What most people had not been aware of is the fact that the demise of RG Mugabe did not automatically mean everything was going to suddenly be well. The face of the system might have changed but the system itself will need phenomenal disruption to change it. Within the few months that ED Mnangagwa has been office, it has become very clear that the problems of yesterday are still with us. Though he has been campaigning with the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra, it is evident that it is closed in all other sectors like health and human rights. The vice president, general Constantine Chiwenga went on to fire 16,000 nurses who had been demonstrating to get their backdated salaries, and yet it is their constitutional right to do so. General Constantino Chiwenga (Retired), in his capacity as the supervisor of the Social Services Cluster, said the behavior by the nurses was politically- motivated.
The government decided to ignore all the past human rights violations that Zanu-pf had gained notoriety for, from enforced disappearances to state-sponsored torture and murders. Contrary to all the expectations that people had about this “new dispensation”, on his inauguration ED encouraged the spirit of forgiveness among the citizenry. He emphasized that it was important that everyone “let bygones be bygones,” in order for the country to move forward, an idea which didn’t go well with the public. This was a wrong move by the government at a time when people are still demanding for answers about several issues from Itai Dzamara’s disappearance, Cde Rex Nhongo Mujuru’s mysterious death in 2011, the hundreds who were tortured, killed or disappeared during 2008/2013 pre and post-election violence, to the 1983 Gukurahundi massacres. How were people supposed to just forget all of this and move on? “Accept and move on ” was an insult to many who had suffered in the past.
In 2005 there was “Murambatsvina”, demolitions of all illegal structures that rendered thousands homeless without any form of compensation. ED decided to turn a blind eye to all of these, and instead encouraged people to forgive, forget and move on.
One of the women whose house was demolished during the 2005 operation Murambatsvina
Emmerson Dambudzo had promised that he would arrest all the corrupt government officials, who had squandered state funds but he has been in office for over 4 months and no one has been arrested, those who were arrested were acquitted or released on bail like former finance minister Ignatius Chombo who was accused of criminal abuse of office . From an economic perspective what Ed managed to do in the first 100 days was to count the number of days from one to a hundred.
To the ordinary Zimbabwean nothing changed to usher this so called, “new dispensation,” those who where poor remained poor, those who didn’t have jobs remained jobless. I was heartbroken when I came back home to Zimbabwe for vacation for the first time, months after the toppling of Robert Mugabe. I had been at school but we had also experienced our own share of the excitement when we got the news that the “dictator” was finally gone, there were tears of joy everywhere. I was looking forward to a better home but when I came back, what welcomed me was only disappointment. Daddy lost his job after Modzone Enterprises, a textile industry he was working in closed down in 2012 after its Iranian shareholders stopped investing in the firm because of the economic crisis in the country. Coming back home, he was still there with his Engineering degree, a couple more diplomas and certificates. Was there hope for me too? since I had decided to also do my undergraduate degree in Engineering studies. All hope seemed lost, it meant if ever I was going to secure a job I had to find it somewhere else definitely not Zimbabwe.
With the 2018 elections on the horizon, for me ,it’s a battle between two suns, one that is rising and the other that is already setting, one forty-year-old Nelson Chamisa who just got to the right age in time to be nominated as the MDC-Alliance presidential candidate and one,a septuagenarian who was Mugabe’s protege for decades but argues that he is a changed man which leaves a greater fraction of the electorate skeptical about his message of repentance.
Can ED win against this 40-year-old who is not afraid to dream? This remains a question whose answer can never be certain unless we wait for the 30th of July. Chamisa’s visions of Bullet train, of making a billion-dollar economy for Zimbabwe, spaghetti roads and airports was met with mixed reactions from the public. Some say he is childish and he doesn’t have what it takes to lead the nation but however his message has been welcomed by the youth who feel he resonates with their dreams of a better Zimbabwe. To them whatever Chamisa is saying is possible within their lifetime but to the older generation, the message is unrealistic and they believe he doesn’t have what it takes to resuscitate Zimbabwe’s economy again.
However, the main problem is that everyone has become so obsessed with all the “ED has my vote”, “Chamisa chete chete” mantra that we are slowly forgetting the real problems that are facing the ordinary Zimbabwean somewhere in the outskirts of the city. Now all news agencies and media spaces are now focusing on these two individuals and their journeys to power. Okay after one of them takes office what then? do we have any Zimbabwe beyond the 2018 election? Are the stories that we are telling of any benefit to the ordinary mother selling tomatoes on the streets of Harare? What is politics anyway, isn’t it supposed to benefit the citizens on a grassroots level?
I recently opened one of the main newspapers, Newsday, from page 1 to 5 everything was about cabinet ministers, CEO’s from big companies, their relationships, their dirty deals, and of course their favorites these days, Chamisa and Mnangagwa. How is that of any benefit to the jobless citizen, to the street kids who is not sure where his next meal will come from. Who is telling the stories about those councilors demanding votes to get another term in office but have presided over years of potholes in their communities? We can see clearly we have already lost the fight already. We have forgotten completely that this election and the issues affecting Zimbabwe transcends whoever will be voted in as the president.
What our politicians have not been aware of is when people gather for their rallies it’s not that they are just coming for the fun of it but they are looking for real solutions. If you even look at the shoes, the clothes that these people will be wearing, what you will see is a story of years of poverty, the thousands of unemployed graduates that will be in attendance only tell a story of a failed state. Universities are churning out thousands of graduates every year but the system is failing to absorb them.
Unemployed graduates protesting the lack of opportunity in Zimbabwe
So the November 18 coup was a call by the public for real changes and real reforms, it was beyond one particular individual, it was beyond a call for Mugabe to go but a call for an improvement of the whole system. Chamisa definitely has my vote. For me, he is the only hope that is there for real change, he deserves that benefit of a doubt at least he has proven that he can fit into Tsvangirai’s shoes. We cannot repeat the same things over and over again expecting different results each time, thus for me, ED and his Zanu PF are a closed chapter it’s time for the country to move on and heal.
Looking at both the MDC Alliance and the Zanu PF manifestos that were recently published with the former definitely showing more seriousness, it shows that it was a product of sufficient critical thinking. However what we want is beyond something just written on paper, we need results, we will need real transformation, not some we are open for business mantra decorated with a scarf in national flag colors. The damage that Zimbabweans have experienced needs us to move from book narratives and start getting real solutions that can help move the country forward.
Come 30 July I am personally looking forward to the writing of a completely different chapter in history.