It's now or never

HARARE - It is stating the obvious to say it is now or never for Zimbabweans as our long-suffering country approaches today’s crucial polls.

For Zimbabwe has, for a long time now, been under a very dark political and economic cloud under the mismanagement of Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe — notwithstanding many valiant efforts by South Africa, Sadc and the international community to try and nudge our once beautiful country back to normality.

Indeed, we have, as a nation, been to hell and back over the past 33 years. During this period, the Zanu PF regime which has hogged power in our country since 1980, has destroyed every worthy endeavour and fibre of our society.

Consider this roll of shame: In the early years of our independence, an estimated 20 000 Zimbabweans, mainly in Matabeleland and the Midlands were senselessly slaughtered in cold blood.

A decade-and-a-half ago, Zanu PF instigated violent and chaotic land grabs that have turned this agriculturally-rich country from being Sadc’s breadbasket to the basket case of the region.

In 2005, hundreds of thousands of poor urban dwellers were violently and inexplicably driven out of their homes in a cruel operation dubbed Operation Murambatsvina and those people remain without homes today.

In 2008, after Mugabe had been soundly defeated by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round of that cursed year’s presidential ballot, hundreds of the premier’s supporters were murdered, raped and brutally assaulted by Zanu PF militia who refused to countenance their leader’s defeat.

The anarchy and barbarity of Zanu PF’s behaviour that year resulted in the worst economic climate that the country has seen in its history, including world record inflation that left virtually 99 percent of the population living way below the breadline — and prompting Sadc to push for an inclusive government in the country to try and mitigate the self-inflicted crisis.

For his troubles over the years, Tsvangirai has been arrested repeatedly, been charged with treason and faced four suspected assassination attempts.

What this all means is that it is time that we, the citizens of this country, become braver and actively work — beginning with tomorrow’s ballot — to kick out the ruthless Zanu PF which has presided over our misery for the past 33 years. Yes, none but ourselves can free this country.

Enough is enough.

Indeed, if the hardliners had not intervened in 2008, as they always do, Mugabe would fittingly be on retirement as we speak — with Zanu PF now possibly confined to the dustbins of history.

And as everyone knows, a leopard does not change its spots.

Mugabe, at the weekend threatened Tsvangirai with arrest on Sunday if he announced election results ahead of the official pronouncement by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).

Tsvangirai had said that given our terrible experience that he would conduct a parallel voter tabulation from results posted outside the 9 000-plus polling stations during the elections and announce the results if Zec failed to announce the election outcome in five days as is stipulated by law.

In 2008, authorities took a suspiciously long time, nearly two months, to announce the results of the election.

I don’t have anything against Mugabe and his Zanu PF but if the truth be told, the gains of independence have been destroyed. I was a toddler at independence in 1980 but I vividly remember that the economy was ticking.

At that time agriculture was booming and in Shurugwi where I grew up, there was a thriving chrome mine which used to employ more than 7 000 people. But now, the mine is nothing but empty pits.

Nearby in Zvishavane, Shabanie/Mashaba Mines used to employ more than 15 000 in Zvishavane and Mashava but all this has been destroyed.

It’s the norm throughout the country. For instance, Kondozi Farm used to employ 10 000 people but now it is like a desert, having been grabbed by greedy Zanu PF officials who looted and sold the billion-dollar equipment at the farm.

It also reminds me of this Zanu PF official who grabbed an orange farm in Chegutu, found stockpiles of sugar at the farm house and due to lack of agricultural knowledge, thought the former owner was hoarding the product and sold all of it.

The politician was not aware that the sugar was meant for sweetening the oranges and at harvest, the oranges tasted like lemons.

This is how Mugabe and his Zanu PF have destroyed our agriculture.

Zimbabwe used to employ nearly two million people but where are we now?

While top politicians are swimming in luxury, the bulk of Zimbabweans are wallowing in extreme poverty and it is even worse in the rural areas.

When Zimbabwe’s gallant sons and genuine freedom fighters like Josiah Magama Tongogara, Alfred Nikita Mangena, Jason Ziyapapa Moyo, Solomon Mujuru, Hebert Chitepo, Joshua Nkomo, Leopold Takawaira, Ndabaningi Sithole and others, fought to liberate this country, they wanted freedoms and prosperity for the people.

They fought to remove the racist white regime so that people could enjoy their freedoms but what happened?
Mugabe and his sidekicks inherited racist draconian laws which are being used to oppress us like the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) and Public Order and Security Act (Posa).

What is the difference between these laws and Ian Smith’s Law and Order Maintenance Act (Loma).  It is an issue of blacks oppressing blacks.

Today, Zimbabweans get arrested to be investigated all because of criticising an oppressive Zanu PF regime, journalists are intimidated and arrested to silence them and the people are not allowed to openly discuss hot political issues. Is this the Zimbabwe we want? No.

Former Tanzanian President, Julius Nyerere warned our 89-year-old president at independence: “Robert, you have inherited the jewel of Africa, don’t destroy it.”

Three decades later the country is in tatters, unemployment is at 90 percent, people get arrested for criticising the regime, freedoms have been taken away from the people and they now live in fear.

How does Mugabe and his Zanu PF explain all this misery and poverty around us? Last week, I was listening to First Lady Grace Mugabe speaking at a campaign rally in Gwanda.

She stunned the world in celebrating that we were now importing maize from Zambia.

She told supporters that she would send maize to them once the consignment arrived from Zambia — what a shame! We are now importing maize from the same white farmers we chased away like dogs. God help us.

In urging the people of Zimbabwe to vote out Mugabe, I am trying to help the old man rest with some dignity, I want him to salvage the little legacy left in the old man.

In voting Mugabe out, the people will be securing their future, that of their children and generations to come.

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