HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsCurfew betrays govt anger towards citizens

Curfew betrays govt anger towards citizens


Mr President:Cyprian M Ndawana

HIS Excellency, the imposition of the sunset to sunrise curfew prompts me to write to you, yet again. Notwithstanding the spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases, the country has long been languishing at a record low ebb, afflicted by hyperinflation.

As I see it, mantras have failed to stimulate the economy. Methinks Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s tenure is dreaded like a visit to the dentist. With the economy in dire straits, his ineptitude has rendered him an ass before a lyre.

Given the prevailing economic environment, your prospects of fulfilling the pledge to deliver what the Zimbabwe citizenry wants are fading like jeans. If public sentiments were a conventional yardstick, it would have been apt for me to declare that the people have duly spoken.

Already, widespread disowning of bond notes indicates a drop in your rating. Citizenry has rejected its currency like never before. Yet, defying public sentiment is a frequent mistake by us mortals in general and those in leadership in particular.

With the market already dollarised, wisdom expected of the Presidency should have impelled you to follow the dictates of market forces. His Excellency, among the essential characteristics of money is that it must be accepted and the citizenry should have confidence in it.

It is unfortunate that oftentimes government stoops to the extent of threatening traders who refuse to accept bond notes and coins. Ever since government demanded payment of import duty on cars in foreign currency, the impetus for subordination of bond notes hastened pace.

It is against the backdrop of citizenry sentiment that wisdom of the Presidency is most needed. Yet, there is no hope, not even a glimmer, forthcoming from the First citizen. Instead, you are engrossed in strategising how to subdue opponents.

His Excellency, the dusk to dawn curfew you imposed is draconian. Methinks it is a violation of the sacred responsibility you are entrusted with. It is bound to worsen the plight of the already overburdened citizenry. With it, you defied your claim of being as soft as wool.

As I see it, the curfew betrays anger towards citizenry. Basically, it is devoid of the letter and spirit of Statesmanship. Its essence is not protective, but punitive. Indeed, civil liberties are being transgressed under the disguise of curbing the coronavirus.

It warrants Dutch courage for anyone to dare attempt to justify the enforcement of the curfew. Its mention evokes the memories of lives that perished during the Ian Smith regime. Many people were shot on the spot for violating the Rhodesian curfew at the peak of the liberation war.

It releases cold shivers down my spine that a self-proclaimed listening President employs the notorious modus operandi of his former sworn enemy. Looked at closely, the curfew is vindictive in nature. It has nothing to do with combating the spread of the coronavirus.

Although you alluded to it as a protective measure, its intended objective was to quash a demonstration that was scheduled to be staged on July 31. Essentially, to say that the curfew is a strategy of deterring the spread of COVID-19 is akin to wilful disguising of a spear as a walking stick.

Methinks there could never be a more burdening punishment than to endure a Presidency that carries grudges and endeavours to settle scores. As I see it, the curfew is not for public good. It reveals the reasons behind your nickname Crocodile.

His Excellency, ordinarily, citizenry expect an institution so august as the Presidency to be held in utmost good faith. It is an office that inherently bespeaks of integrity and absolute maturity. It demands sobriety and moral rectitude on the part of the holder.

Ex-United States President Abraham Lincoln set the bar for Presidential conduct which is worth emulating. One of his opponents described him as a low-cunning clown. Lincoln did not steer clear of him. Yet, when he was elected to the Presidency, he offered the critic a Cabinet post.

Granted, it was not coincidental that the curfew was announced on the backdrop of a planned demonstration. Also, the arrest of the organiser, and the made-up charges he is facing, are a misnomer for the democratic space you oftentimes claim to have opened.

Unsavoury events panning out in the country are indeed worrisome. Apparently, government and the ruling party have become hysterical. They are hearing rattling in every corner. It never ceases to worry me that they have become antagonistic and confrontational.

A country that is open for business cannot afford to have a ruling party that is of a belligerent nature. Recent televised Press briefings of the politburo and the youth league were sufficiently frightening to scare away potential investors.

Their facial expressions and body language were aggressive so were their vocal variety. It is infra dig for the party in government to believe that anyone opposed to the Presidency is an agent of foreign powers that are bent on regime change.

This delusional school of thought was subscribed to by the deposed late former President Robert Mugabe. He oftentimes bellowed that Zimbabwe would never be a colony again. Yet, those that ejected him from power came from within his own party and the military.

Throughout modern history, never has citizenry been assailed by its government on one hand, and ruling party on the other, as is now. Although democracy entails co-existence of holders of opposing perspectives, it is not so under the so-called new dispensation.

Ever since the demonstration date was made public, government and the ruling party began to growl, haranguing the initiator. As if they never organised their own demonstrations, they embarked on an unprecedented verbal assault on him.

Even with him now under arrest, he is still the subject of denunciation. Yet, freedom is indivisible. It cannot be granted to one and denied the other. It is worth reminding you that your party and government staged several demonstrations free from hindrance.

His Excellency, you swore in the presence of God and man to name and shame land barons who settled people on farms in the peripheries of Harare. Although you are yet to walk the talk, it was the same principle which was followed by journalist Hopewell Chin’ono.

It is a travesty of democracy that he is now being criminalised for publishing names of individuals involved in the US$60 million Drax International scandal.

I dare not speculate on whether a likewise fate would have befallen you had you named and shamed land barons.

There is a despicable growing intolerance towards holders of opposing views of government. Recently, it was in bad taste that three young opposition ladies, including a parliamentarian, went through a gruelling ordeal for the simple offence of violating lockdown regulations.

Prior to that, two opposition parliamentarians were each pursued with unbridled vengeance for what ended up being much ado about nothing offences. There is an apparent clampdown on opposing views which does not augur well for democracy.

Methinks of all human endeavours, the Presidency is the least enterprise for anyone who yearns for filial adoration and obedience. Apparently, the praise sing by your poodles in the Political Actors Dialogue is ideal for the theatres, not for politics.

It is my fervent conviction that the curfew is not humane. It is a by-product of a vengeful mindset. His Excellency, citizenry is paying dearly for your missing of the presage by Seneca, “to be able to endure odium is the first art to be learnt by those who aspire to power”.

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