‘Zim’s worst driver’ – A whole Cabinet minister!
Gerald Magurayanga Traffic Friday
Two months back, I applauded and declared without any favour, a retired ZNA military driver; one unassuming Warrant Officer Class 2, Samuel Mahachi, as the most accomplished, most competent and most safety conscious driver I had ever seen.
I promised to tell you about the flip side, the tale of the most shocking driver I had ever seen!
No, it’s not the easy choice of some uncouth commuter omnibus driver. To be honest, there’s nothing, zilch, that a wayward kombi driver would perform that would surprise anyone anymore.
But when an unrestrained, careless and clearly dangerous road misbehaviour is perpetrated by an unlikely individual with an elevated national public status, then indeed one could be left perplexed as such a low-life misdemeanour is not expected of them.
The shocker I witnessed many moons ago, I still adjudge the act, in my book the worst driving I have ever seen in Zimbabwe!
I have no idea how, but I have an unerringly keen, excitable and roving eye; always trained on the road traffic movement around me. Naturally, I am very critical of the shameful, uninhibited, dangerous and cowboy-like driving that abounds in Harare. Of course, sometimes, I am quite full of praise for truly safe and courteous driving the few times I see it; which good driving every licensed driver should practise, a non-negotiable term for the privileged issuance of their licence.
Sadly, Harare roads are a small-time Wild Wild West.
One fine day, early in the morning, driving city-bound on Borrowdale Road, I was drawn to an unusual, slow driver in a flashy, near-new Mercedes Benz E Class frustratingly hogging the inside lane. The Merc was also erratically straddling the dotted demarcation line. I quickly shifted to overtake from the outside lane. The manoeuvre would also most likely quench my curiosity as to who would drive so slowly, so erratically and why, in a shiny new-looking Benz!
Side-by-side with the offending vehicle, I made out a “gentleman” in a formal suit, whom I instantly recognised! It was the unmistakable form of a VIP man I had seen countless times in the papers, on TV and in the flesh a few times for much of my life! Surprise of surprises, a whole Government minister, one of my favourite, was exhibiting dishonourable, top-level, distracted and truly dangerous driving that you do not often see!
And the obvious cause of his meandering and slow moving is because he was, lo and behold, devotedly reading what I made out to be a copy of The Herald, neatly folded in half and spread on the steering wheel! All of that in the inside lane of the ever busy dual carriageway section of Borrowdale Road, would you believe dear reader?
The world-renowned Johns Hopkins Medical School authoritatively declares that a distracted individual that drives and texts, or drives and reads, is so unsafe, a perpetrator is like someone 10 times over the drink-driving limit!
I was hugely concerned and even a little angered at such unbelievably dangerous road behaviour from a high-ranking VIP and long-serving Cabinet minister. I decided to do the right thing by immediately alerting the police. Because I live in Zimbabwe, Africa and am conscious of cheap African political behaviour that often seeks to twist the truth by alleging enemy political gamesmanship to deviate from the matter at hand, when a politician has been exposed getting naughty, I did not go to just any police station.
From where I was on Borrowdale Road, I conveniently turned left into the Police General Headquarters and in person, reported to the then chief spokesperson of the police who was bewildered at my unbelievable story. He promised to expeditiously deal with the matter behind the scenes because he thought it, just like myself, undesirable to create a public furore. I have no idea what happened afterwards, but I trusted that he would, at the very least, without any fear, caution the errant VIP man concerned.
Sadly, our tolerance level for such pathetic misbehaviour in Zimbabwe is unacceptably high. In certain countries, had such VIP misbehaviour, like our friend’s, hit the public discourse, the minister would have been highly scandalised and could very well have been pressured to leave public office.
Dear reader, the fact is, Zimbabwe’s general driving habits are quite bad across the board, such that even amongst high authorities as the Government minister highlighted herein, transgression of driving laws is commonplace. Why, because in Zimbabwe our road traffic standards are set lowly, no harm of any sort would ever befall a minister.
Who would dare charge an untouchable minister? Sadly, because the endemic driving rot is also found at the very top, you will, not surprisingly, also see lots of it at the bottom. That is the Zimbabwe we have designed for ourselves and will pass on to our children.
Unless there’s a dramatic shift in our driving behaviour and attitudes as a nation, at all levels, we will always struggle with and bear the unacceptably high costs of road traffic crashes.
Name and Shame.
If you drive an old black Mercedes- Benz CL Class and your fancy registration plate is “KIRK” and you are the young “gentleman” I witnessed shamelessly fouling the grounds of the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement premises earlier this week, shame on you.
Traffic Friday is truly dismayed by the peculiarly male driver habit of casually parking off the road and using any tree, bush or even the open, as a toilet! I repeat shame on you KIRK! Any good driver is not expected to behave in such an uncivil and foul manner. Kufamba uchingowetera pese-pese!
Guess what, such uncultured behaviour has earned you a shame award! For this whole week, Traffic Friday would like to let all of Zimbabwe know that you “KIRK” are Traffic Friday’s “Rombe Resvondo Rino”!
It’s a Friday; let’s keep the driving ‘happy, happy!’
Gerald Maguranyanga moderates Road Safety Africa, on www.facebook.com/RoadSafetyAfrica, an interactive community page that solicits ideas to curb road traffic accidents in Zimbabwe and Africa. Feedback: WhatsApp… +263 772205300
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