Stuck in reverse gear: the political factor

Ngwindi Ngwindingwindi

It was an electrifying moment for many Zimbabweans whose hopes had just been revitalized following the fall of Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe, leader of the first Republic. I had attended several inauguration ceremonies in the past, but this particular one, I attended in a different mood with a different agenda altogether.

I was still in disbelief that the mighty Bob was no longer President of the Republic; I believe he also was in denial at the time. I expected the old man to be part of the event to hand over power right before my eyes for the doubting Thomas to quash his disbelief.

To my disappointment, the nonagenarian did not turn up for the historic event where I also expected to witness majority of African leaders to attend, and those from the west whose moment of liberation from Mugabe’s vitriol had finally dawned.

Right, what did Emmerson Mnangagwa have up his sleeves as he took over reigns? First, he was going to salute the man from whom he had just taken power; that I surely was positive about.

Secondly, what was he going to do different from the previous government which he was part of since independence in 1980? Economic rebound; re-engagement with the west; no to retribution; eradicating corruption. These were the key points which I expected to hear; some I heard directly, some by implication.

Emphasis was made on re-engagement with the West, making it loudly clear that the West is viewed as an integral factor to my country’s economic rebound, against perceived competence and wisdom of the leaders.

That surely was one key card which the new administration trusted was going to help them turn around the fortunes of the country.

When I heard the pronouncement, I immediately asked silently if ED Mnangagwa was going to be ready to embrace the conditions which would be attached to acceptance back into Commonwealth and into a circle of beneficiaries of the Bretton Woods institutions.

I personally foresaw a big NO on this one; the unchanging and rigid conditions set by the West would definitely never favor the ruling party’s hold on power.

What calibre of men and women were going to form the government of ED Mnangagwa? The question of retribution comes into play on this one; whoever was known or suspected to be aligned to the G40 cabal had no chance of making it into cabinet: fine on that according to me, because I also did not expect hardcore Lacoste old guard either; I expected new faces and technocrats.

Professor Mthuli Ncube was celebrated by many when he was appointed Minister of Finance. It was not a new move though; we have had similar such appointments before. Did it work? I shall leave this for another day. Let me focus on the current.

Is the Finance Ministry up to the match? My answer is that citizens are crying; citizens can no longer take promises from the government anymore; citizens are regretting the November march which ousted the USD1:1Bond era.

Teachers are missing the USD520 salary which they got before the fall of RG Mugabe; food is plenty on the supermarket shelves but beyond the reach of many as the prices are pegged at parallel market USD rates, and not stable; RTGS salaries have become worthless as every street corner and supermarket doors are awash with jobless crooks flashing piles of Zim dollars waiting to fleece the worker of their hard earned little RTGS.

Does the government have a solution to address these challenges? The only solution so far is lip service and promises. Bumper harvests from agriculture do not seem to rescue the nation from the quagmire. Millions if not billions of Zimbabwe dollars are being sold on the streets while banks are giving a paltry $5000 ZWL per week to an individual who needs at least $2USD or $1600 ZWL on daily basis for transport to and from work alone.

Such is symbolic of high-level corruption; those with access to large sums of liquid cash are responsible for deploying Zimbabwe dollars on the street. I thus ask again; does the government have any solution to deal with this? The banks themselves and mobile money service providers are making a killing from exorbitant charges on every transaction. The corruption cancer has spread all over such that I do not see the government being able to reign in perpetrators, that is if they are not part of the racket themselves.

As I write this piece, I am possessed by the spirit of criticizing constructively for us to be able to help each other map a better way forward for our nation.

I know I will be judged according to the sound of my rebuke, but I will stick to the spirit of working for the betterment of our country.

We must not always clap hands for political leaders simply because they belong to our respective beloved political parties; we must put Zimbabwe first; it is Zimbabwe that we want to prosper and afford each citizen a chance to eat comfortably. Let us learn the art of inculcating in ourselves a culture of calling each other out when error is evident; that way we will progress and flourish as a people.

It is my fervent hope that all these writings and cries from different citizens reach the President of the Republic so that we may have some corrective action taken.

I have heard loud celebrations from the part of government over being ranked by the World Bank as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa; it does not mean anything if it is only academic growth which does not impact positively on the wellbeing of ordinary citizens.

When the citizens stop crying, then we can surely say the economy is on a positive trajectory. It is the stomach that matters, not paper surveys and textbook rankings.

So, in conclusion, I am simply encouraging our government to heed cries of citizens and address challenges based on the prevailing situation more than what outsiders say about our country.

We need more action than rhetoric and paradise promise which nobody is sure of.

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