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Healing the wounds of Zimbabwe

by Kimion Tagwirei

The recent demolition of houses in some parts of Zimbabwe, hiking of ZUPCO fares and insensitive voices trivializing Gukurahundi issue, amid economic and political instability further freshened old wounds of multiple Zimbabweans whose tears should be wiped through sensitive and due considerations.

The bulldozing of houses is an excruciatingly devastating experience in the repeating history of Zimbabwe. It is a brutal experience reminiscent of the infamous ‘Operation Murambatsvina’ through which the government demolished ‘illegal structures’ across Zimbabwe.

Statements that the houses were illegally built on undesignated locations appear inconsiderate as responsible authorities saw them being built and could have stopped the projects before their costly completion. Why authorities cannot deal with cooperatives which ‘illegally’ sell stands remains strange and unthinkable in a modern society.

If those behind the cooperatives are giants that cannot be stopped, if the housing ministry sleeps on duty, only wakes up late and runs on destroying mode; poverty–stricken citizens who desperately and tearfully built keep losing out. Their tears deserve kind attention. 

As if that has not been tough enough, the Zimbabwe United Passengers Company (ZUPCO), which enjoys a public transport monopoly, increased fares by hundred percent. That came just as another lockdown, restricting business, gatherings and travelling, was imposed. 

Bearing in mind that lockdowns, although helping the nation to withstand the spread of tragic coronavirus, also negatively affects livelihoods as people’s incomes get limited; hiking the only legalized public transport is unbearable. 

ZUPCO’s fare hike was also effected while workers’ salaries are low, business owners struggle to survive against fluctuating economic policies and the generality of Zimbabweans sweat to make ends meet.  

It appears too ghastly to contemplate the banning of privately owned public transport as that denies citizens transport options. While the privately owned public transport agreeably had their problems such as operating from undesignated places and endangering lives, they remained needful for travellers to use whenever need arise. Instead of banning them, responsible authorities could simply bring them to order. 

Arguments that the privately owned public transport operators were not abiding by Covid-19 protocols seem lame as ZUPCO failed to abide too. Most ZUPCO operators have been overloading, working without sanitization while their staff at times improperly masked and some of them did not mask up at all.

Meanwhile, voices that trivialize the Gukurahundi case, such as submissions of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission spokesperson Obert Gutu, who said that Gukurahundi was a small fraction of issues that they are dealing with, aggravated pains of those wounded by the unfortunate past. Gukurahundi victims, survivors and relatives have wounds that need healing, and tears that must be wiped through courteous processes. 

Almost all ordinary Zimbabwean citizens bearing the brunt of economic and political challenges groan in pain. In such a distressed predicament, the demolition of houses, hiking of ZUPCO fares, insensitivity to past tragedies and related misfiring should be faithfully dealt with.     

Tears of politically and economically wounded Zimbabweans should be wiped through faithful, inclusive economic and political recovery engagements, genuine walks of the anti–corruption talks, repealing of monopolization, not only of ZUPCO, but of the entire public service.

Our openness for business should be confirmed by opening up electricity, water provision and related businesses to local and foreign private players. Mere words suggesting that we are doing well when public service delivery remains erratic and costly, while citizens languish in poverty worsen old wounds, pains and tears.

Conclusively, as Covid–19 pandemic hits us hard, our past and present political, economic, social and spiritual issues demand faithful, not inhumane engagements so that tears of the wounded, and wounding may be wiped – hurt citizens can heal when our nation turns from retrogression into progressive drive.