Springtime – Eddie Cross

via email

In the northern hemisphere the last days of summer have come and gone. I once asked a Canadian when they thought summer was and he replied – “I think we had summer last year on the 17th of August”. He came from Calgary and they have a mean variation in temperatures from mid-summer to mid winter of over 60 degrees Celsius. Beautiful place: lousy weather.

Many people say we have the best weather in the World in Zimbabwe, our Winters are chilly at night, but warm and dry in the day, our summers are wet and warm – but humidity is never a real problem and you can play golf just about every day of the year. Perhaps the worst season is spring – hot days, zero humidity, often there is a thick blanket of smoke and dust haze, wind and glorious sunsets. But every season has its compensations and ours in spring are the flowering trees and shrubs. The Jacaranda trees, an import from Brazil, are coming into flower and soon the avenues will be a blue and purple haze with a carpet of flowers in the early morning.

In the lowveld there is a tiny shrub which is absolutely nothing to look at but which bursts into a blaze of yellow in spring – yellow so rich it defies description. Then there are our other flowering shrubs and creepers and the amazing variety of pastel colors in the Msasa and Mountain Acacia forests. In the hotter and drier regions the Knobthorn comes out in a mass of pale yellow flowers – so thick that they seem to provide a cloud of color along the river banks.

We were in the Matopo National park recently on a clear blue sky day, warm and mild and just magnificent. The trees in their new foliage and the grass yellow and white, birds active with nesting and the granite hills basking in the sun, showing no sign of life but simply hibernating and waiting for the first rains when they will come to life overnight.

But something is missing – the farms are silent, desecrated and abandoned. In earlier days when the country was just as much in crisis as it is today (was it ever any different?) we could always retreat to the rural areas where the farmers were out in their fields, plowing and planting, sprinklers running on newly planted crops. Cattle were out on the veld – cows dropping their calves and everyone racing against the time when the first rains would fall, that marvelous smell of fresh earth and rain that comes with it and the fact that we could all look forward to another year.

Somehow you knew that if a farmer was doing his land preparation that he would be there in a year’s time. You knew that if he was planting trees he would be there in 10 to 20 years. If he was building a dam or a new homestead that he was thinking of the next generation. They were symbols of the fact that life goes on and that faith in the future is not displaced. Somehow this year is worse than before and there is very little in the way of land preparation under way anywhere.

Zimbabwe is waking up to the fact that this is not the spring we all hoped for and expected. Yesterday I went to Parliament to e sworn in for my second five year term to be confronted by hordes of people clad in yellow and green and waving their fists at me. I ignored them, went into the House, had my name called and then took the oath of office with other members. When I signed my name in the huge register, I could not help feeling that I was doing so after all who had gone before, Ian Smith once stood here, Garfield Todd, Lord Malvern who had been Prime Minister for 35 years.

We left Parliament two months ago – then holding a majority in the lower House, have come back as the Opposition with 72 seats in a House of 270 Members. Unable to block legislation if we want to but providing a voice for the majority in this beautiful, but broken land.  After 13 years of struggle, 5 elections and 4 years of the GNU we are no further forward than we were in 2000, in fact we are further back than we were then. Now we know that the regions commitment to democratic norms and values is seriously compromised and that they are not prepared to support the rule of law in regional States if it encumbers the entrenched oligarchies that control power and privilege.

Our major achievement in the last four years was to win the new Constitution – only to have this great advance compromised by the blatant manipulation of the Constitutional Court, the very Court that is charged with interpreting and protecting the Constitution in our society. Despite their clear obligation to do so, ZEC still refuses to release an electronic version of the voters roll used in the past election or the records created on the day and now stored in some 30 000 boxes in a State warehouse. Both are “smoking guns” and would give us the story of what happened in the elections and how the peoples will was subverted.

We now face many challenges – failed agricultural reform, dying industry and fragile banks, a huge import bill for everything from bread to toothpaste, collapsed infrastructure – Gweru has not had water for a week; Bulawayo is running out of water, half of all residents in Harare, one of the great cities of Africa have no water. The State is bankrupt, our foreign relations non-existent and there is no confidence in any of our institutions or future. Capital flight is rampant and investor inflows frozen in its tracks by renewed threats of indigenisation and expropriation of private assets.

This situation is not made any better or easier by the deepening crisis in South Africa where a quarter of a million workers are on strike, the loss of incomes must be running at $100 million a day and confidence is declining rapidly in all sectors. Suddenly the ANC looks insecure and although they are unlikely to be unseated in 2014, 2018 looms large and threatening with the possible emergence of a new, leftist workers Party which will seek to challenge the ANC.

The “Arab Spring” is rapidly turning into a long winter’s night in the Middle East and any military strike in Syria is unlikely to speed the dawn of a better day. The same threats apply in Zimbabwe and it is time for leadership; leadership that will recognise that if Africa is going to find its spring, that we need to end our long winters night. Our people are weary and dispirited, they need direction and hope and so far both are absent.

Eddie Cross

Harare 4th September 2013


  • comment-avatar
    Sekuru Mapenga 9 years ago

    A change from your over-enthusiastic optimism of the past years, but more realistic. The sense of things is not good – not good at all.

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      Diana Geddes 9 years ago

      I hate to say, I told you so, Eddie, but I did, didn’t I? Of all the countries I left behind in southern Africa, Zimbabwe tugs my heart the most. So sad, so very, very sad. God bless it, and you, ever-optimistic, but also ever-courageous Eddie.

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    essexfarmer 9 years ago

    Thanks for the report Eddie.

    Your seasonal descriptions are very evocative and a good reminder to those of us who knew Zim in better times.

    Having followed the “election”, if that is what it can be classified as, I share the evident despair that you describe.

    It is unbelievable that so few at the top can ruin a country and hold its population prisoners to their greed and selfishness.

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    Chigaru 9 years ago

    I wonder if Eddie Cross realised that by the very fact that he allowed himself to be sworn in, he was putting the icing on the the Zanupf cake by providing legitimacy to a stolen election.

    The Zimbabwe parliament will soon revert to rubber stamp status, a none entity, a zero status for fools and naives.

    The constitutional court is stuffed with Mugabe boot lickers and Zimbabwe is now under full control of hijackers, robbers and rapists.

    The MDC formations have been duped again. It’s time for real change.

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    Charles Cutshall 9 years ago

    “Zvapera, zvapera, hapana achachema;
    hapana achaviga, hapana achataura;
    kana ivhu rekufushura vafi hapachina!”

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    Lindy Forster 9 years ago

    So very true but so sad.One evil man and his few comrades have destroyed a beautiful country with the most wonderful people on Gods earth.South Africa is going down so fast and Julias Malema is only interested in lining his pocket.Very happy to be “Out Of Africa” but my heart will always be there.God bless Eddie and all Zimbabweans.

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      Except, Lindy, not one evil man and few comrades. The whole bloody country and culture, the millions all embrace and live by the same ethos–grab all you can and destroy the rest so nobody else can have. Ordinary Joe Zimbo is not happy that he lost out, but deep in his heart he admires those who grabbed it all, and longs to be one of them too, every last and least Joe Z. He has no problem with the culture, values that makes the king-of-the-hill society, only with the turnout that he is not the jongwe. Nothing is going to change until the longing of the heart and admiration for jongwe-ship is purged out. I’d check back in about 1000 years.

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    John Steele 9 years ago

    Good article Eddie…. it’s a damning fact that ZanuPF have ruined my homeland!

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    eztechplc 9 years ago

    After the pains of oppression, the Chikeremas, Nkomos, Zvobgos made a revolutionary plan, whc Mr Mugabe joined later. With no water in Zimbabwe, no food, no clothes and no shelter, why should we wait? Let go and confront the arsenal of the Dictator, we are dying anyway. I m in, ready to confront Mr Mugabe at all costs

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    Rwendo 9 years ago

    Yes, a less optimistic, more realistic offering from Mr Cross. A lot more enlightened than a recent report of Chamisa talking of electronic voting in 2018. It was Einstein who said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” We have just witnessed the results of giving a mortally wounded lion a chance to rest and recover, instead of finishing it off when the chance presented itself 4 years ago. And if ZANU PF did not respect the rule of law or the previous constitution, why did anyone in their right mind think the first and key solution was a new constitution? We can now expect ZANU PF to be focused on trying to finish the MDC off, by divide and rule or by assimilation, now that that party is in disarray.

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    Anold Anderson 9 years ago

    Your problem is you see the opposition as only alternative and better off than any other Zimbabwean. You are in government because people selected you but your part fell short that does not mean you should continue crying for the past. Stop being regression like that and living in the past, wake up and pull the strings of building the new Zimbabwe together Mr Eddie Cross

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    Nyati 9 years ago

    When I signed my name in the huge register, I could not help feeling that I was doing so after all who had gone before, Ian Smith once stood here, Garfield Todd, Lord Malvern who had been Prime Minister for 35 years.

    What do you all think look at the list.

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      Bunguse Tauyawo 9 years ago

      Its amazing how Mr Cross and those like him remember their history and where they come from. And I wonder if and what future and black parliamentarians will feel as they stand before that huge register 50 years hence! Will they remember the same Smith, Huggins etc or a revolutionary guard of Mugabe, Tekere, Rex, Fox nana Mai Mujur???

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    Duane Udd 9 years ago

    Thanks Eddie! Always evocative! Sadly Zimbabwe has been Mugged again!

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    Zvichapera 9 years ago

    So sad that our beloved country has now become a basket case, so much potential, but yet so much greed and hate. A country which had the best and now turned upside down. Its heartbreaking and unfortunately this is the price we pay.

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    Bora Mughedhi 9 years ago

    Eddie, as always, your true colous shine… Well this is what we have to say… I am a young, suburban youth who just voted ZANU PF in this last election, having voted MDC in the previous. As much as it may hurt you to believe, the majority of people in our great country voted for ZANU PF. Deal with it. You are now sworn in as a member of parliament as a result of an electoral process that you claim was a sham… Does this not make you a sham member of parliament then? Were you one of the lucky few that ZANU PF “decided” to allow into government through a “fair” vote? You seem like a man of principle and high moral standing. If so, why do you sign the massive register signed by so many of the great former politicians that you have so wisely highlighted? Are you a political opportunist? Or, can I hazard a response to my own question? You have decided to participate in this government because you do not think it would be fair to the thousands of people who were allowed to express their will and vote for you? What about the millions whose votes were “stolen” (according to you)? Would a principled refusal to take part in this government not have been a better tribute to the millions whose will was stolen?

    I dont think so… You have done a good thing by being sworn in. Now let us work together to build this country! And to all those who are out of this country and claim to be happy to be out of Zim…. You say you miss home? Good for you. Now stop spreading hate speach and let the country move on.

    Sis on you Eddie!! Sis!!!