RENOWNED Zimbabwean novelist and film maker, Tsitsi Dangarembga says there has been a remarkable downward spiral in the living standards of the majority of Zimbabweans from the days under former President Robert Mugabe’s reign to the current regime.
Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe with an iron-fist from 1980 to 2017 before he was removed in a military- assisted coup and replaced by his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa in November 2017.
The crisis has been further exacerbated by the global Covid-19 pandemic that has threatened people’s livelihoods.
However, Dangarembga speaking on BBC’s Hardtalk programme, aired Monday and hosted by British journalist, Zeinab Badawi, noted with bitter sadness that the lives of the majority of ordinary Zimbabweans had taken a nosedive since the 1990s.
Responding to questions on the prospects of better days in Zimbabwe, the acclaimed author and activist said the quality of life in the country has taken a dip since the 1990s under Mugabe and chances of a turnaround for a better life soon were grim.
“When Robert Mugabe was in power that was a period of increasing disillusionment, increasing lack and loss of hope, increasing distress,” she told Badawi.
“We began very well we thought in 1980 and for the first decade or so up until 1990, but then things began to disintegrate up until now where we have a situation where daily life is almost impossible for most of the citizens in the country.
“Just getting enough food to eat, being able to afford to buy food, having power in your home, clean water, all of these things are not things that we can take for granted anymore. So it’s really been a great decline since the days of Robert Mugabe and going forward. From the time of Robert Mugabe, we do not see that there has been any improvement.”
Dangarembga added Zimbabweans are reliving the Rhodesian era characterised by a ‘culture of war’ under the Zanu PF administration.
In July 2020, the novelist was among several activists arrested during the anti-government #31July protests while demanding the release of then incarcerated journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono and Transform Zimbabwe President Jacob Ngarivhumwe.
The matter is still pending before the courts.
“After independence the euphoria did not last long. We began to realise that the culture of war was very much still with us. Zanu PF began to act like a government that had been in exile and that had constituted itself into a state in exile that had now come into the country and taken over all the structures that were there.
“It seemed very much that at one point we had British settlers who became the Rhodesians coming in and taking over everything. And we relive that with Zanu PF that came in to take over land and all kinds of economic activity.
“In the beginning this was said to be done in the name of the nation but as time went on we saw more and more. And it was said very clearly that things were not done in the name of the nation but things were done in the name of the party (Zanu PF).
“This became very clear in 2017 when we had a coup and again the reason for the coup was to safeguard the party and the war of liberation because in Zanu PF rhetoric, the war of liberation belongs to them and does not belong to the whole nation that participated in it.”