Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for January, 2009

Schools out

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 by Dennis Nyandoro

Having last attended school some time in 2008, many school-going children have turned into vendors, seen by the roadside, shop verandahs, and in car parks selling their wares ranging from airtime, roasted maize, tomatoes, cabbages, stationery, fish.  They are even seen working in the fields in exchange for either food or these precious US dollar notes. With no government in place in Zimbabwe, more and more children and teachers are struggling to survive.

2008 was unofficially declared a non-academic year, affecting pupils progression to the next grade or to tertiary institutions. This year 2009 surprised us again by a further postponement of the opening of the first term of school. This is really a challenge to the nation as it is grooming thugs, robbers and criminals by not addressing these issues to get children back to school and have their right to education.

In short, 2008 is not over yet, as we are still where we were at last year.

We are an unarmed people under siege

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 by Natasha Msonza

When are the great majority of Zimbabwean people going to take some responsibility for what they are allowing to happen to them and get off their backsides and do something about it for themselves? I am fed up of the whinging and lack of action coming out of Zimbabwe. Other countries in the same position have fought their oppressors. Yes, it has cost lives and caused hardship but they have eventually overthrown the oppressive regime controlling them. Zimbabweans are not even prepared to organise “a day on the streets” or any other civil unrest in case they get hurt or arrested. This is not the way to change things. For goodness sake get out there and fight for your basic freedoms whatever it may cost you in the short-term. Mugabe relies on your inaction to retain his power and day after day, week after week, month after month you let him get away with it. Why? Only a few brave souls raise their heads above the parapet and so are easily picked off. Get behind Jestina and here ilk, follow them, and give them support. Protest as never before when people are abducted, when a two year old is incarcerated, when people are tortured. Do something about it; Let Mugabe know it is not acceptable. For God’s sake, and your own, do something to get Mugabe’s attention and indeed that of the whole world. Stand up and fight like people who want their freedom. Don’t rely on others. – Ken, UK

The above is a comment on an article by David Coltart.

I thought the author was right and he was also wrong – if it is at all possible to be right and wrong at the same time. What I do know deep in my heart is that some things are easier said than done. And if you’ve never had to survive under a dictatorship, you just don’t know what the hell you are talking about. Because you just can’t fathom that the non existence of democracy entails a lot of things including that you cant just up and make a noise faced with bullets and a real disregard for human life. You also have no idea that dictators are practically untouchable, at least by the ordinary citizen. Here in Zimbabwe they move in kilometer long motorcades and their functionaries are armed to the teeth and ready to kill anything that moves within a short distance from the dictator.

Zimbabweans got off their backsides and actually did something, which was to vote. Mugabe disrespected the will of the people and is intent on staying in power until “only God removes him”. Activists have peacefully taken to the streets and the police have descended like tons of bricks. Understandably, people now fear for their lives.

Do something to get his attention? You bet the guy knows he’s the most unwanted person right now. He is also aware of the fact that hunger and cholera are wiping out whole communities of this nation. If someone can be aware of all that and still remain indifferent, what more do you think ordinary citizens can do? This indifference is our biggest challenge.

I also wish to relay the fact that Zimbabwe is going through what OCHA describes as a “complex emergency.” According to OCHA, a complex emergency is a “humanitarian crisis in a country, region or society where there is total or considerable breakdown of authority resulting from internal or external conflict and which requires an international response”. I think this means in essence that when a state has collapsed and its citizens’ livelihoods are gravely threatened it becomes the obligation of the regional and international community to intervene. Hopefully the world has learned a few lessons from Rwanda, Darfur and Uganda’s Idi Amin.

We are an unarmed people under siege.

“I don’t accept Zimbabwean dollars, sorry.”

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Wednesday, January 21st, 2009 by Bev Clark

Esther (not her real name) writes a regular diary for the BBC about her life in Harare. Her latest blog discusses Grace Mugabe, the fear of speaking out, dollarisation, Obama and that her “hope in politicians has gone”.

When you vote, you should get a result

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Wednesday, January 21st, 2009 by Bev Clark

Yesterday I spoke to a woman who lives in Harare and earns a living as a domestic worker. She told me that if there is another election she won’t bother going to vote because when you vote you should get a result. Even though she and a lot of her friends have been staunch MDC supporters, she says that Morgan Tsvangirai is being criticised on the ground for “running away”. She views life through a relatively simple lens; in Botswana Tsvangirai can eat, here in Zimbabwe, millions of ordinary Zimbabweans can’t. She talked about too many people dying from either cholera, or hunger. And that people are responding to cholera like they once did, or still do, to AIDS, with fear and alarm, believing that someone who has died from cholera will make them sick too. So a body will remain where it falls until someone brave enough comes along to remove the corpse.

Change in pork sausages

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Wednesday, January 21st, 2009 by Bev Clark

Instead of relying on inspirational quotes from famous people someone I know gets her friends and guests to give her their quotations sharing their view of the world. Then she puts them up on her fridge. She sent me a long list of quotes yesterday, together with this story she’d heard:

A friend visiting from Australia came to see me after Christmas. She told me how the family bought the Christmas hams; and this provides a brilliant example of just how creative we have become in Zimbabwe, and what constitutes ‘normal’ financial transactions. They transferred £ from a UK account to Mukuru.com, where it was used to purchase fuel coupons. The family collected these at an office in Harare and proceeded to Colcom, where the coupons were translated into ‘units of pig’. They bought their hams, and at the check out, the teller informed them of the amount and that Colcom owed them change. However, as there was a shortage of Zimbabwe notes and no small denomination US$ notes, the teller instead offered them two pork sausages! (In ‘normal’ countries, suggesting change in pork sausages would result in calls for men in white coats).

Tea time

del.icio.us TRACK TOP
Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 by Bev Clark

I’ve just come back from a visit to Dr Paul, my dentist. Thankfully this morning there was power so I didn’t have to worry about any drilling being interrupted. After my injection I lay back and gazed at a big tiger fish mounted on his wall, its teeth bared to the world. Unlike me the creature has (had) a fine set of pearlies. To make conversation (I like to get on the right side of a dentist) I asked Dr Paul how long it had taken to land the fish seeing as it looked like quite a big buggar. He snorted and and said 10 minutes. On my way back to the office I saw Zimbabweans waiting in queues in TM supermarket clutching US$1 notes. And I saw Zimbabwean bank notes, or bearer cheques, whatever you want to call them, floating in dirty puddles outside Barclays Bank. Too useless to use.