Zimbabwe: Who’s going to change the diaper?


SOMETIMES I think of Zimbabwe as an ailing parent who has been slowly losing control over her bowel movements then expecting me to either change the adult’s diaper she’s wearing (if I can muster the strength) or learn to live with the stench.


If Zimbabwe were an ailing parent whom I loved devotedly and wanted to nurse to prove the depth of my affection while pretending that even the stench didn’t affect me, I don’t see myself wanting to hang around out of some misguided notion of loyalty while she unrepentantly and repeatedly messed on herself.

In conversations with equally frustrated friends, we wonder if we should feel like we owe Zimbabwe anything; the way children are beholden to their parents.

Are we bad people for wanting to leave and settle in countries that afford us a higher standard of living and afford our children a better chance in a world that’s rapidly changing?

How many power cuts would we have to bear? How many dry taps would we have to stare at? How many potholes would we have to negotiate around? How many ill-equipped hospitals should we be admitted into? How many company closures would we have to witness before we got well and truly fed up?

How many cops must we bribe on the highways? How many palms must we grease to get any service provided at government offices? How many millions worth of diamond revenue must be siphoned off? How much prime real estate must land in the hands of corrupt local governance officials and rogue city councillors before we call it quits?

How many electoral processes must be manipulated? How many State institutions must be captured and forced to serve the interest of one political party? How many elections must be rigged? How many times must opposition parties split and splinter — along with the hopes of the people — before we’ve had enough?

How long did we remain in the futile cycle of calling upon Sadc, appealing to the African Union, crying out to the international community, waiting and hoping that outsiders will be able to come and help change the messy diaper of our erstwhile ailing country when we can hardly face the stench ourselves — relocating in droves to live elsewhere?

I now think of Zimbabwe in alternate feelings of intense loyalty and a shameful desire to completely disassociate because somehow, the feeling of disillusionment has increased rather than waned since July 31.

My knee-jerk reaction to the election results as they trickled in was to retrieve my passport from where it was safely stored, dust my transcripts, get online to type in “PhD opportunities” on the nearest search engine and start looking at relocation options because I was totally done in by the enormity of the daylight robbery that was unfolding before my eyes.

But I’m still here and waking up each morning to wonder why.

It feels like after all these years of putting up with the stench of political mess in Zimbabwe and of hoping that a new range of diapers was in the offing, the old, dirty soiled diaper is not only staying on — it has now become completely super-glued to the nation’s hapless buttocks.

In a cosmopolitan world, we can live and die anywhere we choose. So, why are we still here, smothered by the stench of a dirty diaper, knowing it won’t be changed any time soon when so many have given up and decided they don’t really have an obligation to care about where this country goes next?

What price are we willing to pay to prove our loyalty and patriotism?

Honestly, I am done with soiled political diapers and if Zimbabwe were my ailing parent, I’d just hire round-the-clock nursing staff to deal with the mess because the stench suffocates my dreams and smothers my hopes – I guess that makes me selfish.

What do we owe this country that has let us down time and time again as a generation. I am tempted to say “at this point, nothing”.

But that’s just me. I could be wrong. We can always agree to disagree.

Delta Milayo Ndou is a journalist, writer, activist and blogger