By Stewart Musarapasi
That Zimbabwe was once famed as the “bread basket of Africa”, widely exporting agro-based products now sounds like one of the most-creative works of fiction.
In part, this can be blamed on the political stalemate in which the country’s two largest parties – the ruling Zanu (PF) and the opposition MDC Alliance are trapped in, seemingly with neither willing to compromise for the better of the nation anytime soon.
There can be no gainsaying the fact that as the political haggling continues, the general population continues to bear brunt for political leaders’ intransigence. It is also because of putting politics ahead of national needs that the continuing downward spiral of the country’s economic fortunes has reached an alarming level.
It boggles the mind why politicians from either side of the divide continue to play porker with people’s lives, with none admitting that it is time to eat humble pie and get to the negotiating table. Our politicians continue to pay no regard to the stark actualities on the ground by continuing to flower the situation and make out-of-this-world promises they are not even prepared to keep.
The period around 2008, when Zimbabwe faced arguably its worst ever socio-economic situation was eventually solved by the creation of the much-vaunted Government of National Unity that temporarily diffused political tensions and brought together three parties that had gotten seats in that year’s elections – Zanu (PF), the MDC – then led by Professor Arthur Mutambara and the MDC-T of Morgan Tsvangirai.
The GNU, a product of the Global Political Agreement initiated and godfathered by the regional Southern African Development Community and the broader African Union blocks, eventually came into existence in February 2009, following ice-thawing meditation by former South African President, Thabo Mbeki.
With then President Robert Mugabe retaining his position, the now late Tsvangirai becoming Prime Minister and Mutambara his deputy, a new Zimbabwe was born, much to the relief of many. For the first time in many years, political intolerance was healed and the economic malaise was healed – Zimbabwe managing to cut back on its quintillion-figure inflation to record economic growth for the first time since the chaotic land seizures of 2000. For a change, Zimbabweans enjoyed being Zimbabweans and many returned from the tough diaspora life to try again in their homeland, as hyper-inflation became a thing of the past.
From an inflationary figure that saw the country abandon its own currency, the benefits of political stability and national unity were felt during the GNU.
In no way is this article an outright call for another Government of National Unity, but the intention is to question the sincerity of the two leading political parties in Zimbabwe on resolving the political impasse in the country, which is the main cause of the economic impasse that has given birth to our socio-economic problems.
I pick the two parties – Zanu (PF) and the MDC Alliance, not out of disrespect to the other hundreds of parties we have, but based on these two parties’ numerical share of the political support base. It is not a secret that – not only are these two currently the biggest political parties in the country, but they are also part of the reason our multi-facetted has refused to go away – at varying degrees, of course.
The hidden truth is that the Zimbabwean crisis needs Zimbabwean citizens to solve it. The way to solve it may be the challenge which has reduced our country to the ghost town that it is now, with only a clique of rich people enjoying its riches at a time when the masses are drowning in abject poverty.
Some families cannot even afford a decent single meal per day because they have no source of income. Unemployment is close to 90%, industry is way below 50% production capacity, and companies are closed. University graduates are roaming the streets with no jobs, hospitals are without medicine. Salaries of the few who hold on to some semblance of employment in both the public and private sectors are eroded by the hyper-inflationary economy. The list of our economic woes is endless.
My question to leaders of Zanu PF and MDC Alliance is; for how long do you want to continue seeing the country under this economic quagmire?
While it is quite understandable that political temperatures may rise every now and then between parties with different ideologies, real leaders do make some compromises or meet half way, for the good of the country.
I write this article standing in the position of an old grandmother in Karoi, with all her children old enough but without employment; a grandfather in Chipinge who has no plan for the next meal and is expecting no food supplies; an unemployed single mother in Mutorashanga with five kids – who doesn’t know what she will eat tomorrow; an uncle in Tsholotsho who suffers from a critical medical problem which needs frequent review at Mpilo Hospital, but finds the hospital dry of the necessary drugs and a graduate brother in Lupane who has been stuck at home for the past three years for lack of employment.
In your meetings, our dear leader, do you ever take moments to sincerely deliberate and tell one another the truth about the situation in our country? Do you discuss our precarious situation outside your political gowns – as Zimbabweans first and politicians later, during your breaks in parliament – when you sip on that expensive tea and holding keys to your expensive parliamentary vehicles? Do you ever think about us and consider why we need to live so that we can vote you again less than five years from now?
As ordinary people, we don’t even know the technicalities of what is needed for your two leading political parties to come to terms with our current situation, as a way to understand each other for the betterment of the whole nation and for generations to come. That adage ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ must reign in your meetings and amicable solutions between your parties must be found, in due time.
Till when, leaders of our country’s two parties, will continue be in two different worlds when the country is going down in deep abyss like the way things are right now. Where is this deadlock leading us as a country?
I end my article with this recall of memory: the period from 2000-2008 was dubbed by Sachikonye, (2009) as a “lost decade” because Zimbabwe had plunged into severe economic doldrums. Bratton and Masunungure (2011) viewed it as a “crisis decade”. Our leaders is this what you wish the country to be again?
Stewart Musarapasi is a Business and Political analyst based in Europe. He can be contacted via:
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