Now, this is a full-on rant. I am honestly disappointed with the way that we as Zimbabweans have been behaving. I think this is something that has plagued our nature for the last two decades. Now bear with me as I am generalizing a lot. Not all Zimbabweans who are here exhibit the behavior, but the lack of social justice warriors is making life difficult for all of us.
There was a bit of noise made on the internet about social justice keyboard warriors. These are people who easily get annoyed by something they see and they stick it on some form of social media and express their unhappiness with a situation. My problem with social justice keyboard warriors is that they will complain from the comfort of their homes where they have all the things they need. Most of the time they are speaking so that they are known to complain about things that do not really affect them.
I had a period as a social justice keyboard warrior, however, I tried to proffer solutions or advice, better yet I always try to disseminate information to my friends and anyone else bored enough to read my blogs and follow my tweets. As time went on, I started to realize that there are some things that my fellow citizens of this country need to know about.
So for those that do not know, the last 18 months in Zimbabwe has been an interesting journey. Zimbabweans do not want to realize this, but for the last two to two and a half decades we have been living a false life. The prices of goods and services have not been realistic as we haven’t had our own currency for the longest time, and when we were using the US Dollar, prices of goods and services were still incorrectly priced. Most Zimbabweans do not even know the true value of a US Dollar. I remember at one stage, a beer was USD$1, a loaf of bread was also USD$1 and a ride on public transport was also USD$1 from certain parts of Harare to the city center. How in the world are these three very different products and services the same price when they have different factors associated with their individual price breakdown.
As a result, there have been strange things going on around the pricing of goods. To give you an example, there a sports club that I used to frequent. A shot of gin is cheaper than a can of tonic water. In fact, the tonic water costs twice the cost of one shot of gin. How does that even make sense?
So we now have a situation where suppliers of goods and services are profiteering from the struggling Zimbabwean. I appreciate that if an entity is in business, then their aim is to make a profit. I do not have that much of a problem with service providers charging ridiculous amounts of money for their services and goods. Competition (or what little of it there is in the Zimbabwean business landscape) dictates that eventually, those guys will reduce their prices because their products will move slowly as the consumer becomes wiser about their spending habits and looks for a better deal. Also if I feel that I am being ripped off by a supplier, I will find another supplier who provides a similar product at a price I am willing to pay.
The real problem I have is with the individuals in this country who are screwing the system and then screwing their fellow Zimbabweans. Of late there have been stories floating around about how Zimbabweans are making life difficult for each other. There is an Engen service station which I drive past on my way to work every day on Harare Drive. I recall about a week or so ago, as I was driving to work I saw a short fuel queue. I joined it and when I was at the front of the queue, I took out my bank card to pay before they put fuel in my car. They advised me that all payment platforms were down and that they were only accepting cash. I thought nothing of it, drove off and was annoyed for a little bit, but decided that I would have to find another service station. I didn’t think to ask to see the point of sale machines to verify.
“I am not surprised the system is down. It’s so old and needs a lot of upgrading. It is not uncommon for the network to drop.” I said to myself. However a few days later my cousin then advised me of the same situation at another service station, except there were guys walking through the queue SELLING cash to people who wanted to buy fuel at a 30% premium. So basically if you wanted to put ZWL$100 you would have to transfer ZWL$130. What annoyed me, even more, when I heard this story was that the guys selling the money worked for the service station. Like what the fuck guys? So you BUY cash at a premium and then buy fuel from the same establishment. These guys were basically making money on both sides with no regard that the situation that ALL Zimbabweans are in. It’s not my fault I don’t have cash on me. In fact, the system was broken by individuals who were hoarding cash and as a result, the Banks had no cash to give customers because of the lack of deposits of physical cash. So why am I being punished when I go to the service station to buy a product using one of the legal tenders, only to be lied to and taken advantage of simply because I don’t have access to cash? This isn’t profiteering. This is straight-up robbery.
The fact that we do not have the ability to truly show some sense of compassion is the downfall of this beautiful nation of ours. I feel annoyed when foreigners say that Zimbabweans are the nicest people in the world. We are nice to visitors yet we treat each other like dog vomit. It makes no sense to me. The fact is that we have a LONG way to go as a nation. We have serious mindset issues that need to be addressed and changed, and we have to HONESTLY have some national pride.
For the longest time, Zimbabweans have made the fight between us and the ruling government without realizing that in the background we are fighting with each other at such a base level. We are the sum of all our problems and the solution to those problems. I am proud to be Zimbabwean but also ashamed at the same time. The dodgy deals that the government get up to are no excuses for us to do the same to each other.
Zimbabwe belongs to the people who were born in this country, and those who have lived here for so long that they know no other home. It doesn’t belong to a select group of people. It belongs to you and me. The citizens of this country. If there is rubbish everywhere its because we as a people do not care about the environment. It is our responsibility to ensure a future for the generations that are coming, otherwise, we will always be remembered as the generation(s) that let a beautiful thing die. Once we start to plan for the future properly, we will see a light at the end of the tunnel. Until then, Zimbabweans need to take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves if what they are doing is benefiting the bigger picture or is it just blatant greed with the disregard for everything else.
Let’s do better as Zimbabweans.