guest column:Tendai Ruben Mbofana
Recently, I penned an article to the effect that, most of us who are brave and unrelentingly standing up, and speaking up (in the process, placing our own lives in grave danger, but for a very worthy cause) against the ever-increasing gross repression and human rights abuses, unrepentantly shameless corruption and looting of our national resources, and economic policies only comparable to madness, that are being brazenly perpetrated by the elite opportunistic ruling clique in Zimbabwe, were not in any way in the payment of any foreign country — but, I felt a compelling urge to write a follow-up, as the pain I feel from such an insult, still gnaws at the core of my heart, like an acute heartache, caused by the cruel stab of a blunt knife.
To be honest, I am failing to shake off the anger at the thought of anyone ever suggesting such an outrageous, insulting, and clearly provocative statement.
I have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to rubbish this most ludicrous comment, as mere mindless rantings to be expected in the “game”. of politics — as those in the ruling regime, would, naturally, attempt to recoil (and barricade themselves) from the imminent shattering tsunami of widespread national dissatisfaction, rage, and dissent — at the hands of a citizenry it has ruthlessly disempowered, disembowelled, and disenfranchised, with cruel and sadistic recklessness. But, then, this is not a “game”! I have always had serious problems with those who seek to define “politics” as a “dirty game”! There is nothing “sporty” about people’s lives.
There is absolutely nothing “playful” about turning the lives of millions of a country’s citizenry into abject poverty, surviving on food handouts — whereby, innocent people, from the elderly, widowed, disabled, young, educated, uneducated, employed, unemployed, and self-employed, line up (like sad paupers from fairytales we used to read at kindergarten) to receive a small parcel of basic foodstuffs — which, even a street beggar in a fellow southern African country such as South Africa would afford to buy for himself.
Only a thoroughly demented individual would regards an elderly widow (like my mother) dancing and ululating like a little child — after receiving a two kilogramme packet of rice, and ten kilograms of mealie-meal, having queued for endless hours in the scorching sun or chilling cold — as a “game”.
In fact, if I were to go out today and stab to death only one person — no one would laugh that off, as having been “only a game”.
So, why on earth would anyone -—with even the least amount of working senses — consider politics “a game”, in which people’s lives are played like simple chess pieces — who can have their livelihoods callously and cold-heartedly destroyed, workers’ earnings stolen and reduced into a child’s “jiggies pocket money”, their health compromised due to lack of medication or its unaffordability and our children’s future ruined as school becomes out of reach for the poor? Yet, those in the elite opportunistic ruling clique live lavishly and plushly like kings and queens — not through pure hardwork and financial prudence, but wanton plundering and looting of national resources, that should be benefiting each and every citizen — as they can charter private jets to fly anywhere to seek medical attention in expensive overseas hospitals (even during this COVID-19 lockdown which bans international travel), build and buy mansions whose sizes defy all logic, and so much more — which can only be regarded as a huge slap on the faces of the ordinary millions of Zimbabweans who have been impoverished.
This is not a game, and people’s lives are not some “game”.
Then, when we inevitably, understandably and expectedly stand up and speak out, against such unforgivable evil, we are classified as “sellouts”, ”Western-sponsored anarchists and illegal regime change agents”, among a whole host of unsavoury terms — resulting in some being arrested on tramped up charges, abducted, beaten up, threatened, or even shot dead while protesting. Who has truly ”sold out” the people of Zimbabwe? Who should be arrested for looting our national resources, and causing untold suffering on millions of Zimbabweans? Who should be arrested for shooting dead dozens of unarmed protesters? Who should be held accountable for the over 20 000 innocent Ndebele-speaking villagers butchered at the hands of the State?
Who is the real criminal in Zimbabwe?
Yet, this heartless and brutal regime chooses to hide its sins behind lame and unbelievable excuses, false accusations, and blatant lies.
Of course, in every struggle (or human initiative) there is always potential of the “rotten apple”, who will readily “sellout” the struggle for “thirty pieces of silver” — as it would be gravely naive for anyone to conclude that there are none among us, who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, and prepared to sell even their own mothers for a few United States dollars.
Besides, most of us have never denied that Western countries could hold some nefarious agenda on Zimbabwe, and would relish the chance for us fighting, or for the country to collapse — we are not foolish to forget that these are the same people who enslaved and colonised us not too long ago…. as the African adage wisely says, “It’s the axe that forgets, but the tree (that was axed) never forgets”. Thus, it would be tremendously foolhardy for anyone, in their right mind and with the best interests of ordinary Zimbabweans at heart to go into bed with our erstwhile oppressors — somehow stupidly and blindly believing that they have suddenly morphed into our saviours. Not everyone is a Saul of Tarsus.
Yet this fact can never and shall never, relegate the genuine and well-meaning cause of the rest of us —whose only mission is to fight for a better Zimbabwe for all — the same Zimbabwe which our own gallant liberation war icons fought for in the 1960s and 1970s, but had the struggle hijacked by a self-serving mercenary clique…that is now in power, and has wickedly and barbarously relegated these valiant sons and daughters of the soil to nonentities — who have also been tearfully forced to join food handout queues with the rest of us.
For such heroes, today’s struggle for a Zimbabwe that benefits all its citizens is as real as it was in the 1960s and 70s — and they actually inspire and encourage us (especially me on a personal level) to go on relentlessly, without fear. As a matter of fact, they also empathise with the rage that I am currently feeling, as the ruling junta’s insinuations that we are being sponsored by Western countries in our struggle for a better Zimbabwe, smacks of the most repulsive arrogance that insults Zimbabweans’ intelligence.
Why would anyone suggest — even if only for a minute — that the ever-suffering, over-burdened, and poverty-stricken people of Zimbabwe would need to be paid by some foreign entity for them to realise that they are being oppressed, repressed, and subjugated by their own leaders?
Are those in power surely telling us that highly-educated, proficient and soundly-analytical people like Zimbabweans are not capable of thoroughly comprehending the real causes and reasons of the pathetic mess we are in as a country?
What greater insult is there than this, as this unacceptable haughtiness even suggests that our genuine gallant sons and daughters of the 1960s and 70s liberation struggle needed to be bought by some foreign powers for them to finally realise their colonial plight, and instructed by the same foreign powers to fight for their independence.
Maybe, that is what indeed happened with the power-greedy and self-serving mercenaries, who shamelessly hijacked the people’s struggle and ended up being the corrupt, ruthless dictators that are now ruling over us — but that is not what happened to genuine icons of the liberation struggle, whom we now emulate…as these were selfless, devoted, and dedicated warriors, who never hid in relative comfort and safety in Zambia or Mozambique (as the mercenaries did), but gave their own lives for all the people of this country called Zimbabwe.
We know who today’s real ”enemy of the people” is, and we are more than determined to unapologetically, unshakably and unrelentingly stand up, and speak out against these modernday vadzvanyiriri (oppressors), vasvetasimba (usurpers), and vapambepfumi (plunderers) — and, no amount of vilification, falsehoods and repression will stop a genuine people-centred struggle. And we will not fear as only those on the wrong side of history are the ones sleeping with one eye open, and moving around surrounding by heavily armed bodyguards.