So lately Zimbabweans have been expressing a great deal of anger towards the current situations in the country. Now let us all bear in mind that there are a myriad of problems bedeviling this tiny country of mine. As time has gone on, it seems like it is a preferred position to always be angry about everything. There is a lack of positive attitude in our people.
As a people, we feel that the government should be doing better, and we are suffering from an extreme lack of confidence in what they are doing. Confidence is not something that we will find overnight in the government or any government for that matter. I think that the world has changed a lot in the last decade. Believe it or not, we as a nation have also changed in some aspects, and in other aspects, we have not changed at all.
Zimbabweans in supermarkets be like this regardless of the price
We have become stuck on stupid because of the time we spent using the US Dollar such that we don’t know how much USD$1 ACTUALLY costs, there are some who truly believe that the USD is the currency we should still be using, yet all of the information points to that being one of the reasons why Zimbabwe is in the situation we are in now. We as a nation of consumers are only waking up slowly to the fact that there were retailers who were profiteering off us, yet we did not do anything other than misdirecting our anger.
I do not intend on discussing my position of the recent SI142 as that requires it’s own separate blog, however when the government imposed the statutory instrument of SI142, Zimbabwean’s collectively lost their damn minds. Everyone was up in arms and were hurling obscenities about the government and what they were planning on doing. No one looked at the root causes of the problem.
The way I see it there are two problems (among many) that we were dealing with. The first is legacy issues. We cannot deny that the current government’s current problems are because of the previous mismanagement. Then there was the behavior of industry during this time of confusion. Industry was putting up their prices in some of their establishments faster than the exchange rate between the USD and the Zimbabwean Dollar. Now they needed foreign currency to import some of the things that they were importing and couldn’t access it from the banks, so they went to the parallel market to find that foreign currency. They bought expensive USD, and they passed on the cost to the consumers. At the same time, we had other shady individuals speculating on the exchange rate and helping to push up the rate, we also had individuals or possibly even organizations that were going and taking loans and going to the parallel market and buying and selling USD. This resulted in most prices in most establishments rising in some instances on a daily basis. Zol (my internet service provider) increased the cost of their capped package from $87 to $97 to $185 in the space of three months.
Now, while all of this was going on, most people directed their anger DIRECTLY at the government to arrest the situation. I am not going to say that there weren’t ANY elements in the government who weren’t involved because I suspect that there were some members of the government, at different levels, who had their fingers in the pie also. At the end of the day, there were no innocent people. Instead of taking the retailers (who we keep in operation and give money to almost on a daily basis) to task for their behavior, boycotting certain retailers for their profiteering manner, or advising our fellow citizens of where to get the best deal, we continued throwing our money at the retailers, and complaining that it was the government’s fault. Yes, they are implicit, but they aren’t the ONLY people to blame.
With prices like those Zimbabweans were like:
Recently, Paynet, which is (to my understanding) provides an IT solution to banks and other organizations to assist with the processing of salaries efficiently between the employer’s bank and the employee’s bank. I assume they own the license for the platform or they are a licensed dealer. So they had a contract or arrangement with most the private banks that their services would be paid in a particular currency which the banks agreed to. However recently, it turns out that the banks knew in advance that they owed Paynet money, and basically refused to pay the monies owed. This resulted in Paynet (rightly so in my opinion) suspending their services to the banks. Paynet fully explained where the bottleneck was and highlighted that it was not their fault. The customers owed money and services would be suspended up until the debt was cleared. Well didn’t the angry Zimbabwean come out baying for Paynet’s vital organs? What did Paynet do wrong? They are in business and are not a charity. They have salaries to pay, taxes, licenses and other obligations that we as citizens know nothing about. How do you keep on operating a business when your customers aren’t paying? Do you let yourself sink and keep the customers happy but not your employees?
Another example is the issue with some of the services that we receive from our local councils. There are some services that they struggle to provide because the overall infrastructure is so ancient. So most people do not receive council water to their houses (My parents haven’t received council water at their house since I was in primary school) and as far as I am concerned, it is not ONLY due to council’s ineptness (because we can’t discount that), but there are infrastructure deficiencies among other things. We are supposed to have trucks driving around collecting our trash. To my knowledge, the last time that my trash was collected was probably 2-3 months ago now, but at the same time, we have reports that the council bought iPads worth $23,000.00. Instead of us as the people demanding local government (councils, district offices) to be more accountable, we find it easier to blame the ruling government. We should be upset with the local government for going and splurging taxpayers money on such. Some people may chime in and say “Well people aren’t paying their rates so can you blame them for not coming to collect your trash”. I can’t blame them if they do not have the resources to collect our trash because people aren’t paying their rates. Don’t go and then spend money on iPads as an excuse.
We have to complete our evolution as a people. We have all being through some trials and tribulations. Some more than others. Some went to school with people who lost family members during the land redistribution that happened, others lost family as a result of the cholera outbreak, and some have lost friends and family due to the inability to cope with the situations they are trying to manage and what feels like a constantly shifting playing field. At the end of the day, we are ALL Zimbabweans whether we like it or not. Unless we start to change our mindsets, our behavior won’t change. Other people say we are the nicest people possibly in the world and I agree, but only to other people. To each other, we still behave as though it is a Mortal Kombat Tournament. You can tell by the way that people are quick to pick an argument as opposed to having a discussion and potentially learning something new, even the way that people drive on the roads without any regard for anyone else. We as the PEOPLE are the ones with the potential. We can’t even trust each other to do business together because everyone is trying to get on over the next person. The sum of us is greater together than us individually.
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear” – George Orwell