Home » Governance » Let’s Fix Zimbabwe So We Can Shop Home

In the past weeks something happened, which generated a lot of interest, 27 Members of Parliament went on a shopping trip to Beijing, China. The 27 MPs, from both parties, decided to have a feel of the bullet train and rode further south to Guangdong Province where prices were lowest. They could not resist Chinese bargains.

In doing so they ended up missing their return flight, only making it home last week but the damage had been done already.

It is a bit embarrassing when our honourables find themselves in sticky situations like that. Surely, how could an honourable MP miss Parliament sittings because one just had to shop themselves silly in some cheap place? An honourable individual is just supposed to behave with honour at all times, as far as the rest of us mere mortals are concerned, right?

But these honourables are just human beings. They go through what we go through too. Who does not know how Zimbabweans go crazy when they arrive in South African shopping malls.

I am also guilty as charged. At times salespeople end up smiling and saying with a knowing look “you are from Zimbabwe neh?”

They know our penchant for leaving our money in foreign lands. But can they blame us when we are oiling their economies? They know us as far afield as Dubai and China.

Even in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, our tentacles will reach. But can we be blamed?

After all to find good children’s clothing here at home is a nightmare. It is difficult to find a good outfit for a working woman with a discerning eye like some of us in this country.

The shops are filled with a lot of cheap and poor quality clothing coming in from Tanzania, China, South Africa and everywhere else.

Where you find a few good pieces, the prices are so aomical that at times it becomes cheaper to travel to a foreign destination, book into a hotel and shop.

Take for example the price of double door refrigerators here. You can literally buy two double door fridges in South Africa at the price of one in Zimbabwe. Thus you find Zimbabweans spending a lot of money outside the country’s borders. The same situation applies to cars and electrical gadgets like television sets and stoves.

The prices here are crazy and as a result those South Africa bound buses that leave Roadport daily, always come with trailer loads of fridges and microwaves. Asian cars or greys as they are referred to, come in their thousands annually.

I cannot belabour the point enough. Our local industry is bleeding at the expense of foreign economies. When some MPs attacked Government for buying them vehicles from outside the country, the public felt hopeful.

At least the honourables understood that until and unless we begin to inject some money into the local industry then we will continue to struggle. But then over the past two weeks they have been getting their gleaming big cars, have they not?

Straight from shopping in China, where others ended up getting overwhelmed by the bargains to a point of missing their return flight into brand spanking new big Ford Rangers, what more would you want?

What can I do to be in their shoes? Big cars are the rage in Zimbabwe at the moment. For people to know that you have arrived, you just need a big SUV, even if the road in your neighbourhood is a small pothole littered one.

So the MPs are excited. The few murmurs about not supporting the local car industry have died down. They would too if someone gave me a big, gleaming, new Ford Ranger.

While not bashing the MPs for spending their personal money on a shopping trip to China, which is well within their rights, I wish to point out a couple of worrisome things.

While there are many of us in this country who love to shop outside, it is certainly a very small number that can afford. The bulk of the country’s population, unemployed, threatened by job loss, sometimes going for months without earning a salary, paid peanuts and heavily taxed cannot afford such luxury.

We are forced to buy those sub-standard and crazily expensive products on offer in the country.

Will our leaders and representatives who can afford shopping trips abroad understand what life is like for the ordinary man and woman of Zimbabwe?

Will our leaders who can afford specialised medical care understand what I go through, with a medical aid card that is rejected at every turn? Will they understand the plight of those who cannot even afford medical care such that they die at home or get detained over hospital bills?

Will they know the hunger and cold at Chingwizi? Do they even care or has politics become a job, which they take up so they can feed themselves and their own? Is it about service, anymore?

This is why at times they say we should not import cheap Japanese vehicles when the truth of the matter is that only a fraction of people in this country would have cars if it were not for the Japanese and Singaporean imports. They do not know what it is like.

We need them to be real.

The reason why people have been attacking the MPs who got stranded in China because of their love for cheap bargains is not because MPs are not human beings, entitled to their lives. No way!

It is because people now realise that their leadership and representation is losing touch with reality. If they can organise shopping trips for themselves, who will organise shopping trips for the poor women of this country who want to earn a living selling clothes?

Who will shop in Zimbabwe and realise that the pricing and quality is ridiculous and lobby for some sanity if they are all flying to foreign destinations?

Who will walk in our shoes so they can amplify our voices?

If they become so excited at shopping abroad, will they bother to find out who in their constituents is not going to school?

Unfortunately being a leader puts one in the public glare. If I had missed my flight because of my love for things in some foreign land, no one except my close family and friends would care.

But when it is our leaders, people will talk and want to know more. Thus, while MPs who went on this trip spent their own resources, when they get stranded as they did in this case, we will begin to look at the bigger picture.

The bigger picture shows that they are not happy with what is on offer here. But unlike the rest of us who are toiling to get through the month, they can afford to go out and bring in whatever they fancy.

After that they will then tell you how you should spend your money here to develop Zimbabwe.

When will our leaders realise that what is needed at this point are leaders who walk in the people’s shoes so that when they represent them, they do so from a place of understanding.

Leaders who walk the talk will make a difference.

Shame on the MPs of shame!

btonhodzayi@gmail.com

Source : The Herald

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