Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for September, 2008

Plain speak

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Wednesday, September 17th, 2008 by Bev Clark

In response to one of our Kubatana electronic newsletters where we asked our subscribers for their opinions on the deal between Zanu PF and the MDC, here is what Reuben writing from Harare shares with us:

The step taken is the right step. However implementation will be very crucial to judge its effectiveness. I foresee a possible grey area in the operation of the Council of Ministers and Cabinet. It is not clear which institution will have decisions executed. To me Cabinet headed by the President will be the supreme organ, and may decide to delay implementation of certain policies from the Council. I need to be corrected.

I think that the priorities of this new, inclusive government should include:
1. Affordable food on the table for everyone. Allow any donor to provide healthy and unexpired food to the people.
2. Availability of affordable seed and fertiliser for the new planting season.
3. Procurement of reasonably cheap fuel for industry and homes.
4. Rehabilitation of Kariba and Hwange to have enough electricity for industry and homes. No more load shedding.
5. Availability and Provision of clean and healthy water. Import/produce the chemicals to treat water.
6. Eliminate sewage overflows in all towns. No more bad smells and spilling.
7. Provide affordable communication systems and rehabilitate our road and rail networks.

What I want to see this new government do:
1. Weed out corruption systematically.
2. Resuscitate viable agricultural production.
3. Arrest those who killed people between 29 March and 31 August 2008, including notorious Comrade Chinotimba.
4. Assure the nation that money supply will be revisited as a matter of urgency.
5. Force the RBZ Governor to resign before end of November 2008.
6. Support sport from grassroots to senior levels.
7. Account for all our minerals being mined and exported.
8. Revamp the Education and Health Care systems.

The list is massive. However I should end here.

My deal wish list

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Wednesday, September 17th, 2008 by Natasha Msonza

So. They have finally agreed to something.

Like everyone, I am just waiting to see the viability of the DEAL. I am just finding it a bit hard to be optimistic momentarily because for starters I know too well the people we are dealing with. I know there is a chance of somebody reneging on their role in the agreement simply because they have done it before and that is my biggest worry. Like President Tsvangirai (doesn’t yet smoothly roll off the tongue); we are gonna have to trust Mugabe.

Well, since this DEAL is supposedly in the name of the ordinary people, I have a few things that I’d like to see evolve from this agreement. Some of them are touched upon and promised in the agreement:

-A practical and sustainable economic recovery plan and fiscal policies that will gain back the trust of international donors and investors and see an end to food shortages plus restoration of public services. They can start with booting out Mr Gono, if the rumor that he’s quitting is not true. It would also be nice to have a reasonable daily cash withdrawal limit that actually takes you to work and back.

-Cessation of intolerance of divergent political orientation and the respect and upholding of the rights to freedoms of speech and association.

-An end to chaotic land grabs by so-called chefs and a plausible land audit to hold anyone sitting on idle land accountable. We need farmers who know what they are doing else we’ll continue to starve and beg.

-The setting up of a Truth commission should be in the offing to bring justice for victims of traumatic violence that characterized the contentious elections. This may only be done after more immediate needs like economic revival, but a lot of Zimbabweans hope for justice in a new Zimbabwe.

-A complete overhaul of the health sector with a possible replacement of the long-serving Minister of Health Dr Parirenyatwa. This time we’d appreciate a minister who is more focused on saving lives instead of threatening to take lives for political gain.

Those are a few among my many wishes, and I have a couple of smaller, more specific ones, like having ZINWA booted out for instance They have failed us miserably and we are just sick (literally) and tired of dirty water.

Above all, I wish that all parties keep their side of the bargain, cooperate and comply with the provisions of the agreement. Otherwise this DEAL is not for me. It would have been all just usual pomp and fanfair for an egotistic few.

Being the miserable pessimist my friends say I am, I’m glad in a way to find that there are several of us out there who just cant trust anymore and are concerned about any equation that equals Bob. History of the 1987 Unity Accord taught us that much. I find a number of people are agreeable to the deal; BUT with conditions. I’ve also heard a couple of whispers that if the MDC did not have something up their sleeve, they wouldn’t have signed. This remains to be seen.

Could it be that possibly the only way of ousting a tyrant is to do it from the inside?

Can this be the moment?

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Wednesday, September 17th, 2008 by Bev Reeler

Mtunzini in September

We sat on the shores of the Indian ocean
watching the sun rise over the sea and set over distant Zululand hills
we walked the dune forest
fruit filled, bird sung, butterfly danced

walking the edge
between earth and ocean

time to sit still enough
to listen
to the silence
through which we learn the changing voice of the sea
hear it moulded by the wind
called back and forth by the moon
shaped by the lie of the land

We came home slowly
through rural Zululand
through mountains made of ancient larval flows
we sat on the edge of gorges
cutting vertically through time
calling memories of billions of years ago

witnessing something wider than the angst  of our souls

Coming home
10 September

It was 39 degrees at the bridge in the afternoon
so we decided to wait and cross early next morning
and stopped in the Soutpansberg mountains
listening to the news from Zimbabwe

Talk of the agreement to be signed?
compromises being made?
power sharing?

the Zimbabwean way . . .

The South Africans were cleaning up their border post
collecting rubbish, scrubbing walls
but the surly silence of the immigration and customs officials
(who were on a ‘go slow’ )
and the rudeness of the guard at the gate to the bridge
left a sour taste as we drove across the Limpopo

. . . into the strangely organized chaos
of the litter-strewn, dust-shimmering Zimbabwean border post

‘Welcome home’

despite the heat and noise and money changing and confusion
the immigration officer is smiling
‘today is a good day’

The armed policeman at the road block outside Beit Bridge
signal us on with cheerful wave
down the potholed, edge-tilting road to Harare
watching endless miles of bush unravelling

People we see walk slowly between villages
listless and thin

I find some muffins packed for our breakfast
and hand them to two small thin children wandering down the side of the road
In the rear view mirror we watch as they run excitedly to distant huts
- home to share this meagre bounty!

A small group of children are getting out of the back of a truck
and as it drives on, they laugh and dance and clap hands with glee
‘we got a lift!’

And I am glad to be back home
to witness the spirit of my people

Full Moon – 15th September

It has been done . . .
the agreement has be signed
the two leaders have spoken to the nation
one of ‘the depths of his hope for the future, running deeper than his scars of the suffering of the past, of the healing’
and the other about ‘enemies’ and ‘sovereignty’ and ‘the evil of colonialism’

and somewhere between these positions
a new way begins

and the Zimbabweans ask
‘can this be the moment?
. . . can it be that the fear is gone?
that background angst?
the possibility of imprisonment ?
even torture?
the constant silencing?’

. . . for loss of money and water and electricity are overshadowed by comparison

but today it feels strange
like an old habitual response to ‘authority’
a frisson of distrust
- there will have to be a re-learning
that we are free to disagree without being harmed

even this moment is done the Zimbabwean way
no instant singing and celebration in the streets
but a questioning –
‘what does this mean?’

can we speak of our lives?
tell our stories?
come home from foreign countries?
will we own what we earn?
can we start the healing?

I hung our name plate back on the gate – after 5 years
reclaiming our right to live openly
in our home

the fig trees are flushing and the paradise flycatcher has arrived back from Zaire
the planet is turning,
and the southern hemisphere begins to show its face to the sun
and the full moon and Venus fill the evening with light

Zimbabweans text their views to Kubatana

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Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 by Natasha Msonza

Today at Kubatana we sent an SMS to our subscribers asking them what they think about this new deal. We wanted to be able to get a sense of what Zimbabweans are feeling and what they understand about the provisions of the agreement. We got some touching responses, some of which are below:

Real governing powers for MDC. No to cosmetic executive powers!

The agreement is a sad death of democracy & why vote when people can talk. I don’t think we’ll ever have confidence in any election in this country again.

As long as Mugabe does not believe that he is the cause of all the problems and repents, it is not going to work.

We want a working union but those who committed crimes should be brought to book.

Its like mixing fresh & rotten fish but the country has suffered so long maybe it will be better for us.

I think it could soften the blow of the sanctions coz I’m sure most foreign leaders are more than willing to deal with Morgie.

They should not allow Mugabe to retain the powers that he used to torture, kill and traumatize the masses between 29 March and 27 June thereby depriving us of democracy. Our fight 4 the past 9 yrs has been about democracy. So if R.G retains those powers, it’s a raw deal.

I hope the deal will hold & stop the suffering of the general populace.

That’s a good move for a change into a better future.

Ahoy Mr. Prime Minister Ahoy!!!! Congratulations to Mr. MT 4 doing it, now Zimbabwe can be on its feet again. Our hope has been revived now we can look 4ward.

As long the agreement serves the interests of the people and the paves way for free and fair elections in a period they agreed then its okay.

Nothing wrong with the deal but should consider change of the constitution b4 anything and implement what is in the agreement.

It’s the beginning of a long process of exiting Zanu pf, lets accept the deal, we will get there.

Well since it came after extensive consultation, l believe something positive is in the making.

Contemplating change

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Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 by Brenda Burrell

My brother phoned me last night to find out if there was dancing in the streets in Harare following the agreement signed yesterday between Zanu (PF) and the two MDC formations. I was taken aback to realise that I hadn’t given any thought to celebrating the deal. I am an avowed optimist, but celebrating now just seems premature.

Having had a chance to look through the agreement I’ll readily concede that it lays the ground for exciting and positive change. The trouble is that very few of us trust ANY of the signatories or political parties involved. Civil society has been excluded from the process and we have good reason to worry about the ability of the political formations to co-operate. I’m also concerned that they will collude to keep themselves safe from public scrutiny by leaving obnoxious legislation intact.

For any of this ‘inclusive governance’ to impact and be measured on the ground, we need to mobilise around the country to make sure that EVERYONE understands the letter of this agreement. People have experienced so much brutalisation at the hands of petty partisan enforcers and this has to stop.

Since politicians are notoriously self-serving, we need to keep them all honest from the start. If development aid starts to flow back into Zimbabwe we want to deal swiftly with corruption and make sure that the population at large benefits ahead of well-connected politicians and business people.

What measures do you think should be taken to ensure Zimbabweans around the country benefit from the agreement’s contents?


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Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 by Amanda Atwood

Zanu yaora Baba . . . Zanu yaora Baba . . . .” It’s the middle of the night, the 25th of June 2000. I’m in a car full of MDC activists and we’re careening through the streets of Harare, singing our lungs out, high on the promise of a Parliamentary election in which the MDC, barely nine months old, might just win the majority of elected seats. As it turned out, we were close but not quite. And the giddy optimism that, just maybe, we could put Zimbabwe back on the path to democracy in a matter of months, not years or decades, proved hollow.

Eight years, four elections, untold campaigns, and uncountable political-broken-heart moments later, I’m older, wiser, and a bit more jaded about the whole process. So when Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and Robert Mugabe signed their agreement on “resolving the challenges facing Zimbabwe” yesterday, I have to confess to no small amount of cynicism.

But, thinking that it was perhaps unfair of me to be so suspicious of a moment where so many were finding hope, I decided to take my cynicism to the streets and have a look around. I’ve long said that I will know that Zimbabwe is on the right track again when Harare’s Seventh Street – the road past State House – is no longer closed after dark. So I was disappointed, last night, to find it still barricaded, and I’ve been thinking about things like attachment, expectations, and anticlimax.

Speaking with others on my street, the general mood was “let’s wait and see.” So I’m taking their advice and doing my level best to reserve my judgement until we see how things pan out. But I’m sceptical about a power-sharing agreement, particularly about one that seems simply to have expanded the size of the Cake of National Elite so that everyone can have a slice. And I’m wondering how is it all going to work. Where will Morgan sleep as Prime Minister? Will he move into Zimbabwe House, over the road from Bob? The Zimbabwe I dream of is one without any head of state motorcade – not two. And I’m waiting for the Zimbabwe without any head of state portraits on the walls – not two.

In the past few months, we’ve asked Zimbabweans what they think about a Government of National Unity, and what changes they’d like to see in a New Zimbabwe. Once the country starts making progress towards these issues, I’ll know it’s time to celebrate.