March 5 2018 marked President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s 100 days in office. This is a major milestone to look out for if you are emboldened with the naivety that the overrule of the past order, culminating in a period of almost four decades can be loosened, unlaced, retied and revitalised inside 100 days.
By GLORia NDORO-MKOMBACHOTO
But then again, for any government hitting the ground running, under circumstances like those prevailing in Zimbabwe, 100 days is ample time to determine the correctness of the direction, the commitment, sincerity and political will of this new government.
As I pondered about the 100 days, I started seeing similarities between the state of personal health and that of Zimbabwe and so I decided to use my personal illness as a metaphor to draw a few parallels in Zimbabwe’s body politic and economic situation.
It is Tuesday, March 6 2018 at 12:20am. It is obviously past midnight, supposedly sleeping time for many, but tonight, I cannot even pretend to sleep because I am in pain from the incision made on my neck earlier when I had the lung biopsy on the Monday morning. We are two in a five-bed ward. Suddenly one accident lady survivor from ICU is shipped in. She is fidgety. She cannot sleep. That becomes a great excuse to get out of bed. My throat is rather groggy, dry and uncomfortable from the tube which they said they inserted all the way to my lungs, while the camera was inserted via the incision so that they could collect matter to test for two to three days in order to get to the bottom of my afflictions.
I have moved from my family general practitioner, to an ear, nose and throat specialist who has referred me to a physician who has since referred me to a cardiothoracic specialist.
Hospital beds by their very nature are solitary confinements. They are efficient, well-designed, perfectly adequate spaces and the only thing ticking besides your very loud heart beat is your mind or the rare occasion when your neighbour is snoring. As I lay in bed, tossing and turning, eyes shut, trying with difficulty to shut my mind down, however contemplating on whether or not I should wake up to find and kill the mosquito bugging me, all I could think of, was my beloved country Zimbabwe. I love Zimbabwe with all my heart.
We squandered 37 years and have nothing meaningful to show for it except mountainous heaps of dreams deferred of the majority of ourselves and our children.
We have 30-year-old graduates who have had no sight of a pay slip with pay-as-you earn deductions and never known what it means to pay one’s bills through bank stop orders. When you start out, being wet behind your ears, it is less of a hassle to be gainfully employed. Many who eventually went entrepreneurial started as employees.
After all, our education is devoid of any entrepreneurial thrust, so many people believe they do not have what it takes to compete in the business world.
Very much like me, Zimbabwe is in a hospital bed without even knowing the diagnosis. As I yearn for a renewed clean bill of health as much as Zimbabwe does not want to return to the old order, the citizen and country both lack sufficient facts on the ground.
The information is still scanty. But still decisions have to be made.
The political and economic infections bedevilling Zimbabwe are so deep-rooted, it is just no longer in the physical spaces where we see rundown infrastructure, the monuments, the trauma, fear, hopelessness and dejection on people’s faces; the infection is also carried daily in their hearts and minds.
So while I am going to be waiting for two to three days for the outcome of the biopsy, meanwhile being administered all kinds of broad spectrum medications, Zimbabwe too has its own version of broad spectrum sound bites like “Zimbabwe is open for business”, 99-year leases and compensation for land taken from white farmers, 51% indigenisation law being revamped and so forth and so on.
Operation Restore Legacy ought to have been conceived and executed much earlier. The effects of ignoring the excesses of the last order are going to be with Zimbabwe for a very long time to come. Mnangagwa, left with a few months to elections, is under scrutiny, and time is certainly not on his side.
I am gobsmacked at the many things that do not make sense, but the ones that characterise past and present ills in our body politic and economic spaces; issues that cannot be tackled in 100 days are certainly not restricted to the following:
Every Zimbabwean citizen has a constitutional right to set up a political party. The most recent development of setting up a new political party — the New Patriotic Front, allegedly being set up at the behest of the old order and the so-called G40 — is a shocker and creates a sense of great consternation among many. When 1,5 million people marched in November 2017 with placards marked “Mugabe must go,” what did they think was going on? What is it that they are hoping to transform now, which they did not in more than three decades? The gloves are certainly off and may the citizens of Zimbabwe win.
We were always told in no uncertain terms that there is no such thing that a government goes broke. So the looting continued, unabated and in many cases aided by a captured state apparatus starting all the way from Treasury. The recent disclosures on social media about the proposed Gwanda solar project goes to show the amount of tyranny, chicanery and corruption we had been subjected to. Never mind the still missing $15 billion of diamond revenue. This rot cannot be cleaned up in 100 days.
Managed cleverly with pathfinding insights, generosity of mind and unselfishness, Zimbabwe has got the capacity and capability to fund its own development priorities. But Zimbabwe was plundered and pillaged and its resources externalised in foreign accounts. Mnangagwa gave a three-month moratorium to have these funds returned. Of the billions expected, we have been advised that close to $250 million has been remitted back. There are allegations that many from Mnangagwa’s current government are still to comply, with the presidency itself making its own declarations as there are allegations that they were key beneficiaries from the last regime. Time is a great enabler and will illuminate this one for us in due course.
The question that begs an answer is: will Mnangagwa continue with his fits and starts strategy or will he embark on a comprehensive, firmly embedded system in order to overhaul the culture of patronage, corruption and externalisation?
Within the lower echelons of power, the underlink levels, corruption continues, particularly in procurement. Time will tell if the president has the mettle to get the robber to hit the road now, despite the pressing issues of outstanding electoral reforms facing him, appeasing the wayward elements in his party and ensuring that he wins the 2018 elections.
All the while, Zimbabweans were cowed down into silence, submission and irrelevant singularity where it became a one-person-for-themselves existence and God for us all. We suffered in silence as Zimbabwe continued to be bled dry. As we remain hopeful, it is high time we started witnessing real transformation of our collective economic fortunes.
Zimbabweans want more. The future of Zimbabwe, our children, is at the crossroads. The same youth we marched with for change, from Highfield to the central business district in November 2017, is the same youth that willingly, without coercion, force, threats or brutality, voluntarily went to bury Morgan Tsvangirai in Buhera. All they have is hope, yearning for change. It is a bright future they seek ahead, to be the masters and mistresses of their own destinies. Their time is now.
As I gravitate slowly but purposefully towards the renewal of my very own compromised health, I believe it is the wish of Zimbabweans that they too witness and live an experience of real, not imagined, change.
l Gloria Ndoro-Mkombachoto is an entrepreneur and a regional enterprise development consultant. Her experience spans a period of over 25 years. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org