I know how it feels to watch others eat while you have an empty stomach . I know how it feels to watch others buy one car after the other while you don’t even imagine yourself driving one. I also know how it feels to watch someone you have been to school with suddenly becoming rich overnight whilst you, well; you still do not have a clue who will employ you…
I know all this because I have lived in Zimbabwe.
I reminisce in the aftermath of Robert Mugabe’s resignation after 37 years of being Zimbabwean leader. Back in my high school days I used to admire the man. I admired his eloquence in speech, his firm resolve and uncompromised approach to issues even on the international stage. I was proud of Robert Mugabe, for whenever he was given the podium( which seemed to happen every time he attended a world gathering of state leaders) he never disappointed. His speech delivery was nothing short of excellence but soon I realised that was all there was to the man.
When I finished school I faced a new set of challenges. I had expectations to meet, dreams and goals to pursue. I came face to face with the system that Robert Mugabe had created for us Zimbabweans. Yes, the man had educated us , but he hadn’t done anything else except kill the very institutions that would employ us. After the land wrangle and the volatile political situation that ensued investors and their companies exited Zimbabwe in droves. To add to the problem draconian laws stifled the growth of the few that remained in our country.
Laws were passed to benefit a few. POSA, AIPA and later on the indeginisation laws all came into existence under Robert Mugabe’s watch. He watched from the air(for the man was a globe-trotter) as the economy sagged to its knees . Ministers looted and he protected them so long they were loyal to him. Public institution tenders lined the pockets of the privileged ministers who did not deliver on the jobs ….their attempt to would be so substandard that it was actually a damage than a repair or an improvement to any parastatal.
Now the man is gone, still many Zimbabweans have remained sceptical as far as entertaining hopes of having a majority say in the running of the country is concerned. I am hopeful that at least particular insane legislations are going to be looked into…but I remain afraid that its only the chef who has changed, the buffet is still being served to a privileged few.
Mugabe’s successor Emmerson Mnangagwa is going to have an uphill task in lifting Zimbabwe from its quagmire. I am hopeful of the man for the few speeches he has delivered have proved that unlike his predecessor Mugabe,he seems to understand that Zimbabweans do not eat ‘sovereignty’ even though we desire to remain sovereign.
However it would be folly to ignore the fact that Mnangagwa is a man between a rock and a hard place. He owes a lot of people for his ascendancy to the presidency, some who are the very people who were part and parcel of the looting brigade of Mugabe era. It remains to be seen how the man is going to balance his desire to re-Invent Zimbabwe yet protecting the interest of the kingmakers.