Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Fear is a prison

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I am currently developing a Ward 7 (Harare City Council – Strathaven, Avondale, Alex Park, Gun Hill) directory, so people who live here can also buy and play here. It’s about building community, getting to know your neighbours. I walk from shop to church to police station to school to sports club to next shop, and get the contact details for public consumption.

I am amazed at how many places, mainly shops, but even a hospital; do not want to give out information.

“What do you want to know for?”
“Why should we tell you?”
“We can’t give that information out”
“What will you do with it?”

Is this the legacy of thirty years of democracy? That Zimbabweans are so mistrustful that they will not tell the public what the phone number of their shop is? Do they believe ‘Big Brother’ is watching them with CCTVs, Internet devices, etc? Is there some conspiracy I am unknowingly a part of by gathering their (not even private) information?

Or do Zimbabweans simply mistrust their government (unity or otherwise), and have such fear of the ‘authorities’. Most public establishments have a posted on the sign board outside on the street – which is why I have gone in to talk to them – but they are afraid to let anyone take any details. Has the government grown so far away from the people … a favourite phrase from so many liberation speeches of the 50s and 60s, (from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address)? We want a “government, of the people, by the people, and for the people”. And what have we got? A government of elites, by elites, for elites; we have ‘Representatives’ that do not drive or walk the same streets, do not buy in the same shops, do not have children in the same schools, do not see the same doctors, as us.

Or do I look like a Nigerian spammer? Is it just me they don’t trust? Why is there such fear, belligerence, refusal, denial, and hostility, towards giving the community information that will make them find you, come into your shop, and buy something?

One comment to “Fear is a prison”

  1. Comment by phm:

    That’s so true. I meet this all the time and its so infuriating! Indeed “Is this the legacy of thirty years of democracy?”