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Debating disobedience in Zimbabwe
Pambazuka News 152
April 16, 2004

By Monica, Newcastle

Yes our children are hungry, but what good is beating empty pots in protest against the exorbitant food prices? The idea of civil disobedience is forthcoming but will it really achieve anything? What needs to be taken into consideration is whom we are addressing the issues to and do they care? As citizens we should first understand the flow of our economy, that is, where is it coming from and where is it going to. Until we can answer these questions what arguments are we going to present to the rulers of the country? Maybe we all need fast track courses in business administration and economics to get the grounding of the economic flow of Zimbabwe? As it stands hyper-inflation is the result of high food prices.

How can we develop the economy first? After that how do we stabilise it? Then price controls. We need to start from the root of the problem. Where did we go wrong? What were our main sources of income for the country ten years ago? What are they now? Are we importing more than we are exporting? Are we now importing more than we used to?

Besides, if we are importing the basic things then we are looking at a very serious situation that requires much more than words and disobedience. How valuable are our exports if we have any at all? How are we proposing to rectify the problem? Do we have a reasonable percentage of investors? What are the investments in and how beneficial is it to Zimbabwe? Do we have more companies than we did ten years ago, and if so what good are they to our every day life? Where are the taxes going? Who is really benefiting in Zimbabwe? Are the rich, richer and the poor, poorer? How are we fairing on an African scale, are we lagging behind? If so how far behind are we from other African nations? How are we relating with the rest of the world and vice versa?

Bearing in mind that Zimbabwe has become a lawless totalitarian state, is putting our efforts in a worthwhile cause? We also need to realise that lobbying for reduction in food prices may have negative consequences. There is a much higher price to pay in all this and are we prepared for this? As a civil society what other methods are there of making food more available to the country? How else can we implement a system that is more responsive to our needs as a nation. I would say we are not yet ready because we are thinking with our "tummies" and not our brains.

What good is it to have a whole day of marching, screaming and shouting to have food prices reduced when it is impossible under the circumstances. We need to think rationally and act rationally like a nation with focused goals. We all need to start working hard to produce results for the benefit of the country.

We need to kill the element of corruption, because corruption is for short-term success and long-term failure. We need to be united and generate ideas from one another. We need to be more analytical about our surroundings for the continuance of the prosperity of our nation. We need real and well-thought strategies because it is never too late.

The economy has been scared so much already. These food prices only reflect the value of Zimbabwe’s economy. Much more needs to be done than just marching the streets screaming and shouting for food reductions. Is there no chance for a referendum? It may be a starting point to see how we fair in our requests and where we stand with those in power.

I believe that Zimbabwe is no longer as democratic as it seemed a while ago, therefore most peaceful movements in the last three to four years have resulted in damage to property, animals and people being killed and injured. So we should ask ourselves this, if those in power are fully fed and sheltered they will just look at the rest of the nation as a bunch of "hungry and angry" men. I am not trying to discourage people from expressing their feelings but it requires for us think carefully and logically.

We need to convince the police and the army that we are sailing in the same boat because by the end of the day we are still living in the same country. The police and the army are members of our own families, our fathers, mothers, children, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, they are also our friends, neighbours, fellow workmen, most of all they are human beings, Zimbabweans for that matter.

But can they stand up and really support their purpose for the country, which is to protects the nation from criminals, to act in pursuance of the rule of law, to honour their obligations with full respect for the law. What is the role of law in our society? Is it the corruption we encounter in our everyday life? The police, the politicians, as well as the society at large are cheating the system and therefore endangering our economy. Members of law enforcement need to realise that they have had a larger part to play in this downfall due to failure in their duty to protect citizens. It is not too late to make a change of things and reduce flaws in the system, particularly corruption. Is a civil disobedience the best that can be done? It is now time to wake up.

This article first appeared in Pambazuka News, an electronic newsletter for social justice in Africa,

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