Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Sanctions meet streetwise commonsense

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I was in Gwanda the weekend when the anti-petitions roadshow was in town with “party youths” in full swing enjoying alfresco rides in party trucks busy risking life and limb. I found long distance commuter omnibus drivers mad as hell as they had been forcibly removed by police from their usual pick-up points because – the drivers were told – they were interfering with people who were heading to the open space where the signatures were being collected. As we sat in the kombi impatiently waiting for it to fill up, the irascible driver could not stop complaining about “how unfree” Zimbabweans still are despite independence. Siyahawula elizweni leli. Abantu laba bafuna senzeni nxa singafuni ukuyasayina? Akusamelanga sisebenze? (We are suffering in this country. What do these people want us to do if we do not want to go and sign? Are we not supposed to work?) . . . the driver complained and it went and on and on. Then one chap who had been silently sitting, lost in his reverie suddenly said: Ungatshiswa lilanga usiyasayinela ukuthi omunye umuntu ahambe amzweni? (How can anyone stand the scorching sun just to sign something so that someone may travel overseas). That was how he understood all the ruckus about petitioning America and Britain to lift sanctions “that are hurting ordinary Zimbabweans.” It somewhat captured the mood among some people about this latest crusade to garner the support of ordinary folk ahead of elections. And obviously it would be asked if the people of Matebeleland who have suddenly become favourites of Newsnet vox pox understand the gibberish they are made to utter on national television about how sanctions are affecting their lives. The other day a bloke in Plumtree speaking in SiNdebele spoke about the removal of sanctions as if they were something that had been left at the border that needed urgent removal and one couldn’t help laugh out loud but still be ashamed at how the intelligence of rural folk was being mocked by the anti-sanctions lobby. It suspiciously looks like these Newsnet hacks simply persuade these obviously unsophisticated folks to stand in front of the camera “and say anything against sanctions” but the result is clumsy propaganda. You come to understand that old cynicism that if you tell a lie for a long time you sure end up believing it to be true, and many wish to be around to see the anti-sanctions propaganda turned against its sponsors.

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