Our hope for a new and better Zimbabwe is fading away

File Pic: An elderly woman holds aloft her national registration card.
File Pic: An elderly woman holds aloft her national registration card.

2017 ended on a high for us, with the unbelievable resignation of the two man band of terror: the irascible Grace and the narcissist Bobby Mugabe. Another favourite part was that the same Constitution and courts that they bullied into legitimising their whims and desires, turned on them and signed off on the whole process! But, let’s not pay any mind to the past, and look to that once elusive future.

2018 is a watershed election year. For once many civilians, across social lines are involved. Engaging in debates, adding insight – with information flowing as freely as it is being given. An increased sense of civic duty and interest differentiates this season from the previous extremes of apathy and violence. We have been involved in researching leaders; looking up their track records and weighing the pros and cons of being led by the options available. We know what we do not want and will not be tolerating a certain leadership style or cult.

Many of us have begun having some honest conversations with ourselves, our peers, our families about  what it is that we truly want and need to come out of a leadership change. What it means to have a new administration, and how any administration can now be responsible not just to us, but indeed to fulfilling their office mandates. Musing over how realistic this ideal even is. Imagine it? A public office of officers accountable and competent! Under Mugabe, leadership in all spheres, from parastatals, to health, education, security and infrastructure thrived on incompetence, bumbling and irresponsible corrupt practices. It was a feather in their caps and more often than not saw them promoted to higher food chain levels where the caviar, sushi and champagne were available in abundance.

Under this new administration, Mnangagwa knows that those of us here, the work-horses whose job it is to hand over our funds through various tax forms, want to know what his relationship with these fat cats is. How will he expunge the scourge of their shameless dishonesty? He knows too that a huge step in wooing us would be to encourage parliament to repeal the unconstitutional laws that deny us our true freedoms, because as it stands, there is a fragile freedom of speech, supported by the constitution, but not by the ruling party’s laws. How safe are we from vigilante political rebuttal, which from past years’ we know that there has been no retribution for victims? Victims to selective freedom! Victims to the waylaid police force’s demand for money. We want to see the constitution aligned with the law, and we prefer less explanation as to why it hasn’t been done, but the action instead. Feeling safe once again is so important to us. and that safety needs a guarantee and a public declaration through doing the right thing.

On a daily basis, accessing our money, that is still within the chubby tight fist of the Reserve Bank, in it’s real form and value would ease a lot of our stress. Doing away with the indignity of forcing us to sleep on pavements outside banks just to hold a place in the queue as though there is something fascinating about holding my own money. This is not a Justin Bieber concert and we are not screaming juvenile fans lining up to see him walking out of a helicopter. We are grown men and women who have every right to make our own decisions and not to be herded into this abyss of disrespect and massacred self esteem that this leadership continues to be a patron of.

The social service system is in shambles, and the previous administration were hellbent on creating a nation of destitutes, at the expense of our long term savings and pensions. Now, the interim administration too, steps over the families housed on pavements and in alleyways – because such is the nature of state housing – on their way to interviews overseas. Incidentally, these are not flighted on our one state controlled television channel here.

Similarly, cosmetic facelifts around our cities and towns would go a long way in lifting our spirits. To give hope to our continuously battered and wounded optimism, it is amazing how uplifting a well lit road at night is; or clean roadsides and shopping centres empty of the overflowing refuse that become the breeding grounds for the recurrent cholera and typhoid outbreaks. How with clean gutters and building walls, lit corridors and mopped up public toilet floors, oh, unbroken pavements – how differently we could hold our sagging and heavy shoulders in public areas.

I can’t help but feel that despair that has characterised my adult life in Zimbabwe seeping back in through the patches that I’d sewn up. We’d managed to stave it off and look towards a new future that includes us, in a role that has more dignity than flogging or the states’ whores. But again the opposition, made up of a motley crew of gangsters, narcissists, day-dreamers, orators, and hype men, characteristically remains a resounding disappointment of egos, deception and violence. Just take a look at the making and breaking of alliances, hiring and firing of the party presidents and physical attacks on own-tweet-declared-presidential candidates.

The ruling party shows that they have always been in it for themselves – no consequences for those known to have externalised vast sums of foreign currency; corruption in tender proceedings and property acquisition.

Great that the interim president courts the international community, with his neck wrapped warmly in the once banned Zimbabwe-flag-coloured scarf. Great that he knows the large scale industrial reformation that needs to happen here at home. But I wonder, does he see me and what I need?  – I need this continued theft of my future and productive ability to stop, in order for any elections to be  meaningful. But it seems that the era ushered in by the 2018 elections will only extend the suffering of those already suffering.