DEAR President Emmerson Mnangagwa,
It is with a heavy heart and a trampled soul that I write this letter to you.
Since your ascendancy to power via a military-assisted coup in November 2017, a lot has happened in our country.
I should admit I, for one, celebrated your triumphal entry. I was dying to see the late former President Robert Mugabe’s departure. I was optimistic that the worst had ended and a new chapter had opened for Zimbabwe.
Your Excellency, your inauguration speech was profound — your outlined your vision for Zimbabwe. I remember on November 30 2017, when you ended your speech saying: “For the time that I shall be President of Zimbabwe, I solemnly promise that I shall, to the best of my ability, serve everyone who calls or considers Zimbabwe their home.”
But events that unfolded soon after are hard to fathom. The situation in Zimbabwe has reached the worst level.
Your Excellency, corruption in this country is now stinking to the high heavens. This monster is thriving in every facet of the economy — private and public. It has become institutionalised as demonstrated by the depraved behaviour of your civil servants in positions of trust.
Virtually all government departments are under siege from corrupt personnel, but your Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has literally gone AWOL. The Special Anti-Corruption Unit housed in your office doesn’t know that it exists. We even have local outlaws, who enjoy Executive and ruling party protection from investigation and prosecution.
Your Excellency, Zacc is going after teachers who are trying to augment the peanuts they are receiving as salary by conducting extra lessons. Has the second republic criminalised the teaching profession? Aren’t you abusing taxpayers’ money trying to catch small fish, leaving whales swimming in seas of corruption?
Gold smugglers and tax evaders are having a field day.
Auditor-General Mildred Chiri’s yearly reports provide leads, but Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo and her Zacc team have decided to major in the minor.
Your Excellency, you have spoken more than you have acted on this cancerous scourge. The web of corrupt officials seems too scary to tackle lest the hunter becomes the hunted.
The findings of the Commission of Inquiry into the Sale of State Land in and around Urban Areas since 2005, which you authorised, were so damning that it never saw the light of day. It seems your have perfected the art of using the Commissions of Inquiry Act to hide information from citizens even if it is in the public interest.
The Justice Tendai Uchena-led committee report highlighted that the State was prejudiced of US$3 billion in illegal land sales and Zanu PF honchos and top civil servants were found with their hands in the cookie jar.
Your Excellency, in August 2018, you were applauded for establishing the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry to probe post-election killings, but its findings hither to have largely been ignored. In this sense, Your Excellency, you have let us down.
The much-needed investment is hibernating somewhere in foreign lands, as investors quake in their boots over the high risks associated with investing in Zimbabwe.
Your “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra has remained on your lips, but has not been supported with a conducive investment climate. This, coupled with policy inconsistency, has done no good to the prospects of economic recovery.
I doubt if Zimbabwe will be an upper middle income economy come 2030 given your more talk, less action approach to issues of national importance.
The older generation has become so nostalgic after our hard-fought independence that they reflect warmly on the time of the late Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith — yet they cry tears of blood for the younger generations, whose potential has been decimated beyond conceivable redemption.
Your Excellency, our health sector has virtually collapsed. Zimbabweans are enduring shambolic healthcare services. That Zimbabweans had to find solace in kunatira zumbani (steaming) when the virulent coronavirus set foot in the country last year is testimony that we are alone in this.
Medical professionals are poorly remunerated and highly demoralised. Sons and daughters of the soil with the best brains are leaving the country in droves to find sanctuary in countries where they are valued.
Zimbabwe was once at the apex of African enlightenment, boasting the highest literacy rate on the continent, our educational institutions and standards have deteriorated drastically under your watch. That more than 88 schools in Matabeleland recorded a 0% in the 2020 November O-Level examinations is testimony of how our standards are plummeting.
There is no better proof of this than you and your lot sending your children to study in “little Europes”.
Parents are unable to send their children to school; even teachers cannot afford to send their children to the schools they work at.
Students at tertiary institutions are resorting to prostitution to survive. Colleges and universities are churning out thousands of graduates, who have no prospects of getting jobs. Unemployment has risen to more than 90%.
Your Excellency, our “all-weather friends” have found dumping ground for sub-standard goods. They are chief culprits in shipping United States dollars out of this country.
They have pushed us out of the retail sector, which is the preserve of indigenous people, according to our laws. I am certain that they laugh at you when you gloat about this friendship.
I sincerely hope you will not dismiss my missive as part of a foreign-sponsored regime change note.
I will not talk about how your regime butchered the Constitution for selfish reasons, but I could not suppress the urge to let you know how I and millions of other patriotic Zimbabweans feel about your leadership or lack of. Zimbabweans demand more action and less talk from you.
- Cliff Chiduku is a journalist based in Harare. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter:@chifchiduku.