BY TENDAI RUBEN MBOFANA
It has never been doubtful, nor debatable, that the Zimbabwe regime is one made out of some of the most soulless, ruthless, and ungodly people on the face of the planet – who have no qualms at all in brutalizing, murdering, and even using the most perversive means of oppression and repression – including, abduction, torture, mass rape and other forms of sexual abuse, as weapons.
Neither has it ever been questionable, nor disputable, that the ruling ZANU PF government has presided over, if not callously authored, the outrageous and condemnable lowering of standards, not only of the country as whole, but the vast majority of the citizenry, thereby reducing them to shameful paupers – wallowing in abject poverty – whilst, largely surviving on handouts…ranging from food stuff, and clothing, to even sanitary wear for women and girls.
Can a nation ever be made more embarrassed?
When I was still in high school between 1987 and 1992, history was my most favorite subject – but, never did I ever imagine that the cruelty, savagery, and sadism we read about, as having happened in certain far away parts of the world, would actually occur in my own country, in my own lifetime.
Who would have ever imagined that an Adolf Hitler, or Benito Mussolini would one day rear his damnable and demonic head in a little southern African country like Zimbabwe? But, of course, he had already done so, by the time I had reached high school – as the ZANU PF regime had already committed its own Holocaust, by mercilessly and cold-heartedly butchering tens of thousands, largely Ndebele-speaking people of the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces.
Nonetheless, deliberately targeting the elderly, weak, and vulnerable – as easy prey for this parasitic and sadistic Zimbabwe regime – has effectively firmly secured its place in the same league, and ‘Hall of Evil’, as Hitler and Mussolini.
Yesterday, was one of those days that a person does not easily forget – as it further highlighted this seemingly never-ending propensity by the ruling junta to make sure that they make the lives of the most vulnerable folk in the country, a living hell.
My elderly mother went to the bank to open the required Nostro Foreign Currency account, in order for her to receive the promised US$30 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) lockdown cushioning allowance for retired civil servants (as part of my late father’s pension, who had been a school teacher), but was shocked to hear that there was a requirement of a US$10 initial deposit, in order to open the account.
What I witnessed, yesterday, at the bank was truly heart-rending, and nearly drove me to tears in front of everyone. But, most of all, I felt an internal rage, which forced me to pray so hard, in order to contain it – as the level of this regime’s cruelty and evil has clearly reached dramatic new lows.
There were scores of elderly men and women who had braved the unbearably chilly weather, and got up very early in the morning, to gather at the bank to open their Nostro accounts – as per government directive.
Of course, you can all just imagine everyone’s shock when informed that they needed US$10 to facilitate this.
Honestly, where does the government, or its banker comrades in crime, expect these destitute people – who are already finding it nearly impossible to survive on the paltry and unliveable civil servants’ pension – to get US$10?
There was nothing more painful than watching all those elderly people (some barely able to stand or walk, due to old age-induced infirmity and illness) nearly in tears, as they had traveled from various far-away parts of the district – thereby, adding to their expenses – in eager anticipation of finally getting some relief, no matter still meager, once they received the promised US$30 – only to discover that they had no financial capacity to meet the requirements.
This incident, quickly ignited floods of heartbreaking traumatic memories of the day I had to watch my own beloved elderly widowed mother shed tears – virtually weeping like a little child – when she had lost all her life-long savings in the early 2000s – current accounts, savings accounts, and insurance policies, just vanished into thin air, due to the same ZANU PF regime’s catastrophically unashamed, corruption-driven, self-serving, and stone-hearted economic policies, which led to world record-breaking inflation rates, that reached the thousands of percent.
Furthermore, after working for the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Ziscosteel) from 1964 to 2010 as a general nurse, she has never received a single cent – in spite, of all her sacrifice, hard-work, and unparalleled dedication – as this also, has been met with hurdle after hurdle, further complicated by the government’s own corruption, which resulted in not only the demise of this once steel-making global giant, but also the shady and underhand dealings surrounding the sale of the company’s assets, including its hospitals and clinics.
This is, by no means, an isolated story – which, only affected my mother and some of her colleagues – but, is typical of the sad and tragic reality of so many of Zimbabwe’s elderly.
Even before the country entered its current economic freefall wave – when the situation had somehow stabilized, during the multi-currency period between 2009 and 2019 – the elderly were the forgotten and abandoned ones, whose little earnings – whether through their monthly employment pensions, or payments from their social security contributions from the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) – amounted to nothing more than a school child’s pocket money.
These pensioners could already not afford regular decent meals, pay their electricity and water bills, or even their rentals – then, what more can anyone expect, during these perilous times, when the economy has been dealt a fatal blow by the ZANU PF administration’s greed and looting?
Then, when people like myself, write that life in Rhodesia was far much better than in ‘independent’ Zimbabwe, I receive so much vitriolic attacks – yet, what one needs to simply do is ask these elderly men and women – who spent about half of their working lives under Rhodesia, and the rest in Zimbabwe, and see if they will not say the same.
In fact, they know this fact better than myself, as I was merely a little boy during the Rhodesia era – and base my assertions on our parents’ and grandparents’ narratives – nonetheless, what we witness these people going through today, leaves us with no doubt as to the validity of their claims.
Why would those in power not care for the elderly – especially, considering that those ruling the country today, are themselves in the same age bracket? Should this not be reason enough to understand the grave plight of their fellow age-mates?
Where is the pity, compassion, and empathy, when these – our parents and grandparents, who sacrificed their entire lives for our own upbringing, nurturing, and well-being – have to wake up in the very early hours of the morning, so as to secure a place in long bank queues, for an amount that is not even enough to buy them two or three loaves of bread in a month?
It’s so painful – actually, it fills me with so much anger. Can this government get any more cruel?
Back to what I witnessed yesterday.
There is obviously so much deception going on with this so-called COVID-19 cushioning allowance for civil servants pensioners, as none of those who managed to open the Nostro Foreign Currency accounts was given – or promised – any bank cards, as earlier alluded to by the government, considering that they would be required to use these for all their Point of Sale (POS) transactions, since it was said that they would not be receiving the money in hard cash.
When I asked the bank personnel, they said that no cards would be issued, because the pensioners had to return to the bank when the USD30 has been deposited by the government into their accounts, and would be given the money in cash!
Obviously, that statement was in stark contrast to what the government had publicly stated. So, what is really going on here?
I have a very strong feeling that these poor elderly people are being taken for yet another very cruel ride, and the Zimbabwe regime has now stooped even lower in stealing from these impoverished elderly.
This would not be the first time – especially, during this COVID-19 lockdown – that this discredited military-backed fascist junta has lied to the people over cushioning allowances.
The ZWL200 or ZWL300 per month promised to all those struggling to make ends meet, particularly during this time, has never materialized – with one pathetic excuse being followed by another even more pathetic excuse.
If the regime was serious, why did they not make it possible for these pensioners to open the Nostro FC accounts at no charge – since they already have accounts with those banks, in which they receive their regular pensions – and then, if need be, simply deduct the USD10 from the initial USD30 COVID-19 allowance?
Something very fishy is going on, and I would not be shocked that the government – with their bank buddies – stooped to a new low, whereby, they are now targeting these impoverished elderly men and women, in their shameless looting spree.
Have our parents and grandparents not suffered enough? Who is going to stand up for these selfless men and women, who lived their lives in order to give us a life? Would it not be our unforgivable sin, if we were to allow this grave injustice to continue, without us taking a firm and unequivocal stand, in defence of our parents and grandparents?
They stood for us when we were growing up, now it is our turn.
The ZANU PF administration should know – in no uncertain terms – that stealing from our mothers and fathers, yet again, is a RED LINE, which this regime is well advised not dare cross – and, we, as their children and grandchildren, will not take it lying down.
They may delusionally and mistakenly believe that they are getting away with mistreating us, bullying us, brutalizing us, and impoverishing us, whilst we lamely sit back – but, when it comes to our parents and grandparents, let the government be warned…that is a no-go area!
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He writes here in his personal capacity. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Calls: +263733399640 / +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975 / +263788897936, or email: [email protected]