The fall-out from Zimbabwe’s decades-long political and economic crisis will be felt for many years to come. Zimbabweans now talk of a lost generation that has missed out on what Zimbabwe once was: A thriving democracy and an African economic powerhouse full of promise.
The Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Fr. Frederick Chiromba recently spoke with Vatican Radio’s Africa Service on a broad range of issues that affect Zimbabwe.
“When you come into Zimbabwe today and visit rural areas and shopping centres, one gets the impression that the whole country is in retirement because you have young people loafing around, doing nothing all day; middle-aged men and senior citizens sitting together doing basically nothing that is productive. So really, yes there is that kind of suffering. Traditionally people would find a job; they would earn some money to support themselves, but as it is now, many men are unemployed and so too (are) the women. So you find people just sitting in their homes but at the same time, they have families to support and people (Zimbabweans) are now talking about a lost generation of youth who could not go to school and are not even working. That culture of working has been destroyed,” Fr. Chiromba said.
In the recent past, Zimbabwe has seen weeks of anti-government protests. Police have used tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters fatigued by an economy in endless free-fall, high levels of unemployment and corruption. Police remain heavily deployed in and around the main cities of Harare and Bulawayo.
Many of President Robert Mugabe’s allies have either jumped ship and formed political parties of their own or have become victims of a power struggle that has hounded them out their government or political party jobs. President Mugabe himself, in power for 36 years, seems unfazed by the departures, but there is talk in Zimbabwe of the ‘glue that kept Mugabe in power for so long beginning to come unstuck.’
Mugabe’s successor, whoever he or she will be and whenever will have the enormous task of dealing with years of knock-on effects from decisions and policies that profoundly affect Zimbabwe and its people.
(Fr. Paul Samasumo. Vatican Radio)
Listen below to Fr. Paul Samasumo as he talks with Fr. Federick Chiromba.