Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Not much has changed

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Morgan Tsvangirai was heckled off the stage at an address in the UK recently. Many people are saying thats a good thing. Slowly but surely criticism has been building about MT’s glib comments on land invasions as well as his rather too chummy embracing of the man who ruined Zimbabwe: Mugabe that is, in case anyone had any doubt.

Of course I can see why MT is urging Zimbabweans to come home and rebuild the country. We are sorely bereft of new energy and creative ideas, those of us left here have in our many and varied ways, taken a battering. Which is not to say that life in the Diaspora is a bowl of cherries with Zimbabweans working sometimes 3 jobs to keep themselves and their relatives back home afloat on remittances – also known as the Diasporan Pension Scheme.

But asking Zimbabweans to come back home is rather premature in my book. MT might be flush with optimism in his small house position as PM but in reality whilst the supermarkets might be full, the prices are high and the majority of Zimbabweans are unemployed. Schools might be open but they’re teetering on the verge of closure. The media environment is backward and repressive. The list is pretty much endless but MT seems to be ignoring the fact that on the ground, where his feet clearly are not planted, not much has changed.

But at Kubatana we get a variety of opinion of all shades and spirit and I quite liked how passionate Arkmore wrote about MT’s recent booing in the UK. He emailed us a piece entitled Backward Diasporans . . . here’s Arkmore

I was part of the group that attended Prime Ministers address at Southwark Cathedral, London, on 20 June 2009. The Diasporas were not impressive. They are still politically backward.

They viewed the Prime Minister as an opposition leader, and therefore expected him to deliver an opposition speech, which he didn’t. In fact, an MDC rally than a Prime Ministers address was envisioned. He was expected to lambast President Mugabe; denounce state institutions such as the police and the absence of the so called rule of law. In particular, they expected him to say: ‘stay here in the UK; things are still bad in Zimbabwe’. The Prime Minister said none of the above.

On the contrary, he nicely persuaded Diasporas to go home and help in rebuilding Zimbabwe.  Most do not want to hear this. They tend to scratch for negatives and ‘but’ to justify their stay. When the Prime Minister told them basic commodities are now available and schools are now open, they said: ‘but’ they are not affordable.  When he said the security situation in now almost conducive for reconstruction, they said: ‘but’ Dr Mushonga was beaten!

Violence should not be condoned, but whenever there is a transition, there are always unruly elements that oppose it. Zimbabwe, like any other country, is diverse and cannot be expected to be as peaceful as heaven. Recently, there were attacks on Romanians in Northern Ireland, but I don’t think a native Irish could claim asylum in any country because there is ‘no rule of law’ in Northern Ireland. There are situations that can be ‘part of life’ for some time, but would be swallowed by the evolutionary processes. The inconvenient truth is that sporadic waves of violence in Zimbabwe are no longer powerful enough to justify our staying in Diaspora!

Of course, some Diasporas are no longer interested in going back to Zimbabwe. Their stay – visa and asylum applications – is based on ‘violence’ in Zimbabwe. There are also psychological and social challenges.   The Diaspora wave of early 2000, forced many to sell their assets – houses, household goods and vehicles – to obtain capital for new life in the UK.  Expectations were high: well paying jobs enabling asset rebuilding back home, or even double the initial.

This has not been the case. Jobs are not easy to find here. Besides, UK is a capitalist country and what a worker gets is just slightly above subsistence.  How then do we expect someone who sold everything that he or she owned in Zimbabwe to go back empty handed? It’s just embarrassing! Even if they agree to go back, there is no life starting formula.

As the Prime Minister rightly puts it, a revolution did not take off, and the only way out of Zimbabwean crisis is through an evolutionary process, namely the GNU. This may not be easily acceptable to Diasporas mainly because they have participated in and probably read about the Zimbabwean struggle, but many did not and are not feeling and experiencing it.  It has been, and is still, a painful process, with loss of limbs and lives, which challenges us to utilise this rare opportunity.

One comment to “Not much has changed”

  1. Comment by tc:

    Dear Prime Minister Tsvangirai
    If I go back, will I be welcomed? Who by?
    Will I hear speeches desiring my bones to be fed to the vultures? Will I fear physical violence?
    Will I hear lies or truth? Will the reality the politicians speak of be the reality I perceive?
    Will I finally get a job which allows me to use my considerable skills? Which is not alienating, which will allow me to give of myself? Will I feel socially useful?
    Will I earn enough to live?
    Will I feel trapped in a small city where people’s conversation is constricted and oppressed by frustration and the omnipresence of politics?
    Will there be a doctor to attend to me when I’m ill?
    Where will I live? Will I have a beautiful dog, and will I never wonder what will become of it?
    What will my old age be like? Like my mother’s – wondering at 65 what the hell is going to happen and should she leave and where to?
    Will I ever get my passport back?
    Will the victims of violence and its perpetrators past and present ever be named?