Waiting for Godot! Were Vladimir and Estragon Zimbabweans?

_“NOTHING happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful.” – “We wait. We are bored. (He throws up his hand.) No, don’t protest, we are bored to death, there’s no denying it. Good…. In an instant all will vanish and we’ll be alone more, in the midst of nothingness!”_

The above quotes are extracts from the play Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett. Waiting for Godot is an absurdist play in which two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon, wait endlessly and in vain for the arrival of someone named Godot. Principally, the story includes the two tramps waiting – at first hopefully, but in time with decreasing optimism – for an indefinite, anonymous figure called Godot. Estragon and Vladimir entertain themselves with a seemingly improvised, somewhat meaningless and never-ending dialogue. The play was written in 1953, but aptly captures current events and the prevalent mood in Zimbabwe. Nothing is happening in the country, and to be honest we feel awful. As a nation we eagerly waited for the elections to take place. To us, the poll was supposed to bring hope for recovery. The business community hoped the conduct of a peaceful and credible election was going to be the foundation block for the economy.

As people waited for the elections, they also put on hold a lot of decision-making processes. Anyone you asked before the elections would tell you they were waiting for the event. Some joked that even marriage proposals were put on hold until after the elections. From the beginning of the year, everything came to a standstill. The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries is on record as saying the first six months of the year were characterised by job losses and company closures. The manufacturing sector witnessed the closure of close to 90 companies in the past four years due to viability problems ranging from liquidity constraints to punitive cost of the limited capital available.

Outgoing finance minister Tendai Biti summarised it all in his mid-term fiscal review statement. He highlighted that the first half of 2013 had seen the economy underperforming, characterised by low business and investor confidence, little growth in employment and declining social indicators. This resulted from a number of factors which include a poor rainy season, policy inconsistencies and uncertainties undermining investor confidence, and revenue underperformance. With that background, everyone expected the new Zanu-PF government to hit the ground running and attempt to inject life into the fragile economy. Everyone expected President Robert Mugabe to waste no time in appointing his cabinet to revitalise an economy that has been at best stagnant, and at worst collapsing. We are however almost halfway into the second month after the elections – and a new cabinet is still to be appointed. Important decisions by foreign investors who still have the courage to venture into business in this country have been put on hold as they wait for the responsible ministers to come in and approve deals.

Just as in Beckett’s play, everyone is waiting and it’s awful.

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