by Tendai Ruben Mbofana
Please try to imagine this unsettling and frightening image.
Just envision South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa gathering hundreds of people to watch him officially opening a bridge – possibly in the remotest parts of Mvezo in the Eastern Cape province.
Or, maybe US head of state Joe Biden issuing title deeds to settlers somewhere deep in Eureka Springs in Arkansas.
I find it nearly impossible even picturing President Xi Jinping cutting a ribbon at a newly built clinic and borehole in Kuijiu in southwest China.
In fact, just for kicks, I decided to Google if these world leaders ever partook in such laughable ‘presidential functions’.
What popped up, though, was Ramaphosa officially opening the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) World Conference, and Africa Investment Forum – both hosted by South Africa in 2018.
Yet, here in our own beloved Zimbabwe, there is never a shortage of President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa moving around the country officially opening/commissioning bridges, clinics, and boreholes.
He has even gone as far as issuing title deeds (which were actually deeds of grant) to residents – a job that should ordinarily be for some lowly local authority clerk.
As a matter of fact, today Mnangagwa commissioned Rwenya Bridge in Mwenezi, which was reconstructed after having been swept away by floods in 2013.
All I could wonder was, “Surely, where are we going as a country when a whole president finds immense pride in, and regards as a sign of phenomenal development, commissioning a bridge?”
Mind you, this is not for the first time, considering that he also opened Karanda Bridge (Mt Darwin) in 2021.
He has similarly opened several clinics and boreholes – notably in Epworth and Chitungwiza.
Of course, Mnangagwa regards all these as opportunities to campaign and canvass for support – more so, with crucial elections just around the corner – where he portrays himself as piloting magnificent achievements in the country.
As much as this may, on the surface, appear as a cunning plan – nonetheless, it actually leaves a troubling sense of hopelessness and despair in the minds and hearts of ordinary Zimbabweans.
Granted, all political leaders around the world love to flaunt what they perceive as their successes – thereby, garnering public support in the process.
However, it becomes a huge problem when these ‘successes’ manifest in the mould of a few clinics and boreholes, as well as a bridge here and there.
Normally, people prefer to show off what they consider as their best or greatest achievements.
Thus, someone who believes his academic feats are what define him – that is what he will tell everyone about, post his graduation pictures on social media, and even insist on being referred to as ‘Doctor’ or ‘Professor’.
In the same vein, when we see an individual who parades his vehicles (no matter how expensive or inexpensive), we all should know that is his biggest achievement in life.
Similarly, all those who choose to post pictures of themselves, especially if they are beautifully endowed – are telling us that their bodies are the best they have to offer the world.
Therefore, when our president transverses the width and breath of the country opening/commissioning bridges, clinics and boreholes, or doling deeds of grant – then, those are what he regards as the most outstanding achievements of his tenure.
Is that not worrying and extremely unsettling?
In a country as Zimbabwe – whereby, half the population lives in extreme poverty, with two thirds of the workforce earning below the poverty datum line, whilst most youth are not gainfully employed – surely, there is more to success than merely opening boreholes.
If Mnangagwa wanted to show off his achievements, thereby mobilizing support, then would it not have made far more sense bringing down the rabid exchange rate – which is now over ZW$2,000 to the greenback, on the much-used parallel market – to single digits, which would render most commodities affordable to the general populace?
Who would not be happy if he flaunted how his government was now giving its civil servants salaries that brought back their dignity – where they could afford their own houses and vehicles, while providing their families a comfortable lifestyle?
Would Mnangagwa not be a hero if all the country’s health care facilities had affordable and easily accessible treatment services – rescuing them from the death traps that they now have become?
Yet, none of these ‘real achievements’ are what he has to take to the nation and boast about – as his administration has recorded perennial abysmal monumental failures in areas that matter the most to the people.
All he has to show for the five years of his presidency are a few boreholes, clinics and bridges – as well as the patching up of some roads.
That is most tragic!
It also paints a terrifying picture of the direction this country is going.
Surely, what hope do we have under this government, when we all see is the mediocrity of which they boast?
The future does not look bright at all for the people of Zimbabwe, as long as we are under the reign of this clueless cabal.
What have they managed to do exceptionally, except to loot our vast mineral resources for their own self-aggrandizement – as they live in sickening opulence, whilst the rest of us languish in poverty?
Is that not why they recently attempted to enact a law that would have legalized corruption in our construction and health sectors – by covering up from public scrutiny procurement details – which the regime was forced to make a humiliating U-turn after national outrage?
Is that not also the reason the Mnangagwa administration wants legislation that would effectively clampdown and silence NGOs (private voluntary organizations) – who are known for exposing these shady shenanigans, and calling the authorities to order?
As long as we have this regime in power the lives of ordinary citizens will continue going down the path of poverty and suffering.
Even the boreholes, clinics and bridges will cease being constructed, since all our resources are going into the pockets of those in power and their cronies – leaving the nation with nothing.
● Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: email@example.com