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MPs should lead by example

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Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 by Sophie Zvapera

I will start by wishing the new ministers in the inclusive government success in every effort they take to stop Zimbabwe from hemorrhaging and rescue the economy from the continuous slide into the abyss.

I am already touched by the Minster of Education, Sports and Culture’s honest assertion that the government is broke and therefore cannot afford to pay civil servants, especially teachers, anything above USD100. He should be applauded for being honest. However I want to ask the entire cabinet where they are going to get the money to pay the 71 minsters and deputies and buy them cars, furnish and staff their offices? Why is it that the civil servants have to wait to be paid adequately but at the same time we have not heard that the minsters are not going to stop getting their perks for one month until government gets the necessary funds?

Can they lead by example and start by tightening their belts themselves by trimming all the unnecessary perks with effect from the end of this month? This can be done by avoiding buying mercs for all the ministers for example but perhaps this might be too late because already the MDC would want to miss the gravy train I wonder?

The MDC as a workers’ party should understand that our children have missed out on a whole year because teachers were on strike – all they are asking for is a decent living wage. I thought the MDC would look at the civil servants’ plight and give them a decent living wage because USD100 is not enough to pay for a passport, rent, electricity and school fees which is between USD100 – 250 in some of these cheap government schools. So if a teacher who is a graduate cannot even earn a salary that is enough to send just one child to school what does that say for all of us? We do not want to see a repeat of the same behaviour and uncaring attitude from the government as was the norm with ZANU PF.

But already this government is so bloated that the taxpayer including civil servants are going to carry this heavy burden while their plight is shelved for later.

Where are the women?

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Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 by Sophie Zvapera

As each day comes and goes since the decision by the MDC to participate in the inclusive government a lot of things have been happening and they are happening really fast if I may say. However, when I look at the list of ministers that Prime Minister Tsvangirai has given the question that I ask is where are the women in your cabinet sir? Only two out of 13? Is this how the equality and equity value of your party is translated into action? Secondly, Theresa Makone as the MDC Women’s Assembly Chairwoman is this the best that our party could allocate to all the women of the MDC? I am sorry to say that before this government has even gone into office you have really failed us the women of Zimbabwe who voted, suffered, were raped, maimed and killed for the struggle.

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.

We are a people in limbo

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Friday, January 16th, 2009 by Sophie Zvapera

Zimbabweans where ever they are and what ever they are doing are a people who do not know what tomorrow holds for them.

You do not know whether to wake up expecting a heavy military and police presence in all the streets of Harare and all other major towns, or to wake up to the information that a mother and her two-year-old son have been abducted.

You are not sure of whether your colleague, church mate or neighbour will be alive tomorrow due to cholera, starvation or some such evil that might easily befall them over night.

In Zimbabwe you wake up not knowing whether there will be power, water to drink or food to eat. You just wake up because it is dawn but you have no plans for tomorrow! What kind of a life is that?

In Zimbabwe we wait and we do not know whether schools, colleges and universities will open this year. We also do not know whether teachers, lecturers and all workers will go back to work so that the education system can function. My friend awaits her son’s Grade 7 and her daughter’s O level results not knowing whether they will ever get their results and will those results be theirs or someone else’s? We wait anxiously, hoping against hope that one day she will have those results.

Others decided to leave Zimbabwe and look for a better life but no sooner had they left did they find that they are also in limbo in South Africa not knowing whether they will be able to get any legal papers or not. The situation is not any better in the UK. While the UK government has said it will stop deporting Zimbabweans for the time being, those applying for asylum cannot work and they wait in limbo not knowing what will happen to their future. Whether they will get their papers or not. What does tomorrow hold for them?

And the families that are left behind. They all wait for either their mum or dad to come back or to take them and start a new life in any country where one or both their parents would have managed to settle down. So where ever they are, generally Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, are in a limbo waiting for the time when they will be able to freely come back home.

The question is when will this be? Some are really desperate to come back home but at the moment they cannot dare think of it and all they can do is hope.

So how long do we have to wait in limbo before we get respite? Zimbabweans have hope but you also say for how long are we going to keep on hoping because to cap it all, politically we are in a paralysis, making us all comatose.