Last week while making the short trip to Glen View from adjacent Glen Norah township I decided to take a so-called “emergency taxi”. A poignant anachronism and derisively dubbed “limos”, the so-called emergency taxis are in fact 1960s and 1970s vehicles such as Peugeot 404s and Morris Oxfords. Like a blast from the past — and despite being banned several times by government — they ply short routes from Glen Norah, with the only sporadic hazard being an occasional, half-hearted police blitz.
“Sorry I will have to use the longer route with the better road,” the driver remarked as the car’s engine reluctantly spluttered into life as he steered his decades-old Morris onto the road.
Having driven on the road he was referring to before his decision was understandable: Deeply potholed and now comprising more earth than tar, it is almost impossible to get out of first gear lest you damage your vehicle.
But apparently there’s an additional rain-induced hazard. The driver revealed that the day before he had used the road just after a downpour. Inadvertently, his vehicle had splashed pothole water onto a pedestrian, who furiously scooped mud from a pothole with his hands and threw it at him through the vehicle’s window!
Such is the parlous state of the country’s roads which bear testimony to the country’s decade-long freefall precipitated by the self-serving policies of former ruling party, Zanu PF, which hardly require reprising. Zimbabweans had hoped that the government of national unity would be the vehicle to transport the nation on the road to economic recovery and growth, but, apart from stabilising the economy, little else has been achieved. The worsening power cuts and continuing job losses are but two barometers of this failure.
During the mid-1980s the poor state of Zambian roads was the butt of several jokes in this country. One was that any motorist who kept to his lane risked arrest on suspicion of drunken driving for it was deemed impossible to drive in the pot-holed roads without zigzagging to avoid them.
But now we all know poor roads are no joke.
Similarly, the parties to the unity government have found the going a bumpy road given their disparate interests, despite “dedicating ourselves to putting an end to the polarisation, divisions and conflict and intolerance that has characterised Zimbabwean politics and society”, as spelt out in the preamble of the Global Political Agreement — the precursor to the unity government.
Only last Sunday our sister publication The Standard carried a story in which Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa allegedly praised soldiers — accused by the MDC of spearheading the 2008 poll violence — for keeping Zanu PF intact. He opened his speech with a “pasi na (Morgan) Tsvangirai” –– a slogan reserved for the party’s arch-enemies.
Zanu PF is clearly in mortal fear that fully implementing the unity agreement could deal a fatal blow to its ambitions of ruling the country forever due to its “liberation war credentials”. It is little wonder then that President Robert Mugabe is now claiming he is unhappy being in the power-sharing government, citing its semi-legality and breakdown in communication with his fellow principals, and wants elections as soon as possible.
Zanu PF’s subterfuge must never be allowed to prevail. The GNU has failed to engage the travelling gear largely because one of the core-drivers — Zanu PF— will not disengage the handbrake.
While we can forget about the GNU spawning economic recovery worth talking about, there must be no elections until all the reforms as outlined in the accord are fulfilled. To do otherwise would be to play into the hands of Zanu PF while sacrificing the aspirations of the majority.
Zanu PF’s ambition of perpetual rule is about as anachronistic as the “emergency taxis” plying the short routes to and from Glen Norah.