The coronavirus pandemic known as COVID-19 is not yet over but Zimbabwean citizens must be having enough of their selfish, clueless and callous leadership already.
By Shepherd Mpofu
By leadership, I am not referring only to political leadership, but leaders at all levels of society.
Citizens sitting at home are not fodder or captive audiences for these theatrics but they are in need of hope and want leadership that promises them a manageable future post COVID-19.
Some have already been ejected from neighboring countries where they had gone as economic and political refugees purely because they had been failed by the ruling Zanu PF, a party that has brutalised Zimbabweans since the dawn of independence in 1980.
The falsehood that had for a long time been peddled that former President Robert Mugabe was the problem has fallen off and now we know clearly that the ruling party is a problem.
Zimbabwe does not suffer from Mugabeism, but also from Zanuism, a predatory army of men and women who see the state as a site of eating.
That citizens in Mbare and Makokoba are already saying Mugabe was better than his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa is horrifying.
It should be so to any serious leadership, which gets such reviews less than five years in power.
I remember at one point my great grandmother, now late, quipping, “[former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian] Smith was better”.
And this was during Mugabe’s tenure.
Of course, she never meant that Smith, the last Prime Minister of the racist Rhodesian regime was a good person.
He did what was expected of him as a brutal racist leader.
But I am not sure if he deprived people of water and electricity.
Zanu PF under Mugabe did the same things but the tragedy is that this was unexpected.
It is unexpected that a leader, a few years into independence delivers his own people into predictable episodes of genocide, violence, corruption and trauma without any moments of assured peace and joy.
Mnangagwa did worse than Mugabe, you cannot, as a leader, use the army on unarmed civilians, and even when armed, without any seemingly planned and strategic engagement with them.
Especially when you call your entry into State House as a new dawn, a “New Dispensation”.
Even if well meaning, you cannot engage an enemy that is within civilians with fire because, obviously, the civilians are likely to be killed and no leader worth his salt wills that.
But not the current regime.
They do not inspire anyone.
My point is that even during this COVID-19 pandemic we see a leadership that is concerned with destroying livelihoods rather than inspiring hope and assuring citizens’ safety.
But they are happy to come up with policies that put food off people’s tables with phasing out or rather banning of kombis.
In a world moving towards integrated transport models here we are looting state coffers in order to serve the selfish needs of politicians.
What would we lose if we designed a transport system efficient enough that allows commuters travelling to Ascot from Luveve to jump into a kombi in Luveve and, with the same ticket, jump into a bus to Ascot in Bulawayo for example.
Why can’t we design a system that allows someone to jump onto the train in Bulawayo in the evening to Harare and using the same ticket the next morning, jump into a taxi that will leave them at home in Mbare.
The COVID-19 period should be the least time for any callous leader to announce policies that strike fear of uncertainty into the hearts of the already hopeless citizens.
The main problem we have is that we have men and women in opposition who are not true to principle and are busy performing rituals at the graves all for selfish ends.
It is difficult to believe anyone who insists that MDC-T secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora and crew are not being used by Zanu PF, when they are destroying the opposition, where most people’s hopes lie.
And to do so during the pandemic helps magnify what kind of leadership we have.
The late Morgan Tsvangirai played his role in Zimbabwean politics, made his mistakes, did well in some cases, and he has no more say in the current world.
His family must be left in peace.
Besides, Zimbabweans deserve better and one hopes they are paying attention to what is happening and post COVID-19 pandemic will make alterations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us weak leadership across the board and Zimbabwe has made a contribution towards that.
And we need to be worried.
Memes suggesting Mnangagwa plays second fiddle to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa are not funny, they wake us up to something we have already experienced: we have no credible, forward looking and solid leadership to take Zimbabwe anywhere, COVID-19 or no COVID-19.
The fact that statistics of the pandemic seem untrustworthy suggest we have a leadership that cannot be trusted with bigger things and the future.
To be fair, there is no honest leader within Zanu PF as it is now, had they been there their voices should be louder especially now.
Mugabeism and Zanuism’s failures are going to be further magnified by the crises that face the returnees who find themselves at crossroads.
During the lockdown period, people were repatriated from the neighboring countries and the most important question seems to always escape Zanu PF: Why did they leave the country?
It’s a leadership crisis, stupid.
Of course, the mouthpieces of Zanu PF, some of whom were once domiciled in the diaspora not out of liking but in pursuit of a better life, argue that people are out of the country out of their volition, the truth is that they have been ejected out of the country by failed leadership.
There is no country on the continent that has suffered as much as Zimbabwe through brain drain.
Now the returnees are facing a worse situation, where as they left a country, whose leadership has never been tested in a crisis, they return to a leadership that has failed the test.
This means we are going to have ballooning unemployment and crime rates.
What is sure is that we are going to stay put with clueless, corrupt and callous leaders.
If state security agents can fail to protect opposition leaders and have self-respecting ministers and spokespeople claiming people are stage managing being beaten and raped then we have not only lost conscience and moral compass but Ubuntu.
In future, we might need to decide not to vote as citizens because we have irresponsible politicians across the board.
But for now, post COVID-19, Zimbabweans you are on your own.
Dr Shepherd Mpofu is a media scholar and university lecturer. He writes in his personal capacity
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