Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for February, 2008

The revolution eats its children

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Wednesday, February 27th, 2008 by Bev Clark

Shepherd Mandhlazi doesn’t just sit back and bleat. He writes to various newspapers sharing his opinion. He writes poetry and dramas which comment on the Zimbabwean crisis.

As Howard Zinn wrote recently

Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens

In my book, Shepherd fits the description of a concerned citizen.

A letter of his was published recently in the Mail & Guardian – here’s a short excerpt

We have faith in Makoni even though he is Zanu PF, which the people hate. He does not display the excesses and fanaticism of his party comrades – the violence, insults, the tendency to point fingers at others when faced with problems.

And here’s a poem that Shepherd has just sent to Kubatana.

I am angry
I have heartburn
Bread, maputi – monotonous diet.

I am angry
I am fearful
I look over my shoulder
I am Zimbabwean.

I am confused
I’m counting the zeros
Is it a billion or a trillion?
I’m counting the zeros.

I am confused
What price is the bread?
Is it three million?
Is it five million?
But it was one million yesterday.

I am confused
I am Zimbabwean.
What is my crime?
Is it loving my wife
And not being able to provide for her?
Is it waving at my friend,
Or not saluting the presidential motorcade?

I am confused
I am Zimbabwean
I am bitter, I am angry.
Where is my father?
Did he run away from us?
What did he mean when he said;
They will come for me,
the revolution eats its children.

I am angry, I am bitter.
I am Zimbabwean.
Where is milk and cereal for my daughter?
Where is bacon and eggs for my wife’s breakfast?
Where is the money
for my night out with the boys?

I am angry, I am lost
I am Zimbabwean.
Why do I sweep the streets in a foreign country
my degrees in my back pocket?
Why do I jump fences
crossing into a better country?

Where is my manhood?
I can no longer feed my family.
I am not a man,
I am a Zimbabwean.

Why does he speak on my behalf,
I do not hate the British
I do not hate the Americans
I don’t care,
a Dube or Jones owning the land
I want food on my table.

I am hungry.
I am angry.
I am confused.
I am bitter.
I am a Zimbabwean.

How Big Men Behave

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Monday, February 25th, 2008 by Bev Clark

On Saturday night I went to a wonderful dinner party sharing conversation with a cross-section of Zimbabweans. We did a whip around on the subject of the election and people were either voting Simba, or spoiling their ballots. Speaking of Simba I noticed his full page election advertisement in The Zimbabwe Independent on Friday. Besides the fact that it didn’t say a hell of a lot, it appears that Simba doesn’t feel that its necessary to provide any contact details so that we, the Zimbabwean electorate, can actually get hold of his campaign office to find out more about his policies, when he might organise a public meeting – you know, all that trivial stuff. When I mentioned my complete disgust at this arrogant electioneering one of the dinner party guests snorted and said that I was thinking too much like an “intellectual” and that this is Africa and this is how Big Men behave. As Brenda mentioned in one of her recent posts, if you haven’t read the policies of, or listened to these presidential hopefuls, or been invited to a public meeting, then Just Say No to the big men of Zimbabwean politics and spoil your ballot rejecting their arrogant behaviour.

How do they walk with their heads held high?

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Thursday, February 21st, 2008 by Brenda Burrell

To set the scene:

On 19th February 2008, members of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) were engaged in a peaceful “Save our Education” campaign in the streets of Harare. When they approached the 4th Street bus terminus they were apprehended by, as yet unidentified, youths from the ZANU (PF) building. The 9 teachers were taken inside the building and subjected to all manner of brutalization including but not limited to assaults with clenched feet, open palms, booted feet and assaults with iron rods. Female teachers among the victims were subjected to verbal abuse of the most degrading and inhuman nature. One female teacher was stripped naked in full view of her male colleagues and assailants alike and had her genital area repeatedly trampled upon (read more from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights).

These violent youths, themselves victims of the crumbling education system, are amongst those who shake their heads and bemoan the state of things in Zimbabwe. It won’t be long before they join the trek south, looking for the very future that the people who they are assaulting are campaigning for.

Their duplicity, and their stupidity makes me furious.

It takes enormous courage for individuals to go out in public in Zimbabwe and campaign for their rights and the rights of others. The PTUZ’s sustained efforts to bring positive change to the education sector are all the more amazing considering the punitive environment in which they have to campaign.

And, given the callous and cruel behaviour of the police in response to this incident, it is difficult to differentiate between the police and the thugs.

The Police took all the victims to Harare central police station and laid them along an office corridor at CID Law & Order Section where they were still lying and writhing in visible pain at the time lawyers deployed to attend to them eventually found them at around 1400hrs. Lawyers were initially denied access by the officer in charge of CID Law & Order Section Harare Central Police Station namely; one Detective Chief Inspector Manjengwa. One lawyer was forcibly escorted from the victims as he tried to do a physical count of them and hand-over medication to one of the victims Mr. Raymond Majongwe. Offers to ferry the victims to a hospital were turned down by the police.

If you share our outrage at this blatant disregard for the teachers’ right to raise awareness about the plight of education in Zimbabwe, please write in solidarity to:

And in protest to:

  • Commissioner of Police
    Augustine Chihuri
    Zimbabwe Republic Police
    P.O.Box CY34, Causeway, Zimbabwe
    Tel: +263-4-250008
    Fax: +263-4-792621
  • The Officer Commanding Harare Central Police Station
    PO Box CY 154
  • The Ministry of Justice
    Post Bag 7704
    Telephone +263-4-774620-7
  • The President’s Office
    Post Bag 7700
    Telephone: +263-4-707091
    Fax: +263-4-708540
  • Your local Member of Parliament

Please make a point of raising awareness of this issue in your social circles.

Cry, the Beloved Country

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Thursday, February 21st, 2008 by Catherine Makoni

As we approach March 29, l find myself in the grip of something that is fluttering in my belly, like hope. That maybe, just maybe our time has come. But just when l start thinking of the possibility of change in Zimbabwe, l am gripped by a relentless sense of apprehension. I dare not hope, because that hope has been dashed so many times before. But a part of me refuses to simply subside with a whimper into hopeless resignation. In thinking about this uncharacteristic ambivalence, l recall this passage from Alan Paton’s book;

Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley for fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.

Regime change

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Thursday, February 21st, 2008 by Catherine Makoni

Something caught my eye in The Herald. The newspaper leads with the story “Britain steps up regime change agenda, pours in £3.3m”. In writing about the alleged regime change agenda, the writer quotes from a “copy” of a letter allegedly written by the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the Deputy President of the British Law Society, a Mr. Holroyd. A purported copy of the said letter is published on page 2 of the Herald. In writing about the letter the writer says, “Mr Brown said Britain would continue to do everything we can to cause regime change in Zimbabwe, which remains a priority for this government.” In fact this is a misquote as Mr Brown does not make reference to “regime change” in the alleged letter. It is the author’s very interesting interpretation of what Mr Brown said that had him concluding that the Prime Minister was talking about regime change. What Mr Brown does say in the letter published on page two is;

“We will continue to do everything we can to ensure a better future for Zimbabweans: a democratic and accountable government, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and policies which ensure economic stability and development, not humanitarian misery”

For some reason, the writer has a problem with us having a democratic and accountable government, which has respect for the rule of law and which has a plan for ensuring economic stability and development, not perpetuating humanitarian misery. In his mind, our desire for these things is treasonous; it is a desire for regime change.

But what is “regime change”? It is a term that has been used ad nauseam in the government controlled press. I looked it up on the internet and sources seem to define it as quite literally, the replacement of one regime with another. And regime? It is defined as a form of government; a set of rules both formal and informal that regulate the operation of government and its interaction with society. Used like this, the term itself is quite innocuous. However it is that other interpretation which l suspect, has The Herald writer in a tizzy. My source tells me that the informal use of the word “regime” carries a negative connotation, usually referring to a government considered oppressive or dictatorial, whether it is in power through a consistent application of its constitution or not. Now this is not meant to be a thesis on political terms, all l want to do is ask the writer of the lead article in The Herald and all those other writers in The Herald past and present: You are angry that Britain allegedly wants to engineer regime change, is that an admission on your part that the government we have is in fact a “regime”?

He leaned forward and whispered, “But I can sell you mine, if you like.”

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Wednesday, February 20th, 2008 by Natasha Msonza

I usually take a breather from staring at my computer all day and stretch my legs by walking around Newlands shopping center and going into TM supermarket looking for whatever can be found on the shelves that I might be interested in. So the other day I marched into TM expecting the usual quiet inactivity and glaring empty shelves. I was happy to find some Dettol bath soap on the toiletries shelf. The usually empty toiletries section had something else I hadn’t seen in a long time in any supermarket: cans of anti-perspirant and all sorts of other deodorant. It was not just any deodorant at that but excellent brands like Shield and Lentheric among an array of what I consider inferior brands. Ironically the price range was the same across inferior and superior alike; at only $39 million! Well, maybe that’s not very cheap to some people, but for those who have looked around for these things know what I’m talking about. Thinking I wasn’t reading the prices correctly, I chatted up the guy who was still putting price tags on various products on the same shelf. He reassured me that I was reading correctly, and yes, he’d just put on the prices himself.

I wondered aloud why they were so cheap debating whether to take one or not. The guy volunteered that it made sense because it was “just old stock.” Old stock? Where was it getting old at all this time? I mean, I come here almost daily for the past one month. I gently prodded further and he explained, or rather, confessed that the stuff had been there all along in their storerooms. It had been removed when the ‘task force’ was going around slashing prices. Understandable, but the shelves continued to be bare even after the Zimbabwe government backtracked from the price controls, so why didn’t they put back the products, I asked. Surely such behavior is common only among saboteurs?

Saboteur, what is that, he asked? I explained that sabotage is a deliberate action of subversion, deception or dishonesty. He gave a soft laugh and said, “These are uncertain times and God only knows what other crazy ideas ‘those people’ might just wake up with again. Besides, there is a little saboteur in all of us. I mean now that you’ve found these deodorants unusually cheap, aren’t you going to hoard as many of them as you can in anticipation of the unknown? I tell you, it’s going to take a while to cure the nation of things like speculation and hoarder mentality.”

How dare that man even suggest I was a saboteur? I took four cans of anti- perspirant . . .

The other week I walked into a pharmacy looking for ibuprofen, a painkiller one can purchase without prescription.  I however happened to have my mother’s medical prescription for some drugs only a doctor and pharmacist can prescribe. After getting my painkiller, I inquired from one of the male pharmacists if they had any of the drugs on the prescription. He stared at the prescription for a moment then told me they hadn’t had those kinds of drugs in months. As I turned to leave, he leaned forward and whispered, “But I can sell you mine, if you like.” Taken off guard, I looked around to see the other pharmacists smiling at me with knowing looks. I purchased my mother’s medication at an obviously inflated price on a little black market thriving right there in the pharmacy.