The Fading Light At The End Of The Tunnel
I have always been one of those Zimbabweans who consistently say: no matter what I am not going to leave Zimbabwe! I said this in 2008 when we had to queue for long hours at the bank to get money that decreased in value the longer you stood in the queue.
I stayed through the period where the supermarkets were empty and between friends and relatives we took it in turns to drive to South Africa to buy basic groceries. I stayed through the March elections: this was an exciting period as Zimbabwe was on the cusp of change, or so we thought. I stayed through the painful six weeks before Presidential elections were announced.
The political environment went from bad to worse with the June run off elections but still I stayed and was further encouraged to stay by the Global Political Agreement signed in September 2008. Then government introduced the US dollar, the Rand and Botswana Pula which became the ‘official’ yet unofficially recognized currency of the day.
After we recovered from the shock of our hard earned Zim dollars being reduced to nothing, there was a sense of normalcy in our lives as food returned to the shops, queues decreased at the banks and the inclusive government was formed. Although skeptical about this new government, my hope that the country was going to take a different direction was renewed. I stayed. There was lively debate in parliament: the economy appeared to be on the up, inflation decreased and new businesses flourished.
Those in the diaspora were envious of us and many returned between 2009 and 2013, and Zimbabweans faces appeared to brighten up a little.
Fast forward to July 2013 - elections were held, as they are after every 5 years. We reverted back to the same ZANU PF government. I had to ask myself: having stayed through all the ups and downs of life in Zimbabwe, is it really worth relocating now? How much worse can it get? Had I not lived though the worst already? I again decided to stay.
By 2014, things got progressively worse - politically, economically and socially, but I could still see the light at the end of the tunnel. I still believed in my country. I could not see myself living anywhere else permanently. I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked; how and why I continue to live in Zimbabwe, with all the uncertainty. Why, when I have opportunities to travel, do I not pick a place and just stay there? My response has always been the same - I love Zimbabwe, warts and all and nothing will persuade me to leave!
It is now towards the end of 2015 and I am asking myself whether the decision to stay in Zimbabwe was the right one. Why did I not go when I had the opportunity? What would my life be like if I lived in some foreign land? Is the grass really greener on the other side?
As I sit in my house without water and electricity for a second day in a row, these questions became louder. Where is this country going?
After listening to President Mugabe’s State of the Nation Address - the first in 8 years, (the last one was in 2007), I was left with more questions than answers. There is no real plan to pull us out of this socio conomic and political crisis we are in. The only new thing about the address was that it was uncharacteristically short.
The light I always used to see at the end of the tunnel is getting dimmer and dimmer. Am I going to wait until I am enveloped in darkness before I decide to pack and go? It is so much harder to find one’s way in the dark…
Kuda Chitsike 27.08.15