“GOVERNMENT remains committed to empowering women and enhancing the family unit because they are critical in the development of the country,” Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister, Oppah Muchinguri has said.”
Incredible! Where does one start to critique this speech excerpt? It seems that government has not realised its role in destroying the family unit over the past 10 to 15 years?
Not by any stretch of the imagination could governmentâ€™s fiscal and monetary interventions and their dire impact upon the economy be described as friendly to families. Instead the blame for the wholesale disintegration of families during this period can be laid at governmentâ€™s door.
Never in this nationâ€™s history have such a variety of pressures been applied to the family unit, from parents to children, and the extended family, across all generations. Never have families had to bear such unmitigated financial and economic disenfranchisement as during the past decade. Never have parents had so little to offer their children by way of education, health, food and general quality of life. Never have children had so little to offer their aging rural-based parents by way of sustenance and basic medical attention, when it is most needed.
Government must take full responsibility for the exodus of its nationals for the Diaspora. In fact Zimbabweans are now to be found on all continents and most countries of the globe. Why have they been so scattered? They are in search of a better quality of life for their families. And sadly, Zimbabwe can no longer offer that.
The result is an unprecedented rupture of families as one or both parents leave children in the custody of one parent or relatives, in pursuit of employment or a better income. The plan is always for the remaining family members to follow as soon as is practicable, but often a reunion never takes place. The reunion becomes a moving target as the small single foreign currency income is required to stretch so far that the family reunion slips down the list of priorities.
But what happens in the meantime is that relationships suffer from distance and time apart and soon are reduced to notional links, and eventually only a financial bond remains. Reunion, when it comes, is delayed, strained and often results in permanent estrangement, owing to the lapse of time and experiences encountered along the road to providing for the family unit.
In cases where both parents succeed in leaving for greener pastures, children are left with relatives in whose long term care they had not been prepared for.
The attendant psychological impact is best described by school teachers who have had to assume a new role to assist children cope with absentee parents and relatives who are doing their best to make the adjustment bearable for these “Diaspora orphans”.
The emotional impact of being away from home regularly and for long stretches of time, renders one incapable of fully integrating into family life for the time that one is home. Family members feel protective of the nuclear unit which exists in the travellerâ€™s absence, and are resentful of the travellerâ€™s intrusion upon their return. The only reason they are re-admitted is that they have economic clout, and bring back with them basic groceries in the form of sugar, cooking oil, soap, salt, etc. Family values swept aside by the laws of demand and supply â€” victims of governmentâ€™s management failure!
Muchinguri also said the family constitutes the basic unit of society and they should be accorded the widest possible protection and assistance. The question is how has government travailed in pursuit of the protection and assistance of the family? By methodically dismantling the very foundations of the economy thereby removing the ability of families to provide for themselves, as a unit? The right to raise their families in a country that offered the best quality of life in the world has been removed; dignity replaced with grovelling, pride with rummaging in rubbish heaps for filthy scraps.
In fact politicians have gone a step further and triggered the violent attacks on families within our borders.