Penultimate month to Christmas, the last drop of water to hit these streets was from the violent rainstorm last week. Not even the public toilet taps gush out water like they used to. Even those pipes underground are their former selves. The people are in a somber mood, a reflection of what surrounds them- uncertainty and suffering without purpose. Cacophonous automobile hooters from every angle, some of the cars are in the wrong lane according to the decaying road sign that is in front of me- a testimony of a country where rules are only enforceable if there are pecuniary benefits for the law enforcement agents. Azure sky, very clear and there is no sign of any rain coming soon. The much needed rain to quench the thirst of the grounds. The parched grounds have become the daytime lounges for the queuing masses. If only the suffering masses could receive the rain as a present from nature- in the form of alleviating their suffering but it is not so. You see here like elsewhere nowadays, there is a queue for everything. The queue with many subscribers these days is the bank queue.
There is talk about His Excellency having used his “powers” to decree a law on “new money”. There is talk about His Excellency having been booed at a graduation ceremony at one of the universities. There is talk about His Excellency having reinstated his party members who had referred to him as a dictator. There is talk about His Excellency having said that he will retire when he is 99 years of age. The money shortages, the rising corruption, the electricity load shedding, the water rationing, the soaring levels of unemployment, the deplorable state of public hospitals, the political abductions, the decaying infrastructure, the police brutality, the anarchy- all of this is intertwined with His Excellency. Without any pretense, the people are pointing at His Excellency for everything. It took the people years to steely point at His Excellency for everything that is upside down and lopsided in the republic. His Excellency and his retinue are idiosyncratic with everything that has been reduced to nothingness in the republic. But how did His Excellency amass so much power? How did His Excellency become such a powerful bloke in a country replete with talents of all variations? Could it be that the destiny of the whole country is in the hands of His Excellency and nobody else? How did His Excellency become so omnipresent- the separation of powers between the executive, judiciary and the legislature is impossible? Resistance and trying to find answers to the aforementioned questions- a bête noire to His Excellency, he will thwart it!
By any possible standards, the republic has become a dystopia. The republic has seen monumental exodus of the citizens in search of anything different. There is some pride that a citizen exhibits when his land of provenance is mentioned- not so with the citizens of my republic. We have nothing to be proud of, except maybe our high literacy and competencies that we boast about in countries that are not ours. That is what happens when the story of a people is manipulated and defined by one man’s megalomania.
“This land is perfectly habitable; it’s just that our economy is under sanctions from the West!”
The anti-thesis of what the citizens experience. The clear difference between mass opinion and public policy is an eyesore- you can see it in the citizens’ eyes. You can see it on the faces of university graduates cum vendors; graduates who have been made a litany of promises and have now been reduced to permanent job seekers. You can see it through the actions of parking marshals who will threaten and squeeze a dollar out of a motorist for 30 minutes parking! You will read about it from the business sections of the censored papers, the business of the stock exchange has become delisting and liquidation. The gross mismanagement manifests itself in the plates of the citizens. These plates know no nourishing food, they just know food that keep one sustained.
Early in the morning, the citizens wake up to see the glass bottle of milk and a newspaper is delivered. The postman delivers letters and parcels. Up the road, there is road maintenance that is taking place. The roads are clean, no clutter or rubbish heaps in sight. On the small black and white screens, the British South Africa Company (BSAC) has announced that a new road construction has been commissioned. The citizens wake up early in the morning to go to work, the citizens work very hard because they know they will be gainfully rewarded. There is no shortcut to earning money; every citizen has to work in order to live a comfortable life. In the schools, the scholars are being taught essential skills so that one day they can earn a living. Everything here is orderly, from child immunizations to refuse collection. There is a calm relief on how everything perfectly functions. A sober analysis of Rhodesia is that it’s a country where order is the fulcrum of the healthy society.
Elias, a very resourceful black entrepreneur and father of 8 has just had his bank loan approved. He is called in the CABS offices in Salisbury to come and sign his loan approval. There is tense talk in the air that the nationalists are at loggerheads with the incumbent administration over representation of natives in the House of Assembly. There is dissatisfaction about the segregation based on race. The black nationalists are also fighting for equal rights and freedom of association. Elias can see elements of the truth in the grievances- there are areas where black people like him are not supposed to be seen in. In all of this Elias still gets rewarded for his hard work and he is going to use his bank loan to construct a small shopping mall in the native area of Chitungwiza. There is many like him, young black entrepreneurs who want to bring the “town to the people”. These men are living in a country that rewards excellence. The violation of human rights talk is becoming a crescendo. Some of the gullible citizens are joining in the echo but how come Elias and his ilk are not feeling a pinch of these human rights violations? They go to bed on full stomachs, like everyone. The manifestation of the unfair laws and segregation is definitely not in the plates of the masses!
Citizens of the neighboring South Africa, Bechuanaland, Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia are flocking in their numbers to Rhodesia. They come to Rhodesia to work. They come to Rhodesia for protection. They come to Rhodesia as compradors. They come to Rhodesia as artists. Rhodesians welcome them without any qualms. After all, everyone who lives here has his or her fair share of the national cake.
Because of the racial woes, the Rhodesian economy is under sanctions. The economy is not allowed to trade freely with the rest of the world until there are changes in the segregation laws. Both agriculture and mining indices have increased, this is the year 1965. The statistic of an increased economic activity is an implicit indication of increased employment. There is an increase in the employment of Africans. No salary comes late. The effects of sanctions imposed on any economy depend on the attitude of the incumbent economic authorities and how they maneuver the whole situation. Rhodesia- the economic miracle with a valuable currency of its own!
Rhodesia was colonial and Zimbabwe is independent. It can only bring pain to compare these two countries - but the citizens of Zimbabwe who are the erstwhile citizens of Rhodesia cannot help but reminisce. The citizens of the independent Zimbabwe have a chimera of going back to Rhodesia. The citizens of Zimbabwe have another definition of “independence” that is intertwined in the Marxist theory of dialectical materialism. The talk of liberation got louder but, did the masses really need the liberation? If there was a foretaste of what “independence” would later become, certainly the citizens would have opted to remain in Rhodesia.
“The hardest lesson of my life came to me late. It is that a nation can win freedom without its people becoming free.” Joshua Nkomo