Zim now like a car made of wire

These were usually small cars, buses and trucks — with the most popular being the first two during my toddler days.

WHEN we were little boys, we enjoyed playing with our homemade toy vehicles made out of scrap wire.

These were usually small cars, buses and trucks — with the most popular being the first two during my toddler days. While we also loved toys bought for us by our parents from the shops, our favourite were the ones we made for ourselves using wire, most probably because they were products of our own hands and creativity.

They made us not only feel immensely proud, the driving experience was next to none — due to the long steering wheels and how we could manoeuvre them in all types of terrain.

To cap it all, whenever these “vehicles” were involved in some mishap or accident, we needed not worry — because we were able to readily fix any problems, or even dismantle the entire thing and create something completely new.

The experience was so realistic that we actually believed we were driving real cars, buses and trucks. The sounds we made imitating the type of vehicle we would be driving iced the fun.

Nonetheless, in all this “realism” there was no denying it that it was all pretence and play.

Nothing was real. These were just toys made out of wire, period.

The yesteryear childhood nostalgic thoughts recently overcame due to the gnawing unshakable frustration after spending hours unsuccessfully trying to open websites I wanted to browse, on top of repeatedly failing to send or receive emails.

Even uploading this article onto my blog has been a huge nightmare because of the poor internet network.

In spite of Zimbabwe boasting of three mobile network operators — which are never shy of proudly showing off their presence in the country — it appeared they are selling us a fallacy: A non-existent fancy land which crudely reminded me of the toy wire cars of our childhood.

It would seem that the whole Zimbabwe story is one huge pretence and nothing is truly real and genuine. And sadly, the citizenry seems to have conditioned themselves that ours was a normal country.

Indeed, we can easily be counted among countries with internet and mobile communications connectivity, and we even have apps (applications) designed right here. Additionally, we are home to a number of industries and companies which supposedly produce goods and services supplied to other nations.

Even one of the world’s most famous telecommunications tycoon, Strive Masiyiwa, is from here: incredible stuff, indeed.

Of late, there has also been a proliferation of so-called “malls” — which, in Zimbabwe’s case, are effectively small shops stacked together in a building selling more or less identical products — most commonly clothing and basic household wares.

Who would not think our country was just like the rest of the world?

Nonetheless, as with the wire toy vehicles — despite the façade of reality — this is all fake.

Besides the poor and appalling internet and mobile communications connectivity, the goods we are buying from these mushrooming “malls” are largely below standard and never last long; that is if they at all function as claimed: At least our wire cars functioned.

It is never shocking to buy a shirt, pair of trousers, or shoes that tear, or fade, or wear out after only a few washes or weeks of wearing. Even established local industries and companies have become notorious for manufacturing attractive looking goods — which hardly live up to expectations due to shoddy and half-hearted workmanship.

Despite endless promises and assurances of these products’ claimed “high quality”, which is seldom the case — electric appliances and electronic devices which are “proudly Zimbabwean”, never last long?

It is even worse in our small to medium enterprises sector, where in an attempt to survive the country’s torrid economic times they have resorted to operating all manner of so-called “home industries”.

A few weeks ago, my mother was involved in a minor car accident and we took her vehicle to a local panel beater. To say we were terribly disappointed with the dreadful job done on the car, would be an understatement.

This extends to the construction sector — where quite a significant portion of the country’s infrastructure built in the recent past is all sub-standard and deplorable.

In fact, whenever there are adverse weather conditions — such as heavy storms, strong winds, or floods — the most negatively affected are those buildings, bridges and roads constructed over the past few years. As if to validate my assertion, a bridge built only five ago in Cyclone Idai-affected Chimanimani is reported to already be cracking and posing a danger to motorists and other travellers.

In my small town of Redcliff, a light rainfall is more than enough to cut off electricity supplies! Returning to the world of technology, apps designed in Zimbabwe never seem to do what they are meant to do and bring out error messages at every click. All these issues subsequently point to the country’s economy — which has been in the intensive care unit for over two decades.

In other words, our economy is a huge fraud, a toy car made of wire!

No wonder we can even pretend Zimbabwe actually has a currency of its own — yet never able to purchase anything (due to its rabid depreciation) and cannot be exchanged in any foreign bank for other currencies.

Over the years, we have convinced ourselves that we are in a normal country with normal goods and services comparable to the rest of the world.

However, sadly that is way far from the truth.

We are living a fantasy and elusion. Zimbabwe is nothing more than a car made of wire!

One day, this reality will hit us like a tonne of bricks.

  • Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author and speaker. He writes here in his personal capacity.


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