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Archive for January, 2009

Desperation and politics in Zimbabwe

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Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 by Bev Clark

Having just read Amanda’s blog, so aptly titled Operation Flip Flop, I wanted to remind her about this recent quote from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)

The mistake that Zanu-PF is making is to imagine that we are desperate to be in the government. We are not in a hurry to be chauffeur-driven. We are a people-driven party. ~ Nelson Chamisa National Spokesperson for MDC

Operation Flip Flop continues

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Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 by Amanda Atwood

My colleague walked into the office and announced that Morgan Tsvangirai is to be sworn in as Prime Minister on 11 February. He’d heard it on the state radio this morning.

Surprised, we checked the news. One story confirmed what he’d heard – but the headline was curious: SADC agrees on Zim unity govt. That’s great if SADC agrees on what Zimbabwe should do. But what has Zimbabwe agreed Zimbabwe should do?

The international press was less convincing. Reuters says Opposition disappointed with summit – and reports that the MDC says the conclusions “fall far short of our expectations,” and that they’ll meet this weekend to think about it. CNN reckons  Conflicting reports blur Zimbabwe deal and reports that the MDC says its “concerns remained unresolved.” So what is going on? According to CNN:

A source close to the talks said Tsvangirai agreed to all the decisions that the SADC made, but that other MDC leaders were unhappy with the agreement once he left the talks.

So does Operation Flip Flop continue? Will the MDC continue to waffle its way through these negotiations – when the very notion of negotiating with an entrenched and recalcitrant dictator is absurd.

A comment on our blog reads “Mugabe and Tsvangarai ‘working together’ was never a realistic or desirable outcome. Tsvangarai shouldn’t be working with Mugabe, because Mugabe is not capable of sharing power.” I agree with the theory of that. But unfortunately, as another colleague just pointed out, Tsvangirai is more desperate than Mugabe – desperate enough that he’s willing to negotiate in the first place.

Bobby looks for advice on his new wife

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Monday, January 26th, 2009 by Bev Clark

Dr Alex Magaisa looks for laughs, and takes a completely different tack from the usual political commentators, in this recent piece on the Government of National Unity (GNU). Bobby, an 84, soon to be 85 year old  man writes to Aunt Rhoda, Zimbabwe’s resident agony aunt, for some advice on his September marriage and how to deal with his new wife.

Letter to Aunt Rhoda

Dear Aunt Rhoda,

I am an 84 year old man, soon to be 85 and desperately need your help as I’m am going through a very sticky patch.

After an on-off relationship and a tempestuous courtship, I finally married my girlfriend in September 2008, a mere two months after our engagement. I had to get it done quickly before she could entertain a change of mind, as has happened before, to my extreme discomfort.

It was a beautiful wedding, presided over by a long standing and loyal friend who flew all the way from South Africa. It was right that he be there, as he had been forced to call upon his powers during the latter period of the courtship. However, problems re-emerged on the very night of the wedding, when my new bride indicated that she was not ready to join the matrimonial home. She insisted on extensive renovations and comprehensive clean-up of the household to ensure that she would have total control of the all maters to do with the home. I appreciate that in my time (and at 84 it’s been long) I have entertained different types but I thought she would use her vantage position as vahosi (the wife-in-chief) to do all she wanted upon her arrival in the house. Her reaction was an unpleasant surprise that caused me enormous shame and humiliation among my peers.

Normally, I would have dispensed with her company there and then. The trouble is I desperately need this woman at this point in my life. She is the bridge between the looming penury that I face and the greener pastures that only her company can provide, although this is a fact that I will not admit publicly. My business empire is crumbling and I stand to lose everything, so I have had to literally beg her. I have tried to put some pressure through my usual tried and tested ways but this has, so far, yielded nothing. Absolutely nothing but pain and sleepless nights! I have to admit that I am in the biggest fix of my life.

I am very sure that my new wife loves me otherwise she would not have put that signature on the marriage certificate. This much I know because her parents, my new in-laws absolutely hate me. They did not even attend the wedding. They have never liked me one bit and think that I am old and tired. The reality, auntie, is that even though I’m 84, I consider myself a ‘young old man’. I don’t see myself appealing to the walking stick any time soon and I am fitter than a 30 year old. Her friends have not been helpful; in fact, some of them are just consumed by envy and jealousy so all they do feed her lies about me. Just recently she spent two months ensconced at one of her friends’ home. That friend is one of those unmarried types who have never been seen in male company and I fear she might cause my new wife to do a ‘cross-over’ (you know what I mean auntie) and do all those things that even pigs dare not attempt. It is that fear which fills me with real rage and I have had to exercise the greatest patience to restrain myself.

Auntie, my new wife is not exactly in the build or looks of Cleopatra nor is she a female version of Einstein when it comes to the intellect and I thought she had done a wonderful thing to accept my favour. If she did not have those bags of silver and gold, I very much doubt that any man, let alone I, would look twice at her. But I want her to know that I love her very dearly. In fact, her hard-to-get antics have caused me to value her very dearly. What I cannot do however, to confide in you auntie, is to display this affection too publicly and to be seen to be publicly grovelling for her company. As a man of my stature I have to maintain my dignity by not publicly conceding to all her demands. I have too many friends and hangers-on who might think I have lost my power – for it this power that I have applied to maintain my personal empire. If they think I have lost my power, my new wife could face very difficult times ahead because even I will not be able to give her the comfort and protection that she will need.

So, auntie, I want her to know that all she needs to do is to come into the matrimonial home and as soon as she is here she can do madiro akamba (whatever she pleases!). My friends and village elders have tried to persuade her but tete, arikutsika madziro (she remains adamant) zvekuti ndatopererwa ini (I am really stuck). I need whatever help you can give, even if it means you coming round to use your renowned powers of persuasion. Please, auntie – I await your response; I will be checking my email every two minutes.



P/S I should also mention that we have a child together (we had her before marriage). The trouble is this child of ours has been fed wrong information about me and she, too, now hates me with a passion. To be disliked by your old child, auntie? It hurts!

Aunt Rhoda Replies:

Dear Bobby

Yours is a most unusual situation, Bobby and I can see that you are desperate. But you also sound like a man who is overpowered by his own arrogance. You say you love your new wife but if that is the case, why don’t you just be humble and accept her demands? After all she is going to be your wife, she will cook for you and share the matrimonial bed for life and, quite frankly, looking at the demographics that is not likely to be too long even though you prefer to describe yourself a ‘young old man’. Whatever that means, accept that you are old and as it is your arrogance is causing you to waste precious time. By the time she agrees, you might find that you will be unable to provide all that a young bride wants and she might end up finding other company, something that is sure to cause you ever greater heartache.

Forget about her parents or her friends and accept that it is your responsibility and if anything is wrong, it is purely your fault. You say you have a child together and that she hates you but again you blame it on others. Look yourself in the mirror Bobby, perhaps you have not exactly been the model dad to your child? With the pride you personally confess in your letter, I would not be surprised but you still want to offload all responsibility to others. That is your biggest vice.

Give your wife and child the respect they deserve and they might begin to warm towards you. The problem is you seem to be in the relationship for the wrong reasons; for convenience, to put it starkly and if that is the case, then she is right to worry about your intentions.

My advice is, be honest, be man enough to admit your mistakes and give your new wife what she wants. After all, you seem to be the one who needs her most.


Aunt Rhoda

Author’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Persons named in this work do not exist, even if circumstances mirror any real life situations that readers may know, honest!

Call in queer

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Monday, January 26th, 2009 by Bev Clark

If homosexuality is a disease, let’s all call in queer to work: “Hello. Can’t work today, still queer”.
- Robin Tyler, American lesbian activist

Read about Obama’s plans to address the discrimination against members of the gay and lesbian community here.

We are the key to the solution not SADC

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Monday, January 26th, 2009 by Sophie Zvapera

Currently the debate on the Zimbabwwe crisis is centred around SADC, AU and Mbeki being inefficient, unhelpful or pliant to Mugabe and people calling at some point for the AU, UN and a new mediator to take the quest for the resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis forward.

On various fora, oral or written and through various news outlet channels there are several statements calling on SADC, AU, Montlanthe or someone to put more muscle, to have more teeth and to be more robust in trying to unlock the political logjam.

In frustration we have called SADC and AU toothless, hopeless and a huge let down yet in the same vein we then ask SADC or the AU to come up with a better strategy in the next attempt. Every time this does not happen we curse, rant, swear and wait for another summit.

For me I think there is nothing that the SADC, AU, UN, Montlanthe or anyone for that matter, can do to force Mugabe and Tsvangirai to work together if these two are not committed to working together. Even if SADC has a summit on Zimbabwe each week it will not help our cause unless these two leaders agree to work together in some way. At the moment they have not as yet found each other and they are busy drifting far apart as each day passes yet they have been negotiating amongst themselves for over two years now.

So let us not hope that the forthcoming SADC meeting will spring a miracle wand which will be a panacea to all our problems.

These two men should do some soul searching on their own before the next summit and decide whether they want to work together in some way or just forget about it and fight their own battles elsewhere on another platform.

We are tired of hearing the “we are committed to the GNU” mantra because if there was enough commitment  there should be some convergence of some sort. There is no point in going to these summits when you know you have not moved an inch from your old position and expect only one person to move while you continue digging in. If there was enough political will and commitment from both sides by now we would have a government in place.

Let us not be fooled by what these leaders say in public, it is meant to be in tune with what they know we want to hear but the truth is currently we are at a point where there is so much political grand standing and point scoring with none of the two wanting to shift their position. Why then call on SADC, AU, UN or someone to come up with a solution when we know deep down we do not want this GNU to work and leave the room only to come up with statements that lay the blame on others and not ourselves as a people?

The essence of negotiating is so we establish friendship where there was enmity, yet day in day out in Zimbabwe we are exuding high levels of intolerance and we expect an agreement to come out of these SADC summits.

Until these two men, their party structures and followers find it within themselves to work together for the common good then we might as well forget about this agreement and stop blaming everyone else but ourselves.

Give us the Plan B (please)

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Monday, January 26th, 2009 by Sophie Zvapera

The Global Political Agreement (GPA) is in a coma on a life saving machine and I am sure Zimbabweans are tired of the sound from the life support machines. We are requesting that someone between Mugabe and Tsvangirai pull the plug so we can cry, grieve and bury the GPA (read Zimbabwe) but at least move on with our lives towards our graves in one way or another. I am putting this request because I am tired of hoping. My mother in Buhera has told me at 84 she is tired and hopeless. My church mates have told me they no longer want to discuss politics anymore because they are tired. My husband has said he is alright with me doing anything to keep the Zimbabwe crisis on the radar but I should just not talk to him about it because he is tired of hoping. All my friends have said to me they too are tired of hoping. So can someone please pull the plug and stop this political rigmarole and sentence the entire Zimbabwean population to death because after this there is no hope of achieving any resolution at all to the Zimbabwean crisis.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai do you want to tell the whole world, especially Zimbabweans, that you have failed between the two of you to find a formula on how to work together for the greater good of the nation, the region and the whole world?

My second request is for both Mugabe and Tsvangirai to tell us of their Plan B if they have any. Mugabe has said he will go it alone which is the same as sending all Zimbabweans dead and alive to the grave at one go. As for Tsvangirai, the options are also limited according to the way I see it. If Mugabe surrenders in some way either Munangagwa, Mujuru or Chiwenga will spring from ZANU PF and the fight continues. There will be such a fight in ZANU PF around the succession issue that there will be so much bloodshed like we have never seen before. Chiwenga might try and pull off a coup but who wants a coup? Maybe new elections as some have proffered. How do you call for the elections? Where will ZANU PF have gone for us to be able to call for UN supervised elections? How will the UN intervene? Military intervention? Iraq and Afghanistan? Transitional Authority? How do you arrive at one when ZANU PF is in office?

Can someone tell me how you are going to be able to get rid of ZANU PF as an obstacle when we have failed to remove it for the past decade or so through elections, sanctions and any such struggle? I want to rally my friends, my church mates and everyone around me as long as there is a clear well defined and sustainable Plan B because otherwise I fear that in the forthcoming struggles for democracy the opposition will be all alone as people have just lost hope.

Motivate us around Plan B so that when you give a clarion call we can act accordingly.