|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
The Daily News (Harare)
May 1, 2002
Posted to the web May 1, 2002
SOME will argue that this very proposition that the country has gone to the dogs cannot be sustained when people are celebrating "the return of the land to its owners", and the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) last week was such a roaring success.
For one thing, the Hondo yeMinda is a fiasco, even musically. The racist lyrics make the skin crawl with shame. For another, the ZITF was one big flea market this year.
Others, like me, would say when people are killed for their politics, there is little foreign investment, very few new jobs, you can only get maize-meal through bribery and corruption, there is little or no foreign currency, the prices of essential commodities rise with the rising sun, then the country is definitely in Dogland.
Still others, throwing caution to the winds, will use the F word to describe our situation. In a family newspaper such as ours, you have to draw the line somewhere and the F word is as good a place as any to draw that line.
But that people are forced to use the word ought to illustrate more than a thousand pictures of scrawny-looking village urchins just how desperate our situation is.
The five-star hotels may be filled with the rich in their mink coats and Giorgio Armani suits, dining on lobster, frogs' legs or snails; some people can afford to send their children to the most expensive schools in the land and still have enough left over to buy the latest Mercedes Benz model, as casually as you and I buy buns (most can't afford bread anymore).
All that does not detract from the stark fact that 95 percent of the population are living in a country that has gone to the dogs, economically, politically and socially. What we ought to debate is why and what to do about it.
I saw adults discuss on ZBC-TV the other day whether or not it is rape for a husband to force his wife to have sex (it is rape, stupid). They ought to discuss why we are in this mess and how to get out of it.
For many people, including myself, the reason is Zanu PF. This is a party with a terrible reputation for using murder as a primary political weapon.
Citizens in the cities and towns may be going around believing they inhabit a civilised country with civilised laws protecting them from uncivilised intrusion into their freedoms. They may believe they live in a democracy because in the presidential election in March they voted overwhelmingly against Robert Mugabe, who had insulted them with names as odious as the cats and dogs his wife spoke of in the election campaign.
They may believe all of this, but God help them if they don't stop to smell the coffee: their relatives in the communal areas know a country of young people empowered by their party to butcher innocent, unarmed citizens as brutally as the soldiers of the Five Brigade did more than 20 years ago in Matabeleland and the Midlands.
If, as some of us believe, Zanu PF is to blame for all this mayhem, including the starvation in the communal areas, how is it possible for some citizens to believe that Morgan Tsvangirai, Gibson Sibanda, Lovemore Madhuku, Wellington Chibhebhe, Tony Blair, George W Bush are the real villains?
It may be as self-evident a truth as the hills to say that people who end up with a government as ruthless and uncaring as ours deserve it.
But it bears repeating. No one is to blame for this imbroglio except Zimbabweans. Here is an example:
We all seem to agree there was no way Mugabe could have won the presidential election, not after what he has done to this country.
Someone we know had to take part in the grand conspiracy.
There are citizens who know how it was done. There are people who know, intimately, every dastardly detail of how the election was stolen as most of us believe it was. Why such people will not come forward to tell the world how it happened is another example of the terrible political culture Zanu PF has imposed on the people the culture of fear.
This too has become another political cliche, but it is as true and as old as the hills too. There are citizens who are keeping this deadly secret in their hearts. They may have been active co-conspirators, or may have been coerced or bribed into the Judas act. They may be law-abiding and patriotic citizens patriotic in the sense of not equating patriotism with sloganeering, reading The Herald from page to page, or boot-licking.
Why such people will not come forward could be out of the fear that they might be found out and handed over to Zanu PF youths to deal with as speedily and brutally as they have dealt with other critics of their party tear them from limb to limb.
That brand of fear is the most pathetic, reminding me of the smell of rotting garbage, which is how Hemingway described it in a passage in For Whom The Bells.
But is this fear justified? It cannot be, if we believe loyalty to your country means laying down your life for it. Most of the world's biggest political scandals were exposed only after a loyal citizen decided they could not live with the sin of knowing in detail what happened and not telling their compatriots of it.
Watergate's "Deep Throat" almost certainly blew the lid on the scandal which ended former US president Richard Nixon's political career.
Daniel Ellsberg, an academic, blew the lid on The Pentagon Papers scandal. A group of concerned citizens exposed what became notorious in Zimbabwe as The Willowgate scandal.
The election scandal is waiting for one such loyal citizen to expose it. We all know that in Zimbabwe the life of such a citizen could be snuffed out like a candle in the wind, if they were found out.
But the rural folk now know that it was a big Zanu PF confidence trick to warn that if they voted for the opposition parties cameras hidden on the moon would photograph them in the act and the party would take care of them in its usual fashion. There is a good chance most people now realise the party is a paper tiger, its leadership just as phony.
Comparisons have been made recently between Mugabe's leadership style and that of Jonas Savimbi, the rebel Unita leader killed by government forces in February.
Notes from an obituary by a former Savimbi loyalist: "The later Savimbi could never have settled into a proper society with proper rules.
"This was a Savimbi . . . solely motivated by power and absolute control. He was also thoroughly ruthless . . . Savimbi, in the end, wanted to be in charge and this desire for control had attained pathological proportions."
Savimbi too was a Maoist.