By Irvin Takavada.
As the construction of the Mbuya Nehanda statue takes shape at the corner of Julius Nyerere and Samora Machel Avenue it got me thinking whether the building of this historic symbol was necessary imagining how Samora is infamous for housing many street beggars.
It is in this regard that I also opine on this development which is coming at a time the country is facing it’s an economic turbulent that has left many impoverished. When MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa raised concern over prioritising erecting the historic statue at the expense of building hospitals. This article just like other writers who have aired their views before does not seek to repudiate the importance of the statue as a symbolism of colonial rebellion but rather to posit that the construction of the statue is ill-timed.
That the construction is going to gobble a lot of money is undeniable as revealed by National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe executive director Dr Godfrey Mahachi (GM) who was diplomatic when questioned on the issue of costs by a public daily. He only ‘mumbled’ that was indeed necessary for recognising the importance of Mbuya Nehanda in our national history but the million-dollar question remains-how much of the taxpayers’ money is going to be used for the 3D concept design for Mbuya Nehanda’s statue.
Another worry is how most of these infrastructural projects have been mired with corruption scandals. The Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Road popularly as the airport road endured a lengthy construction period owing to corruption. Right now is the Harare-Beitbridge highway upgrade which has on numerous occasions stalled because of gross abuse of public funds. These scenarios compound fears that the Mbuya Nehanda stature might also pose as a possible ‘catch’ of the corrupt government officials.
Villagers who were evicted to pave way for the construction of Tokwe Mukorsi are still grappling with the loss of livelihoods, dignity, and shelter which they suffered at the hands of the Zanu-PF-led government. It will be a slap in their face when they hear that a lot of money has been channelled towards an erection of the late heroine. Equally perturbed will be the Marange villagers who had their ‘diamonds’ looted by the elite while infrastructure in their area is derelict.
Last year, the country was hit by the worst calamity in the form of Cyclone Idai leaving a trail of destruction. Despite assurances by the government that the affected Chipinge and Chimanimani villagers would get the necessary assistance to get back on their feet again, most of them are still living in tents those living where some have failed to really enjoy their God-given conjugal rights as tents are torn and children are sleeping with them .They would be bitter to hear that the government is prioritising the dead over the living.
However,some believe that it is owing to the high regard to superstitious beliefs that our leadership is obsessed that has dictated the development. The Zanu PF leadership has been indulging in occult for quite some time during and after the liberation struggle.Fresh on people’s minds would be the ‘Chinhoyi diesel saga’ where the then high ranking government officials that included Sydney Sekeremayi and Didymus Mutasa were sold a dummy by a self-styled n’anga Rotina Mavhunga that diesel was gushing out of a cave in Chinhoyi.We also have seen the incessant visits to apostolic sects which are believed to possess supernatural powers that have made them continue to cling to power.So in building the Mbuya Nehanda stature we are likely to hear of nocturnal visits by the top leadership to seek ‘wise counsel’ from the fallen heroine.
Rather than being symbol of colonial resistance for ordinary Zimbabweans who are struggling to put warm food on the table, the stature of Mbuya Nehanda will be a sheer example of misplaced priorities and an insult to what she stood for (good living for the people) I and more like a puff or urination in the face for the living beings struggling to get good medical services, good se
rvice delivery and to God himself the maker of man.