Three step forward and ten steps backwards
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32 years on, we are still harvesting thorns I think. I look at the lives of my fellow villagers in Nyamhondo from as far back as 1986 (was a bit old to recall things). I can conclude that we have advanced three steps forward and ten steps backwards.
I imagined having a meeting with the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, convincing him that he allows me to address the parliament. He did agree and a date was set. Do hear me out addressing the Big Guns of the country. I was only given two hours hence needed no break.
Firstly I questioned the MP from my district of Mberengwa East as I know my area well than other districts in the country. He was well dressed and you wouldn't think we had such admirably people in the district. I had last seen him at Bonda Business Centre when he was campaigning. A lot of beef meat and soghum beer, though a few were short of food. I wanted to know what he had achieved since we elected him.
Disappointingly he talked about the future. He mentioned he has got a lot of plans for the future, that is a tar road between Buchwa and Rutenga, improving infrastructure in Mberengwa, rural electrification, free education, more schools, at least there was a tar road from Ngungumbane turnoff to Mataga (40 KM, constructed a decade ago and passes through a former MP but nevertheless it's something). I had to cut him short by thanking him for trying, expected better than that however. The gravel road between Silver station and Chengwe/Bonda turnoff (10 KM) was last graded before I was born (1977) and the under sourced villagers have been working extra hard to at least keep it drivable even though many do not have dreams of owing a car. We unfortunately lost both buses competing along this route.
To avoid wasting time, I wanted to know from other MPs as to what good they have done for their districts since elected by their people. Zaka, Filabusi, Maranda and Gutu MPs boasted about solar irrigation system, Mafia dam irrigation system, irrigation system along the Mwenezi River and opening of a primary school to ease pupils from that area a walking distance of ten kilometres. My research shows that all of the above projects were either foreign donor funded or privileged individuals had initiated such and not one of these cadres.
I wondered as to who on earth had voted for such weapons of mass destruction, why can't we elect these donors and individuals who have shown a lot of character to lead us?
I quickly focused my attention on the Minister of Health and Child Welfare. I wanted to know as to what good the health department has done for the citizens nationally for the past thirty two years. I was told of the Mahusekwa Hospital (Marondera) which will be operational later this year as another improvement (a state of the art hospital and probably would be the best in the country as it has a lot of ambulances etc, the Chinese government is the donor however). He told me of the shortage of drugs in hospitals and clinics has been crippling the health sector and that in future health will be improved for all Zimbabweans and will be for free, ARVs to all citizens affected by the HIV virus. I told him of my fellow and next door villagers who still walk forty kilometres to Matibi and Neshuro Hospitals to get help for serious illnesses and help in giving birth. The closest clinic, Bonda is about seven kilometres away from my area and though the structure was recently painted and electrified, the patients usually receive sugar and salt solution for various illnesses because of the ever shortages of drugs. He requested to know as to where the area was and would make some follow ups. I avoided the question of how our pregnant women are treated after birth if they do not pay the required amounts ranging from $100 to a $1000 or more. I knew the answer (a donor had promised to cover that later this year hence won't be a problem).
After cooperating with him, I had to excuse him to focus on the Minister of Agriculture. I had a similar question to him but with regards to the agricultural way of life especially in low veld areas and measures to increase harvest in the high veld areas. He told me that he hoped for a good rain season to ensure good harvest in the low veld areas. It was very difficult with successive droughts I was told. If we could continue to have more donors, then it would be for the best so he said.
I thought about the individual guy from Zaka, who engaged people from the neighbourhood he was staying and working in the US. He was able to complete a wonderful project for his community, a solar irrigation system (I pray that very soon I follow in his footsteps for my fellow community). He is a great example of a good citizen with Zimbabweans at heart. I still think the Minister has got a lot to learn from this amazing individual. What more can we learn from other Zimbabwean heroes, please tell your story you may help a lot of communities with great ideas. I think about more dams to trap water, drilling a lot of boreholes etc.
I engaged the Minister of Energy and power Development who blamed power shortages on the sanctions imposed by foreign countries as it was difficult to get parts etc. He told me that ZESA had a deal with a South African black owned company (BEE) to buy CFL lights (energy efficient lights) and the deal is worth $3 million, pre-paid metering system is on the card . In addition, a new hydroelectric power plant is to be built on the other part of the Kariba Dam; would be the largest in the country. He went on to say that consumers owed the power utility millions of dollars and hence there were facing an uphill battle. I wondered if there was anything to save as power cuts are the order of the day. Also did ZESA have a correct good figure because some of the dates they claim consumers owed them, we were still using the Zim Dollar. How did they come to that figure? I wondered also if he and his team have learnt about the LED and PLASMA lighting (more than CFL), VFD system etc. I promised to email him a piece, copying the Bulawayo24 community on energy saving issues.
The Minister of safety and Security and the Minister of Defence requested that the Police Commissioner and ZANDF Commissioner answer my questions. The head of the ZRP told me that crime was still very low and it was safe to walk in Harare at midnight than in Johannesburg around 11 in the morning. They had done a lot to train more police officials, reduce road death to an acceptable level by adding more well-resourced traffic officials (notable some state of the art BMWs), more road blocks, more fines for traffic offenders, more arrests for law offenders etc. I was however more worried about human trafficking (UN had listed our country as one of the worst affected by this); also when deaths do occur on the roads, do we have mortuary equipped vehicles, helicopters for the traffic department and the ZRP just like the SAPS in South Africa (flying squad etc.), I wanted to know. He told me that there were a lot of challenges but looking in that direction.
The army commissioner boasted about the professionalism of the army, one of the best in the world. I told him that I wanted to see more being done by the army, for instance the Japanese army, I think has the best army in the world in that they are heavily involved in community building projects apart from providing safety and security. There are abreast with technology and that's one of the reasons why Japan recovers fast from disasters. I promised to compile a piece with regards to this.
Unfortunately, I could not continue as the speaker of parliament told me my time was up. I had a lot of questions for the Ministers of Indigenisation and Youth Development, Home Affairs, Transport, Education, Finance and the Governor. I thanked everybody for listening answering questions to the best of the ability. I thanked the President for such a wonderful opportunity (we have a lot in common of course, supporters of Chelsea FC only that at home I support Platinum FC). He promised that he will give me another opportunity very soon and would add another couple of hours. Maybe if I learn about the good and the bad communities are experiencing, I will focus not only on politicians but heavy weights, chiefs and successful individuals.
"The function of education, therefore is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals."
Martin Luther King Jr.
"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all."
"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
"Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a cleverer devil."
"The disappearance of a sense of responsibility is the most far reaching consequence of submission to authority."
Justice Maphosa can be contacted at email@example.com
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Source: Justice Maphosa
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