Why are we not holding councils to account?

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MY soul is so disquieted, as I feel so dejected as a Zimbabwean, wondering about our inexplicable docility, cowardice, and inability to stand up against local government authorities who have failed to provide basic services.

Councils are run by MDC councillors, who have neither the capacity, nor propensity for any brutal and ruthless response to dissent.

They are not like the Zanu PF regime, whose thirst for blood and barbarity is unquenchable and diabolical.

I delve deep into my thoughts, trying to discover the real reasons why we are the way we are.

Needless to say, I came out empty-handed, if not even more confused.

For as long as I can remember, my assumption had been that we were a spineless lot.

According to the former Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ Presidential Guard commander Anselem Sanyatwe, we are easily spooked even at the mere sight of an army truck, and flee, in a panicked and confused state, in all directions.

I believed this narrative for decades considering the savage, sadistic, and heartless brutality we have been subjected to by our own government.

What explains our fear, or possibly reluctance, in standing up against our urban local authorities?

The MDC neither operates a militia nor security outfit that could be deployed to violently and heinously repress any dissent.

The Zanu PF government would never bother unleashing their ruthless brutality against peaceful demonstrators demanding good service from their elected councillors.

So, why do we not stand up to council authorities other than complaining within the confines of our homes over the shoddy service delivery, inconsistent supply of potable water, and burst water and sewer pipes?

I will not even bother going into the lack of enforcement of long-forgotten by-laws against such illegal activities such as making noise in residential areas, ensuring that all pets (especially, dogs) were routinely dipped and vaccinated against ticks, rabies, and other diseases (as well as impounding any found walking outside their premises, without their owners, and not on a leash), and dumping of waste.

We appear to have surrendered our lives to fate as we have, somehow, lost the interest to stand up and make our voices heard.

Why then do we complain? Does it not unequivocally prove that we still do care about the standards of our livelihoods?

Why the passivity?

Do we enjoy waking up before the crack of dawn to queue at the nearest borehole for hours on end only to fetch a bucket or two of water and walk several kilometers back home, laden with a heavy load?

Surely, are we not living in urban areas where life should ordinarily be better than in the rural areas?

Is it normal to wake up before sunrise to fetch water from boreholes miles away, rush back in order to find and chop wood for cooking, as the State-run power utility is incompetent?

After cooking with firewood, whatever little we would have afforded under government-induced poverty and suffering, we would be able to do whatever this disjointed and dilapidated economy can permit us?

Is that what we want?

Do we even know what we want? If we did, would we not stand up, and do something that can finally bring back the life that we deserve, a dignified, respectable, and worthy life, which other citizens who have been blessed with democratic, competent, efficient, and faithful governments, enjoy?

A responsible and effective leadership that shuns corruption and places the rights, prosperity, and comfort of its citizens above all else, does not simply fall from heaven, like manna, but needs to be “fought” for, by fearlessly and peacefully standing up, and making sure our voices are unambiguously, and clearly heard.

Only then, can our lives change, and fully enjoy what God blessed us with as a nation.

Otherwise, those who slumber will not eat of the fruits of His grace!

Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, author, and speaker. He writes here in his personal capacity.