Stop ‘us and them’ mentality

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HARARE – Why is it that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) call every Zanu PF official and government member “Comrade” and refer to everyone else as Mr or Mrs?

Is there an insult in this, or is it some other hidden message? Or are ZBC the ones that have set themselves up for the “us and them” situation that has brought them to their knees? 

All eyes have been on ZBC for the past week after shock headlines that some  of their staffers were embarking on a “hunger strike” in order to air their grievances about not receiving full salaries.

As disgusted as we are to learn that ZBC employees are only being paid a portion of their salaries and have had their medical aid cancelled, the real shocker is the outrageous amounts apparently being paid to senior management within ZBC.

Newspaper reports allege that the senior management of ZBC are earning staggering amounts of $20 000, a-month.

Twenty thousand US dollars a month is an unthinkably excessive amount, more than most Zimbabweans earn in many years; more than our teachers earn in five years. 

When are we going to see and end to the “us and them” mentality that continues to dominate in political, civil service and parastatal organisations in Zimbabwe? 

It’s a mentality which sees people in senior positions putting themselves on pedestals and earning nearly 100 times more than their employees. 

This absurdly uneven playing field now seems to be the norm in Zimbabwe despite international best practice which advises that CEOs do not earn more than 10 times more than their average employee.

At a time when we are engulfed in a water and electricity crisis, companies are battling to stay open and unemployment is around 80 percent, our new MPs are also already more concerned about themselves than the people who apparently voted them into office.

“MP’s demand diplomatic passports,” was one report in the Daily News last week.

An MDC MP was quoted in that article as saying: “The image and our status as MPs are not being recognised, we must be assisted with diplomatic passports…Something must be done to equal our social standing.”

The MDC MP in question did not even acknowledge the well-known and much- documented nightmare pertaining to obtaining ordinary passports that everyone else in the country has.

Queuing all night just to get a passport application form, not to mention the offensive, arrogant manner of officials in passport offices around the country.

Another example of the “us and them” mentality came in the report that former MP’s are demanding retirement pensions.

In office for less than five years during the GNU, the plight of losing MPs was highlighted by MDC Senator for Chitungwiza, James Makore.

Makore said that former MPs are complaining that they are living in penury, have to use public transport and need government to provide them with a pension in order to: “cushion us against being the laughing stock of society.” 

Are past or present legislators aware of the appalling plight that “ordinary” pensioners have been experiencing since 2000? 

The widow of one NRZ pensioner is presently only receiving US$29 a month pension.

Her late husband worked in the Zimbabwe National Railways for 35 years.

How can you compare the US$29 a month pension for thirty five years of service to the nation to the demands of an ex MP after just four years of service?

How soon our legislators have forgotten the struggle of ordinary people and the sacrifice voters made, often enduring violence, harassment and torture to get those MPs into office. Is this how they now represent our needs?

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