2023: Hope and trepidation

Paidamoyo Muzulu

IT’S five years since my father passed on. It has been a hectic period and a new leader usurped power via a coup a few weeks before my father exited the world.

Sometimes talking to the departed heals and I am writing to him on developments in the last three years, since my last letter to him in the world yonder this one.

Dear dad,

It has been five long years, but down here, we still feel your presence. It would be hard this Christmas knowing that it was the only period, usually, you would have your family around here. This Christmas will be weird, there will be a power blackout because Zimbabwe used up all its water quota before Kariba Dam could fill up again.

This is not a joke dad, but you know these people have been good at only talking. You remember we had Vision 2020 back then. Now we have Vision 2030, but nothing seems to be moving for us ordinary Joes.

To compound matters, prices of basic foodstuffs are spiking. Treasury decided that it wants to give our local businesses more opportunities to swindle the poor working class by reinstating duty on basic commodities imported from neighbouring countries.

Some will do what they have to do to survive and smuggling will become prevalent — so it’s either prison or being swallowed by the business sharks we have here.

In future, I may not be able to write you like this because of the proposed Patriotic Bill which will be incorporated into the Criminal Code. We are not allowed to talk to people yonder our horizons. Actually, talking to foreigners and discussing about our beloved Zimbabwe will be deemed treasonous and sanctioned with capital punishment. If you are lucky, you may get away with a suspension from voting, but you will still be expected to pay your taxes religiously with representation.

I know that education was something close to your heart. So many things have changed in that sector. Only four out of every 10 pupils who wrote Grade 7 examinations in 2022 passed. A woeful 60% of pupils by Grade 5 cannot read and write or do simple arithmetic.

It is now common knowledge that high pass rates are recorded in private schools  that charge fees in United States dollars as teachers in the public sector are always on strike or not doing the work for one reason or another.

You know what dad, I have always tried to be diplomatic when criticising my government. I have resisted the temptation of calling them a regime and rather called them an administration. However, their administration of the State purse is atrocious, for lack of a better word. They have learnt and mastered the art of fattening their pockets and being an oasis of riches in a desert.

Only this week, we learnt that they have given each other car/housing loans in United States dollars yet their salaries are denominated in the Zimbabwe dollar.

It cannot be argued otherwise, this is a bad debt and it will be underwritten by the State like always. They know how to milk State coffers. The loans smell like “golden handshakes”.

In 2021, a record 59 parastatals could not be audited. Some have gone for years actually without being audited. They still operate and the only sign visible is when they splash advertisements during the Zanu PF congress or national holidays like Independence and Heroes days.

Interestingly, all boards and chief executives of these parastatals have had their terms extended. Rewarding mediocrity is the new patriotism and building the country brick by brick.

To cap it all, the administration happily told the nation that it used public resources without permission, a whooping US$10,2 billion from 2015 to 2018. They further used $107 billion in 2019 and 2020, despite their infamous statements that the budget was balanced and “zwinhu zwese zwakarongeka”. So they have two Financial Adjustment Bills before Parliament for that.

I know you also like regional and international politics. In South Africa this week, they have started the process of removing a third president from office.

Cyril Ramaphosa looks certain to join Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma as presidents forced to jump by the African National Congress. So much for the liberation party movement. Whatever happens across the Limpopo, Zimbabwe will catch the cold.

In the United Kingdom, they now have a King, Charles succeeded his mother Elizabeth II. Then there was a Prime Minister Liz Truss who lasted 45 days in office before the Albions realised they needed an Indian, Rushi Sunak, to take them out of the rut. He is the first black to lead a developed Western European state.

In the United States, there is a white South African making the waves. He is Elon Musk. He has become a prefect on the most popular social media application — Twitter. Musk’s word is the law on free communication. He is toying around with the idea of making us pay to communicate in our names.

I guess, in August, I wrote you a private letter informing you about Remembrance’s (baba vaAfrika) passing on. It was so sudden like yours. We are picking up the pieces and trying our best. We are trying hard to step in for each other. We will try by all means necessary to be there for each other, despite the administration working hard to make us individuals through its policies. Mai Chenai and everyone else is fine.

Next year, 2023, we are having general elections. We just hope and pray that there will be no violence. You know the experiences of 2000, 2002 and 2008. We cannot afford that again, but we hope the leaders would be more ethical, competent and love to develop wealth for the majority, not the few party honchos and apparatchiks.

If things go well, I will write to you again to inform you of the general election results.

Your loving son,


Paidamoyo Muzulu is a journalist based in Harare. He writes here in his personal capacity.

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