An old man’s lament

THREE times in the past month, 71-year-old Leonard Chizinga showed up at NewsDay offices seeking to talk to a reporter about what he described as a burning issue and was turned away each time.

By Tawanda Tafirenyika

Yesterday on the fourth visit, I granted him an audience to hear what it was so important that he was risking the long travel, with the risk of contracting the deadly coronavirus at his advanced age.

“I am disappointed with the political leadership of this country, there is too much greed and pride at play and there is a total disregard of the people,” he said.

“It is clear that we are in a bad situation: we can no longer use our own currency because of high inflation, prices are rising every day, nurses are on strike and there is hunger everywhere.”

He proposed a solution. “President Emmerson Mnangagwa must bring people together; he must swallow his pride and engage MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa and other opposition political parties to have a collective disposition on the way forward for the country.

“The political infights we are witnessing means they are spending most of the time wrestling over State power at the expense of economic development.”

He said economic fixation should take precedence over politics. His opinions, he argued, were influenced by the depressed standards of living that have become an every day staple.

He lamented that he had since the era of the late former President Robert Mugabe, tried without success to bring political parties together in the interests of the majority of Zimbabweans.

He said the problems afflicting the citizens centred on leadership.

Mnangagwa created the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) platform through which a collection of small opposition parties including the smaller faction of the MDC led by Thokozani Khupe (MDC-T), but Chizinga said without the involvement of Chamisa, the dialogue meant nothing.

Chamisa has refused to be part of the dialogue series, refusing to recognise the leadership of Mnangagwa after accusing him of stealing the 2018 general elections.

Chizinga said, already, the political parties were in election mode at a time when they are supposed to be seized with fixing the economy.

“It is pointless to go for elections without consensus because the results will be disputed. Before the 2018 elections, I warned that the elections will be disputed if there was no genuine dialogue. What is critical is for the political parties to come to the negotiating table and come to a consensus before going to elections. The President must engage Chamisa to resolve the problems the country is facing,” Chizinga said.

“Frankly speaking, I am just a concerned citizen who does not belong to any political party, but motivated by the need to see all of us able to put food on the table.

“I have written several letters since the time of Mugabe, urging him to prioritise the economy.

“It is really sad that they spent energies on scoring political points at the expense of the economy. The talk is only about Zanu PF and MDC with most of them priding themselves for taking part in the liberation struggle instead of fixing the economy,” he added.

The Mhondoro man blamed the violent land grab of 2000 for the dislocation of the economy whose main stay is agriculture.

He said the land was being under-utilised and that those who grabbed the land were using it as a status symbol with vast tracts of land operating below expected capacity.

“The suffering by Zimbabweans is a result of the land invasions. Those that took the land from the whites are not using it to full capacity,” he said.

“This is why we are in this mess. There is very little activity taking place at the farms and ordinary people are bearing the brunt of all this. There is no production at the farms and if this is not addressed, we are doomed as a country.”

Chizinga said the current leadership was imposed by the military and said he had written a letter to the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda warning that another coup might be imminent because a precedent had already been set by the ouster of Mugabe in November 2017.

“I wrote a letter to the Speaker of Parliament saying no to a coup because Mugabe was removed by a coup. We want leaders to be elected by people through elections. That is democracy,” he said.

Mugabe who had ruled the country since 1980, died a bitter man at a hospital in Singapore in September last year after a long battle with an undisclosed illness.

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