WE always suspected there would be some kind of pay-off in the larger scheme of things, when Zimbabweans in their thousands thronged the streets in major cities to show their displeasure with the Robert Mugabe regime, dancing to Jah Prayzah’s Kutonga Kwaro, saluting the military as it parked a tank aimed at Mugabe’s Blue Roof mansion in the leafy Borrowdale suburb and patrolled the streets, ready to safeguard the people’s revolution. Or so we thought.
Mugabe had already committed the faux pas, integrating the military into civilian life as part of a failed bid to maintain his grip on power. As the same guns that maintained his hold on power turned against him and ended his hold on the top office, ushering in Emmerson Mnangagwa, his erstwhile deputy and long-time aide, Zimbabweans could be forgiven for thinking the worst was over.
But it appears Mnangagwa had made a deal with the devil and Zimbabweans are paying the price. While Mugabe maintained a modicum of political control over
the military, Mnangagwa has shown little, if any, inclination to do that and appears, in fact, to have surrendered control of civilian life to the men holding guns. That is worrying because it is the clearest sign that Zimbabwe is basically a military state.
The chaos of the last two weeks after a three-day stayaway called by the biggest labour body in the country, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, showed how far the Mnangagwa administration is detached from the reality in which Zimbabweans are living.
An average civil servant, or any worker for that matter, just cannot cope with the rate of price increases and bills any more. The suffering, which started when the central bank announced the separation of accounts between the nostro-funded US dollar accounts and local electronic balances, has only gotten worse.
The latest bombshell was the increase in the prices of fuel, announced no less by Mnangagwa himself. Look around you, Mr President, even as you drive down Samora Machel Avenue to the Zanu PF party headquarters, all you see is desperation and despair.
People weary of the daily grind of just making it through the day, wondering what more poverty and misery would the morrow bring.
Yes, there are no more long queues for fuel, but that is because, like everything else in Zimbabwe, it has become too expensive for the ordinary motorist.
So driving a car has become a luxury that only a few can afford or the desperate need to buy.
Zimbabweans want simple things: a job that allows them to live and eat well, send their children to school, a living wage. They want decent housing and a political and business environment that allows dreamers to pursue their dreams.
So, Mr President, the demands of Zimbabweans are very simple if you choose to listen.
If Zimbabweans protest your failure to provide the basics, you send in the army to shoot to kill. We get the message: shut up and take it.
Not a wise path to take Mr President.