light they see at the end of the tunnel is that of an oncoming train hurtling towards them to crush their last hopes and dreams.
That is how dire the situation is.

No matter how we try to sugarcoat, deny or deflect, living in Zimbabwe at the present moment is now very difficult.

However, the leadership does not seem to appreciate this and they are continuing as if everything is okay.

They fly in chartered luxury jets with bloated delegations on taxpayers’ expense, yet they preach austerity. Those in charge and their proxies are the only ones thriving and they seem to take massive pleasure in rubbing it in our faces.

Unless there is an honest diagnosis of the situation in our country that we are where are because of mis-governance, failure to implement reform and corruption, then we might as well forget that our situation will improve.

4 Comments

  1. Is this your goodbye Matshazi? Things are happening at AMH. Your analysis missed the inherent incapacitates of the opposition to mobilise voters even in areas they deem their strongholds. Goodbye, brother.

  2. The key words in your article are ‘they have no appetite for reform’.
    Zimbabwe: One man one vote once !

  3. You are absolutely correct – the situation is only going to get worse. These black Presidents forget that one day they will be out of power looking in. Who would have thought Mugabe could be deposed by the military? He was doing everything for himself not even for his own children and wife. His successor has learnt nothing from his predecessor‘s mistakes. He has got this “like it or lump it” attitude about governing.

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