So, are you staying or going?
There seem to me to be two sorts of people in Zimbabwe. Those wanting to leave, and those wanting to stay. Within these camps there are further sub groups of those that can leave, and those that cannot. There are people from all walks of life in these groups, wealthy and poor, single or with family, passport holders, and citizens whose names don’t appear on any registry anywhere.
Many of us will fluctuate between wanting to leave and wanting to stay, sometimes hourly. Bond notes jolted some I know to take up work in South Africa and the UK last year. Then again, the sudden return to prominence of xenophobic violence in South Africa last month probably has would-be emigrants thinking twice.
A walk up Domboshava in the rain will make you want to stay. A visit to the passport office to get your travel documents will remind you why you’re leaving. Watching the scary uptick of prices in the supermarkets will have you longing for the cheap South African shops and restaurants, but then you manage to get through the CBD in ten minutes, and recoil at the thought of Johannesburg’s chaotic traffic or catching a bus in an icy London rain.
Sadly, any fluctuating sentiment about this country is going to steadily trend towards departure. Without the promise of real reform for the 2018 elections and beyond, there is a growing sense of “get out now before it’s too late”.
Hell, Tendai Biti was quoted in the Daily News last month warning of civil war! It’s a prospect so awful it hurts to contemplate it. But, bar an emergency, most of us are here for the long haul now. We will struggle on, living in a state of well-worn hopefulness, gradually adjusting our lifestyles downwards to meet the demands of the tougher climate.
If you have decided to stay, or if you simply cannot leave, it’s critical to chip in and make this more like a place that you, and others, want to inhabit. Shake yourself free from the shackles of disenfranchisement and take part.
Already, fed up residents have started to coalesce and take back power from those that have enjoyed abusing it for so long. Look at what the Road User’s Association is achieving! Note the victories of the Harare Wetlands Trust! Revel in the perseverance and results achieved by Miracle Missions!
My suggestion is to start small and start local. Here is a checklist that once done, will transform your perspective and understanding on the power you possess to make a difference. Put a toe in the water, it’s nice once you’re in.
If you need info on your councillor, check out our page here. We’re also collaborating with other partners to come up with the complete list of Harare’s resident/community groups to make it easy for you to sign up.
I don’t believe that we are going to ever change the government or our lives from the top down, so let’s start from the bottom up. If you are planning to stay, don’t wait for someone else to improve things, take the first small steps needed to do it yourself. Oh yes, and don’t forget to register to vote, and to turn up on polling day. These are the things that every citizen should do.