The people of Zimbabwe whose lives are hanging on a string of continuous political, social and economic lapse have mixed feelings as to who is going to transform their lives for a better future. With the seemingly unending daily economic meltdown, mainly acerbated by unfavourable political environment, a number of people have unanswered questions. The hopes, dreams and expectations of people in some communities, like Hopely in particular, have dwindled.
Hopley is a forgotten community in Harare, dominated by the remnants of Zimbabwe’s unwanted urban filth of the 28th of May 2005 ‘Operation Murambatsvina’ or operation drive out filth. Hopley’s people have always been hoping for that day that they will see change in the political environment. Hopley’s history has always been politically driven and prone to being taken advantage of by political gladiators. Hopley’s history has been ugly, but this has not deterred its residents from dreaming about a better future. They have decided to let sleeping dogs lie with the hope that the politics of the country will come up with something tangible to shape better their future that that has already been rampaged by dirty politics. However, it seems as the main political players are stuck in a power tussle to dominate the national affairs of the country, ordinary people have many unanswered questions and unfulfilled promises. The questions that lingers in their head is if the envisaged dialogue will change their lives.
In their own voices
In as much as there have been talks about ‘talks’ in Zimbabwe, they have tended to focus on the ‘who is who’. There has been little said of nothing or what the ordinary (wo)man thinks on what the talks should look like or seek to address. It seems people are fast losing faith in the politics of the country. For instance, Mr. Gomo (not real name) an elderly Hopley man had this to say, ‘In the aftermath of all the political expectations and promises built in in the spirits of the people nothing has come forthwith’. However, he was expectant of a solution “…with my age, 65 years, I am not expecting much, but at least the talks that we always hear of , should see Nelson Chamisa and Emmerson Mnangagwa seating down to level their grievances and let the country move forward”.
The talks of Zimbabwe’s main political parties are a long-waited thing which almost everyone is looking forward to. The continuous life hardships, has seen ordinary people wanting the talks to be concluded soon to save lives. Mrs. Msara (not real name) had this to say, “I think the talks should be centered on the two political parties whose tension has a long history. The talks should not be chaired by any local citizen but by an objective person form one outside”.
The two political parties: the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance and Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) should consider the national interest. A young un-employed woman said “This is the time they should focus and look at the country and not pursuing only party interests”. This is the time when the political leaders should put aside personal interests to help the country which is in need of leadership. She summed that, “It’s pointless to boast at the expense of the people. It is the people you are representing whose lives lie in your hands. People here in Hopley are trying their level best to cope under these difficult times. Hopley is a marginalised community that is looked down upon by individuals, organisations and surrounding communities. We, want that to end!” He felt that the talks should be able to bring back the lost dignity of Hopley residents.
Hopley has suffered many things more than any other community as it has lagged behind in social services provision and employment segregation. It is the wish for every Hopley resident to wake up going to work, sending children to better and registered schools with qualified teachers. Mr. Maunda, a bricklayer, said “While everything is centered on politics, here in Hopley, we want formal schools for our children to acquire quality education. The issue of equal education and national development should drive the two political leaders to come to terms with each other”. He further said, “What they should also do, is to put people first before their personal interests”.
Let’s not forget the economy
Beyond the politics, some groups feel that the talks should address the issue of the economy. Vendors are crying foul over the sudden increase in the rentals at the market. They claim that rate of turnover has decreased, thus, leading them to work from hand to mouth basis. Those into cross border trading have also felt a pinch of the economy. Mavis, a mother of two, had this to say, “I have to buy Rands on parallel market and sell the products in RTGS Dollar, also known as Bond, (Zimbabwe’s defacto currency). What do you think am working for as Bond is not considered worthy outside the country”. For her, she felt that there is the need for the main political parties to come and dialogue on the economy, “‘All I can say is that MDC -A and ZANU-PF should come together to rescue the country”
It’s time for SADC and EU
In order to make the talks a success, there were calls for external mediation especially from SADC. Mr. Mhlanga, a carpenter, was of the following opinion; ‘On a note, for the talks to be viable, there has to be a mediator from SADC or the African Union to handle the negotiations”. He argued that, “Zimbabwe is a member of these two blocs. As a member they should send an envoy to help in rescuing the people of Zimbabwe”. Mrs. Sithole, tuck-shop owner reinforced the need for regional intervention; “The message that we have for SADC and AU is that, this is the time they should come to rescue the country, for a lot has happened in Zimbabwe”.