IT was one of the most painful and heartrending sights!
There are very few incidents that are so harrowing and sink the heart as to watch grownups grovelling for things which, in a normal country, should be guaranteed or even taken for granted.
My heart sank recently watching, in sheer horror, trained professionals practically on their knees, thanking President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa for promising them residential stands.
These nurses (under the banner of the so-called “Health Ambassadors 4 ED”) left me dry-mouthed and dumbfounded and wondering whatever happened to the dignity and respectability of our valued health care professionals — who used to hold their heads up high, and were immensely revered in our communities.
Being a son of a nurse myself, I can remember how my mother (fondly referred to as “Nurse Anna” in our small town of Redcliff) was held in very high esteem by virtually everyone who knew her.
This was not simply because she was (and, still is) a very loving and lovable individual — but, due to the fact that she also was a State certified nurse, midwife and theatre assistant — meant that quite a number of people (who are now adults) came into this world, or were healed, through her hands.
Not only that, but a nurse in those days — having begun her profession in 1964 at the then iron and steelmaking giant Ziscosteel (at the time known as Risco), and earning a modest monthly wage of 18 Rhodesian pounds — was able to enjoy a very decent livelihood, and comfortably raise me as an only child.
At no point did she ever have to rely on the generosity of the State or any other benefactor for her living and lifestyle — since, her income was more than enough.
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As a matter of fact, when she met the man who was to become her beloved husband, and my dear father, in the late 1960s, he was unemployed — after having been blacklisted from his teaching profession by the Rhodesia regime for his nationalist activities.
Therefore, she married him for the awesome man he was — and not for financial gain, or to be taken care of.
The wellbeing of a nurse was so good that, immediately after independence in 1980, she became one of the first few black people, not only to relocate to a formerly white suburb of Redcliff, but to also manage to actually buy a beautiful house there.
Of course, the same awaited my father — after he was subsequently reinstated to his beloved teaching profession at independence, he was also able to purchase a lovely suburban house in Masasa Park, in the nearby city of Kwekwe — which he rented out.
Yet today, we now have the sadness of witnessing nurses and teachers who cannot afford to buy their own houses or any other immovable properties, on account of pathetic remunerations, are forced by circumstances to beg, literally on their knees, the national leadership for pieces of land to build their own homes.
It goes without saying that, even if given those stands — which, under normal circumstances, they should have been able to afford on their own salaries — they will still find it near impossible to construct anything meaningful on them.
How can they build any decent accommodation for themselves, when the money they are earning falls far short of renting one or two rooms?
Let us remember that, as a result of the deplorable ruination of our country’s economy by the political elite, through 42 years of unprecedented misrule and corruption — most civil servants have become lodgers, and some (as teachers, police officers and those in the military) forced to rent rooms at homes of those they are meant to either teach, or bring to book should they commit crimes.
It is no longer shocking seeing a teacher asking a primary school pupil to buy them a packet of maputi (popped corn), or pay their kombi (commuter omnibus) fare. This is something I have personally witnessed with my own eyes!
Such is the appalling state our once-revered civil servants find themselves in — reduced to the laughing stock of our communities!
In a normal country, one would expect the authorities to find such a disgraceful situation unacceptable, and be prompted into swift action.
But, no, not in Zimbabwe!
Here, we actually have leaders who thrive on, and have mastered the sickening vile art of, exploiting the nation’s abject poverty and suffering for political mileage and expediency.
Is that not why we are shockingly witnessing the sudden proliferation of all those “4 ED” organisations — comprised mainly of those, ironically, enduring the brunt of the same ED (Mnangagwa) government’s shameful failures and mismanagement?
It is not strange that every one of those “4 ED” groups is formed by those in desperate need of economic saving — who have been cruelly thrown into the abyss of near destitution — and, now see no other way out than to sing the praises of the very same people who authored their untold misery, and wilfully perpetrated such unspeakable suffering?
That is why the scenes of nurses (Health Ambassadors 4 ED) continues to haunt me because these people remind me of my own mother, who was a nurse; and, it is so harrowing to imagine how this noble profession has been turned into such a laughing stock, within a relatively short space of time.
These are people who now celebrate having residential flats built for them by the government — yet, not too long ago, they could easily buy their own gorgeous houses.
Nowadays, being provided busses to ferry them to work seems god-sent — yet, nurses and teachers could afford to own all types of lovely cars.
However, as much as begging the person, who wickedly threw you into the den of lions, to rescue you from imminent devouring, may appear a reasonable response to such a situation — it will prove dangerous in the long run, since this only serves to embolden one to keep you beholden to them.
As they enjoy such power and hold over your life and livelihood – providing them with some psychotic sense of a “God Complex” — they will only seek to drive even more people into destitution.
At the rate at which these “4 ED” organisations are sprouting up everywhere — poverty and economic ruination appears to be working very well for those in power in Zimbabwe.
Of course, as I have warned before, relying on the “support” of those forced by dire circumstances and desperation, is foolhardy and myopic — since, this may easily result in not only resentment, but downright acrimony towards those who created the unpleasant economic environment, in the first place — leading to the real likelihood of betrayal when it matters the most, during election time.
This is exactly what I perceive with all those pretending to back Mnangagwa — as their loathing of the man who pushed them into supporting him, purely out of desperation, will inevitably result in them desiring to kick him out of power.
That is exactly what I would do, had I been forced into a similar predicament. Therefore, it is no secret that there is no economy development to talk about when professionals are pushed into bootlicking for survival — due to unbearable financial hardships.
This is only a sign of economic deterioration of a once prosperous country, led into the path of destruction by a greedy self-serving corrupt leadership.
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700/ +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email: [email protected]