By Tendai Ruben Mbofana
It has been hinted that the much anticipated Al Jazeera investigative documentary on high-level corruption, money laundering and gold smuggling in Zimbabwe will finally be aired tomorrow.
This was after the initial much-hyped broadcast date – set for 2nd March, followed by three more episodes – was abruptly postponed at the last minute, with the Qatari news outlet citing ‘technical issues’.
Of course, to be expected from a nation whose excitement had peeked to fever levels – in eagerness for an exposé that would finally bring to light rabid corruption, especially by the powerful in Zimbabwe – this raised a stink, as suspicions ran high as to the real reasons for this delay.
There were some who even believed that these revelations may never see the light of day, as quietly swept under the carpet – most likely, after either the exchange of cash between the panicked and terrified Zimbabwe regime and the Qataris – or, some other type of pressure exerted upon them to kill the production by the state-owned Al Jazeera.
However, it has come as a huge relief, thereby renewing the anticipation, after a new date was recent, albeit unofficially, announced
The question on most people’s lips, though, is: what was the real reason this documentary – based on a two-year undercover investigation – even postponed at the last minute, in the first place
Why, then, is it going to be shown, this time around?
Can viewers, whose appetite was whetted the previous time, expect the same exposures, or has the documentary been severely edited and, possibly, watered down – as a compromise under tremendous pressure from Zimbabwean authorities – who were aware of the damage to their political fortunes, had their corrupt deeds been seen by the public?
Of course, this is mere conjecture, since none of us has watched this documentary – and so, will not be able to tell, with any amount of certainty, if anything had been altered, and to what extent.
Unless, of course, if those who were awarded the rare privilege to watch it – the few Zimbabwean journalists specially picked by Al Jazeera – are kind enough to raise the alarm.
This sad scenario brings up another issue.
Why does Zimbabwe find itself in this unenviable predicament, in the first place – where we must be so dependent on a broadcaster, thousands of miles away, to expose rampant corruption and the grand looting of our national resources by the ruling elite?
Are we not the ones who have endured over two decades of a torturous existence – faced with untold suffering and poverty – due to economic ruination, largely orchestrated by the political ruling class, through their insatiable greed for self-aggrandizement?
As such, why are we ourselves not at the forefront of instituting and carrying out these investigations and exposés – especially, done with the use of hidden cameras, as is the case with the Al Jazeera documentary?
Is that not the real reason the powers-that-be, and their cronies, in Zimbabwe – who are profiting enormously from their Ill-gotten wealth derived from this massive plunder – are so horrified by this documentary
Is the fact that those involved in these underhand dealings are captured on camera, freely admitting to their shady deeds, not what is freaking out those in power and giving them sleepless nights?
They may hate having their dirty linen laid bare in public through print media – but, nothing does more damage than visuals – more so, when the culprits themselves are right there, openly confessing to their acts.
This is an area we are found wanting in Zimbabwe – since it is clear we have not made any significant inroads in the field of undercover work – whilst, filming the proceedings clandestinely.
There is an urgent need for more journalists to be trained and adequately capacitated in this genre – so that we can carry out our own investigations, thereafter producing world-class documentaries that we can then share with the rest of the world.
It is painful having to be so reliant, even seemingly held at ransom, by a media outlet in Qatar – just because we can not produce this kind of work for ourselves.
Surely, what were we to do, had Al Jazeera decided to kill the documentary altogether?
Yet, that is where the graft we have always accused our leaders of committing, but had never been able to put on tape, is contained.
Let us remember that, a clique that has become so accustomed to corruption, shady dealings, and stealing with impunity, is not very difficult to infiltrate – as they are all too willing to enter into any seemingly lucrative self-serving deal, for their own benefit.
This is evident through the reckless statements made by those shown in snippets of the Al Jazeera documentary – who were all too willing to spill the beans to an individual or individuals they had hardly met before, or did not know all that well.
So, why can we not do the same?
If our leaders are more comfortable with and are more inclined to trust, those of a paler skin – whites, Arabs, or Asians – I am sure that can easily be arranged.
What we require urgently is training and capacitation.
We need to take charge of our own country and what is taking place.
As the debate rages on, as to the real causes of our economic suffering, seemingly unabated and unending – we now need a deliberate concerted effort in exposing the magnitude of the sickening rot in Zimbabwe.
The nation has to see with their own eyes, in order to appreciate the full extent of the plunder and pillaging of our resources by those in power, and how that has led to the misery and poverty millions of Zimbabweans are enduring each day.
As the saying goes, ‘seeing is believing’ – and, producing such undercover documentaries will definitely go a very long way in finally demystifying why we are in this mess as a country.
We can no longer wait for someone or some people from thousands of miles away to do it for us – more so, who can also, as witnessed over the past month, do whatever they desire with the gathered information.
If we are serious about ending corruption in Zimbabwe – and, in so doing, rekindling the country’s past economic glory – documentaries as the one by Al Jazeera need to be produced every week, if not every day, right here.
–Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700