A fool at 40 is a fool forever

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Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana

ANCIENT wisdom has it that a fool at 40 is a fool forever. It is my conviction that Zimbabweans will consign themselves to the pitiable rank of if they do not get wised-up by the country’s 40th independence anniversary.

 

Guest Column by Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana

We inherited a vibrant economy. Public service institutions were functional; air, rail and road transportation were precisely coordinated like clockwork. Food supplies were a given. Clean tap water, electricity, government and municipality services were available hassle free.

Agriculture, commerce and industry were bustling. Unemployment was low and the standard of was admirably healthy. Putting food on the table was within easy reach of all and sundry.

Life was a breeze. This is the nostalgic period citizenry yearn to experience again. Sadly, it was not to be for long.
Graft became the norm. Corruption, which had been festering, became pandemic. It wrought a crippling economic meltdown, resulting in business closures. Citizenry, mostly born-frees, streamed into the diaspora to be economic refugees.

It is incumbent on citizenry to ponder over governance since independence. As I see it, this is the utmost citizenry responsibility which one can only abrogate at one’s peril. We owe it to posterity to give a candid account of the
train of events of the four decades stolen from us.

With all towns now reduced to mere villages, responsibility to future generations is upon us.

Common decency demands of us to explain how the vibrant economy we inherited did not take long
to be ruined to such a magnitude that it required structural adjustment.

My contention is that Zimbabwe@40 is not an anniversary worthy of jubilation. It is not a feel good factor. There are no grounds for celebration. With citizenry severely impoverished, living from hand to mouth, it is a mournful event that warrants flags to be flown at half mast.

There could never be merriment when the economy is languishing on ground zero. With the country having no currency of her own, it would be foolish of citizenry to be in celebratory spirit. Evidently, the said New Dispensation does not spell a new propitious beginning.

Given the magnitude of prevailing hardships, it is obvious that the so-called gains of independence are a mirage. It is reprehensible for government to portray Zimbabwe@40 as a national festivity. Conversely, it is as sombre
as a funeral, befitting of dirge.

As I see it, no one in their normalcy would burst in ululation on the backdrop of inflation that is rocketing like a jet. It was indeed inconceivable in 1980 that the 40th anniversary would culminate in citizens staying in unsightly slums on the periphery of Harare.

If government had conscience it would resign and retire over the dire living conditions in Eastview, Solomio and Southlea Park. These teeming unserviced settlements are not ideal for human habitation. They are a terrible
health hazard; a disaster awaiting to claim lives.

Allocation of stands was haphazard, with neither order nor sequence. It would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to regularise these slums. Sewage and water systems are conspicuous by their absence.

There is no semblance of urbanisation. As if this is not sufficiently worrisome, some land barons had the audacity to parcel out stands to some families from a Harare municipality cemetery land. A humane government would not
allow such a fall to the lowest common denominator to prevail.

Among the campaign promises President Emmerson Mnangagwa committed himself to was that of fighting corruption. His denunciation of graft was annimated. Yet, to date all he managed was to commission an anti-corruption unit which has so far been merely symbolic.

Corruption was not a commonly used word at independence. It gained everyday usage from 1986 following a series of scandals; National Railways Housing {1986},Willowvale Motor Industry, {1988} ZRP Santana Trucks, {1989} and War Victims Compansation {1994}. Thereafter, floodgates opened. Corruption became explicitly prevalent year on year up to the most recent ones at NSSA and Command Agriculture. It is estimated that close to 75 billion dollars were misappropriated in all these scandals, at the detriment of citizenry.

Condemnation of the National Sports Stadium, and other stadia is evidence of appalling collapse of infrastructure. Degradation is all over the country. Public service systems; rail roads, hospitals, schools and government buildings are an eyesore due to deriliction.

It is dispiriting that owing to corruption, there is a shortage of such a basic commodity as roller meal. It is a mark of absolute failure in governance, a total breakdown of accountability, that a country once envied as the breadbasket falls to such lows as these.

Besides the shortage of mealie-meal, many basic commodities are also in short supply. One wonders what motivation do citizenry have to observe independence, given the grind of enduring an ill-fated life of queuing at
banks, supermarkets and fuel service stations.

At no point throughout my public discourse career has righteous indignation roused me as it does now. What particularly agitates me is that henceforth the fall of deposed late former President Robert Mugabe, government
started to apportion all blame singularly to him.

Admittedly, Mugabe was despotic, consumed by hubris. He had no human touch. Yet, his inner circle venerated him. They are also guilty of thrusting citizenry into penury; into a life of improvisation. Frankly, they ought to own
up for the indigence they collectively caused.

What Emperor Augustus said about himself, that he found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble, cannot be said of Mugabe. Throughout his rule, Mugabe turned a blind eye and deaf ear to corruption. He institutionalised the culture of plunder from public coffers.

He inherited Harare as a city of marble, only to leave it a city of pole and mud. Save for his Blue Roof and mansions of his associates, he left the city stripped off its sunshine status. No one would have joined the liberation war if the country was at its current ruinous state.

Me thinks one reason why Mnangagwa is lethargic on fighting corruption, despite his publicly issued pledge, is that he sees himself in the mirror. He faces the dilemma that as he points at others, his other fingers point at
him.

His inertia on fighting corruption is like that of the Pharisees who could not cast the first stone.

As I see it, as the case with his predecessor, Mnangagwa attentive, like a centry, to the nou-beau riche
who surround him just as Mugabe was likewise surrounded.

Zimbabwe@40 is time for introspection. It is time to realise that vision 2030 is absolute utopian.

This effete corps of impudent geriatrics who think that coronavirus is a punishment from God for imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe, cannot prime the pump. It has no probity.

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