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Distraught refugees pouring into Zimbabwe - austere reminder of our own bad governance problem

03 May 2018 at 18:10hrs | Views
Distraught! Here was this woman, probably in her early twenties but she already three times as old, whose hut had just burnt down with all she had in this world. She and her son were lucky to escape the inferno. She sat there in a heap.

She was crying but without shedding a single tear. Once in a while she heaved a huge sigh as if the sheer weight of her trials and tribulations were crashing the last breath out of her and the heap was being flattened before our own eyes.

The next time I was to see another heart-breaking scene of human misery and hopelessness was in a Refugee Camp for Mozambicans fleeing the fighting in their country. These refugees had lost all their material possession, their relatives and family, their self-belief, everything. They had lived through horrible things, few of us cannot ever image possible.

So, when I read of the wave of refugees from Mozambique, all I could think of "Not again!"  

"The World Food Programme (WFP) has warned of a possible influx of Mozambican refugees in Zimbabwe following indications that there are already over 6 000 refugees camped at the buffer zone between the two countries waiting to be relocated to Tongogara Camp in Chipinge," reported Zimeye.

"The WFP reports that the number of refugees who have entered Zimbabwe increased in 2017 due to violent clashes between the Mozambican government forces and Renamo.

"Reports also indicate that there is renewed insecurity in the Kasai Region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a development which could also increase the number of refugees in the country."

Zimbabwe has produced millions of economic and/or political refugees, not all refugees are in refugee camps.

Africa's endless problems of refugees, famine, disease epidemic, economic collapse, rigged elections, military coups (euphemistically called "military assisted transition" to soften treasonous act), civils wars, etc., etc. can all be traced back to one cause – bad governance. Africa is one of the richest continent on earth in terms of natural resources and potential what we have lacked are the leaders who would harness these resources for the benefit of us all.

"Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it," said Sir Winston Churchill. His words ring true for Africa and we, in Zimbabwe, must listen and pay heed.

In 1980, when the country gained her independence, Zimbabwe had the potential to become the South Korea of Africa, a free, justice, prosperous and proud nation. Four decades of incompetent, corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF rule has turned us into the poorest nation on the planet! We have stuck with our bad government for 38 years because Zanu PF rigged the elections to stay in power.

We have had many opportunities to do something to end the Zanu PF dictatorship but have wasted each and every one of these chances. The best chance by far was during the GNU when all Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends were tasked to do was to implement the democratic reforms SADC leaders had already managed to get Mugabe and his Zanu PF thugs to agree to. MDC failed to get even one reform implemented in five years.

We, the people, let ourselves down because we should have been on MDC leaders' cases to make sure they implemented the reforms. The GNU had allowed some economic reforms ending the food shortages and the economy grew by 12% after a decade of economic decline. We were overjoyed with the economic recovery, we took our eyes of the ball – implementing the democratic reforms to end the bad governance.

At the end of the GNU in 2013, SADC lost its supervisory role as the guarantor of Zimbabwe's Global Political Agreement Of course, and the chance to get the reforms implemented was lost. But whenever the devil closes the door of opportunity somewhere the Lord open a window of opportunity.

Almost immediately after its return to power following the rigged 2013 elections, a dog-eat-dog fight broke out in Zanu PF over who was to succeed Mugabe as party leader. Before the party's 2014 elective congress in which Joice Mujuru was set to win the VP post putting her in pole position to succeed Mugabe, she and 150 or so senior party members were booted out of the party. They were accused of plotting to assassinate Mugabe among other frivolous charges. As soon as they were booted of the party and posed no further political threat, the charges were brought and forgotten.

But before the dust of booting out Mai Mujuru and her supporters had settled; another dog-eat-dog factional war broke out pitting Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Lacoste supporters against Grace Mugabe and her G40 supporters.

President Mugabe has relied on Mnangagwa and Joint Operation Command (JOC) members, a junta comprising top brass Army, Police, CIO and Prison Services plus a select few from the party and government, to mastermind and ruthlessly execute the devious plans, including beating and murder of political opponents and civilians, to create and retain the de facto one-party, Zanu PF, dictatorship. Most of the JOC members belong to Mnangagwa's Lacoste faction.


As the ones who had done the heavy duty of imposing the dictatorship on the nation the junta felt they should be the ones to succeed Mugabe. They therefore viewed Robert Mugabe's moves to have his wife as the successor as an act of betrayal.

In November last year the junta stage the military coup that forced Mugabe to step down and allow Mnangagwa to takeover.

Zanu PF has imploded, the party is weak and divided; there are Mujuru and G40 supporters who are wearing the party regalia with Mnangagwa's portrait but hate the man with a burning passion. The November coup makes this Zanu PF regime illegitimate in the eyes of the international community. There is a window of opportunity to pressure this junta to implement the democratic reforms and end the dictatorship once and once for all.

The junta's argument that Zanu PF was transformed by the coup must be rejected with the contempt it rightly deserves. How can the dictatorship have been transformed when the junta continue to enjoy the carte blanche powers to rig elections?

The junta has gone on an all-out campaign to revive the economy with its "Zimbabwe is open for business!" clarion call. Unfortunately, the regime has very little to show for its effort because the foreign investors it is targeting can see Zimbabwe is still a pariah state, the coup swapped one dictator for another and left the dictatorship itself untouched.

Still, some Zimbabweans are arguing that the nation must accept this Mnangagwa regime, forget that it is a dictatorship and is rigging these elections.

"ED is far better than Mugabe (which is true)!" many Zimbabweans argue. "Put aside his shortcomings (his checked past and present failure to hold free and fair election); his regime is more coherent and focused than the opposition (also true)!"

But to start comparing Mnangagwa to Chamisa and who is more likely to bring about some economic recovery is to completely miss the point. We are failing to learn from history and repeat the same mistake over and over again.

Zimbabwe, like Mozambique, DRC and many, many other African countries, is stack in this economic and political mess because of bad governance. During the 2008 to 2013 GNU we had the chance to solve this problem but wasted it because we turned our attention to the economy. We were so pleased with the signs of economic recovery, 12% growth, we completely forgot about the reforms.

Our number one priority today is to get the reforms implemented only when this is done can we ever have the confidence that whoever is elected is elected by the people and, if they should so wish, they can remove him/her from office – which is the essence of free and fair elections.

No Zimbabwean should ever have to suffer the misery of abject poverty or be forced to become an economic and/or political refugee. But, unless we deal this the problem of bad governance, here and now and decisively, there will be many Zimbabweans lives will continue to be hell-on-earth!

All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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