A Letter to Mr President Mugabe for Christmas From Me

A letter to the President of Zimbabwe R.G. Mugabe for Christmas

Dear Mr President,

The first time I saw you when my grandfather Madzima died in 1985, he was 75 years old.  Maybe you remember him or the family. The village he comes from is 3 miles from your Kutama Village in Zvimba.  Just to remind you this place is called Madzima where the descendants of the Madzima live. It has women, children and men.  It is a place you have totally forgotten about.  My grandfather was a Sabhuku (headman for his village), a highly honourable man who cared for his community.  You came to the funeral on a Saturday with a few cars and less delegation of bodyguards like you do now.  We were not shoved out of the way when you arrived.  I remember how you went around and greeted everybody paying your condolences.  People did not come to you, you went to the people and you were part of the mourners.  You did not make a speech but sat with other elders for a while.  I knew it was you because I had seen you on television.  I was 20 years old and loved my grandfather for what he stood for – the community and a lot of integrate.  He headed his village to great heights. The small scale farm he had had given him pride. He had won several medals for being a great farmer.  He fed his family and others through labouring on his farm.  He sent his 5 children to good schools like Honde Valley, Moleli boarding school, paying through selling his crops and rearing animals like cows, goats and pigs. All his children now lived in urban areas and we went there every school holiday to eat and be merry.  We left with many bags full of farm products happy to have both worlds. Families were adequately sustained and lived a decent life. I looked at you on that day looking immaculately dressed in a suit and thought what an intelligent man who had bought independence to our country. The Madzima Primary school in my mother’s village functioned well with teachers, normal classes and produced good results. The nearest high school Masiyarwa did the same. The fees were subsidised by government and everybody attended school wearing a uniform. Kutama Mission School was run by the Catholic missionaries and was atoned only for the best.  When the students did not have uniforms in these other schools the social welfare helped out and the whole community was also involved.  I was proud to be part of that village which I called kumusha.  There was no electricity or running water, but there was food and money to sustain the livelihoods of the people. There was dignity in families and pride. The village and the schools are now almost a ghost place, 2 miles from the glitters of Kutama Village, your village Mr President.

The next time I met your again personally was in Maputo, Mozambique.  I was now working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Zimbabwe and was a diplomat at the Embassy.  You came for a meeting arranged by your counterpart President Chissano of Mozambique. You came twice to Maputo while I was serving as a diplomat there after the 1992 peace agreement between Frelimo and Renamo.  There was a lot of preparation for your state visits and a lot of people involved.  Yes everybody run around when you were come and everything was clearly monitored.  You stayed at the Mozambican state house in Maputo.  One thing I distinctly remember is that twice you came, we cooked Sadza, muruwo unedovi (green vegetable with peanut butter) and biltong for you.  We were told that this was your special favourite meal.  Although you had attended a state banquet in the evening, you still came back to the state house and had your traditional meal.  Yes, I had prepared that with the then Ambassador’s wife.  Yes nobody tested it before you ate.  You trusted and your team trusted it was cooked with all the good will.  The first night I met you, we all sat and joined in the meal although it was late.  After the meal you wanted a cup of coffee.  We offered you one of the small cups which were in the state house mainly used for expresso.  Yes you joked and giggled that these cups were too small and you have never understood them.  “Ma cup awa ndowokunyima chaizvo. Ma Portuguese aye nyima chaizvo”, (this cups are small they are not meant for giving whole heartedly.  The Portuguese people used to be known not to share” you said giggling. One of your ‘vakomana’ (security man as they are called) then opened your brief case and produced a mug, which you drank your beverage from.  Yes I saw that humanity in you as you spoke of nothing political but just general things asking about how work was and the family. Yet now all you do is ‘kunyima’ (not giving/sharing) your own fellow country people despite the wealth you have accumulated over the past 34 years as President.

Mr President, you might wonder why I am writing to you with this.  It is Christmas time and I just wanted to show you that you are as you human as it can be.  It is Christmas time and down the road near your village 2 miles away there are girls who are unable to afford small things like sanitary pads for their menstruation.  Down the road they are families who are unable to have a proper meal.  The land is dry and arid.  It cannot produce anything to feed the families. There are no taps to get water from and people have to walk miles. This has a decisive impact on how they view their future. Meanwhile just 2 miles away there is a lot of running water, irrigation and electricity. In your village there is also a good clinic to save your own people but not the rest of the Zvimba community. In your village there is a good primary school and yet at Madzima when it rains the children cannot study due to the deterioration of the buildings.  Two miles from your village mothers are not able to afford medication.  Fathers walk barely covered let alone wear underwear.  Yes it is a true state of how you have not only looked just in front of your noise in your own village but have left the whole country suffering.  There is death and despair and yet you blame it on others.  The old cliché charity begins at home, if you were unable to help your own neighbour, the village next door how can you possible know what is happening in the whole country?  You come every weekend and sometimes during the week to your village, but yet never take a stroll to see how your neighbours live. Before independence the whole communities of Zvimba were proud small scale farmers thriving through their produce. They held together and looked after each other. Is that what an honourable states man does? Bulawayo a town I also grew up is slow disintegrating. I travelled by school bus every day and only paid levy as school fees. Things were subsidised by the government.  There was decency in living as hospital functioned well and institutions were run properly. The economic and financial difficulties, in conjunction with poor management of public finances, contributed to the degradation of the already obsolete and decrepit infrastructure in the areas of transport, telecommunications, production, energy distribution, health, and education. Mr President, in the essence of the spirit of Christmas just walk down to your neighbouring villages and please remember to take sanitary pads to give to the girls as a Christmas present (Love thy neighbour is one of the greatest 10 commandments in the bible). There is nothing as embarrassing for a girl or woman to not only suffer through menstruation but even worse to be unable to have a decent underwear and sanitary pad. For the spirit of Christmas, the people of Zimbabwe need just to have a decent meal, electricity to cook their meals and water to bath. Allow those little girls and boys to have a proper, decent education as they are our future. You had the privilege of a good education and just look at how that neighbouring school is depilated while your own community enjoys all the privilege. It is Christmas every time your let God love others through you. The work of Christmas begins if you find the lost, heal the broken, feed the hungry and rebuild the nation, bring peace among people and most of all love in their heart. You can change that societal discourse by recognising the fundamental principles, the community spirit of giving and helping for the sake of this Christmas only. I hope you watch this video and understand the extent of how your girls and their parents have to suffer.

Video of Kholiwe Madubeko And Daughter in Zimbabwe Streets

In the spirit of Christmas, God bless you.

Alice Mpofu Chigumira


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