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President’s food donations ample proof he has failed

Opinion & Analysis
WHEN a country reaches a level whereby its President starts donating food to starving school pupils, who had cried out to him in desperation for help, which is touted as a sign of good leadership and progress — that is eerily frightening and does not augur well with the citizens and their future.

BY Tendai Ruben Mbofana WHEN a country reaches a level whereby its President starts donating food to starving school pupils, who had cried out to him in desperation for help, which is touted as a sign of good leadership and progress — that is eerily frightening and does not augur well with the citizens and their future.

It would be a grave understatement, if I were to say, that I was dumbfounded when listening to the State-controlled broadcaster beaming the delivery of food handouts to St Lydia Chimonyo High School, in Manicaland province, as its top news story, packaging it as proof of a “listening President” — whose children had told President Emmerson Mnangagwa of their unbearable plight during his recent visit to the area.

How does a President, who has totally negated and abdicated on his role and responsibility of ensuring that the country’s citizenry are able to enjoy dignified and decent livelihoods — where they can adequately fend for themselves, and sufficiently take care of their families, but have now been forced into begging and pleading for food, due to unrelenting gnawing hunger — suddenly be regarded as “listening”, just because he was forced to come face-to-face with his shameful failures, and had to act?

Surely, for someone who fully understands the indignity and embarrassment of begging for assistance — I would know what those children had to undergo, in order to ward off imminent starvation, as they had to appeal to the person who was supposed to effectively and efficiently govern the country, such that citizens were never reduced to beggars, on account of a dysfunctional economy, rundown by a regime better known for its high propensity for looting of national resources, and maladministration.

I can just imagine if my son had to approach me, tears in his eyes, and crying of hunger after not having eaten anything of substance in days, as a result of my own irresponsibility and wasting of resources that should have been channelled towards the sustenance and upkeep of my family — whereby I was forced to finally run around and buy something for him to eat.

Could that ever be described as being a “listening father”?

Should I be awarded, and showered with accolades and praises for this act of having eventually given my son something to eat in spite of his hunger being the direct result of my own poor parenting and sickening neglect of my duties?

There was absolutely nothing to be proud of for Mnangagwa and his government, by donating foodstuff to our starving children whose learning institutions, particularly boarding facilities, have born the brunt of the broader national economic meltdown, that has been authored by Zimbabwe’s ruling elitist privileged clique, who have focused more on plundering and pillaging our national resources (like some buccaneering pirates or raiding Vikings) than ensuring that all citizens are able to make a decent and dignified livelihood.

Surely, a leadership’s success or failure is displayed by the number of its citizens who can afford to fend for themselves — or, reduced to begging for handouts and assistance, especially for the most basic of needs, such as food, clothing, sanitary wear for females, as well as medications and medical treatment.

Any country on the planet goes through one economic challenge or another, but for over 50% of a nation’s population to survive in extreme poverty on less than US$1,90 a day, with nearly 80% earning below the poverty datum line, and over 90% out of formal employment, that paints a most unattractive and disturbing picture of those in power.

For July, a family of six required at least $140 874 for the bare basics, with one person needing $17 909 merely for food — yet most Zimbabweans do not even take home more than US$50 a month (about $22 750 at the prevailing interbank exchange rate), while annual inflation officially stands at 257% (although, most reputable scholars believe it is actually twice that figure).

Is it then any wonder that most boarding schools are unable to sufficiently feed their pupils since fees paid by parents at the beginning of the term have since been eroded by the highly untenable inflation?

Who then is to blame for the children’s starvation?

Who can we fault, when the ruling establishment is only interested in implementing economic policies that promote arbitrage through rigged exchange rates (both the auction and interbank), or the introduction of gold coins, both of which were deliberately designed to make scandalous profits for those in power or their allies?

So, when the President rides in as a noble “Knight in shining armour”, donating food handouts to starving pupils, who should normally be learning under a conducive environment, with adequate food and educational material, we should actually be holding him accountable for leading the country down this slippery slope in the first place.

We can ill-afford a leader who is a typical “fireman arsonist”, who rushes in as a responsible caring firefighter, who appears genuinely desirous to douse a raging inferno, yet he being the cause of the fire.

We are sick and tired of a ruling elite that is enjoying taking advantage of the suffering and poverty they are wilfully inflicting upon the hapless people of Zimbabwe because this helps them keep the country under hostage, and dependent upon those in power for their survival.

  • Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher and social commentator. He can be contacted on +263 715 667 700/ +263 782 283 975, +263 788 897 936, or email: [email protected]. He writes here in his personal capacity.