SHINGIRAI MADONDO survived on wild fruit and herbs at the height of his country’s economic ruin and had nowhere and no one to look to. He fled. Having been born in the eastern part of Zimbabwe just over three decades ago, my generation has been the most unfortunate. Zimbabwe’s economic and political situation took a nasty turn at a time when my generation reached puberty stage. At puberty, this is when a boy and girl begin to see things clearly. And the decision making becomes more personal rather than relying on the commanding advice from parents or guardians.This is the unfortunate part of my generation. The formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999 was believed to be a panacea to the unfortunateness of my generation. My generation was getting into the ravaged economy. Zimbabwe’s economy had failed to take a corner that the European Union (EU) had dreamt of by introducing a 5-year Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) that started in 1990. Billions were poured into an economy that was showing signs of ailing by the EU. However, corruption and maladministration took centre stage rather than the much-anticipated economic adjustment project. Two years into the project, the economy took a serious nosedive – a development that showed the programme was not going to realise its intended aim of completely turning around Zimbabwe’s nose-diving economy. Indeed, ESAP failed to achieve its purpose, thanks to corruption and maladministration. Since the EU had made a pledge of extending the programme at its completion in 1995, a proposal was made. Having learnt about the corrupt tendencies of the President Robert Gabriel Mugabe-led government, the EU demanded an audited financial report to show how the funds where channeled in a bid to transform the economy.
Mugabe and his cronies dismally failed to meet the simple demand simply because funds were misused. Some of the funds were used in campaigning while others were just looted by Mugabe and his closest allies. The spirit of looting possessed everybody in the ZANU PF government. Tender boys and girls of that era also took advantage of the stinking corrupt system and started issuing invoices for a job never done.EU then refused to renew its contract with the Zimbabwean government for the second phase of ESAP project. Instead of begging the Western donors, Mugabe picked up his rhetoric of insulting the West calling them sellouts. Such a battered economy greeted my generation. We started hopping from one office to the other in search of a job. Companies started closing down – leaving thousands of Zimbabwean workers jobless. And us; the new entrants into the working class were the hardest hit. Those in the industry had made some contacts with certain firms outside the borders of Zimbabwe and started running from the economic decay. With no experience, it was always going to be tough for the newcomers in the working class to try their luck outside the borders of Zimbabwe. The birth of the Morgan Richard Tsvangirai’s MDC brought some hope. However, it was never to be. Mugabe dug in and vowed not to relinquish power despite the fact that the country’s purse had reached insolvency level. The country was completely bankrupt with no means of income generation strategies.
Both the opposition members and economists in collaboration with the concerned Western countries made a lot of noisy screams in a bid to knock some sense into Mugabe’s head but the noise was not loud enough. Mugabe continued to destroy the economy. In 2008, there was virtually nothing in the shelves of many if not all the supermarkets in Zimbabwe, resulting in my generation surviving on wild fruits and herbs. When the worst came to the worst, some decided to cross the crocodile infested Limpopo River in search of greener pastures in the neighboring South Africa. Some braved the dense forests on their way to either Botswana or Zambia. But some had no plan at all. And with my generation having reached the parental stage, life become a tall order for them. Some decided to commit suicide, as they could not tolerate hunger, poverty and lack of dignity anymore. Almost two decades of suffering had become part and parcel of my generation. My generation was only waiting for the day when God was going to call Mugabe to join others in heaven or hell – nobody knows. However, the current political situation in Zimbabwe where senior members of the Zimbabwe Defense Force (ZDF) have taken a decision to put to a stop a Mugabe dynasty following threats of Grace Mugabe taking over is a welcome development. A renewed hope has engulfed my generation. But how? The 33-year-old Charles Murambiwa said Mugabe had created more enemies than friends in Zimbabwe and more especially around the world. He said developed countries had made a vow of not working with Mugabe because of his stance of not willing to listen to anybody. In retaliation, Murambiwa said the developed countries advised investors from their respective countries against investing in Zimbabwe.
In a tit-for-tat, Mugabe embarked on an agrarian reform programme – a development that resulted in my generation failing to have a simple job as a farm worker. My generation crossed borders to become criminals while others settled for odd jobs despite their education level.However, the bid to overthrow Mugabe will give a new lease life to my generation. Zimbabweans who have been all over the world legally and illegally will start flocking back home to rebuild what Mugabe destroyed over the years. And having set an example, Emmerson Mnangagwa would not make life difficult for Zimbabweans because the consequences might be severe compared to what is happening to the 93-year-old leader. It is my fervent hope and trust that the current situation in Zimbabwe is a lesson to all politicians in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).I thank Mugabe for ensuring that a first coup happened in Zimbabwe. Mugabe, you are history maker. It is unfortunate that the history making was during my generation and ended up with us having to suffer this much. However, my generation’s word is ‘you have run your race of ruining Zimbabwe from being the breadbasket of Africa to a basket case itself Mr Mugabe’.