BY Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana DEAR President,
Your Excellency, the cost of living has been skyrocketing for quite some time now. Salaries are subjected to progressive erosion. As I see it, long before teachers in public service pleaded incapacitation, a listening President ought to have discerned their plight.
Yet, they encountered demeaning contempt. They were brushed off, haughtily told that teachers on strike would be replaced forthwith. As if schoolheads were also not incapacitated, they were nonetheless sternly instructed to keep registers of absentees.
Your Excellency, amid the highhanded government rebuff, the economy persisted on the free-fall, oblivious of the threats to teachers. Ironically, the basic cost of living is now perched distantly higher than the Reserve Bank building. It is now a topical political topic.
It is nestled afar, half a world from the reach of the central bank governor. He cannot lower it, even with the aid of the proverbial magic wand. His head is swirling. He is in bemusement, like Alice in Wonderland. He has been rendered ineffectual, like an ass before the lyre.
Inherent in his recent intervention in the price of bread is the apparent confirmation that the cost of living had indeed galloped wildly and beastly out of control. It bolted unimaginably rapid. Curiously, the Honourable minister has since been silhouetted behind his tinted spectacles, observing the horrible spectacle as the weaker currency gets driven out by a stronger one.
Yet, public medical institutions were bound to ground to a shutdown. Medical practitioners long expressed grief due to incapacitation. It has been in the offing that the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, the largest referral facility in the country, was destined for a work stoppage.
Your Excellency, it was an inevitable that nurses, doctors and their other allied professionals had to abandon their work stations. It is a decision not taken lightly. They arrived at it with heavy hearts, given that they are bound by ethics to alleviate pain and save lives.
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Yet, owing to the continued erosion of their already meager earnings, they were compelled to vote with their feet from duty. Their pleas for review of their packages have all along been roundly ignored as they were sniveling. It is now a headache to put food on the table.
They too, like entire civil servants, are incapacitated. Their servant salaries do not fill a supermarket carrier bag. Consequently, the push came to shove, hence, the work stoppage.
At one point, not so long ago, nurses were given marching orders for requesting for remuneration commensurate with their colleagues in the region. Their dismissal, which was eventually reversed, was announced through a ministerial order that was barked militarily.
Your Excellency, the buck stops with you. It is in times of a crisis that the essence of true leadership comes to the fore. As the cost of living continues to rise, the consequences have implications on your Presidency, in particular, and your party, in general.
Already, moans and groans of those who are dying for want of medical attention are being uttered in your name. Methinks you need to look no further for your unbundling than at the economy. It behooves me to counsel you that the harmonised elections are nigh.
Currently, Zimbabwe is a classical Cry the Beloved Country. Things have fallen apart. Indeed, the centre cannot hold. Sadly, nervous conditions are tormenting citizenry. It is not a farfetched thought that the entire civil services, including the uniformed forces are incapacitated.
Little wonder, soldiers and police officers are now increasingly being driven into armed robbery by the imperative need of putting food on the table. Given the rapidity with which the economy is freefalling, more work stoppages are to be expected.
Your Excellency, if ever there was time to do things differently, to embrace new perspectives, it is now. It would be utterly negligent and abusive of the privilege of being the First Citizen if you were to continue to hobnod with some groups that do not add value to the country.
A god-awful grouping that springs to mind is the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad ). It is a pet peeve that is as parasitic as it is opportunistic. It is undeserving of presidential time. It was disdainful to common sense that an indaba on the economy was held with them.
Granted, Your Excellency, none of them has parliamentary or local government seats — essentially, they represent no constituencies in both electoral chambers — it is inexpediency of the lowest common denominator that you convened a meeting with these trimmers.
It cannot be counted to your credit that you dialogue with Polad, a grouping of no significance whatsoever. Truly, this assemblage of political ignobles who masquerade as the opposition earns you scorn and ridicule.
Your Excellency, It is an annoyance you ought not have caused right from the onset.
As the economy falls freely, it is a big ask to expect solutions, let alone suggestions from Polad. All what these spoilers bring to your meetings is their insatiable appetite.
Methinks the generality of them are Uncle Toms who were sponsored to contest as presidential candidates, primarily to muddle the 2018 harmonised elections.
Essentially, if the economy was ever responsive to slogans, Zimbabwe could be the propitious Promised land by now. Positive results of engagement and re-engament could be evident in the resultant living conditions of citizenry. Sadly, that is not the case.
As I see it, Your Excellency, fundamentals of economics do not respond to chants. It has been acknowledged since time immemorial that the economy and politics are close siblings. They cannot be separated. It is impracticable to dispense with one and remain with the other.
That is why the fall in the economy triggers a likewise fall in politics. Each time you give ascent to repressive Bills, they trigger equal negative sentiments in the economy. A soft as wool President does not run roughshod over tenets of democracy with such despotic arrogance as your vow to disallow the opposition to rule.
When you promised reforms during your ascendancy to the Presidency, me thought you were respective of these time honoured precepts. Duly, it is a contributory embarrassment that the shoe factory you commissioned in Gweru is altogether a far cry from the former one.
Granted, the 100% salary increase to public servants is an affront, given that the local currency is susceptible to depreciation. Your Excellency, the rejection by the European Union to extend credit to Zimbabwe is portentous. It is a call to introspection.
- Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist. .