By Rejoice Ngwenya
THE intoxicating and numbing displeasure of being an “inmate” of Zimbabwe could be likened to four distinct scenarios: a penitentiary, a sanatorium, a casualty ward and a spiritual church.
Not that I am one of those cowards who will escape at the first sight of an unguarded exit door, no ways! Neither will I dig a tunnel under the Limpopo River only to emerge somewhere between Musina and Naboomspruit.
I am determined to stick around until the perpetrators of this inhuman justice are either democratically discharged or brought to account for their transgressions. For the time being, the word “diaspora” applies to them (others) – not me.
I am of the breed whose vocabulary does not include the word “defeat”, especially by a mere mortal who breathes exactly the same type of oxygen as I do. From dust to dust, from dawn to dusk, the struggle continues. Back to the four cases.
In a typical penitentiary, inmates respond only to a rigid disciplinary programme imposed on them by their incarcerators. They are not expected to have a choice, think, rationalise or act according to their will.
The masters bark orders and prisoners respond with immaculate submission and where there is a sign of dissent, justice is meted out instantly in full view of others. At any one time, even when inmates “think” they are free to roam around the courtyard, armed guards are perched high up in cages waiting to sniper-shoot any details that break the strict penitentiary routine.
In other words, in prison you are entirely at the mercy of your guardians. Such is the case in Zimbabwe. We now all put on similar clothes – a uniform of distress, frustration and heartache. Zimbabweans are fed on one diet – that of suffocating, nauseating state propaganda with a proven propensity to choke the life out of one.
Our routine has become one of queuing and begging for foreign currency from a totally dysfunctional auction system. When we vote, the masters of our destiny stand guard over the ballot box to ensure we place the cross where it suits them most.
Try and “demonstrate” your disapproval and see how much pressure your head can take from a baton stick! Just like an inmate in solitary confinement, all we can do is scream and bang on the walls, hallucinating on what might have been that never was.
Our very conscience has been colonised, and we can only sing praises to the ruling party, thanking them each time they “reward” us with tentative devaluation, Chinese deals and service stations that dispense petrol in foreign currency.
We have lost our individual personality, assuming the nature of our controllers, like dogs, hoping that perhaps one day, a prison chaplain will bestow mercy on us, and recommend our commitment to a sanatorium. At least people there laugh all night.
A cousin who has worked at both Parirenyatwa Annex and Engutsheni tells me that inmates literally have fun or at least think they are enjoying.
Some laugh all night, others joke about their “love affairs” and most talk of past victories. When relatives bring goodies, there is momentary jubilation and tinges of normalcy in their lives. And yet the moment they walk towards the main gate, strong men in white apprehend them with pungent doses of sedation and dump them in secure rooms.
Life at the sanatorium, from the outside, looks normal. That is what (SA president Thabo) Mbeki, (former Mozambican president Joaquim) Chissano and (Zambian president Levy) Mwanawasa say of Zimbabwe – things are fine, Zimbabweans can look after themselves.
If only they could listen more carefully to the inmates, they will know to what extent their dialogue and debate is out of context.
Zimbabwean political leaders simultaneously gloat about a successful agrarian revolution and importing food in the same sentence. They talk about colonial imperialists, foreign currency shortages and declining tourism in one paragraph.
Our leaders hallucinate about past victories in the liberation war and give each other medals while children starve and their mothers die of HIV and Aids.
They fly to all sorts of conferences while hospitals run out of drugs and school children are thrown out into the streets. Just like in a sanatorium, our leaders feel, act and behave normal, but deep inside they are deranged, intellectually bankrupt dictators who have lost all conscience and rational judgement.
They have been sedated by their own lies and snore in deep sleep, oblivious of the popular revolutionary storm coming their way. As they fight imaginary battles and bask in illusive victories in their sleep, they inflict mortal wounds on their bodies, taking the country with them to casualty ward.
Zimbabwe is in a typical casualty ward situation as at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto – the largest centre for death, blood and pain in the southern hemisphere. I am told medical interns and courageous doctors come from all over the globe to experience first-hand the nature of self-inflicted human suffering.
The variety of diseases and wounds is bewildering – inflicted from bullets, axes, automobiles accidents, fires, knives, blunt instruments, you name it.
In other words, the Baragwanath Hospital casualty ward is the global first port of call for human anguish. Men, women and children scream as they plead to be put out of their misery. Relatives hold their heads in despair as they count the vital seconds towards the imminent departure of loved ones.
But the good news is that the first thing a nurse or doctor needs to do there is to prevent loss of blood, reduce pain and save lives – then one can talk of a fully-fledged diagnosis.
The Zimbabwe casualty case is mind-boggling. As the country bleeds to death, our leaders look out of the windows of the ward and count the number of cars with new “A series” number plates. No shame, no sense of remorse or compassion whatsoever.
Education minister Aeneas Chigwedere talks about uniforms while (Finance minister) Herbert Murerwa refers casually to new ministries.
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono dishes out money to local authorities while his party compatriot urges the government to promulgate a holiday called “Land Day”. Our economy is bleeding through the mouth and the energy sector has been dehydrated.
The blood pressure of inflation is running into three digits while our foreign reserves are breathing directly from an oxygen cylinder. Our education system struggles from a dialysis machine, as agriculture lies unconscious from a severe asthma attack.
The tourism sector is on a life-support system while the pharmacy of our theatre system boasts only of painkillers and crepe bandages.
Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo is obsessed with a film actor named Garikai while (his counterpart at Science and Technology) Olivia Muchena refers to hitherto unheard of scientific breakthroughs.
It’s a mad house – Zimbabweans screaming in pain everywhere for mercy while their leaders sit and watch Studio 263. Now there is only one thing that can save our souls – Prayer.
My context of the term “spiritual church” is borrowed directly from that of Satanism ie where members actually believe that they are worshipping God when in fact their leaders are hiding behind satanic doctrines. Such is the case in Zimbabwe – while the rest of us are speaking in tongues and cry out for the Lord to redeem us, the big boys have their hands in the pulpit till, counting the offerings and stashing the money in their back pockets. In church, Zimbabweans sing, pray and give offerings as an expression of faith. Others dance, cry and roll on their bellies in anguish for their transgressions.
We have accepted our weaknesses – complicity in the crime of letting dictators ruin our lives for 25 years without so much as casting the first stone. Now they have judged us and seen us to be weak, spineless mortals who fear to lose their worthless lives.
Our leaders can plunder the vessels from our temple and we have no power to even cough. But the good news is that God is on the side of the weak and he does not, like man, lie.
The Lord looks after his flock, even if it has wondered far from the others. Like Job says, I know my redeemer liveth. If you worship a dead god, it is your fault. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.
My God is watching this vicious, heartless pack of greedy hounds. Keep praying, let them plunder the altar and the taxes, it belongs to them – for the time being. Our time will come, where there will be gnashing of teeth (if they still have any).
Hey, somebody ought to tell these guys. Men, boys, say it in the bus, the pub, the church, canteen, supermarket, everywhere. Condemn this evil. Do not be afraid of mere mortals. They can only break your bones, but not your soul.
They are just as miserable and petrified one-leg-at-a-time men as you are. We are tired of suffering slaves in our own country. What have we done to deserve this type of treatment?
Our lives are controlled by gangsters who come every five years to wring out allegiance in the form of so-called elections.
Their legitimacy is as valid as the talons of an eagle in the back of a day-old chick. Tell them to go now, today, yesterday, in March, last year, long back. Their time is up, we want to live, not leave. We want to live, not merely exist. We have rights too, just like their spoilt, over-fed dependants.
The gong is swinging, like a pendulum; the people of Zimbabwe are waiting with bated breadths as it makes the last swing. When it hits the down stroke, popular excitement will drown the muffled cries, even those of state-sponsored propaganda about the virtues of a satanic, perforated, senatorial election.
We voted in March that was enough, we are not going for yet another political joy-ride. No ways!
* Rejoice Ngwenya is a Harare-based writer.