Zimbabwe’s enemy within


By Trevor Ncube

I recently visited Rowan Martin Complex for municipal business. Our consultant suggested this and assured me council officials wouldn’t ask me for a bribe, a practice they are notorious for. As a town planner our consultant deals with council in his daily business and says hardly a day passes without a demand for a bribe to facilitate transactions. He thought I would be instantly recognized and treated differently.

I was not ready for what I was about to experience. I had made an appointment with one of the officials (name withheld) and figured out mine would be an easy in-and-out affair as I had all the requisite documents.

The first sign that this was not a normal place was right at reception. A security guard was on the phone explaining his terms for something he was being asked to do. An elderly lady at the reception showed marginal interest in helping me. She pointed me upstairs when I named the person I had an appointment with.

“Lifts are not working,” the lady and security guard shouted in unison as I tried to order the lift. I walked the dirty and dimly lit stairs to the first floor.

Hand-written office numbers and other instructions were not much help for figuring out where I could find my man. I walked into the first open door and the occupant, who was visibly unhappy with my unannounced and uninvited entry, rudely directed me to the appropriate office.

The door was closed. I could hear voices from within suggesting there was an important meeting in the room. I knocked and waited. Some guy, phone in hand and clearly not responding to my knock, walked out.

As he walked away I inquired if this was the office I was looking for; I told him the name of the person I was looking for. He confirmed it was but was intent on continuing to ignore me. I was having none of his attitude. He eventually asked me what I wanted and he then asked for my papers. He directed me to another office.

What I saw next raised my blood pressure and anger levels.

One of the four staff members in this office had his attention glued to a video clip on his phone with the volume turned up. There were people waiting to be served. I jokingly asked if I too could join in watching the clip. As he was sharing his phone for us to watch I could not hide my disgust and gave him my piece of mind. I told him sternly this was not what he was paid to do, particularly when the people who pay his salary are waiting to be served.

He said his boss was not around but he was visibly embarrassed and so were his colleagues. As I walked out, members of the public in the corridor thanked me. What for, I hear you asking. For taking a stand on rude and unhelpful public officials? We all should do this every day. We are the long-suffering citizens, ratepayers and taxpayers, but we somehow believe we are powerless to speak up against this nonsense!

My experience at Rowan Martin is what takes place daily in central and local government offices. Members of the public are humiliated daily as they go about their business. There is no politician instigating this terrible behavior. It is just who we have become through years of being abused.

We are a wounded people who find satisfaction in hurting each other. We are an angry sick people who care nothing about ill-treating others. Whatever little power we have we use it to get even with whoever is around us for real or perceived hurts.

This is how we treat each other on the roads, in taxis and at bus ranks. This scourge has even permeated the private sector. Poor service delivery is a product of this decay in values, professionalism and basic decency. I have written about this before in “Zimbabwe Will Change when you change” and my heart continues to hurt every time I witness this lack of civility manifesting in these terrible manners.

How do we change this?

There is no political messiah who will change you and me. I see no politician with the capacity or inclination towards this transformative role. We are the change agents for a new Zimbabwe. It is through intentional personal reformation that we will build a beautiful and prosperous Zimbabwe. The change starts with you at home, in the office and in public places.

We each must serve and lead wherever we are. The time for change is now. My mantra is found in the scriptures: “Do everything as unto the Lord.” Sweep and clean as unto the Lord. Teach and preach as unto the Lord. Show up every day for the one who created you and see the difference it makes, first in you and then your environs.

Instead of waiting for a political saviour, serve Zimbabwe both in the mundane and the boring with excellence. Your promotion and the country’s change of fortune come from where you are if you give it your all, not your next job. When we pull together towards the same purpose, we are unstoppable.

Stop for a moment and imagine the energy, resources and creativity that dissipates because of deliberate bureaucratic seepage, inertia, bungling, sheer incompetence and corruption at local and central government levels.

It is our collective misconduct that has defiled this nation. It will take the majority of us pulling together, first to realize how beautiful and blessed we are, and then course correct.

Trevor Ncube is Chairman of Alpha Media Holdings and host of In Conversation With Trevor. This is an excerpt from the weekly Newsletter . Please subscribe for thought provoking fresh insights.

In Conversation With Trevor

In Conversation with Dzikamai Bere


In a powerful no holds-barred conversation Dzikamai Bere, the National Director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), delves into the country’s human rights ecosystem. He shares his views on what ails civil society and looks into why Zimbabwe is in a perpetual election atmosphere. Watch Her Episode Here

Audience Responses

From Dzikamai Bere episode, our community had this to say:

Thanks Trevor and Dzikamai Bere for a very sobering discussion
We are on the floor and we can only go up. Thank you gentlemen for a an insightful and deep conversation on Human Rights in our homeland.
Thank you for the successful Electricity to the Zambezi Valley Nyami Nyami Kariba Community. Hopefully that will be extended to all needy ones.
When I view this message I see courage and I see the footprints in the sand being made of a wonderful journey of a good gentle people.

Coming Next: In Conversation with Tapera Chikandiwa


Don’t miss the next episode with Founder & CEO of High Achievers Coach Educational Center Tapera Chikandiwa In Conversation
with Trevor.

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in conversation with trevorZimbabwean entrepreneur and newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube
sits down with various high-profile guests in a series of
candid, conversations that seeks to go beyond the headlines and
beyond the sensational.

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