At independence, Zimbabweans rejoiced at the demise of white colonial rule. They filled the streets in jubilation when Mugabe was sworn in.
Finally, there was hope for the nation, for the people, for the country. Zimbabweans could concentrate on improving their lives and caring for their families.
At last, the rising sun meant progress in a land gifted with all it needed and more. We did not even have to bother with infrastructure for this or for that; it was all there in a country that had benefitted from hosting the capital of an ill-fated ‘Federation of Rhodesias and Nyasaland’.
The mines were flourishing with workers from the then Northern Rhodesia and from Nyasaland, Tanzania, Congo and elsewhere.
The farms were producing more than enough for home consumption and we were exporting agricultural products as far afield as Europe.
When the federation fell apart under the onslaught of individual independence of member states, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) inherited all that came with being host to the capital city of a federation: excellent schools and a university, road infrastructure, well-equipped and productive mines not to mention a vibrant industry served by a highly literate labour force.
The expansive farms were highly productive, albeit at the expense of landless Zimbabweans. Silos were almost always full and many African countries ate from our farms.
At independence, Zimbabwe literally had it all. Unlike Zambia and Malawi who, at their independence, really had to start from scratch, the only thing we had to do was to maintain what we inherited from the colonial government. Just to maintain what we found in place….
I cannot think of any people or country in the world who have wished ill of Zimbabwe. Even the South Africans with their sour grapes attitude and racism, still flocked to Zimbabwe in droves, boats in tow for a ride in the waters of Kariba Dam, not to mention the Victoria Falls or a visit to the breathtaking Nyanga Mountains.
The world’s big companies had a strong presence in both Rhodesia and Zimbabwe, and more were courting us to accommodate them.
With its vastly literate labour force, Zimbabwe has always been a darling of the international business community.
To everything, there is a season! Turn, turn, turn!
Slowly, we started to notice odd things. The fiscal carelessness. The tightening of freedoms. The increase in CIDs. The encouraged ‘worshiping’ of a president. Intolerance to opposing views.
Still, there were thousands of instances when people “hailed” former President Robert Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s savior. There are many who still believe Robert Mugabe is the best thing that ever happened to Africa.
Oh, yes, we started out well when our leaders ran the country by consensus; when the liberators listened to each other. We got accolades as a nation and we kept going while the leadership started to stagnate.
Praises started to evaporate; questions were being asked.
Intimidation, intolerance and violence against perceived political ‘enemies’ became rampant.
Violence against Zimbabweans who, with good intention, started to point out the wrongs we, as a nation, were making, grew and so did the brutality.
Before we knew it, we had a genocide in our history. Suddenly, we realized that we had been corralled into an enclosure from which there was no escape.
While our president was being hailed by everyone except ourselves, we started hearing from within our own midst that we were better off under colonial government.
And I cannot believe that hardly a year after Mugabe’s ouster, people have already started to say Zimbabweans were better off under Mugabe, than today under Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Companies are closing, and industry has all but collapsed. Zimbabwe is still without currency and there are shortages of everything. Stores are empty, so are the petrol tanks.
There is no doubt that Mnangagwa inherited a bad situation from Mugabe, but the scariest thing is that it has become clear to all and sundry that Mnangagwa has absolutely no idea what to do.
Instead of coming up with new ideas, bringing in educated young Zimbabwean Turks who are running other countries elsewhere, Mnangagwa is using the discredited methods Mugabe used and filling his cabinet with tried and failed old goats who ran the country into the mud with both Mugabe and Mnangagwa himself.
He does not even notice that as long as his political party does not re-invent itself, no professional in any field will turn Zimbabwe’s fortunes around.
Doctors are back on strike complaining that they need medicines and equipment in hospitals to be able to save lives.
There is no money to buy medicines but Mnangagwa can find money to buy top of the range vehicles for chiefs and parliamentarians when electricity, fuel, food and medicines are not available for the people.
The giant company, National Foods, announced this week that they are scaling down their operations because of lack of foreign currency. Their scaling down is a euphemism for ‘closing down’.
Two days ago, another giant, the Delta Corporation, announced that because of lack of foreign currency, they are also scaling down operations and warned that people should not expect soft drinks like Coca Cola during the Christmas Holidays this year.
But most painful to many was the inclusion of beer as one of the items that will be heavily limited in production, if at all available.
Mnangagwa has failed to whip up morale in both the people and the economy. He has not offered anything that could be pegged as his own innovative idea except for the mantra that “Zimbabwe is open for business” while food shelves are empty, and people are dying of preventable diseases like cholera and typhoid.
I do not know what it will take to get Zanu-PF leaders to discover civic responsibility.
They are already endorsing Emmerson Mnangagwa for the 2023 presidential elections.
I am not sure they will ever aim to improve the nation except for themselves.
Instead, they are cuddling corrupt officials and spending time trying to enact age restriction laws for running for the presidency so that 40-year-old opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, will be considered too young to run for president in 2023.
38 years of economic regression, coupled with the erosion of basic human rights, not to mention the brutality reigned on the people have left Zimbabweans unable to do much except try to survive one day at a time.
On the Internet, on Facebook, on WhatsApp, on Twitter, Instagram and other outlets of communication, I am appalled by the sheer number of negative inputs from concerned Zimbabweans about their plight and the situation in Zimbabwe.
Will Zimbabwe ever recover? Will it ever capture a little of what it once was? I doubt it.
Zimbabwe will never recover under the tutelage of Zanu-PF.