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Did thousands die so that only a few enrich themselves from our minerals and land?

01 Apr 2023 at 08:53hrs | Views
Having just woken up this Saturday morning, and turning on the television - I never expected to be greeted by such a heart-wrenching scene.

There was a documentary narrating a harrowing ambush on Mutorahuku Base, in Mhandu, by Rhodesian forces in the 1970s - resulting in the horrendous deaths of several freedom fighters.

As I watched the file footage used in the program - featuring helicopters hovering over some bushes, seemingly attacking armed guerrillas - my mind could not help wondering.

Why did Comrades Rudo and Paida (with several others) perish in this Mutorahuku ambush?

In fact, why did thousands of Zimbabweans die during this gruesome and grueling protracted armed struggle?

Did the people of this country not genuinely expect that after gaining independence and freedom - the majority would finally enjoy the 'milk and honey' that Zimbabwe had in abundance.

Did millions of people not seriously believe that they would, indeed, be transformed from second-class citizens in their own country - into masters of their own destinies, whereby they partook fairly and equitably in the vast wealth, with which  this land was endowed?

Did comrades as Rudo and Paida - as with so many other combatants and even ordinary villagers (who lost not their lives and loved ones, but also limbs and their little property) - not envision a new Zimbabwe, where all its citizens would also live in relative comfort and lavishness?

Why would they not harbor such dreams - considering the development and advancements they witnessed amongst the white population - which was all a product of the gold and numerous other mineral resources blessing the land between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers?

Yet, 43 years after independence - the vast majority of Zimbabweans still languish in abject poverty, with half the population earning less than US$1.90 a month, and 70 per cent failing to access a nutritional balanced diet.

As I was watching this documentary on local television, I could help wondering how Comrades Rudo and Paida's lives would have been today - had they not died in that ambush?

Would they have been satisfied with the direction the country, they courageously sacrificed their lives for, had taken?

Would they have been enjoying the fruits of this independence, for which they gave everything?

Or - as most difficult for me this is to say - did they die for nothing?

Actually, I would love to visit Mhandu village, so as to ascertain for myself whether the lives and livelihoods of the ordinary villagers ever improved after independence - taking into consideration the devastating horrors they witnessed during the struggle for independence.

How many Zimbabweans, more so rural folk, can truthfully declare that they are better off today than they were 50 years ago?

What do they have to show for the brutality and misery they faced in those days?

Today, do they still not have to walk an average 20 kilometers to reach their nearest health care facilities - lacking the most basic medical treatment, as paracetamol and antibiotics, whereby people are needlessly dying from treatable and preventable diseases, or at childbirth (which should, otherwise, be a joyful experience)?

Their children still study under trees or in ramshackle structures - without access to text and exercise books, and obviously light-years behind as far as science and technology is concerned.

Pit latrines and boreholes are actually regarded as things of success and status - whilst, there are no roads to talk about - since no one in their right mind can seriously characterize those bushy rocky dusty strips as roads.

Did Comrades Rudo and Paida ever imagine that 43 years after the independence they bravery fought for (and, these were females, mind you) would mean rural folk surviving largely on tax-funded handouts and agricultural inputs?

Could they have even thought that 43 years after uhuru, the majority of rural dwellers would not be economically-independent - still relying on subsistence farming on small plots of poor soil, with low rainfall - ironically, one of the major grievances that led to the armed struggle?

Yet, on the other hand, a small elite in the ruling class enjoy everything there is to enjoy in the country -  including massive tracts of fertile land, in regions receiving excellent rainfall - whilst, also benefitting from government mechanization and input programs.

We have a leader who will readily mortgage the country to the highest bidder merely for an opportunity to cut a ribbon!

In fact, most of these rural areas are situated atop these vast natural resources that attracted colonial powers to this land, in the first place.  

However, four decades after independence - this gold, platinum, diamonds, lithium, coal, nickel, and sixty more - is only enriching those in offices of power, and their crooked cronies.

At the same time, local communities are forced to make way for these looters and plunderers - as they are evicted from their ancestral lands, for mining companies that seldom bring any tangible and meaningful development to these areas.

In spite of milking billion of dollars from these resources, hardly any benefits come to the locals - who have to be content and grateful for the menial jobs, or a chance to sell sadza to these workers.

If they get a school, plus one road and a bridge, they should count themselves very lucky.

In the meantime, there are gold, diamonds, lithium mafias pillaging all that wealth for their own aggrandizement for a song.

Gold is being sold to counties as UAE (United Arab Emirates) with only half or less of the proceeds ever reaching state coffers - but rather, stashed away right there in Dubai, for the benefit of a handful.

Zimbabwe is losing US$2 billion through gold smuggling each year - all possible with the full knowledge and assistance of those in power.

Has the nation, and the world, not watching in utter shock - as some in the highest offices in Zimbabwe are named by their accomplices in the most underhand and crooked gold smuggling and money laundering schemes this country has ever seen - who unknowingly told undercover investigative journalists from Qatar's Al Jazeera?

I can still see my mother's face in my mind - as she was filled with immense indignation, after I showed her the documentary yesterday.

I had not seen her so pained and angry in a very long time - as she recalled losing all her bank savings and insurance policies, which were wiped out by hyperinflation during the early 2000s - and, up to today, never awarded her pension for her sweat and toil (from 1964 to 2010) at the state-owned fallen iron and steel making giant ZISCOSTEEL.

To add insult to injury, according to commonly-known facts, buttressed by a commission of inquiry establishment by the Zimbabwe government in 2006 - the company collapsed mainly due to large scale looting by those linked to the political elite - as well as gross incompetence and mismanagement by executives and management appointed on partisan grounds.

As we speak, there has not been any water in our homes in Redcliff for a year and a half - again, as a direct result of a local authority that is more proficient at stealing and attending to their own comforts (through the purchase of luxury vehicles and other shady deals) from public funds - than attending to their mandate towards residents.

Why would anyone surely not be enraged?

As I finish this article, I am still haunted by the image of those Rhodesian helicopters shown in the local television documentary I watched this morning.

Again, I ask - why did Comrades Rudo and Paida, as with thousands of other Zimbabweans, die?

Did thousands die so that only a few enrich themselves from our minerals and land - whilst, millions languish in abject poverty?

- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +273782283975, or email:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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