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Mastering art of 'villagising' cities

20 Sep 2020 at 07:30hrs | Views
In Bishop Lazi's village, there lived this super-reclusive chap who, after a quarrel with his father over witchcraft, decided to build his own hut a spitting distance from the family homestead.

Rather than endure the onerous and back-breaking work of moulding bricks, hacking the incredibly stubborn msasa or mupfuti trees needed for beam poles, including wheeling drum-loads of water to build a decent hut, he simply improvised a pole-and-dagga dwelling that looked more like the Italian Leaning Tower of Pisa. Kikiki.

Although the rickety structure looked like a mousetrap that could be tripped at any time, no one feared for this chap because they obviously knew the weak materials used to put up the structure could neither possibly injure nor entrap any living and breathing thing.

The worst that could have happened to him was to suffer a fatal bite from a reptile burrowing into his humble abode by mistaking it for a molehill.

Even that desperate or brave reptile had to be prepared to bite through a rare and extra skin layer that had been fossilised over years of skipped baths.

For privacy, he had built his hut beyond the thickets that marked the boundary of the family compound.

He had cleared his own piece of land from where the family fields were located, but nothing much came out from them.

He always blamed everyone - the stingy gods, his jealous relatives and village witches - for his scant harvests.

It was either the rains were too much or too little; jealous relatives were setting their hungry livestock on his crops, or outlandish claims that those practising dark magic were sending spell-bound creatures such as wild pigs or spring-hares to feast on his fields to ensure he didn't have a decent harvest.

One was tempted to believe him because every cropping season he was always the first to beat the morning dew on his way to the fields, from where he would return at dusk after a seemingly hard day's work.

Or at least the village thought.

Until one day when the village youthies were sent after him for an emergency village meeting.

Lo and behold, he was found restfully snoring under the soothing shed, with the rebellious and spiky weeds in his field betraying days, or weeks, of slothful inattention.

This explained the reason why he was always a dreaded and unwanted visitor during breakfast, lunch or supper, which was a rare skill he had mastered.

However, late or early mealtimes were, by some happenstance he always managed to make it on time.

It was as if he had an inbuilt biological timer.

What irked people the most is that after eating his plate clean - which, by the way, would not have been reserved for him - he always annoyingly belched, irritatingly picked his yellowing teeth and, without even an ounce of gratitude, made his way back home.

And, while on his way, he would mumble the reasons why he wouldn't be thankful to people who were using muti (divisi) to guarantee plum harvests for themselves and bewitching "hard workers" like himself to ensure that they would always be beholden to them.

Villagers had become inured to his rantings and always let him be because he was causative, belligerent, combative and foul-mouthed.

Bishop Lazi always tells folks that luck or misfortune is a product of one's own action or inaction.

The Book of Proverbs makes this very clear.

Proverbs 24: 3-34 says: "I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man."

Proverbs 14:23 adds: "In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty."


Something about this village chap reminds Bishop Lazi of Tendai Biti - vice president of the MDC Alliance - or rather, something about Tendai Biti reminds the Bishop of this fellow villager.

When it comes to being causative, belligerent, combative and foul-mouthed, Biti is the indisputable high priest.

Whenever he opens his mouth to say anything political, you have to be prepared for an avalanche of unmitigated vulgarity that will roll off his tongue.

He was at it again on Monday last week.

He tweeted: "In 2018 the #MDC Alliance secured the control of all urban authorities relegating #ZANU to a rural party. Todays (sic) expulsion of 11 Harare City Councillors is an affront to democracy. ZANU and its shameless surrogates have lost their marbles. History will judge them. History will revenge."

In his own warped thinking, rural areas are a desperate backwater where only the hopelessly unenlightened and "relegated" species live.

How foolish!

Someone better ask him where he thinks his maize-meal, vegetables or tomatoes come from.

But this does not concern the Bishop.

What, however, daily exercises his mind is what Biti's party, which has had a stranglehold of "all urban authorities" for the past 20 years, has done to improve livelihoods and services in its constituencies?

Well, this can best be answered by the MDC Alliance itself.

In its losing 2018 election manifesto - Sustainable and Modernisation Agenda for Real Transformation (SMART) - the opposition political party could not have given itself an accurate appraisal of the job it has done since 2000.

"It is obvious that all of Zimbabwe's cities and towns are in a state of decay characterised by collapsed infrastructure, overcrowding, slums and other forms of informal settlements.

"In Harare, Julius Nyerere Way, Mbuya Nehanda and Chinhoyi Street in particular, more than any other street in Zimbabwe, typify the extent of the decay. Like Monrovia, Freetown, Kinshasa, Luanda, these streets are like overcrowded post-war rumshackles (sic)." Kikikiki.

For the record, the correct spelling is ramshackle, not rumshackle as claimed in that error-ridden document.

But the Bishop understands.

Maybe the author was craving some rum. Kikikiki.

In that same policy document, the MDC pledged to regenerate, repair, refurbish and remodel existing cities, including providing "basic modern amenities, particularly water reticulation, waste management, public lighting and sewer reticulation."

But here we are, two years later, infrastructure in most urban centres, especially Harare, continues to rot away under the blind stewardship of inept MDC councillors.

Residential stands, which are now the cash cow for thieving councillors, are being parcelled anywhere and everywhere - in recreational parks, wetlands, infills, etcetera.

Two former Harare mayors, Bernard Manyenyeni and Muchadeyi Masunda, have since described their incredibly shocking and mortifying experiences with MDC councillors - most of whom had more than four sittings for a basic Ordinary Level certificate - while trying to conduct council business.

While the ruling party, through its leader President ED, has pragmatically chosen professionals who can best deliver its vision and run Government affairs, MDC-A has been pre-occupied with cadre deployment by populating council administrations with loyal activists who can chant the party slogan more than others.

You see, for MDC-A, it is not about delivering, but about ensuring the city rots and the ratepayers - deprived of basic services even as they continue to pay their bills - continue to struggle so that they can harvest votes from the resultant misdirected disaffection towards Government.

And the results have been there for all to see.

Villagising cities

Had central Government not intervened through the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP) in 2017, through which it took over the repair of most urban roads, we would by now be driving on dusty streets resembling sweet potato fields right in the city centre.

Even as the magnanimous heavens prepare to bless earthlings with life-giving rains, the only worry for most urban motorists are the craters, which have been cosmetically patched by gravel throughout the dry season, that would soon reveal their glory after the first runoff of the rainy season.

For a party that entertained the electorate with the promise of spaghetti roads and bullet trains, this, quite frankly, is embarrassing.

And for a party that talks endlessly about smart cities and modernisation, what the hell are those colour-coded metal contraptions that are supposed to pass off as traffic lights in most of our cities in 2020?

Haven't the MDC-A councillors heard or seen modern traffic lights with countdown timers, similar to the ones in Zimre Park or Ruwa?

The Bishop is also always surprised by how soon the paint used by Harare City Council for road markings scandalously vanishes often as soon as it is sprayed. Is it made of chalk?

So, does it mean professionals at the City of Harare do not know about luminescent thermoplastic road marking paint?

But, perhaps the acme of ineptitude, incompetence and slothful inattention by the city fathers sits right at the heart of Harare - the Africa Unity Square.

What ought to be a square symbolising the aesthetic values and aspirations of the nation now lies decrepit, with unkempt lawns and overgrown trees.

You will be tempting fate and tempting the Lord if you hazard using it as a thoroughfare at night for you will be assured of a mugging.

Those who regularly book at hotel adjacent to the lifeless park would be forgiven for mistaking it for a cemetery.

Surely, if we cannot afford the dazzling neon lights used to adorn public squares in other modern cities, we can definitely afford simple bulbs for decent lighting.

This is just symbolic of how our cities have been villagised by the opposition since the turn of the millennium.

Bishop Lazi thinks we simply need city fathers who can imagine world-class city roads, the same way central Government is building world-class highways.

We simply need city fathers who can imagine and work towards enviable modern cities that match our civilisational aspirations and expectations.

This, however, can only be accomplished by a political party that is visionary and woke.

As it currently stands, the MDCs, which are currently in the throes of factional political intrigue, are behaving exactly like the Bishop's fellow villager.

They are restfully snoring under the soothing shed of a supposedly assured urban vote.

Or is it?

Bishop out!

Source - sundaymail
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