Aside from the ethnic cleansing atrocities of the mid-80s popularly referred to as Gukurahundi, Zimbabwe has been privileged enough to have been exempt from the perpetual civil wars and strife that have bedevilled the continent of Africa and seem endemic to similar less economically-developed regions. The nation’s high literacy rate, admittedly initiated by the it’s 91-year old leader Robert Mugabe, is estimated at up to 90% by some research think-tanks and is credited in having enlightened the country’s masses, amongst other things, on the numerous drawbacks of conflict and peaceful coexistence in pursuit of a common national goal of social development. However recent developments such as the wholesome prostration of the economy and the stifling, convulsive grip in which forms of human expression are held are all beginning to stir nascent sentiments of rebellion laced with bravado and romanticism reminiscent of the Rousseau-inspired insurgents of the French Revolution. Zimbabwe’s impoverished fiscus is largely burdened with an overloaded civil service beset with ghost workers and perplexing repetitions in job functionalities which has recently forced the nation’s Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, to recommend wide-ranging job retrenchments across the public and private employment spectrum. Presumable feeling the heat from the overbearing executive and influential ruling elite, the Supreme Court in July 2015, sanctioned the termination of employment on three months’ notice only and this has so far resulted in approximately 25 000 workers losing their jobs since the ruling. This has come on the backdrop of the country’s unemployment rate which has been estimated at up to 85% by the nation’s main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. In a bid to feign empathy to the needs of the desperate populace, the ZANU (PF)-led Legislature recently passed a Labour Bill Amendment which (unconstitutionally) seeks to retrogressively enforce businesses which had fired workers to compensate them to two weeks salary for every year served on top of the stipulated three months’ notice. This flies in the face of the nation’s intelligence as the ruling elite is sure that businesses will successfully challenge the legality of the Bill at the Constitutional Court as a law, in line with its inherent aspect of morality, cannot apply retrogressively to a date prior to its creation and enforcement. The nefarious ruling class of Zimbabwe, in a deadly cocktail of indifference and apathy, is sure that even in the unlikely event of such a constitutional application to have the Labour Bill deemed unconstitutional, the businesses would not be able to financially fulfil the compensation guidelines stipulated by the aforementioned Bill. These wanton dismissals will thus surely test the citizenry’s resolve and resolute commitment to peace within the existing governing order. Even the ruling party ZANU (PF) is wary of the possibility of a civil uprising as evidenced by the callous abduction of valiant human rights activist, Itai Dzamara, in March 2015 and the ceaseless presence of heavy-handed police members in urban centres and opposition hotspots in recent times. The President, at one of his nation addresses, once boasted that if anyone underestimated him because of his (then) ninety years of existence, he would strike them with his 90kg fist while pointing and in apparent reference to the over-zealous state security personnel present. The general public has thus been cowed into submission by the partisan state security forces with the simple sighting of the aptly-dressed, black-enamoured Police Support Unit which is summoned to effectively deal with crowd disturbances, enough to render fear into the ordinary Zimbabwean. But with the unforgiving socio-environment in Zimbabwe coupled with the ever-surprising that the nation is still being led by a nonagenarian who does not appear to be willing to relinquish the reigns of authority anytime soon, one has to wonder for how long the people can suffer in admirable silence. Just as was the case in all social revolutions, eventually the masses gathered the courage to stand up their rights to sustainable living and self-determination. Just as told by the old adage, a straw of grass eventually resulted in the camel breaking its back.
Mr Nigel Zvikomborero Gandiya is a postgraduate student at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal who is passionate about the promotion and upholding of human rights in order for all members of society to possess an equal access to resources or opportunity, in a concerted pursuit of human development.