By Leopold Munhende | Chief Correspondent
EXILED former Cabinet Minister Walter Mzembi has said some officials within President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration need psychological help as they went from participating in Zimbabwe’s bush war straight into government offices.
Mzembi was responding to comments around recently released former Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Member of Parliament (MP) Job Sikhala’s mental health having spent 595 days in pretrial detention at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
Analysts, in the same light, have urged those close to Sikhala to take him for a mental evaluation before re-engaging his colleagues in politics.
“At Independence, many of our current leadership walked from the bush to the office, from detention to the office, from exile to the office with serious mental and physical baggage that they acknowledged to having when they were claiming compensation for damages during the Chenjerai Hunzvi led War Veterans Compensation Claims,” said Mzembi.
“80% of those claims were based on psychological trauma, they may have received the money but none of them received treatment. Ndovanhu varikutitonga izvozvi (those are the people governing us today).”
Mzembi, who fled a November 2017 coup whose actors he claimed wanted him dead, also said Zimbabweans could also be suffering from a certain level of mental stress based on what they had encountered through the course of the country’s recent history.
He traced the country’s economic recession which has subsisted since the early 2000s, focusing on how it devalued the savings of ordinary citizens which included pensions.
“The majority of us need psychological support and services to varying degrees not just Sikhala as some of you say. Yes he needs it (but) so do many and a significant cross-section of our people,” he said.
“Considering what the people of Zimbabwe have gone through at the mercy of an economy and unforgiving politics, where pensioners woke up one day with zeroed pensions in 2008, and insurance policies with zero value, medical aid, funeral policies with zero value which we continue to subsidise monthly to this day; is this not enough to turn an entire country into one big mental asylum?
“Vanhu varikutofamba vachipenga (Mad people are walking our streets) the country needs psychological support services on the shop floor, in offices, in industry, and at home. Our economy continues to be collateral damage to our psychological state.
“Elections are meant to give people a way out (but) they have so far become a source of despair and disillusionment, in the absence of free and fair elections anarchy takes over.”
Zimbabwe is fourth from the bottom on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) World Happiness Ranking due to unending economic, political, and social challenges that have bedevilled it for over two decades.