In the village where I grew up we had a mischievous old man, vaChomugore. He would ready to concede to any request but on condition that he be allowed to fulfil the promise tomorrow, next week, next month, next year etc. the more distant into the future the better. When the agreed day finally arrive the individual will turn up eager to receive whatever it is that the old man had promised.
Chomugore would ask the expectant recipient what he had said. “You said come tomorrow!”
“Well, come tomorrow then!” Chomugore would reply with finality. After this has happened two or three time one would finally learn that Chomugore has no problem promising anyone anything as long as he is expected to honour his promise in the future. He will never have to honour his promise since his tomorrow is always a day away!
For the last 36 years President Mugabe has played the role of the mischievous Chomugore; he has promised his fellow liberation war comrades and the nation at large mass prosperity “tomorrow”, his tomorrow was Chomugore's tomorrow – always a day away.
For the lucky few post independence Zimbabwe has been a land of milk and honey, the country has a few filthy rich individual. However for the overwhelming majority of Zimbabweans the economic well being has been a downward decline with an ever increasing angle of decline. The facts speak for themselves.
Life expectancy in Zimbabwe, the universally accepted qualitative and quantitative measure of a nation's economic well being, has declined from 68 years in 1980 to a misery 34 years in 2004 when the last reliable figures were available.
What is truly remarkable is how our modern day Chomugore has managed to fool the nation and kept their hopes high of mass prosperity even in the face of growing mass poverty. When the war vets became increasingly restless in the late 1990s President Mugabe paid them the one-off Z$50 000 plus an equally generous disability allowance (the ruling elite were the main beneficiaries but worse still this an ill advised expenditure as accelerated the economic decline). So instead of the war vets opening their eyes and see the reality that one-party dictatorship Mugabe had imposed on the nation was not working the bribed renewed the faith in the corrupt and oppressive political system.
For the last 16 years Mugabe has used the war vets as his storm-troopers imposing Zanu PF on an increasingly restive populous demanding democratic change, free and fair elections and an end to the failed, corrupt and oppressive Mugabe rule. After years of doing Mugabe's dirty work the war vets have found they are no nearer the mass prosperity, if anything the mass poverty has become a permanent fixture. But instead of finally accepting that the corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF dictatorship will never deliver economic prosperity the war vets and demand meaningful democratic change the war vet have brought yet another list of demands.
, The war vets assured Mugabe they still believe in his gutsa ruzhinji (they are clearly lying because their shopping list tells of their economic hardships and desperation.) They are failing to generate enough income to pay their bills. The number of surviving war vets is probably 2% of the total population and yet they are asking for 20% Presidential scholarship (they clearly do not know the scheme is as good as dead due to lack of funds). They want 20% of the seized farms (do not tell them that 90%, at least, of the farms have already been seized and dished out).
The war vets want 20% of the shares of all the indigenized foreign owned businesses. Since the passing of the indigenisation law in 2008 Zimbabwe has lost billions of dollars in potential investment because no foreign investor would want 51% of their investment taken away. Some one MUST tell these people that 20% of nothing is nothing!
"Why do you want to be given 20 percent? Who is going to own the other 80 percent?” was Mugabe's reply. “The land is ours, why don't you start your own mines?" The war vets are chalked to meet Mugabe again in a year's time. No doubt many of them will be living in abject poverty, with no farms, no mines, etc. given that the regime is still in denial about the country's worsening economic situation.
"We have sanctions which have led to shortages. Shortages of money in the banks. Shortages of this and that. Let us work hard." The meeting would have been incomplete without Mugabe blaming others for his own decades of misrule.
“We are in a difficult position due to sanctions..but things are easing up," he reassuringly. The important thing is the war vets left the meeting reassured.
It took a while for me and my fellow seven year old boys to understand that vaChomugore's tomorrow is a mirage that is always going to be a day away. It is most disheartening when full grown men and women are too easily conned into believing in a illusionary mass prosperity. Worse still, the conned adults are not just a small group but hundreds of thousands from every corner of the country. But worst of all, it is sickening to know they have been conned for the last 36 years!
Zimbabwe is in a real serious political and economic mess, a man-made mess. For all their liberation war heroics the war vets have turned out to be some of the most naïve and gullible individuals; Mugabe has twisted and manipulative them turning them into murderous thugs to serve his own selfish agenda. He promised them a share of the looted wealth and although the country's economic decline is evident the war vets still dream of mass prosperity!
Marange diamonds should be a blessing for the nation but have become a curse instead because it is the looted wealth from Marange that is financing the Mugabe vote rigging machinery and dictatorship. Similarly the war vet should have been a blessing to the nation as champions of freedom, justice and human dignity but they have become a curse as they are now been brainwashed to be the defenders of the corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF dictatorship!