Mapfumo was right, after all
Rosenthal Mutakati Ghetto Blast
In ghetto lingo they call it “kutonyora” while the proper Shona equivalent is “chioko muhomwe”. But no matter how suitable, colourful and vivid the name might be, bribery is a double-edged sword threatening to shred Zimbabwe’s moral fabric. People have grown accustomed to reaping where they did not sow. Kungonzwa kuda kukohwa pausina kurima.
What is more painful about this is that some people in positions of authority want to be paid something extra to do their jobs.
“Mbudzi inofura payakasungirirwa”, “Unoroverwa pawadenhera” and “Sadza rinosvuura ari parinokwatira” are some of the phrases people have coined over the years to justify the taking of bribes.
“Sex for a job, is that the way?/Life is so hard, these days my friend./You can’t get something, if you can’t give away./ Something for something, nothing for nothing./Corruption, corruption, corruption in the society,” sang self-exiled Chimurenga musician Thomas Mapfumo in the song titled “Corruption”.
And the song was not without meaning.
People have become so corrupt that even Rachel, the biblical mother of the nation, should be weeping in her grave because of the rot.
This scourge is not limited to those with white-collar jobs.
Even those with a blue collar are demanding something before they can unlock a service.
It is not unusual to walk into a public toilet and be asked to pay something before you can enjoy use of the facility.
“We are still cleaning the toilet, saka imbomirai makadaro,” you hear ablution facility cleaners saying with a hosepipe and hard broom in hand.
“But mudhara kana wakaomerwa ingondipa US$2 tiite kuti urerukirwe,” you hear the guys saying.
Almost everywhere you go these days it has become normal to be asked to pay something.
Zesa and council officials who disconnect electricity and water supplies for non-payment are taking bribes. You pay a token for them to ignore your unpaid bills. KaUS$10 kasina basa!
Getting a driver’s licence is a big challenge if you are not willing to part with cash. You’ll remain a learner driver until you oil the examiners’ palms with cash.
Touts demand anything between a greenback and R5 to make you jump the queue during the rush hour.
“Mudhara, kuti muende pamberi bhadharai mbichana. Mati mwana wamai angadyei kana pasina chamunomupa kuti akande muruoko,” they say openly without caring to know who is within earshot.
Basa rake chairo raanosiira tauro ririnyoro kumba munhu anoda kubhadharwa.
A headmaster demands cash to admit a pupil at his school and to have a teacher assigned there, yet without these two his title becomes meaningless. Can one be a headmaster without teachers and students? The answer is a bold no.
Female student teachers are failed the moment they refuse to yield to the school head’s sexual demands.
“Where on Earth have you seen someone being employed for the sake of it? How many people are seeking jobs without success out there?
Why do you want me to make you smile when you cannot do the same to me? Ngatitambei tese tijairane,” you hear cheeky headmasters saying to female student teachers behind closed doors.
Some students have had the misfortune of having dirty hands dipped in their skirts by these sex perverts.
Those working in boarding schools ensure the parent pays something for the duration of the child’s stay at the institution.
Few parents with low moral values are immediately converted into spare lovers. Headmasters are busy as rabbits bedding women seeking Form One places for their children.
The same goes for municipal cops. People who sell fruits and vegetables on the streets of Harare are going through hell. To conduct their business without being arrested, they are supposed to pay protection fees on a daily basis.
Their bananas and pushcarts are confiscated the moment they refuse to part with money.
“Imi ambuya imi. Zvekutengesa masweets pasina licence imhosva. Bhadharai mari tikusiyei kana kuti totora zvinhu zvenyu zvese nemunhu wacho tovharira,” you hear the municipal cops saying while resplendent in their uniforms.
These guys too have become notorious for confiscating things like airtime recharge cards, fruits and vegetables and anything they can lay their hands on from people who are unable to pay for their freedom.
Cops assigned to deal with the motoring public are not any better either.
They demand cash to avoid clamping and towing away dangerously parked vehicles across the length and breadth of the city.
Staying in Harare without knowing these guys and or paying them something can be a major undoing at the time you require their services.
A visit to liquor stores and beerhalls across the city will show people paying these characters with beer to avoid the misfortune of being arrested or having their cars towed away.
Police officers do not come out unscathed.
If you are arrested for public drinking, you should have a loose US$5 somewhere to avoid the embarrassment of being dragged all the way to the police station.
Wife bashers know that they should have something to buy their freedom right in from of their victims.
At accident scenes, unlicensed drivers are set free provided they have a fat wallet or live to their promise of paying once circumstances permit.
Kombi operators are always crying because of what the police are doing to them. They are made to pay a certain amount everyday for passage at a roadblock.
Those without proper documents pay the most. So serious has the quest for taking bribes become that mortuary attendants demand a bit of cash from bereaved families before they can take bodies for burial.
“Manje mawana tavhara. Saka mudhara wacho kuti timudaidze adzoke anoda US$20,” you hear the guys saying no matter the fact that the bereaved family will be having a long list of expenses to contend with.
Bribes have become a normal way of life in the communities in which we live to the point where ordinary people in the street are demanding cash from strangers before giving them directions.
“Muchembere marisikiro amaita aya anotoda US$5 kuti tikusvitsei kwamunoenda. Asi mukaita nharo inofa kwenyu,” you hear youths telling elderly people in the ghetto.
So serious has the quest for bribes become that Zimbabwe needs a strong moral broom to sweep this dirt away.