- Written by: Tendai Ruben Mbofana
- Hits: 144
TENDAI RUBEN MBOFANA - THE UN-OPPRESSED MIND!
Mnangagwa Regime Perpetuating the Normalization of Oppression!
We frequently drove past the outskirts of the low density suburb of Redcliff – on our way either to or from the nearby high density ‘township’ of Torwood, where we resided. Zimbabwe President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. Nonetheless, there was something that I always found curious if not disturbing.
Why was it that only white people stayed in Redcliff suburb whilst we (blacks) were packed in Torwood?
That is when my father, whose political consciousness was exceptional, explained the racial injustices of the colonial era.
However, there was something else I had problems understanding.
Why did the people, particularly the segregated black majority, appear content with this clearly oppressive situation? We all went about our daily business as if there was absolutely nothing untoward and sinister about being separated purely on the basis of skin colour. We somehow seemed to have accepted this skewed and unfair setup.
Of course, there was a liberation struggle taking place during that time – but let us be brutally frank, most of us in towns never exhibited much anger against the system.
In fact, there was never a shortage of those of us who shamefully attempted to rationalize why whites and blacks lived apart, attended different schools, and even shopped at separate outlets. In all these cases, the white population always had the better deal – with more opulent suburbs and spacious houses, more sophisticated and equipped schools, as well as attractive upmarket shopping centers. This was dismissed, by some amongst the black folk, simply with a: because there are white.
That was accepted by many as a satisfactory enough reason.
In other words, over the course of eight decades of colonialism, oppression had become inculcated as ‘normal’ in the minds of the black population. Nevertheless, the advent of independence in 1980 should have brought with it a deliberate policy by the new administration to re-educate and re-align the citizenry’s mindsets. It was imperative for the population to be conditioned to stop accepting segregation, oppression, and mediocrity especially from their government. Zimbabweans needed to appreciate how important they were and that they deserved nothing but the best this great nation had to offer.
They had to finally understand that they were not second-class citizens.
Yet, this never happened.
In fact, it appears as though our new leaders had every desire to perpetuate this mindset – in which the population found absolutely nothing wrong or deplorable about being treated as inferior citizens in their own country. This was because the post-colonial establishment had absolutely no intentions whatsoever in addressing the decades-long repression and marginalization of the majority. What occurred in 1980 was, in actual fact, merely a replacement of one group of oppressors with another – the only thing changing being the skin colour.
These thoughts were reignited in my mind this morning as I read a statement ostensibly published by the ruling ZANU PF party – whereby they bragged about drilling boreholes across Zimbabwe.
Wow, so having a population still reliant on communal boreholes in this day and age – some 43 years after colonialism – is supposed to be a thing of pride, regarded as a phenomenal achievement! It is actually quite ridiculous whenever I pass by a borehole – along the road to my home in the low density suburb of Redcliff – which has a huge portrait of President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. Surely, in a town that once prided itself as ‘Little London’ – due to its beauty, commendable development, and upmarket nature – there is everything shameful when it has now been transformed into a glorified rural village.
This is on account of the small town having not had any potable water flowing in residents’ homes for the past three years.
So, why would Mnangagwa and ZANU PF find the drilling of a communal borehole such a massive feat – which actually deserves a huge billboard to advertise this fact? It is akin to a father who places an advertisement in a newspaper boasting that he had finally bought his son a (secondhand) shirt – in spite of him (the son) not having had any decent clothes for years. We have witnessed, with astonishment, this unsettling trend play out in rural areas – where villagers were expected to celebrate being handed free agricultural inputs and even food aid.
What manner of madness it that?
After 43 years of independence why would any one – regardless of which part of Zimbabwe they reside – be in need of any form of handouts? In a country endowed with some of the world’s most sought-after natural resources, should we not now be experiencing world-class city-like life even in the most remote rural areas? Are our rural folk, by now, not supposed to be commercial farmers, owning productive fertile well-equipped (with irrigation facilities) land that enabled them to enjoy a high standard of living?
- Remember we are talking of a country with the largest reserves of lithium in Africa, the second platinum deposits in the world, the seventh largest producer of diamonds, and the second largest gold reserves per square kilometer.
- This is not to mention black granite, chrome, nickel, copper, asbestos, silver, and any others.
Why then are our schools – both rural and urban – not some of the most advanced in the world? Should each and every household in the country – no matter where it is located – not be having access to reliable, consistent and affordable water and electricity? So, why do we celebrate when a measly poorly-equipped classroom block is constructed – portraying this as major development?
- Why do we run out of words of praise for Mnangagwa when the government finally builds a clinic in an area where villagers, ever since independence, have had to walk for over 20 kilometers to the nearest health care center?
- What is there to celebrate when the government borrows money to build a pathetic two power generation units – in a country still dependent on antiquated machinery which has long passed its operational limits?
- Zimbabwe is now notorious for its incessant power outages – which can span over ten hours a day.
- Right now, as I write this article, we have no electricity.
In fact, why are Zimbabweans still ranked amongst the poorest people on the planet – with 47 percent classified as living in extreme poverty. In the midst of all this suffering, we witness (on a daily basis) those in power or aligned to them living the life of the rich and famous – seemingly with no limit to their finances and opulence. They can build grandiose mansions, drive the most expensive cars, fly wherever they want in the world, host some of the most exquisite shindigs – all this, unashamedly flaunted for the poor to see and admire.
In all this, the source of their wealth is never clear.
Of course, nothing remains hidden forever – as the extent of their corruption and looting of national resources eventually becomes known to the citizenry. How is the country expected to develop when we are losing over US$3 billion every year to the smuggling of our minerals, illicit financial transactions, and other corrupt activities? How then is that different from when I was still a five or six-year-old boy – as we drove past those plush spacious houses of Redcliff on our way to the poor crammed Torwood? There is something clearly wrong with this picture – yet we have those who see nothing amiss.
- They even support and defend this outright discrimination and marginalization of the majority in Zimbabwe.
- Everything for them is great and the country is headed in the right direction.
- At times, I feel these were the same people during the colonial days who would rationalize our oppression.
- For them, those in power have every right to be well-off whilst the rest of us survive on the crumbs from the tables of the powerful.
These ‘supporters’ do not care whether they are also suffering. As in the past, where they would say, ‘they deserve a better life because they are white’ – today it is: they deserve the good life because they are ‘shefus’. It goes to show that the oppression mentality of the colonial era still reigns supreme today
– this time, advanced and promoted by our own black rulers.
- Written by: Tendai Ruben Mbofana
- Hits: 192
Imagine your father has an ‘all-weather friend’, who appears to stand by him in every situation. He looks away as your father brutally batters your mother and does not appear to give a hoot when his family goes without decent nutritional food. Yet, the ‘dear friend’ never hesitates buying your father liters of alcohol, books him into lodges to enjoy with his secret lover, and dresses him with the latest exquisite attire.
In all this, he is not willing to (as he simply does not care) help when you cry out for desperately-needed school fees or money to procure urgent medical attention for your severely sick mother. As a matter of fact, the friend now appears to have some undue unexplained influence over your father – such that, he (father) readily gives him various family expensive assets, leaving his wife and children poorer.
What can we say about your father’s friend?
Can he be regarded as a true friend or actually an unwanted manipulating crook – who does not genuinely love your father, let alone his family – but merely wants to exploit him?
- Is this not exactly what we are witnessing with the relationship between Zimbabwe and China?
- Our supposed ‘all-weather friends’ seem always too ready to ‘assist’ the country.
- Just yesterday, they donated some military hardware, in the form of armored fighting vehicles, personnel carriers, ambulances, motorized water purifiers, patrol boats, minibuses, sniper rifles, machine guns, and hand pistols.
- As I am writing this list, my mind cannot help thinking of the Rudd Concession of 1888 – signed between Cecil John Rhodes and Ndebele King Lobengula – in which the latter was promised a gunboat, and Martini-Henry rifles with their ammunition in exchange for our gold!
Why wouldn’t I, since the Chinese are pretty much doing the same?
In the midst of donating a humongous parliament building in Mount Hampden and assisting in the massive expansion of the RGM International Airport – Zimbabwe has, in the process, lost its natural resources to the Chinese. The East Asians have seemingly been granted ‘complete and exclusive charge over all metals and minerals situated and contained’ in Zimbabwe, in typical Rudd Concession fashion. Whilst the Chinese are pillaging our diamonds, platinum, gold, and now lithium, local communities continue to wallow in extreme poverty. According to a recent ZELA (Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association) report, Chinese-owned companies have acquired the biggest portfolio of lithium mining projects in Zimbabwe.
- Written by: Tendai Ruben Mbofana
- Hits: 142
We have heard this narrative over and over again for as long as we can remember.
The government of Zimbabwe had become obsessed with critics as ‘denigrating the country’.
- Nonetheless, how many of us have actually come across those supposedly ‘criticizing their own country’?
- Who has heard anyone saying, for instance, that Zimbabwe is an evil place that should be wiped off the face of the planet?
- Or, that the country was the most inhospitable and ugliest place in the world that no one should even bother visiting?
- Have we ever met anyone claiming that Zimbabweans are the most hateful people who are lazy and should never be entrusted with any responsibility?
- Or, that all the people of Zimbabwe were disease-ridden and anyone who came near them would die?
Honestly, I am trying my best to think of what could be described as ‘denigrating one’s country’. However, I and millions of other Zimbabweans out there have never encountered any such instances. So, where do those in the ruling elite get all this nonsense about some amongst us ‘criticizing their own country’?
I am one of those accused of this ‘sin’, and so have a pretty good idea of the answer. For those who follow my articles and interviews with various media organizations, I have no fear of telling truth to power. I can never hold back when it comes to my criticism of the appalling human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and the deplorable corruption and mismanagement – which has resulted in the unimaginable poverty and suffering of the majority.
The main culprits have been those in power – who have made careers out of looting our national resources whilst viciously and brutally cracking down on any voices of dissent. As such, anyone who dares stand up or speak out against this undeniable anti-people and anti-Zimbabwe criminally by the ruling establishment are, in turn, themselves portrayed as anti-people and anti-Zimbabwe.
Nonetheless, what can be more unpatriotic and ‘tarnishing the image of the country’ than a small powerful clique that enriches itself through the plunder of our shared resources – whilst millions of ordinary citizens wallow on abject poverty?
- Can there be anything more ‘denigrating’ to the country than our national soccer team having to play its ‘home matches’ in Rwanda simply because our own stadia have been abandoned in a state of near dilapidation?
- Is there anything that brings the name of Zimbabwe into disrepute than our police officers failing to graduate ostensibly due to a lack of sufficient uniforms?
- Or, that our hospitals have become death traps on account of a serious shortage of basic medications, functional cancer machines, ambulances, and other necessities?
- What can be more damaging to the country's reputation that being home to some of the poorest people in the world – with 49 percent living in extreme poverty, and two-thirds of the workforce earning below the poverty datum line?
- Furthermore, during the 2022/23 season, more than 3.8 million people in rural areas faced food insecurity at peak – such that they required some form of aid.
As a matter of fact, hunger has hit urban areas with a vengeance, with up to 2.2 million people in our towns and cities regarded as food insecure. Whereas for children in Zimbabwe, it is reported that one in three suffers from malnutrition. It has actually become a luxury for some families to have more than one meal a day! All these shocking statistics are happening in a country with a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of around US$20,68 billion for 2022, and a growth rate of 3.4 percent.
- In the mining sector, the country is posed to attain the US$12 billion target.
- At the same time, the country boasts of the largest reserves of lithium in Africa,
- the second platinum deposits in the world,
- the seventh largest producer of diamonds,
- and the second largest gold reserves per square kilometer.
Yet, we do not even have one soccer stadium that meets international standards! Who then is ‘portraying Zimbabwe in bad light’? Is it not a huge disgrace when those in power are the one percent who are enjoying a life of obscene opulence and lavishness from ill-gotten wealth derived from looted resources? Here, we have a country losing over US$3 billion each year through the smuggling of our minerals, illicit financial transactions, and other corrupt activities. Yet, those apparently caught red-handed are let go with just a slap on the wrist.
This, while those bravely standing up against all these nefarious deeds by those in power are immediately arrested and sent to jail on the most egregious and outrageous charges. Surely, on what grounds has Job Sikhala been behind bars for the past one and a half years, as repeatedly denied his constitutional right to bail in a case that does not appear to be going anywhere? Then we have Jacob Ngarivhume. Why was he sentenced to an effective three years imprisonment merely for calling for citizens to exercise their constitutional right to peacefully demonstrate against corruption in Zimbabwe?
What does such clear weaponization of the law – referred to as ‘warfare through lawfare’, or ‘persecution through prosecution’ – do for the image of the country?
So, again, I ask: Who really is ‘tarnishing the image of Zimbabwe’?
Is it not those in power – whose unleashing this savage oppression against those who speak out against their thievery is the real ‘denigrating the country’? So, when some of us criticize these acts of looting, corruption, and barbarism, are we criticizing the country or those in power? Let us never lose sight of the fact that there is a massive difference between the government and the country.
I know some of those in the ruling elite have become self-absorbed egotistical megalomaniacs – who now perceive themselves as synonymous with the country – but that is only delusional thinking. It is quite clear – based on the insane and maniacal looting taking place in Zimbabwe – that we have those in power who actually believe the country is their own personal property.
As such, for them (in their twisted minds), criticizing the ruling elite is the same as criticizing the country! Nonetheless, nothing can get further from the truth! Even amongst arguably the most ‘patriotic people on earth’, the Americans – they understand that being rabidly critical of their president and government is not the same as criticizing the US. One simply needs to watch CNN or Fox News to understand this fact. Current president Joe Biden is under constant immense condemnation for all manner of issues – from dismal economic performance (particularly in the wake of COVID-19), the chaotic pullout of US military forces from Afghanistan, his administration’s unflinching support for Israel, and of course the perceived persecution of presidential rival Donald Trump. Trump himself received even worse criticism during his tenure – most notably on his seeming misogynist, racist, and arrogant nature, shambolic handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and supposed willful violation of the law Can any of this ever be characterized as Americans ‘criticizing or denigrating their own country’?
The good thing is that, no matter what we may think of the US, not once did the ruling establishment ever duck criticism under the cover of accusing dissenters of being ‘unpatriotic’. At least, they fully understand the difference between the president of the country and the country itself.
The same should apply to Zimbabwe.
Mr. President, you are not Zimbabwe!
- Written by: Tendai Ruben Mbofana
- Hits: 119
Published by Tendai Ruben Mbofana and reprinted with permission: Link to his article at end.
Flawed elections can never be a ‘closed chapter’!
Let me make this abundantly clear from the onset. Zimbabwe’s August 2023 elections roundly condemned by various international observers as not free, fair, and credible.
There is no way a flawed electoral process can simply pass by and be forgotten without its severe repercussions haunting the nation for a very long time to come.
Therefore, it becomes a fallacy and pure self-deception for anyone to believe that a country can get away with a corrupted election, just because those in power declared that it is now a ‘closed chapter’.
Thinking that way is not only delusional but also akin to the proverbial sweeping our nasty deeds under the carpet.
They will sooner or later inevitably rear their ugly heads.
It is like a man who is foolish enough to actually believe that the infidelity he committed against his partner recently – which she discovered and is seriously angry and aggrieved – is now a ‘closed chapter’ simply because he declared so.
He will soon learn that life does not operate that way!
In other words, pretending that all is well in the nation and everyone is happy over stolen elections has dire consequences – if not downright extremely dangerous.
This is a lesson that I wish those in authority in Zimbabwe would learn – and learn very quickly.
One cannot just wish away the ramifications of the grossly and unashamedly rigged, fraudulent, and shambolic 23rd and 24th August harmonized elections.
Is was quite unsettling and disconcerting hearing both the information minister Jenfan Muswere and his ruling ZANU PF counterpart Chris Mutsvangwa throw tirades at the EU EOM (Election Observer Mission) final report that was released yesterday (17th November 2023).
As to be expected they were at pains defending an election that was similarly discredited by various other election observers – such as the SADC, AU, COMESA and Commonwealth – as falling short of local laws and regional/international guidelines governing democratic elections.
It was even more ridiculous hearing the two men’s unashamed attempts at forcing the matter shut – by deceptively asserting that the country had moved on from elections and now focused on economic development.
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