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Most people have been dead for ages

Dear Mr President – I WRITE this open letter in my capacity as an ordinary Zimbabwean and to you as my president.

It is with great sadness that I read over the weekend that Zimbabwean men are unlikely to live beyond 37 years and women can only expect to live up to 34 years

. If this is indeed true then most of us are statistically dead.

For most people it does feel like they have been dead for a long while given the enormity of the problems they have to face daily.

It is even more frightening to learn that we have shed off two years of our life expectancy in the last 12 months.

Wouldn’t it be a pleasure, Mr President, to know that your citizens will be able to live as long as you have? I do not like to sound like a whining child but as ordinary citizens we have reached the limits of human suffering.

I took pride and still take pride in your famous speech during the World Social Summit in Durban when you told the sometimes-naive Tony Blair to keep his Britain and let you keep your Zimbabwe. It reminded me of a November night in 1978 when the first group of “comrades” reached our school near Zimbabwe’s eastern border.
You could feel and taste liberation. Comrade Hidden, the leader of the group, broke into song, “Beautiful Zimbabwe, Beautiful Zimbabwe, We Shall Ever Remember Beautiful Zimbabwe”. I am not sure anymore, Mr President, that the Zimbabwe you are keeping is the same that your ordinary citizens are keeping or would like to keep.

I admire and respect your principle and determined stance on a number of critical issues. It is your pragmatic and visionary leadership that significantly contributed to the successful liberation of our beautiful country.

We also hear you loud and clear when you say that we should never ever allow ourselves to be treated as second-class citizens or to be subjugated as a people once again.

They say that wisdom is the ability to know what to overlook. I believe that it was this same wisdom that gave you the flexibility to negotiate a compromise in 1979 and bring the war to an end giving birth to our nation.

You have given your all to building the nation and for that we will ever be sincerely grateful. We, however, feel that you and your team are exhausted and that it will be an act of great heroism and sacrifice if you stepped aside and allowed a fresh team to carry the baton forward.

We need to bring up our children in our lifetimes and see them go to schools and colleges. Mr President, our economy has shed close to half its value in the last seven years, our women now live the shortest lives in the world, and most of our young citizens have not had the opportunity to work since leaving school or college.

Our hospitals do not have critical medicines. Most citizens cannot afford basic necessities because most prices for goods and services are beyond their reach.

Whatever the cause of our plight, I appeal to you for we know that you are a compassionate president who has the interest of his country and people at heart. A lot of Zimbabweans feel strongly that if you stepped down and allowed a new team chosen by citizens to undertake the task of rebuilding the nation we will be able to lift ourselves out of the current problems.

I have written this open letter not to score cheap political points but to convey to you what most ordinary citizens are thinking and saying and knowing full well that it is within your power to change our circumstances.

I would have written a personal letter but as you are fully aware it is not easy to communicate directly with you.

Ozias Tungwarara,

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