By Patson Dzamara
The problems facing Zimbabwe are not an act of God, or the sad eventuality unforeseen circumstances. They are manmade disasters. This is not a new analysis, or a space found analysis. It is common knowledge.
Having been conspicuous in my lamentations regarding this, in recent times I have become conspicuous by my silence. Yet make no mistake, the silence speaks, especially this form of deliberate silence.
As the challenges we face as a people, a country, a society have spiraled, my choice has been to remain mum, and instead reflect on my default posture in responding to issues such as the typhoid outbreak and flooding.
The fact that our nation is grappling with a multitude of challenges emanating from perennial leadership drought is incontestable. The government has speciously failed to own up to most of its responsibilities.
In this scenario, it is indeed convenient to complain, criticize and blame. Expressing displeasure when unhappy is normal. However, the high road which most people avoid is that of acting and providing solutions when facing problems.
For the sake of clarity, before I speak, let me make it clear that I am not a member of Transform Zimbabwe and I have never had any form of engagement with Transform Zimbabwe leadership outside of a protest. Having stated that, I wish to make my point.
I am thoroughly moved and thrilled by what Transform Zimbabwe has been doing in the past few days. They embarked on a cleanup campaign which started in Glen View and has since spread to other areas such as Chitungwiza.
While everyone is complaining, criticizing, blaming and even making fun in some instances of the status quo, which is their entitlement by the way, a group of people decided to act and provide solutions in their own little way. That is the way to go and its worthy emulation.
Sometime last year, we sought for permission under Occupy Africa Unity Square to clean the CBD of Harare but we were denied. Many were my Aha moments as I read about the work being done by Transform Zimbabwe in a bid to address real problems with real solutions.
It is going to be tragic if we are to confine our participation and response to national issues as citizens to merely complaining, criticizing and blaming without acting and providing solutions where we can and should.
In some ways, despite all what our government has done, as a people, we have always found away to survive, within our homes. We don’t complain to our kids that Mugabe is the reason they will sleep hungry, we vend on the streets, we import, we make it work. We solve problems.
Writing for the Daily Maverick, Simon Allison praised our efforts as Zimbabweans, he wrote,
“In the meantime, Zimbabweans do what Zimbabweans do best: get on with things. As cash dries up, so businessmen turn to mobile money, or revive the barter trade that got so many people through the last financial crisis. As the water runs out, thanks to drought and terrible infrastructure, so tankers start zipping across affected cities and boreholes are drilled into the water table.”
“Zimbabwe is a failed government, yes, but its people have ensured that some semblance of a state remains intact. This is a society that has learnt to live without its government; that has prospered, in places, despite it.”
It is not disputable that as a people we are innovative, and inventive as a means for survival. It is perhaps time we transferred this technique to where it matters most. Constructive solutions. We have prospered in places despite our government, and if we adopt the same resolve with our nation’s plight, we have a chance.
I have challenged myself that I will not complain all the way to my grave. I choose not to be a part of activism or leadership whose main mandate is complaining, criticizing and blaming. We must act and provide solutions where we can. We must be problem solvers and solution bearers.
The responsibility to build the Zimbabwe we want does not start and end with the politician or government official. It is every citizen’s. Let’s do what we can to build the Zimbabwe we want.
A new and better Zimbabwe is possible in our lifetime.
(Patson Dzamara is a pro democracy activist, leadership coach and author, and conference speaker based in Zimbabwe)