HomeAnalysisZim, its people not ‘broken’

Zim, its people not ‘broken’

“For those who are still in denial, it is worth restating: Zimbabwe is broken. Its people are broken. Their minds and spirits are broken. The infrastructure is broken — rotting in fact. And, unsurprisingly, the image of our country is in tatters.”

These disturbing words were written by Trevor Ncube in an article published in the Zimbabwe Independent edition of April 15 entitled Only a ‘Third Way’ can fix Zim.

Bernard Bwoni Emigrant

mdc-t-protest4

Life of misery ... Thousands of people attended an MDC-T rally (top) in Harare recently to protest against the government’s misrule, abuse of human rights, unemployment and the deepening economic crisis, among other issues; and (bottom) a man navigates his way through a rubbish dump in Mbare, Harare.
Life of misery … Thousands of people attended an MDC-T rally (top) in Harare recently to protest against the government’s misrule, abuse of human rights, unemployment and the deepening economic crisis, among other issues; and (bottom) a man navigates his way through a rubbish dump in Mbare, Harare.

I am lost for words trying to understand the motive behind such negativity against Zimbabwe and its people? It is his opinion and yes he is entitled to it just like the rest of us, however to categorically say “Zimbabwe is broken. Its people are broken. Their minds and spirits are broken” is too non-specific and hence the challenge. To use his word, this is “broken” and reckless journalism with all due respect. What test did Ncube use to determine that the people of Zimbabwe’s “minds are broken”?

Zimbabwe has a population of around 13 million people and it would be interesting to find out how many actually have their “minds broken”. Such portrayal of Zimbabwe by a Zimbabwean journalist could easily be linked to inadequate journalism; again this I say with all due respect.

What would possess any Zimbabwean to portray the country with such pessimism, absolute doom and gloom? What satisfaction does one derive from such depiction? It seriously boggles the mind. What sort of mind will emit such a foul impression of Zimbabwe?

The obsession with presenting Zimbabwe as “broken” could easily be linked to some behind-the-scenes motive, surely. There seems to be no objectivity in such careless representation of the country and the only satisfaction derived from this is to the self. The question to pose is: is Ncube mending Zimbabwe by such eye-catching headline of a “broken Zimbabwe”? Definitely not. There is no patriotism or victory in putting your country down. There are no awards for this level of sloppiness.

Nobody is for one minute implying that things are perfect in Zimbabwe. The country is facing a multitude of challenges, there are many things that could be better and there is a lot of work to be done to improve the already battered image of Zimbabwe. Brazenly reckless and sensational headlines about a “broken Zimbabwe in tatters” will not restore the country’s dignity or image. Those who consistently paint the negative picture will not attract business to the country. The current peaceful environment in Zimbabwe does not prevail in a “broken” country and that must never be taken for granted. “Broken” is what you have in Libya today, Syria, Iraq and many other “broken” nations where the word peace does not apply. Zimbabwe has its own fair share of challenges, but “broken” is not one of them. Far from it.

It was only in March that Zimbabwe was awarded the Best Destination for Adventure from the Pacific Area Travel Writers Association (Patwa) at the International Tourism Bourse in Berlin. In 2014, the General Assembly of European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT) unanimously awarded Zimbabwe the World’s Best Tourism Destination and also Favourite Cultural Destination for 2014. Such awards are not being presented to a “broken country”, but a peaceful country with friendly ever-smiling people.

Zimbabwe has always been popular with tourists from all round the world and hence the awards. Enquiries about travelling to Zimbabwe are often pouring in and the expectation is that they are not presented with an image of an allegedly “broken” Zimbabwe, but with the true picture of the warmth and beauty that the country has to offer. There are adventurers, tourists, backpackers and businesspeople who are keen on coming to Zimbabwe and people like Ncube are busy trying to turn away these people with their false and careless headlines of “broken minds” and “tatters”.

It is a shame that people like Ncube will not find anything positive to say about this amazing country, but that is their prerogative. There are always going to be negative people and many seem to derive some form of depraved pleasure from such devious characterisation of Zimbabwe. There does not seem to be any other logical explanation.

In his article, Ncube talked about “broken infrastructure”, but failed to mention the infrastructure that has sprouted and continue to do so throughout the country since 1980. Zimbabwe’s infrastructure is very much intact and yes some of it requires retooling and rehabilitation, but to call it “broken” borders on dishonest. There are many new infrastructural developments taking place in the country and the restoration of many roads has been happening throughout the country and that does not happen in a “broken country”. The rubble and crumbling bombed buildings in Libya, Iraq or Syria point to “broken” infrastructure, not Zimbabwe.

The rehabilitation of the over 800 kilometres Mutare-Plumtree road has recently been completed and is near perfect. Under the disabling economic environment, Zimbabwe is still forging ahead with major infrastructural developments and the country is nowhere near “broken” or in “tatters”. The Harare Airport Road is complete and looking well laid out. The country had a period when there had been regular power and water outages. These challenges have been addressed and there has been massive improvements in supply. Rarely does power or water go in the country. Of course, there are still improvements required in the quality of the water supply.

There recently was a picture doing rounds on social media of a road in Rhodesia where there were only buses on the road and only one car. There was an outcry that Rhodesians had perfect roads and granted the roads looked clear.

However, the fact of the matter is that Rhodesians were short-sighted and only created infrastructure meant for a minority. It is a fact that Zimbabwe’s infrastructure has struggled to cope with population increase and unsustainable rural-to-urban migration. Zimbabwe’s roads are teeming with traffic. The number of cars on Zimbabwe’s roads is staggering. But Zimbabwe is not “broken”, it is in fact building as opposed to breaking.

Rhodesia was founded somewhere around 1895 and up till 1980, had one university. Zimbabwe was born on April 18 1980 and to date there are over 10 universities, nine of which are state universities. There is the University of Zimbabwe (which was the University of Rhodesia and only university the Rhodesians built).

Zimbabwe has constructed the National University of Science and Technology, Great Zimbabwe University, Bindura University of Science, Solusi University, Lupane State University, Gwanda State University and Chinhoyi University of Technology. Zimbabwe also has the Africa University, Women’s University in Africa, Catholic University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Open University and many other technological colleges and polytechnics.

From 1895 to 1980, it took Rhodesia 85 years to build one university. On the other hand, it has taken Zimbabwe a mere 36 years to have over 10 universities. Now that is a massive feat of infrastructure development and that does not point to a “broken” country. All these point to new infrastructure and Ncube wants the world to believe all these are not happening and all he has done is to paint a picture of absolute ruin which is inaccurate.

Thousands of primary and secondary schools have been built throughout the country. Yes, there are challenges in maintaining some of the infrastructure, but it is there. There are many construction projects happening in Zimbabwe.

The construction of the Mall of Zimbabwe is a positive development following the greenlight from the Environmental Management Authority. The Defence College is complete and in use. The point being made here is that all these developments cannot be happening in a “broken” country.

There are liquidity challenges in the country as we speak and the country is facing a devastating drought. The government has been making efforts to ensure that people do not starve. Now in “broken country”, people are left to starve. The shops in Zimbabwe are jammed with goods, local and imported. People are building homes, albeit at a slow pace, but they are building their own homes. The Zimbabwe building regulations remain robust and rarely do you hear of collapsed buildings. Actually there has not been collapsed buildings which you find in genuinely “broken countries”. Shops are full, fuel is in abundance, cars are choking the roads, delivery trucks clog the highways. And surely, that does not happen in a “hell-hole” or a “broken country”.

It is often said that the number of delivery trucks on the roads often indicate that the signs for the economy are pointing in the right direction. Again just to make it clear, the country has its challenges, but is far away from being “broken”. The only “broken” thing is the sensational headline from the article by Ncube.

Those who downgrade their own country are simply prostituting themselves and the likes of Ncube who publicly de-campaign Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans by labelling them “broken”, clearly have no idea of the implications of the negative speculation they constantly present to the world. The world as we know it today, is well interconnected and the bleak picture that is being presented about Zimbabwe has far-reaching and damaging effects on the country as a whole.

It is sad and disappointing to note that we have such individuals with such a “broken” mind-set about their own country. The likes of Ncube have no idea when to draw the line and separate country from party politics.
Bwoni is secretary for administration for South West England Branch of Zanu PF UK. — bernardbwoni.blogspot.com

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