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Dawn of a new era in Zimbabwe

12 Jul 2016 at 19:45hrs | Views
It cannot be business as usual any more for the Zanu-PF Government in Zimbabwe. The riots and protests that began at the Beitbridge border town on 1 July 2016 over restrictions imposed on imports, were fast to spread to other parts of the country and to widen the issues of concern as justification for rioting. Civil servants have not had their salaries and are either on strike or planning to go on strike.

Teachers are on strike demanding that they be paid. Rank-touts (who have no legal status and are actually regarded as a menace) have caused violent riots demanding that police stop harassing them by demanding bribes at the unnecessarily numerous road blocks. Emerging citizens forums such as the "Tajamuka/Sesijikile", "ThisFlag", "Imbiza/poto/pot campaign" (and many more) have come up complaining about poor governance in general declaring that "Enough is Enough" pointing to rampant corruption by government ministers including the presidency. The call by "Tajamuka" for a Zimbabwe shut down on Wednesday 6 July 2016 was well heeded by the country's entire population indeed better than any called by political parties before.

Though the reasons for calling for industrial action or general protest may seem to vary, there is the common and underlying factor of the unbearable economic meltdown. The economy has continued to deteriorate even after the wide promises of economic recovery made during the campaign for the July 2013 elections that resulted in an overwhelming victory for Zanu-Pf notwithstanding rigging allegations from the opposition then and now. It is telling that political organising even by the once very popular MDC for popular uprising against the Zanu-Pf government has previously not been as successful and effective as the now seemingly spontaneous people driven protests.

In the past, the Zanu-Pf government found it easy to discredit the opposition as puppets of the West for the regime change agenda. Now it is the citizens in general complaining about obvious government failure to defend and protect the people's integrity and create a conducive environment for citizens to express and enjoy their potential. People are expressing concern over government corruption as evidenced by the unrealistic salaries and allowances they have been awarding themselves in the parastatals and other boards. The case of Cuthbert Dube and city council salaries were indeed shocking.

All government ministers and senior officials (both at party and government), have become farmers (with multiple farms) and business people without real production. They all have become filthy rich although there is no corresponding economic production to justify the state of wealth.

The people are scandalised by a vice president who does not seem to see anything wrong by spending millions of tax-payer money living in an expensive hotel while presiding over a meltdown economy where those citizens looking up to him to turn around the economic fortunes of the country continue to find ever harder to put food on the plate for their families. It is therefore not surprising that citizens will be shocked by a government that neglects its duty of turning around the country's economy but finds the nerve to deprive citizens the right to fend for themselves by imposing a ban on food imports. This time the Zanu-Pf government is in direct confrontation with the people. Examples we can look at elsewhere when there has been such confrontation show that those governments have without exception eventually given in to the pressure by citizens.

It is important to note that it is becoming clear that Zimbabweans are no longer buying into the mantra of economic sanctions imposed in 2000 by the Western governments as the cause of the economic meltdown in the country. Citizens are aware that the country was in international economic sanctions before during the Rhodesia Front government days and that unlike today, it was precisely during those sanctions that the country's economy grew and strengthened. It is sad that with the good will of many countries within the region and the East, the Zanu-Pf government has failed to turn the sanctions imposed by the western governments into an opportunity to develop or at least maintain the well established economic infrastructure that the government found on taking over in 1980. In the circumstances, it is easy to conclude that government corruption has had greater impact and effect on the deterioration of the economy than the imposed sanctions. President Mugabe recently revealed that the country had lost 15 billion dollars of diamond revenue through looting. Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa on the BBC's HARD TALK programme told the world that the 15 billion dollars had been lost through "under invoicing in some cases and over pricing in others". The finance minister was in fact confirming that the money was lost to corruption. Both the President and the Finance minister put the loss of 15 billion dollars not as a result of sanctions but because of corruption. The current in-fighting within the Zanu-Pf government and party continues to pre-occupy those that are supposed to be solving the country's problems.

It does not matter how one judges the success or failure of the recent and current protests in the country, the fact remains that ordinary citizens are taking the responsibility to stand up and speak up. The Zanu-Pf government has a choice. A choice to get a wake up call from these recent protests and find a way to deliver urgently. The other choice is to acknowledge their failure and accept that the time for change has come and then manage the change. Managing the change could mean allowing for an organised transition rather than a chaotic one. With the people managing their own change, it would be a catastrophic mistake for that government to rely on the police and military as tools to supress and oppress the people. Both the police and military are people who took up those careers because of their desire to defend peace and stability within the community. Eventually they will sympathise with the people. It is when that point is reached that the political leadership will be seen as toxic and will be ripped out of office in a most humiliating manner. As Zimbabwe Reconstruction Committee we hope that the current political leadership in Zanu-Pf will have the courage and wisdom to realise that the time of change has come and responsibly facilitate that change to occur.

We urge the citizens of Zimbabwe to proceed with much considered caution in their determination to get a more competent political leadership of the country. We also urge the security sector to prioritise the security of the nation rather than that of a small clique that holds the survival of the nation at ransom. It is the duty and responsibility of all Zimbabweans to calculatedly manage this change which is now inevitable. Zimbabwe does not need to necessarily go the painful way other countries have. We can all travel this change journey in a mature manner that propels us to the prosperity that can be a reality in the now.

Nicholas Mlamuli Ndebele  Mob:+(44)7747309160
Zimbabwe Reconstruction Committee .

Source - Nicholas Mlamuli Ndebele
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