Letter to my father: Freedom, happiness remain elusive

Opinion: Paidamoyo Muzulu

DEAR Dad

Dad, life has been a roller-coaster since you left us that day (December 7, 2017) without as much as a good-bye due to the shock asthma attack and failure to get you to hospital just in time for resuscitation. Then, dad, it was a combination of a bad road and the poor communication at the farm and we still live with the guilty that we could have done better.

Your promotion to glory just came a mere two weeks after the political seismic change, when founding Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe had been deposed in a coup that many Zimbabweans celebrated. Many saw it as a new dawn, but my trepidation over the military counselled me otherwise. It is very funny to think of it now that you dissuaded me from enrolling at Zimbabwe Military Academy as an officer cadet in 1998 because you feared I could have been rushed to the Democratic Republic of Congo then and died in a war you never understood why it was being waged.

Deep down I loved the military uniform dad and hoped I could have served my country just as much as Uncle Itayi had done during the liberation struggle and after Independence. Let us just put that aside for now and rush to fill you in about developments since then.

My three princesses have grown up fast and sometimes they reminisce about our visits to the farm. They are doing well in school and I am proud that you taught us the value of education. Sometimes when we sit in the lounge, particularly soon after schools close like this week dad, they are restless to show their results and dream of the old days when you would give them presents for doing well.

I hate to say this dad, but I guess I should confide in you that I look into the future with trepidation as things are going south very quickly. The festive season no longer has the merry, not only because you are not there, but the economy has tumbled.

Inflation for the past six months has been galloping and there seems to be no taming as the government looks clueless except for their copy and paste solutions from the Bretton Woods institutions. The last time they tried that during Bernard Chidzero’s time, you remember the chaos that followed.

Today’s misery is worse than the 1992 Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) phase or 2008 when the economy dollarised on its own. We have a new Finance minister, a don straight from Oxford dad. He has many theories about economics and is implementing a new version of Esap only that they changed names for it. These days they interchangeably use the term austerity or staff-monitored programme. If you ask me, the difference is the same. The poor are carrying the cane for the rich. I did not tell you, the minister still stays at Meikles Hotel and frequently visits his family in Switzerland. We can say he is a visiting Treasury boss or in their terminology a professor on sabbatical and taking a summer class at a foreign university.

He recently even had the audacity to remove subsidies on maize-meal and wheat. That was a callous decision dad, a kick in the teeth for the poor, considering the stagnant salaries and a ravaging drought we experienced in the 2018/19 agriculture season.

Sadza, dad, is now a prized commodity. They are teaching us to be capitalists. We can no longer share freely when visitors come or even make tea for guests as we chat.

Unfortunately, he is experimenting with people’s lives. As I write to you dad, doctors have been on industrial action for more than three months. Many people have died from preventable causes as the doctors hold out for a living wage. You can imagine when they do this to professionals such as doctors dad, most workers can actually be tossed without a second thought.

Harare has changed; it now resembles some rural settlement and your grandchildren no longer know what showers are for. We now have wells, they can’t watch television because we have rolling power cuts lasting 18 hours a day. And cash is now a commodity that is being traded at every corner at a premium.

In all this economic and social madness dad, speculations within Zanu PF circles on succession and power are raging. Next week, they are having their annual political jamboree at Goromonzi High School. They will be talking about 2023 elections dad, when I can’t contemplate January 2020. Yes, dad, they are even seeing themselves in power in 2030 and by then my guess is most of the working poor would have been moved out of Harare not by Murambatsvina like in 2005, but by biting poverty.

For now dad, we will keep hoping, seeking inspiration, working harder like Boxer in Animal Farm. No, dad, I should have quoted your favourite, Hard Times by Charles Dickens. They are incorrigible as you would say.

Till then Chirandu, keep looking after us. I can’t email this because there is no electricity, so it’s back to the Post Office. They now call it Zimpost, so it may take ages to get to you. Your Son,

Paidamoyo Muzulu is a journalist and writes here in his personal capacity. He can be contacted on muzulu.p@gmail.com

1 Comment

  1. Great piece ,

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