By Maynard Manyowa
IN Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, we are raised and brought up under the illusion, if not delusion, that ‘the West’ is just about to mug us in the parking lot. We are told, the biggest enemy of our advancement, or our progress is the ‘evil white man’, or the calculating imperialist. Sometimes it is the gays, the ‘western sponsored opposition forces, or Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi’s absent skeletal remains.
In the depth of our psyche is the belief, instilled from childhood, that Zimbabwe is where it is because the international community is actively involved in a grand scheme to unseat President Mugabe, and Zanu PF. This we are told, they do with the full intention of making sure black people do not own a farm, a mine, a company or all. On the ground, Zimbabwe remains a very sick country. Its malaise is terminal. In simple words, it is a gloomy and troubled household.
It is of principal importance that we ‘name and shame’ Zimbabwe’s problems in chief, and hence forth pin-point the perpetrator, orchestrator, and conductor in chief of the struggle of the Zimbabwean people; it is the party popularly known as, Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (Zanu PF). On a very basic level, Zimbabwe is vice-gripped by a never ending economic depression, monumental levels of widespread poverty, negative economic growth, zero access to clean water and sanitation.
Chief among our difficulties is degenerative corruption, extra-ordinary repression and violence. We have very high levels of unemployment, liquidity problems, collapsing infrastructure, morbid industry and commerce, as well as really poor health-care, let alone limited access to it. The electricity crisis sounds like just one of our smallest snags. Our government is broke to the point that it can’t afford to pay its own workforce, the biggest in the country by the way. Zimbabwe has graduate vendors, destitute academics and touting intellectuals. I could go on and on.
Of course, it would be rudimentary to deny the effect of targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe, and how these have played some part in making it very difficult for the country to avoid slipping into this deathly comatose. But it would be dangerously propagandised to accept this Zanu-nised explanation. There is literally no need to get into the sanctions or not debate. That has been discussed several times, and we all know the truth. Zanu PF killed the country, plain and simple.
To begin with, we must draw our attention to the actions of our government in creating, sustaining, and even edifying the current crisis. We must note that over the years, Zimbabwe has had several chances to alleviate the grave situation that is today. We have had numerous game changers who could have flipped the bad situation into a more palatable one, not to mention a number of gifted entrepreneurs, all of whom, if given a chance, would have made the current situation better, with or without sanctions. They would have achieved this feat through simple and honest industry, initiative and entrepreneurship. In other word, more jobs, a better economy, and better technological advancement.
Ryan Nush: ‘The Film Industry’
Ryan Nush is probably a name that does not ring well or loud in the ears of varied readers. It is expected. Like so many before him, one of Zimbabwe’s rarest and most unique pioneering ambassadors had his hither to unprecedented potential, as well as that to employ several hundreds of people, nipped in the bud, and spectacularly so. While shooting Africa’s first action movie, Ryan Nush, together with some 16 young actors and actresses were arrested. Initially, they were accused of trying to instigate a coup.
The potential charges, were not only ludicrous and at odds with the law, but plain silly. The official reports of the time indicate that they were arrested for possessing toy guns. What is mind blowing is that even for Zanu PF that seems rather absurd, petty and childish. Yet we all know our government repeatedly sinks to new undiscovered lows each new day, to a point where nothing is hardly surprising anymore. (Absurdity Spoiler: I am still waiting on the indecent pictures of Mai Mujuru that the first lady claims to have. But that is for part two and three of this submission).
The irrationality of the toy gun case is really nothing new as well. Arbitrary imprisonment in Zimbabwe is just the order of the day. This is hardly contestable. For example, months after the Constitutional Court ruled ‘insult laws’ were unconstitutional (in other words, illegal), several people are still arrested for criticising Robert Mugabe on WhatsApp, Facebook, et al (For those unaware, insult laws make it an offence to say anything that might be deemed derogatory to the person of the President. And yes, that includes even mild and factual criticism).
Central to the subject at hand, the point in note here is that, Ryan Nush was an African industry pioneer. The success we see within the Nollywood arena, popularly known as Nigerian Movies, could have quite simply been a Zimbabwean story. In simpler words, those billions of dollars could be in Zimbabwe’s economy, never mind the brand. Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe had that chance, and they not only spurned it, but prejudiced and ruined the futures and economic prospects of several hundred thousand Zimbabweans. This is all the more sad, as Zimbabwe’s film and acting industry is presently dead. Banana vendors and vagrants make three times more money than actors.
Strive Masiyiwa: ‘The Telecoms Industry’
One of the most publicised stories of Zanu PF and indeed the government’s insistence on denying ordinary Zimbabweans a chance to achieve their dreams, and make tangible those of others is that of telecoms giant, Strive Masiyiwa. The details of his struggle are well documented by the man himself on social media platforms, as well as various other opinion articles. It is quite ironic, that today, Masiyiwa’s ‘crumbled dream’ is the biggest private entity in Zimbabwe. He employs several thousand people, directly and indirectly. His company remits the largest amount of tax revenue to the government.
Suffice to say, the Zimbabwean economy has one shining beacon; Econet Wireless. Yet, for near a decade, Zanu PF, largely through Joice Mujuru, frustrated this ambition. While the likes of Botswana, Nigeria, et al embraced the vision of a man inspired to change the world, Zanu PF was determined to block the potential employment of several hundreds.
Mawere: ‘The Mining Industry’
Mutumwa Mawere is yet another African icon whose dreams were trampled on by Zanu PF. Despite initially supporting him, albeit without direct involvement, when the government found that Mawere held a deep loyalty to business principle than corrupt patronage, they nationalised his mine with the intention to punish him.
I happen to have grown up in the small mining town of Zvishavane. I experienced first-hand the impact of Zanu PF’s decision to ruin Mawere. Well over 6,000 jobs, lives and an entire town were lost. The situation was and still remains grave. When it came to making a political statement, and stifling the creativity and ingenuity of one man, Zanu PF did not flinch twice. Overnight they destroyed the lives of 6,000 plus people, 24,000 dependents and children, and the economy of an entire town, let alone a country.
The Cruelty Could Go On, and On…
Off the top of my head, that is just about three of the least dressed examples of a government hell bent on screwing its own people over. James Makamba suffered a similar fate, so too did the infamous Muponda, as well as many others.
The point of all this is that, sanctions or no sanctions, our situation could be much better. But, Zanu PF, at every chance, will frustrate the dreams of one man and kill those of a million just to preserve their misrule.
Ryan Nush was a man ahead of his times and technology. So too was Strive Masiyiwa. Both were frustrated because Zanu PF does not embrace creativity. Zanu PF is scared silly of innovative young men who can change the world, and more significantly change the lives of several hundred thousand Zimbabweans.
Mutumwa Mawere chose principle over patronage; he is now exiled in South Africa. James Makamba is rumoured to be paying a price for sampling forbidden fruits; he too is exiled and his ‘business’, Telecel, faces a bleak and uncertain future.
This only serves to show that Zanu PF and government would rather see millions suffer, all for the purpose of punishing one man or stroking their egos. One only needs to take a look at the list of big industry players and game changers, who have gone on to make a huge difference in several other countries to understand just how much talent we have lost (Note: even I have fled to the sanctuary of foreign continents, to exercise my exceptional ability, albeit in honest political analysis, because at home, I run a risk of being another Itai Dzamara). While brain drain is normal, Zanu PF has made it part of its unspoken mandate to chase away many and all exceptional people from the country.
The bottom line
It is not the West that is the enemy, or sanctions, the opposition, gays, or the absence of Mbuya Nehanda’s bones. Zanu PF is the enemy of the people, and whatever effect external white capital interests have had on the nation, all that stands like a pea next to a mountain when compared to the determination of the revolution to kill us off, and our dreams too (all this while they live lavish lifestyles in the Brooke!)
Enough said, This Is Africa!
Maynard Manyowa is a political & social analyst. You can reach him for feedback via his website http://www.maynardmanyowa.com, on Twitter – @iAmKudaMaynard or by liking his FB page – Maynard Kudakwashe Manyowa