AU Chairmanship: Musings of an ordinary Zimbo

By Tafadzwa Tseisi

NEWS that Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was recently named chairman of the African Union (AU), a 54-nation group for a one-year term, succeeding Mauritania’s Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, is an honour not only for Zimbabwe but Africa as a Union.

Moments after the announcement was made, online media was awash with retweets of the news and within a few hours, the update was trending.

In the context of a family, which in this case bears a resemblance to the nation of Zimbabwe, President Mugabe’s appointment is similar to a father bringing back home a reward set to be shared among his children.

In this case the reward is one that can be key to opening doors that have been locked for so long.

Once unlocked, this could curb socio-economic challenges faced back home among them youth unemployment, challenges within health & education sectors, lack of women empowerment, reviving industries, improving working conditions for journalists, those in the arts & culture among other workers.

Now that all eyes are on Zimbabwe following his Excellency’s appointment, one cannot help but wonder what this really means to the ordinary Zimbabwean deep down in Chegato, Mberengwa in the Midlands province or in the swampy areas of Ngundu in Chiredzi, found in Masvingo province.

As an ordinary Zimbabwean who grew up in Bulawayo, I hope his Excellency’s appointment will bring forth opportunities that will elevate Zimbabwe to increased development and harness linkages to revive the Zimbabwean economy.

From Bulawayo to Harare, Mutare to Masvingo, Bindura to Chinhoyi, among other cities, many workers are facing retrenchments due to companies forced to shut down owing to lack of investments. Others, qualified or not, continue to turn up for work at companies that have not paid them since May 2014. Yet others, have decided to stay at home but keep their ears tuned for that phone call to come and collect their outstanding wages. Most civil servants, while still employed but for how long, known to be poorly paid, are on a collision course with government as they demand the outstanding salary increments they were promised before the 2013 elections.

I therefore hope Zimbabwe will be included in investment opportunities that will pave way for start up initiatives for local entrepreneurs who have resorted to vending due to limited resources. These initiatives, while the alcohol and drug abuse among youths, have put them in direct conflict with municipal workers whom they play hide and seek with all day. Purporting to seek compliance with regulations and city by-laws, the latter are now better known as scavengers seeking to fleece the petty vendors of their hard earned cash, through bribes and or confiscation of goods.

With less than three months left to meet the digitalization deadline, Zimbabwe’s relevant Ministries will be roped in a bid to make use of ICT for effective public service.

Just a few weeks back, the Orange Day, whose mandate is to eliminate violence against women and girls, was launched. Organised jointly by the Ministry of Women Affairs Gender and Community Development, UN Women in partnership with The Women’s Trust and Tag a Life International (TALI), the bottom line was more still needs to be done to promote women’s rights to freedom from gender based violence. Women’s representation in decision making through skills development and technical expertise in gender mainstreaming, leadership training, among other strategies, were proposed.

As an ordinary citizen, I hope Zimbabwe will be afforded the opportunity to see its girls from all corners of the nation being empowered to emancipate themselves from early child marriages.

At a recent launch of the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ)’s publications, among them the Media Public Accountability Index Report, a Revised Code of Conduct, Translated Code of Conduct, Media Complaints Analysis Report and their Annual Report, most issues reflected on the poor working conditions for media practitioners in Zimbabwe hence the need for immediate redress.

President Mugabe’s appointment comes in the wake of a Human Rights Report 2015. The report touched on a number of issues in Zimbabwe from service delivery, media laws and humanitarian issues in light of the guarantees in the Constitution.

Therefore as an ordinary citizen, I hope Zimbabwe will show Africa and the world at large that Zimbabwe has what it takes to address issues raised.

This will reinforce the general perception by people about Zimbabweans’ knack for being innovative and hard working.  That the President is now leading the continent also comes with a burden of accountability to translate the Union’s policies and principles into reality for the country’s citizens, men, women, boys and girls.

The President is joined by other Zimbabweans leading international, regional and sub-regional institutions such as …

Speak of one Takura Chingonzo who “broke the internet” back home and regionally with his interview with United States President Barrack Obama and asked a question relating to sanctions on Zimbabwe and the challenges for entrepreneurs.

Danai Gurira made headlines when she starred in one of the most watched Series “Walking Dead” shot in the States. Leeroy Gopal from the Yellow Card fame played a leading role in an amazing production in the movie Seal Team 8: Behind Enemy Lines.

Not to be left out is how various artistes back home are turning things up be it in the Hip-hop genre to mention but a few, Simba Tagz, Calvin, Tehn Diamond and Maskiri.

Jazz artists such as Edith Weutonga & Victor Kunonga and Zimdancehall artistes Soul Jah Love and Tocky Vibes who was voted most listened, to according to a reputable online media Nehanda Radio voting poll. Jah Prayzah serenaded fans in Australia recently while Cindy Munyavi beat Zahara and Lira, among others to win the Africa Music Awards recently.

The list of Zimbabweans doing amazing work in and outside the nation is therefore endless.

A recent media report alluded to how Health minister David Parirenyatwa  said : “economic hardships coupled with drug abuse have significantly contributed to the increase in Zimbabweans suffering from mental disorders resulting to an estimated 1, 3 million Zimbabweans having some form of mental illness,” according to government data.

This might sound like a Ripley’s- believe-it-or-not sort of thing but it all comes down to this, Zimbabweans are survivors who have been through it all. Though the going gets frustrating sometimes, we still hope for a better day.

Charity begins at home and against this background, President Mugabe’s appointment is testimony that Zimbabwe has what it takes to be a force to reckon with in so many ways. All we need is to prioritise issues to ensure our good laws and policies are implemented and mean something back home.


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