Zim crisis: deal with causes not symptoms

Tafirenyika Wekwa Makunike

DESPITE rapid advances in sciences and development, the Homo sapiens are still far closer to the animal kingdom than we care to acknowledge.



rdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>How do we explain the rabid fascination with violent sport like America wrestling and boxing?


The thrills seem to come from seeing another human being hurt badly, never mind the fact that they are paid to do so. It is almost a mirror image of what happens in our own politics.


Another obsession that people have is with the Costa Nostra popularly known as the mafia. How else would we explain the numerous violent movies that have been recycled since time immemorial through our televisions and movie theatres? Could it be the violence and raw power that we find so enchanting?


Perhaps it is the ability to say kapish with no legal hindrances that the Mafia exhibits or their code of silence know as omerta. Mafia kingpins assume their authority usually by violent means, exercising their authority mainly through fear. Their authority lasts for their life time and their end usually mirrors their entrance in the degree of violence and the baton stick is passed on at the death bed to the one with the potential to follow a similar path.


This August I thought I should drive home a few days before the Heroes Day stampede of people rushing to perform grave rituals under the guise of memorials. I was last at home in March and driving from Beitbridge through Masvingo, Mutare, Harare back to Beitbridge I watched with interest the kaleidoscope of what we all call home and how fast everything is changing. Driving the Beitbridge-Mutare route in the evening, the only regular vehicle one encounters is the double cab belonging to the ruling Mafioso, a few commercial vehicles and a few funeral cortèges. A business colleague wanted to know why I always make these trips back home despite the problems. They say to return is to realise that you never left. Even if things were to deteriorate any further I would still come.


As soon as I picked up a signal I tuned to one of Johno’s stations to hear what he has been up to lately and I immediately encountered my first audio assault from Rambai Makashinga, a tune that was to be repeated with astonishing regularity until fortunately I lost the signal and went back to the tape. During my whole stay it was Rambai Makashinga ad neaseum. Even Hitler’s Geobbels was more subtle than this. Why they had to overdo this to the point of sadism left me somewhat perplexed. As Zimbabweans our capacity to take whatever is dished at us is legendary, stretching from pre-colonial era to the current Zanu PF kingdom.


I lost two years of my schooling life making my own minute contribution to the liberation of this country and had to skip a grade just to narrow the gap with my peers. I can assure you that by any stretch of imagination this is not the utopia we dreamt of. We have watched many mafikizolos in the Mafia restructuring their curriculum vitae to give them a revolutionary tinge! We suddenly get told that while they were at some far flung US university they were in fact representing us there, notwithstanding the fact that the majority of the people there did not even know what Rhodesia was.


Going to school in Mutare I had watched in 1980 staunch UANC supporters (Madzakutsaku chaiwo) converting to Zanu and persecuting those they left behind. As soon as there is potential for real change watch with me how all those businesspeople will make a somersault and start splashing their funding to any potential new dispensation. It complies strictly with all the laws of the jungle.


While in Zimbabwe I bumped into this old acquaintance who is in alliance with the ruling clique. He was eager to show me how well he has done for himself while we were toiling in foreign lands. According to him if the great uncle stays in power for another year his children and their offspring will never need to work again. He had made more money in the last two years than all his life and as he counts the accompanying trappings I could not help noting that they were indeed massive.


Does your great uncle know that when you shout that only he should rule “for ever and ever” it is out of self-interest? I enquired. Again he explained that the Great Uncle had a big ego which when stroked properly can produce astonishing results. What about the workers and our parents – the pensioners who have seen their life’s savings reduced to nothing? He was starting to believe that I was getting jealous of his excesses so I closed the chapter.


Homecoming will not be complete without a trip to the bank, the storehouse of the troubled currency and a mass of angry people. If the Mafia does not seriously deal with this one, it could be the albatross that will ultimately plunge the nation totally back to the animal kingdom. Failing to extricate sufficient zim kwacha from the tellers I made a request to see the bank manager at some bank I had an old company account. While I was pleading my case a minister phoned the manager setting up the time for collection of her loot.


With an air of self-importance the manager was making me aware who was on the other end of the line. Needless to say I left with no joy at all. While my experiences were only for a few days I can only imagine the effect on the national psyche for those who have to endure on a daily basis.


It seems the police have totally adapted to the environment and have lost interest in any form of policing. Not even once during my whole travel through the country was I asked about anything including the drum of petrol I brought from South Africa which was at the back of my car. Francis Nhema is ordinarily a nice person but he will go down in history as the minister who presided over the environmental destruction of our land.

Driving from Harare to Masvingo I could not help but infer that many of the new farmers are more wood vendors. There are piles and piles of wood with no takers. Instead of preparing the land for the next season another industry seems to have started. Curiosity got the better of me with all road waving and strange signs that I stopped. When I enquired about the signs they explained that they were selling petrol hidden back in the bush.

Between Chivhu and Masvingo I counted at least five such selling points.

One question for the mafia is: what is it that makes it more worthwhile for people to pan for gold, wheel and deal in practically anything than to till the land? Are they not taking the cue from the ruling elite that it is more valuable to shuffle things than to actually produce anything?


Governance is about satisfying the needs of the majority at the very least, but ours seems to be inflicting the most pain on the majority while a selected few make loads of money. Commissions and more price controls are no substitute for the leadership vacuum. Changing $500 notes or printing indoor travellers’ cheques is just fire fighting dealing with symptoms and not the causes. There is no political will to solve the problems of our nation precisely because those who have arrogated themselves the right to rule over us are benefiting from the problems they have created.


Politics used to be about a desire to serve but in Zimbabwe, Zanu PF has reduced it to mere rulership. It stopped being about winning the minds of the people a long time ago to just showing them who is boss.

* Tafirenyika Wekwa Makunike is a business consultant based in South Africa.

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