I CANNOT stand it when the powerful and wealthy whine over clearly banal “injustices” inflicted upon their high and mighty little angels — yet, these same people have, themselves, perpetrated the most heinous and savage crimes against innocent defenseless children, under their jurisdiction.
It was the height of arrogance and craziness when the ruling Zanu PF secretary for finance Patrick Chinamasa threw a childish tantrum on Twitter — demanding answers as to why his then 13-year-old daughter, Gamuchirai, was included on the US sanctions list, targeted at some top Zimbabwe officials and entities accused of grievous human rights abuses and rampant corruption.
Under normal circumstances I would have swiftly added my weight to Chinamasa's seemingly legitimate questions — since, surely, on what grounds could a mere 13-year-old be designated as a human rights abuser or engaged in corrupt activities that may cripple the economy of Zimbabwe, or more specifically regarded as posing a threat to US national interests?
However, in his angry tirade, Chinamasa conveniently forgot one critical point — as ordinary Zimbabweans, who have endured much untold suffering under his political party’s disastrous, ruinous and murderous reign — there is very little sympathy for an elitist few, who choose to thrown a fit over their daughters being denied an opportunity to enjoy privileged lifestyles in the US.
Let us get one thing straight from the onset — Gamuchirai, as innocent as she may have been of any known human rights violations or corruption — was not sentenced to years of cruel torture in some US prison, like Guantanamo Bay.
She was merely prohibited from visiting, staying and learning in the US. Period.
I even seriously doubt if she possessed assets and wealth of any kind — which would have been seized and frozen by the US government.
So, quite frankly, Chinamasa’s diatribe was not just laughable, but rather an insult to the suffering people of Zimbabwe — whose own children were born in the midst of horrendous economic hardships authored by Chinamasa's own government.
- Free media environment key developmental reportage says PemSec Mangwana
- Zimbabwe’s curse of one step forward, two steps back
- Corruption Watch: Get scared, 2023 is coming
- Magacha gets ambassadorial role
In fact, it should be hastily mentioned that he was a significant part of the regime of late ousted tyrant Robert Gabriel Mugabe — being the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister when these targeted sanctions were imposed.
During this time, Chinamasa was the leader of business in the National Assembly — responsible for enacting such hideous repressive laws as Public Order and Security Act and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act — which firmly established the country as a pariah State.
These laws — that viciously clamped down on such freedoms as of expression, assembly, and media; otherwise freely enjoyed in more civilised countries — coupled with bizarre senseless economic policies, that pushed the nation over the cliff, into unprecedented poverty and misery.
This is the time my son was born, on January 18, 2003.
The only life he has known from then was that of going without enough food in the home, and the little that was available lacking any value and nutrition.
I can still recall his heart-wrenching relentless cries of hunger, as he demanded porridge or anything to put in his tummy.
This was the time we went for months without seeing a single drop of cooking oil — while the trillions and quadrillions of useless Zimbabwe dollars in our possession was insufficient to purchase the most basic staples such as mealie-meal, let alone any meat.
The only thing we had in our houses, if we were fortunate, was sugar beans or some withering vegetables (which did not grow very well, since our town could go for long periods without tap water) — and, of course, cooked in the absence of oil or at times without salt.
As a result of the incessant water challenges — my son and I would share a bath, ensuring that less than a litre of the precious liquid was sufficient.
During the rainy season, my mother would walk for miles crossing various forests, travelling all the way to Hunters Road from Redcliff, some 20 or so kilometres away — in search of mushrooms or anything else for relish, as we waited at home in anticipation, while preparing sadza which was barely enough for the family.
After one of these long walks, she managed to return with only five mopani worms or edible caterpillars (madora/amacimbi) — which we thankfully shared and ate with sadza.
That is the life my son has known from the time he was born.
Let me ask Chinamasa this :“As my son faced such indescribable hunger and destitution, where was your daughter, and what type of life were you living in your home?
“Did you have to sit in the dark for hours, in order to save the only candle in the house?”
If Chinamasa and his family were not going through anything close to the impoverishment my son (as well as my mother and I) had to endure — then, he should stop infuriating us with his whining over his daughter being barred from flying, possibly in the first class, to the US.
When I could no longer bear the torture in Zimbabwe, I decided to try my luck in neighbouring South Africa.
At that time, for one to be given a visa, there was need for R2 000 in traveller‘s cheques.
After calculating how much we would require in Zimbabwe dollars to exchange for that amount — we realised that we had to save every cent we earned for two years.
Therefore, we decided to sell my old Ford Meteor for R2 000 — which finally enabled me to relocate down south in 2008, in search of a livelihood.
And Chinamasa is livid that his dearest daughter was denied permission to live pretty in the US.
Is it then surprising that I do not share his rage?
The ordinary people of Zimbabwe — whom, Chinamasa and his comrades impoverished — should be the irate ones, demanding answers as to why the Zanu PF regime imposed sanctions on them and their children.
What sin or crime did my boy commit to deserve such a miserable and painful life from the day he was born?
Did he have to grow up without his father or even mother — who desserted me, due to the intolerable poverty, and both of us, separately, trekked to South Africa for supposed greener pastures — leaving him to be passed from one relative to another, such that he grew up without knowing any stability in his life?
If Chinamasa can satisfactorily answer these questions — then, maybe, and just maybe, I can also try to feel some sympathy for his little princess.
However, for now, all I know is that my little prince grew up only knowing a lonely, unstable life of unbearable pain and suffering on account of the high-level corruption and economic mismanagement pertetrated by the Zanu PF administration.
The last thing we worried about was flying to the US.
Tendai Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: [email protected]