Friday, 28 November 2008

The Elders: Son and daughter, whose work are you doing?

The Elders: Son and daughter, whose work are you doing?

I open this week’s instalment with an excerpt from a well-known Ghanaian writer, Ayi Kwei Armah. A child of Takoradi and a graduate of the legendary Achimota College, Armah proceeded to Harvard and Columbia where he ate more and bigger book, until his forehead bulged with knowledge.

Later, he came back home, loaded and ready to share his knowledge with the rest of Africa. He walked the four regions of the continent, including Southern Africa, where he taught literature in Lesotho.

A great storyteller, Armah’s best known novels include The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, Why Are We So Blest, Two Thousand Seasons and The Healers. All of them have become classics of African literature, and one cannot pretend to have read African literature without going through them. To the title, Armah grapples with the abiding theme of imperialism, both in its classical colonial form, as well as in its post-independence subtle sequel: neo-colonialism. His treatment of both epochs can be unremittingly bitter and negative, but without being hopeless.

He excoriates Africa for its astounding folly, for its seemingly overwhelming venality. But he is careful to retain and cultivate hope. True, for Armah the beautiful ones may not be born yet, but they will be born, some day. True, Africa has to live through two thousand seasons of gruel, but for Armah, the other thousand years relate to a slow, painful rebirth, indeed to an excruciating journey back to "the way". And of course the fact that Africa can now ask itself why it has been such a favoured object of Europe’s destructive seduction, means she is beginning to awaken, beginning to outlive her folly, indeed beginning to peer beyond her enveloping bondage in order to catch the beckoning glimpse of freedom’s shores. Africa, Armah would say, has now found its "healers" who are ready and able to take it back to its way, "the way". Armah presents hope — not fulsome, not extravagant — but judicious hope, guarded hope that never underestimates the much that has to be overcome, the much that has to be accomplished, before she slouches back to her heyday.

Two thousand seasons

Two Thousand Seasons from which I extract a portion is an epic on the massive violence that has been meted against Africa in her long and arduous journey towards self-redemption. The novel traces the gratuitous violence visited on the continent in the first and second wave of her invasion and conquest by marauding Arabs and European colonisers respectively.

His nuanced tracing of this crippling violence brings out his ever mounting indignation, often manifesting itself through vivid description of asymmetrical sexuality between the colonisers and their African women victims. Conquest raped, violated, ravished. In one such typical encounter, Armah narrates with sickening, detailed indignation the assault of mother Africa (literally) by Arab conquerors.

Overfed and dead drunk, these latitudinarian Arabs engage in unspeakable acts of the flesh, their dutiful African askaris loyally transfixed on perimeter guard, unconcerned, unmoved by the debilitating orgies suffered by their mothers and sisters trapped inside these dens of debauchery. Undefended by their men-folk and sons, who have been turned into dutiful askaris, the women have to device ways of defending themselves and liberating their people. They decide to play along, seemingly ready to gratify these drunken Arabs, many of pretended libido.

The day of infamy

A combination of drunkenness and imagined ecstasy throws the invaders off guard, allowing the violated women to take devastating revenge that leave scores butchered and dead. Of course the African askaris hear the mounting wails of dying Arabs trapped within. But they mistakenly attribute this cacophony of death to leaping multiple ecstasy for which their bosses are well renowned.

Until of course one clever askari realises that instead of the usual tapering grunts and groans of burnt out lustful joy, the noises on that particular day seemed to end too abruptly, never to be followed by the traditional heavy snores of a contented Arab. Perturbed and yet torn between care and dutiful compliance with an iron-clad instruction never to interrupt, he carefully opens the door only to see horrific death, all set against triumphant women petulantly admiring bloody, smoking daggers. He raises a wild alarm, whereupon his kind rush in to witness the horror.

Without further ado, the askaris fell upon the women with matchetes, dementedly hacking all to death by way of vengeance. The offending women of the village are slaughtered, including mothers, nieces, aunts, grandmothers, sisters and half-sisters of the attacking askaris. That day the sound of dying women echoed throughout the village, attracting the attention of the elderly, and even men who had gone to faraway forests for a hunt. First to arrive at the place of double carnage is old woman Nandi who cannot understand why the askaris are butchering women — their mothers — for dead masters. These women have done no more than liberate themselves from sexual predators. By killing the invaders, they have liberated their own children and communities, all along in captivity. But here were children of the village, hacking their mothers to death, seemingly to obey and fulfil orders masters, now thoroughly dead. What a bloody reflex from a slave!

A genuine elder’s question

Confounded by this sacrilege, old Nandi confronts the head askari, who happens to be son of her eldest daughter: "Son of my daughter, whose work are you doing? Look. Those who turned you killer, where are they? Look at them. That should have been your work: killing your people’s killers, destroying your people’s destroyers. You did not do it, the work of your life. Instead you chose the work of walking corpses, killing your own people. What could we say to you? We knew your masters.

They would have screamed at you to kill us all, and you would have obeyed them. But now look. There your masters lie. You can give them your obedience no more. They have been sent past its use. For whom then are you still killing your people? Son of my daughter, for whom?" She does not get an answer. What she gets instead is a fatal blow that splits her skull into halves, a blow that ensures she never asks again.

The askaris carry on with the carnage, until of course their long dead masters are thoroughly happy and pleased with their work. Or so they thought. Thereafter, they filed back, each mourning the death of his master, each fearful of a future now blank without the master’s orders.

Enter www.comtheelders

Only this last week Zimbabwe was forcibly scheduled to play host to a group calling itself wwwdotcomtheelders. Save for its stubbornness. Led by a famous Ghanaian called Kofi (Friday) Annan, this most kind group would have comprised America’s once-upon-a-time democratic president, Jimmy Carter, and Amai Graca Machel, once-upon-a-time wife of the legendary and feisty revolutionary and founding President of Mozambique, Cde Samora Moises Machel. Graca has since remarried — remarried to advantage — as her detractors would surely swear.

She is now Mrs Nelson Mandela, having ousted Winnie, the same way revolutionary Josina’s death turned her into Mrs Machel. I don’t need to know much about Jimmy Carter, except to quickly dismiss his claim that he supported Zimbabwe’s liberation. He never did. He never could. No American president would ever support Russian and Chinese-backed communists, which is what the Patriotic Front was in conventional American governing wisdom.

It is too early for America to begin to falsify our history. She has to wait until this generation passes. So these elders: one a thoroughbred American, two "Africans", were supposed to force a visit, having judged that Zimbabwe lacked elders, judged that she badly needed the wisdom that comes with age. And age and elderly status is what the three paraded as they sought to bless this nation of kindergartens, a nation led by one Robert Mugabe, a budding teenager of a mere 84 years!

Breaking through homesteads

Here were founts of wisdom, these our elders, who have seen much, travelled far, heard matters too heavy for the ordinary ear, during their individual and combined long stay on this earth. They have lived beyond anyone’s knowledge, these vaunted elders whose will and mission is never to be gainsaid. We do not need anyone’s permission to come to Zimbabwe, said one man-Friday Annan, stressing the infallibility of their collective wisdom, judgment and mission.

All we needed to do was to show the world that we care for the suffering in Zimbabwe, intoned the she-goat Graca, well infused with the grace of telescopic philanthropy. I am proud to be a partisan, added he, Carter, born of stripes and stars, detailing how mercilessly beaten by rains, afflicted by disease, gnawed by relentless hunger he was, as he traversed Rhodesia under arms, all to cause the arrival of a free Zimbabwe!

Whose elders, from which village?

Until some naughty village elder from Chinamora asked: "These elders you want to bring in, whose children are they? From which village do they come? Born which moon? Who cut their umbilical cord, to bury it where? What language do they speak? What is their totem? How come one of them is ashen? Whose son is he?" As if his mischief knew no measure, the elderly villager further asked: "These elders you lend us, does it mean our own villages have no men and women who have seen time and collected the wisdom it brings?

Are we all infants with milk oozing off our nose-bridges? Which home is it that does not have elders? Who bore fathers of all those children who prance the whole village, children which these elders from afar want to save from suffering? Surely their fathers have fathers who are now elderly?" The questions became too many, making those to whom they were put too confused to know which ones to answer first. The questions went beyond each village as heavy word that looked for wise answers. To this day, no answer has come.

Until someone thought of consulting diviners who were quick to throw bones to crack open this puzzle that had so split the mind of the nation. As the bones settled from their fall, the message they collocated seemed frightfully dire, too dire for the diviners who spoke back through shaking heads. "My children, this is too much for my bones, too much for my small mouths. The word coming from those who reside in the wind is too heavy.

Go look for answers elsewhere", said the last consulted diviner, hurriedly putting all his bones back into their dirty pouch, ready to leave his home. Even those of the wind could not utter a word. But no horned monster can ever be kept under wraps. Soon the village would begin to whisper and the truth about these imported elders would soon be known.

Branson and Gabriel’s elders

Indeed it did not take long before the whispers reached every ear. These elders were children of some knee-less white man who made money from flying an iron bird called "Virgin Airlines". Virgin Airlines. "Virgin!", yelled one village elder, mouth carrying dying froth from a potent village brew. "How can elders be sired by a virgin? Are there no qualified men in the neighbourhood? We have men a-plenty here." "Richard Branson, he is called", added another beer-wise elder, clearly determined not to be undone. "It is said he made the elders together with another white man — a singer called Peter Gabriel", still added another, to utter puzzlement of the rest. "Don’t be foolish Chipembere! How do two men sire elders?" It was a gentle remonstrance which drew raucous laughter from the rest of the elders. "But far away, beyond the vast waters we hear men sleep and marry one another?" "You have eaten too much millet Chipembere. Your head is no longer correct, go home now. You are full!"

Strange elders from other clans

But a greater puzzle had hit the village. Why would the elders of Africa be so young? Why would they not respect the host’s homestead, seek to overrun it even? Why would they include a white elder from so far away, and from a lineage of Africa’s tormenting conquerors?

Above all, why would Africa’s elders answer "father" to two white men, both of them half their age, but with lots of money, fame, song and iron birds that flew endless journeys? "Ane mari ndiye mukuru", intoned a thoughtful elder. Where else do elders have fathers who are outsiders of the clan? Where else do we have elders who report to elders of other clans? Does this not undermine both their wisdom and their court? So many questions complex enough to vex bones of our diviners!

Too elderly for sanctions

Where is Africa’s pride when a whole past Secretary General of the United Nations is turned into an errand boy of two rich Britons, all of them half his age? Is this his pride of place? Words do fail me. Here was a man who was at the helm of the United Nations for two consecutive terms. He saw the imposition of illegal sanctions against

Zimbabwe by Britain, the EU and America, and was happy to do nothing about it. Not once did he speak against those sanctions he knew to be unlawful and unjustified. No, in spite of repeated pleadings from Zimbabwe. Before the western dominated Security Council, he was no elder, only a dutiful askari. Zimbabwe suffered; Zimbabwe got savaged by these illegal sanctions which pared down her capacity to fend for herself, for her children. Is it not a fact that Zimbabwe has had droughts in the past?

Is it not a fact that Zimbabwe has had water shortages in the past? Yet neither of these adversities ever turned into hunger or cholera. The State would always stand in defence of the citizenry, using the means derived from unhindered economic activity and interaction with the rest of the world. What has changed now? Why is the State unable to defend the welfare threshold of its citizens?

This is no question for these so-called elders, themselves opinionated glory-seekers. They have no time for whys and wherefores. All they see is hunger and disease, causally linked to what they dismiss as a venal local leadership. They see no hand of the spiteful white man: their bigger elder and taskmaster. They see no sanctions, will not hear about them, let alone speak against them. They have joined whites in their war against this nation, against Zimbabweans. And you too Graca? Hau! You who know from the days of Samora and Renamo how Europe fights viciously to subdue anyone who goes against her will? Is this your tribute to your late husband? Who are these men you now flirt with, against Zimbabwe?

Man-Friday’s no wonder

Kofi is no wonder to all of us. We know that America chose him to replace the radical Arab, Boutros Ghali. That made him an antipode of Ghali, which means a traitor to interests of the continent which Ghali sought to enforce. Under his Secretary-General-ship Britain and America invaded and subdued two nations and got away with it. He had no elderly wisdom to dispense to the two aggressors. None at all. Instead he joined in the looting of Iraq, through his own son, Kojo, who made brisk business through the same UN his father pretended to run. After his tenure with UN, he is deployed to Kenya by the West’s threatened interests, to put out the fire and to save the West’s investments there.

After he is done with Kenya for the West, the age-long land question remains unresolved, in fact as intractable and as incendiary as ever. He never solves Africa’s problems; he pacifies communities for its continued looting by Europe, this man born on an accursed Friday. He does worse things. He cobbles what he calls a peace-deal in Kenya, which sees the enthronement of an out and out mass murderer called Raila Odinga.

He calls the aftermath "peace" and adds it onto his glorious CV. Is that the wisdom he wants to bring to this land? Why is he always running to where the empire’s interests are threatened? Why does he feel so great fighting the empire’s wars? Armah, his countrymen makes the point for us: "Here too lay the beginning of our bafflement at the heavy phenomenon of the slave forever conditioned against himself, against our people.

With such never will there be any possibility of creation, never will new communities of the way be born within their presence." Zimbabwe has killed the invader here, to start the possibility of creation. It has sounded a clarion for the second wind of change. Africa and Africans must rejoice at the start of this war the continent cannot avoid en route to its genuine freedom. Yet we seem in the middle of the age of reaction, where quiescence is the game; where leaders of protectorates hold sway. Why is the askari so blest? Whose work is he doing?

Media’s blind spots

I notice the media have been having problems in contextualising two occurrences. First, they have had difficulties in situating a stricture which South Africa is said to have placed on the R300m aid meant for Zimbabwe. Thanks to the spin from South Africa’s white press, this has been read as clear indication that the new Government in South Africa is taking a tougher line against Zanu-PF and its Government.

No one has told unsuspecting readers that this stricture was imported into the equation by South African Parliament whose complexion we all know. Not quite the same as attributing this to Government, surely? Then came the well-publicised Khama visit to South Africa. It was made to read as if South Africa and Botswana were beginning to forge an anti-Zimbabwe alliance. Really? I thought South Africa summoned Khama to tell him forthrightly to get his MDC allies to present themselves for the talks on Constitutional Amendment 19, or else . . .? Which he did by the way, explaining why the MDC went to the talks limping.

The threat was total. South Africa would expose to the world the staggering list of properties the MDC hierarchy has bought in uptown South Africa, which acquisitions are making them so nonchalant about peace and settlement in Zimbabwe. Watch this column for more details. I also notice Tsvangirai’s angry call for Mbeki’s recusal has been handled as if that is where the story began. Nonsense.

The real story began with Biti’s rude and drunk letter to Mbeki, copied to the South African President, declaring Sadc communiqué a nullity. Correctly, Mbeki responded by a filling salvo, which placed Tsvangirai where he belongs: outside Africa and well into the lap of Europe and America, as an avid puppet. Tsvangirai was not amused, which is why he went impotently ballistic, to an indifferent audience. Then you have Sadc investigations on his Botswana-housed insurgents. The net is closing it. Icho!


Friday, 21 November 2008

Tsvangirai: Breaking hymen on sanctions

Tsvangirai: Breaking hymen on sanctions

HISTORY slipped by this week while the media attention fell on the "smalls" of Zimbabwe’s fast-moving politics. I don’t blame them.

The story is getting more complicated by the day, not quite helped by Zanu-PF’s well-calculated "sealed mouth" approach.

But tribute must go where it is due.

In a phase of leaping tongues, keeping a political mouth shut is no mean achievement.

That way, the ruling party has been able to keep its bosom buttoned, while giving itself ample room for reading the mind of its opponents.

Sandton gave Zanu-PF the first rewards of such judicious silence.

In contrast, MDC-T’s strategy, so surrendered to excitable boys like Chamisa, is being handled with the care of an urchin sent to deliver a parcel of unwrapped live coal.

As Achebe would say, now we can all see with what amount of care the urchin has delivered the parcel!

Little wonder that the inexperienced party is now left with ever narrowing scope for tactical twists and turns which in politics must always be budgeted for.

Pennyworth advice to peers

A little bit of penny advice for my political peers. Politics has no laboratory models.

Economists would say models for politics, like models for other human behaviours, are stochastic.

Where you are grappling with fast-changing, fast-flowing factors, you do not slam doors; lock them up, bolt them even.

Rather, like a bad man who strays into nuptial chambers of a married woman, you sleep and wink with this one unblinking eye firmly on the exit.

You do not speak with the finality of God.

Did MDC-T — from top to bottom — have to react to the Sadc communiqué in that very final way, well before arriving at a well-canvassed position?

Was it impossible to budget for adjustments and even reversals?

By declaring total, unconditional rejection of the Sadc ruling, MDC-T only made its predictable back-down such an ignominy, an ignominy only mitigated by the unconditional support it enjoys from powerful sections of the Western media.

But despite loud cheers from this captive media, defeat still registered and rang, registered and rang louder against the fact that Tsvangirai had lobbied heavily ahead of the summit.

The MDC strategy had collapsed in that spectacular way.

In sharp contrast, Zanu-PF went about its lobbying quietly, thereby packing a shattering surprise for the stooge party. MDC-T is now totally trapped, at the very least diplomatically.

Text from dust and dung

Apart from a flawed strategy, MDC-T continues to be a victim of the consequences of its initial successes. With parameters for inclusion in Government now firmly set, MDC-T has now entered that well-known notorious phase of splitting, divisive jockeying for notice.

Everyone hoping for some appointment has mounted the rump for frenzied political cat-walking, which is why considerations of collective political prudence are falling before the scythe of vaulting ambition and the accompanying quest for disproportionate visibility.

The current frenzied spewing of ungrammatical grandiloquence is quite in character, all of it attention-seeking ahead of appointments to the inclusive Government.

The MDC-T leaders face disgruntlement from the so-called Masvingo group which feels sidelined by the so-called Manyika group which it feels is dominating.

There is a return to the atavistic, itself a real headache for Tsvangirai.

And, of course, where little teaser bulls are marking territory, there is lots of squirting, raising of dust and dropping of strong dung, all of it obfuscatory: we reject troika and the Sadc decision; we still have 10 outstanding matters; Sadc was unprocedural; Mugabe should have recused himself; nothing before amendment 19, blah, blah, blah.

And obliging newsmen collide chins for catchy paragraphs! The maniacal attack on Zanu-PF, troika and Sadc is meant to hide furious contradictions within MDC-T, ahead of the inclusive Government which they are joining, unconditionally.

When history treads softly

Meanwhile, quietly against this small bull’s tumult, Morgan Tsvangirai slips out and tiptoes to an about-turn, gently wafting into a zone of reverberating history.

Again the media lost the soft steps of history’s tread. In France, Tsvangirai tells the EU Presidency that Zimbabwe no longer needs more sanctions; it needs humanitarian assistance.

This fundamental remark goes little noticed or un-inflected as our most vigilant media are busy with the text of the roar, fumes and dust of squaring teasers. For them, the story is how Tsvangirai got to France without the requisite ETD!

Yet however tentative, however obtuse, Morgan Tsvangirai may have turned the corner, and Zimbabwe may never be the same again.

In that short interaction with the French Press, he may have signalled a willingness to fulfil an important article in the Global Political Agreement, specifically Article IV titled "Sanctions and Measures".

Consistent with Article 4 (6), Tsvangirai appears to have begun giving effect to the Sadc resolution on sanctions against Zimbabwe, passed last year as the Dar Declaration; appears to be starting to fulfil the subsequent agreement between the three political parties undertaking to call and work for an immediate lifting of all sanctions, and for the re-engagement of the international community (read the West), to end Zimbabwe’s isolation.

Grant him the right to build noisy atmospherics around this important step in national politics, but by this hefty retreat in local, inter-party politics, the MDC-T leader this week may have taken the first small step towards a momentous role as a constructive player in national leadership.

His courting ruinous sanctions is what has been between him and Zanu-PF, indeed between him and I, son of Manheru.

So, while the media have been relishing MDC-T’s supposed intransigence, the party may have, in fact, been doubly submitting itself to two major Sadc communiqués on Zimbabwe: that of Dar and the latest one of Sandton.

That is to be applauded, the same way the noise accompanying that compliance is to be ignored.

Giving Britain a fig leaf

The implications of this little noticed move are potentially far-reaching.

I will put aside the rather humorous fact that Tsvangirai travelled to France on the passport of the French ambassador (which makes him a minor of the Frenchman!), and that, as Biti tells us, the French immigration stamped on a tissue paper (hopefully unused!).

Seriously, Tsvangirai’s unauthorised trip to France may provide the EU with an excuse to begin the winded process of undoing and eventually lifting their illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe.

More important, it may provide Brown’s Britain with the vital fig leaf she has been pleading for from the days of Tony Blair, to cover her nakedness.

The British policy on Zimbabwe has not just been bankrupt; it has also been very difficult to reverse given the level to which it has entered domestic British politics.

Let it not be forgotten that Sarkozy is in the chair of the EU, the same Sarkozy who has been working closely with Mbeki to get both MDC and Britain to relent on the impasse.

America will inevitably follow once Europe has made the first move.

Maybe the Jimmy Carter mission, while badly composed and timed, may one day turn out to be significant the same way his trip to Cuba proved a turning point.

The hymen is finally broken.

I made the point the last two weeks that the ravaging effects of the sanctions have become too apparent, too indiscriminate for MDC-T and its leadership to ignore.

And give it to them, Tsvangirai made sure he made the about-turn before a Press that knew how to handle this potentially explosive story, without triggering a massive backlash against MDC-T.

In effect, Tsvangirai has registered culpability for the devastating sanctions, but has done so in his own mitigation.

If he says Zimbabwe no longer needs sanctions, that implies until now, Zimbabwe deserved these damaging sanctions.

But he has coupled the admission of guilt to a call for greater humanitarian assistance meant for exactly the same people he has ruined through sanctions.

It is the proverbial story of a condemned fratricidal son who pleads orphan status in his own mitigation.

All this apart, the hymen may have been broken and, hey, caring mothers-in-law may start breaking skirts in leaping joy.

Situating Amendment 19

For the sake of our media so fascinated with the inane, Amendment 19 cannot be an MDC precondition for joining Government.

It is a requirement of law which binds all parties, and which the Sadc communiqué fully recognised.

Any appointments done before the amendment have to be regularised through the amendment itself within three months. And all the pending appointments relate to both MDC factions.

There is nothing in the appointments for Zanu-PF. So when MDC-T stated it would only join Government after the Amendment, it was not creating a barrier. Rather, it was registering that it would not oppose the Amendment which is meant for it, after all.

It was also releasing the President from the burden of making prior appointments ahead of the Amendment.

That cannot be a burden, surely? As it has turned out, the interregnum has allowed Tsvangirai an opportunity to start working on undoing his sanctions.

Drafting or deal-breaking?

Secondly, the drafting of the Amendment can never generate a deal-breaking deadlock, much as anxious MDC-T officials like Biti and Chamisa suggest it may. Strictly speaking, the Amendment is not a new document. It is a derivative.

The Global Political Agreement document is the source document for the proposed Amendment, a "white paper" so to speak.

This is the document which guides drafting, a document, therefore, which will measure the adequacy and accuracy of the resultant draft.

The draft Bill is handled by Government, never by anyone, anything else, outside of State structures.

I doubt whether there can ever be a successful private member’s Bill on a constitutional amendment.

That Government produced a draft before consulting legal minds from the respective parties does not threaten the agreement; it merely increases scope for debate and probable amendments to the Government draft, en route to consensus building.

The debate will be on drafting, never on substantive issues which stand long resolved and eternalised by the Inter-party Agreement.

Surely such a debate cannot be a tragedy? Of course, in making this point, I am not blind to frenzied attempts by some individuals within MDC-T wishing to regain on the roundabouts of drafting what they think they lost on swings of political negotiations.

Such attempts to reopen negotiations on the political agreement will, quite rightly and naturally, be rejected.

The bogey of Home Affairs

The issue of Home Affairs is resolved and is long behind us.

The Home Affairs issue has always been ostensible, with the real issue having to do with managing bristling ambitions within MDC-T.

MDC-T is grappling with challenges of trimming its oversized officials who think they are God-designed ministers.

The number 13 is too small to accommodate these opinionated supernumeraries and "vice presidents". The push for Home Affairs was a push for a more elastic arrangement that could take a few more such characters.

Above all, the real issue is about managing perceptions in the MDC constituency.

Having promised their supporters that they were going to overrun Government, a political arrangement which seemed to suggest they had become mere eunuchs, was bound to be a hard sell.

But the solution lay not in getting Home Affairs, which they knew would not happen.

It lay in visibly appearing to fight tooth and claw for it, and then climbing down.

Now, who in their ranks would say they did not try?

The idea of co-chairing Home Affairs was Tsvangirai’s, and Violet Gonda is being slightly slow by frothing for an explanation from Mutambara on how it will work.

Mutambara has nothing to do with the suggestion. Tsvangirai does, and the lady broadcast pirate must strive to be a little better informed and relevant.

Or to be less bigoted about her MDC-T. Someone must remind her she needs a little more than Edwina Spicer tutelage and patronage, to be useful in the newsroom, if one it is.

Operation Hakudzokwi

I do not think diamond hunters will descend on Chiadzwa ever again.

KuChiadzwa hakuna mai. Hakudzokwi. Many have many tales to tell, sob tales I can assure you.

I know Chiadzwa very well, having stayed there briefly as a young, footloose teacher in the mid-eighties. It is dry; it is rocky, inclement, yes, a haven of peaceful languor until now.

In the classroom, you struggled to rouse its youth, supposedly the sum total of its vigour.

Marange, within which Chiadzwa falls, was both provincial and calm, its eternal calmness gently and seasonally disturbed by the serrated singing of the sect of the Prophet Johanne Marange, all draped in "sinless" white.

Until someone stumbled on some refulgent stone that turned out to be lined and precious.

Chiadzwa’s peace of generations got shattered in an instant.

The world descended on the once tranquil Chiadzwa, in the process dashing its innocence.

The age of innocence vanished and in came the season of hard experience.

Like a powerful vortex, Chiadzwa began sucking the young and able, and with them all manner of vices and viruses.

Overnight, humans became single-minded earth-moving monsters, vigorously boring beneath stout baobab trees which soon gave way, embarrassingly showing the world their undersides.

A myth had circulated to say diamonds favoured the tangled and twisted veins of the giant baobab.

Thus, the raping of Chiadzwa extended beyond its once-virtuous women; it reached its once-peaceful earth which got turned upside down, all to appease vapid greed.

Today Chiadzwa lies prostrate, badly wounded, copiously bleeding from countless assaults.

Who will suture it? Who will bandage its suppurating wounds? Above all, who shall repair her collapsed morality, treat her cankered lungs?

The day of the Untouchables

But something happened in the past two weeks. It continues to this day.

A shock therapy.

The Leviathan has stirred and, hey, the seemingly giant boats that mistook its back for an island have been sent tumbling. Government has had to reassert its authority in this wild, wild East.

The Untouchables of Chiadzwa are either slaving, wounded or dead.

Gullied Chiadzwa needs to be reclaimed, declared the authorities. Reclaimed by those who wounded it in the first place.

And there is a twist to it.

Those accused of damaging it may not use shovels, hoes or some such implements.

They shall use their fingers, and accomplish the job in record time, these gwejas and gwejesses.

It is a season of tears as man become beast to get beastly men and women to repair the heinous damage they have wrought on innocence.

It is painful payback time. The deep gullies are being refilled with bare hands.

Fingers are sore and finishing, well before a quarter of the job is done.

Chiadzwa, once a place for dashing fortune-seekers, has become Chiadzwa the place of unrelieved pain.

United Nations in sin

I walk past a row of once greedy diamond panners, now completely subdued and contrite.

I am shocked by the human miscellany before my very eyes. There are white figures, brown figures, black figures, big and wiry thin, all made equal, initially by greed, now by captivity.

There are whites from Belgium. There are Lebanese. There are Indians.

There are Sierra Leoneans, Liberians, Mozambicans, Angolans, South Africans: a mini United Nations in sin and greed.

How did they come this far?

How did they know about this obscure place called Chiadzwa, hardly known by many indigenes of this country?

Could this explain the growing boldness in the panners, evidenced by gun crimes, including firing at law-enforcement agents?

If left unchecked, what would Chiadzwa have been tomorrow? A place of diamonds? A place of blood?

Or bloody diamonds, as Zimbabwe’s enemies wished? Why is the American Embassy so interested in the goings-on at Chiadzwa?

Whichever way, the uninvited patrons of Chiadzwa will not come back.

And the prophet shall descend on this land, happy and fulfilled once more. Icho!


Friday, 14 November 2008

Dabengwa: The dream of a revalorised PF-ZAPU

Dabengwa: The dream of a revalorised PF-ZAPU

I spent this week reading a fascinating book written way back in 1947 by a Cuban scholar, Fernando Ortiz. Titled "Cuban Counterpoint: Tobacco and Sugar", this thoughtful work explores Cuban and Latin American history from the angle of tobacco and sugar: the one a weed, the other a grass; the one born, the other made; the one a delight of the spirit, the other a delight of the flesh; the one poison, the other food; the one as "daring as blasphemy, the other "as humble as prayer".

Your whole frame is thrown back when Ortiz pushes matters to breaking point: "Sugar has always been more of a woman’s sweetmeat than a man’s need. The latter usually looks down upon sweets as a thing below his masculine dignity . . . In tobacco’s spirals of smoke there are fallacious beauties and poetic inspirations. Perhaps old Freud wondered whether sugar was narcissiatic (sic) and tobacco erotic. If life is an ellipsis with its two foci in stomach and loins, sugar is food and nourishment while tobacco is love and reproduction. In their origins, sugar and tobacco were equally pagan, and still are by reason of their sensual appeal . . . Jehovah promised His people a land flowing with milk and honey, not with tobacco and sugar."

Toppling man-mountains

It is very difficult to excerpt from such a finely wrought literary piece. Ortiz maintains this delicate balance and counterpoint, boldly terming tobacco and sugar "the two most important personages in the history of Cuba", the Carribean and Latino world. Your first instinct as a reader is to dismiss this fairly sizeable book as one hack of frivolous intellectual self-indulgence. I mean in all seriousness, how does one topple men-mountains like Simon Bolivar, Augusto Cesar Sandino, Jose Marti, Che Guevara, or Fidel Castro for a noxious weed and for a crystalline grain (however sweet) as vectors of such a tumultuous history, a history which at one point assumed cosmic significance? Remember the Cuban crisis?

Bold and blasphemous

As the book seduces you into the inner depth of its saccharine and wispy boudoir, the tender parts of its fleshy meaning begin to reveal themselves so irresistibly. Ortiz is exploring a very violent encounter between unequal continents, a bloody encounter whose fulcrum was plantation imperial capitalism. Surely this must be a familiar thesis to us as Zimbabweans, although none within our intellectual ranks has sought to explore our history from the standpoint of the Virginia leaf (I can’t afford a malapropic spelling mistake on this one word whose first letter is a "V"), or the white "balls" of cotton or soya. Like Cuba, imperialism took the form of estates in this our great country, Zimbabwe. Ortiz gets bolder and supremely blasphemous in that book He links sinful tobacco to venerated, purple-garmented cardinals of the Holy See.

Which gets me thinking: the white smoke signalling consensus on a long sought-after new Pope, does it owe to burnt incense or to one huge, communal puff from all ranks of Catholic-dom: deacons, friars, priests, bishops, archbishops, gaunt cardinals in one giant momentary renunciation of vows? And what other less smoky misdeeds are condoned by the Politburo of my church in such a happy hour? Perish the thought, for I am really narrowing my chances of wearing a holy diadem!

A sin such as this

Back to Ortiz. Focusing on Sicily, Naples and Milan, Ortiz carefully traces how cardinals joined earthly sailors and soldiers in spreading the scriptural wonders of tobacco to the rest of Italy. He specifically indicts Cardinal Prospero de Santa Croce for taking tobacco to papal Rome before 1585, having explored its wondrous uses during his stay in Portugal. Which is why on papal grounds, tobacco was known as erba Santa Croce.

Ortiz incriminates yet another wearer of the purple — Cardinal Crescensio — for introducing Rome to smoking, and, what is worse, for successfully persuading Pope Urban VII to take snuff on his return to Rome from England in 1590. Which takes me to the point I want to develop and adapt. Once the devil was that so well and firmly ensconced in the vestry, the good pontiff had the temerity to offer his snuffbox to the head of some unnamed religious order, who promptly declined to take a pinch, saying: "Your Holiness, I do not have that vice." To which the Pontifex Maximus replied: "If it were a vice, you would have it."

I am prayerful the Papal Nuncio who so peacefully resides in Mount Pleasant, will pray for my redemption, passing the temptation to fling my little body into the flaming deep for eternal combustion! People must be amuseth, so said Charles Dickens in the Nineteenth Century, pleading for some relief to humanity so deadened by the debilitating drudgery of industrial England.

Sandton and back

We have been to Sandton and back, carrying the Sadc communiqué in our bags. The section on Zimbabwe is very terse, even numerical. It has four points, all of them exhorting in tone. An inclusive Government must be formed "forthwith in Zimbabwe". The Ministry of Home Affairs must be "co-managed" between Zanu-PF and MDC-T. The efficacy of the arrangement must "be reviewed after six (6) months by the Parties with the assistance of the Facilitator, Sadc and AU". The Parties to the September 15 Global Political Agreement "must, without any further delay, introduce the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 19", to give effect to decisions and provisions of the said agreement. You cannot miss the finality of the communiqué’s tone. For a low-level, non-armed political conflict, the communiqué is uncharacteristically peremptory. It implies a Sadc which can bite, a Sadc which indeed barked on the day, to presage a generous bite sure to follow in the event the "must" in its communiqué is not respected.

Whose muscle is bigger?

I am sure Sadc weighed its muscle against those of the signatories to the agreement, and realised its own muscle was the biggest, the most overwhelming. It is important to identify the respective muscles of each party to the agreement. Zanu-PF’s muscle derives from its status as the party in Government and thus a party vicariously signatory to the constitutive Act that founded Sadc, and the subsidiary instruments and structures legitimising Sadc’s entry into the fray in the first place. But that is just one tendon.

Zanu-PF is the party wielding Government and thus the party with all the instruments of governance and enforcement in the country. Zanu-PF is the Government of the day and thus a decisive part of the State and society of Zimbabwe. Another tendon: Zanu-PF is the party of liberation, indeed the shaper of the post-colonial ethos which remains dominant, and against which MDC is ranged. It bears the people’s past struggles and has been battling to convince Zimbabweans that the current difficulties are a continuation of those same struggles for untrammelled say in the affairs of their country.

That pride of place and role, spanning from the past, struggling to evolve into the future, gives two decisive strings to its bow. From that history, Zanu-PF derives a well respected philosophy which resonates throughout Southern Africa, throughout Africa and the Third World.

Secondly, its history in fighting armed colonialism gives it both a reserve force, a template and an experience for defending power, or regaining it once lost.

Zanu-PF is a guerilla army detoured by chores of Government, encamped in the State as the Government of the day. Should the need and day for a march arise, Zanu-PF can and will become the irregular force it has been before, in national politics. Equally, should the need and day arise, the British can once more become Zanu-PF ’s axis.

What is more, the way forces which today pass for Zanu-PF’s odds have been shaping and forming, make it pretty certain Zanu-PF will have a very good rear and very good allies, should the need and day arise. It has this unique advantage of possibly having to mobilise around the same fundamental grievance, that of LAND.

A muscle or a swelling?

MDC-T’s muscle is largely a matter of conjecture. I know the MDC-T people do not like this one. But that is their problem and they can sort it out. Its spectacular performance in March this year owed more to external factors than to its inner constitution and impetus. Given changed circumstances — and much has changed since then — MDC-T cannot repeat the fluke feat of March 29. They know it.

Fundamentally, MDC-T was dealing with a Zanu-PF which simply incompetently mischaracterised its real enemy, a dangerously distracted Zanu-PF. I doubt whether Zanu-PF will ever repeat such a mistake again. MDC-T thrived on a blind-spot and cataract which has since been removed. Today, Zanu-PF sees better and is only too keen to reverse the odious result of March 29. It is just a matter of when and how.

Equal and opposite?

Both the March 2007 encounter and the June presidential elections showed MDC-T cannot withstand concerted pressure from a resolute Zanu-PF. MDC’s power does not derive from an equal and opposite force to Zanu-PF; rather it derives from its victim status, itself not quite the profile of a principal political actor. The reckless arrogance it has shown lately, coupled with the growing realisation on the part of the fair world that MDC-T is itself violent and even toying with the idea of armed insurrection, will increasingly make it less of an object of pity and more of a vanquished opponent in a contest in which it has misleadingly proclaimed equal capacity and status.

Significantly, Zanu-PF has been playing the placatory card of a party in a corner, a party running out of options and thus deserving of a rescue package. There is an in interesting reverse psychology.

Mass action or mass despondency?

Thirdly, with the way mass action as an instrument of bidding for power has so repeatedly and so spectacularly failed, MDC-T can no longer bank on that plank, however exacerbated the larger social conditions may be. It is a false thesis that harsh social conditions translate into a generalised rebellion. Much rests on who the people blame for the deterioration.

It would be a grand self-illusion for MDC-T to think the Zimbabwean public acquits it on this one matter. The one strangely positive outcome the present challenges present for Zanu-PF, is the growing awareness that indeed MDC-spawned sanctions are generalised and very hurtful, indeed that they have destroyed the capacity of a benevolent State which has always stood by the people in times of hunger and hardships. Which is why none of the previous years of drought in this country ever turned into years of hunger and famine. Far from alienating the people, the threatened famine has clearly shown the people that their real insurance against adversity is a strong, not weakened, State and Zanu-PF.

Collapsing Khama

To this, add the glaring fact that MDC-T’s attempted military adventure with the Khama military regime is coming to a screeching, undignified stop. It is plain poor thinking to ever imagine anyone can launch an armed resistance from bare Botswana, however politically well disposed that country’s leadership may be. Or that Sadc will condone it, more so given the involvement of Americans and British trainers (including some Zimbabweans attested to the British army) in the whole quixotic venture.

Attempts to use Mozambican soil for similar ends have not only been futile; they have resurrected the spectre of a second RENAMO which has worked wonderfully well for Zanu-PF.

You do not meet with the bandit Dhlakama and still hope to cultivate Mozambique’s goodwill or neutrality in what pretends to be an internal Zimbabwean political question. MDC did a perfect job in raising Frelimo’s angst. So, unconstitutional routes are closed to MDC, and that also includes their hope for a putsch inside the country which can only ensure their speedy end.

The muscle of Albion

The real muscle of MDC-T is that of Britain, America and Europe, as its combined handlers. You only needed to be in Sandton to see how the so-called MDC-T leaders were reduced to grovelling and wagging puppies before McGee and Dell. It was disgusting to see Mukonoweshuro stoop and kowtow. The deployment of the two Americans to South Africa does bear out my point, does it not? That means the power of MDC-T is the willingness of the Western world to intervene politically and militarily in Zimbabwe.

But such an intervention would need a fig-leaf from Sadc and the AU, which is why Sandton has been such a wonderful development. We may not need to repel a Western invasion here any longer. Or if we do, we will have to do it with a full sense of fighting a just war, an African war at that, all against a recolonisation attempt. It would be such a wonderful war and I, for one, would not hesitate to draw blood in those circumstances.

And now the economy

The MDC muscle is the West’s willingness to complete the closing of shop here, by way of an economic shutdown. Given the way things stand, this can only amount to a completion of a process already in terminal phase, never a new low presaging a cataclysmic end.

We have hit the bottom; we cannot fall.

Alternative "people economies" have been evolving as interim safety nets while a new, quite national economy, is emerging on the ruins of the dying or dead British South Africa Company one.

So, this is a very weak muscle, one made weaker by a very strange response from Corporate South Africa. There is a growing recognition in South Africa that the endgame in Zimbabwe is nigh, and that the fattest worm goes to the one best placed for its immediate aftermath. We are seeing a breaking of ranks in erstwhile allies.

We are seeing an unusual interest in Zimbabwe, especially from Afrikaner capital. This well before we talk of the Russians and Chinese. MDC-T may have misread the political demeanour of a post-Mbeki South Africa. The shock to MDC-T will hit home when a conference of liberation movements of Southern Africa convenes before year-end.

When no muscle is one muscle

MDC-M has no muscle, which is precisely its muscle. At some point I thought Mutambara was about to squander that paradoxical resource, by playing spokesman to Tsvangirai. He seems to have hesitated right on the brink. There is little to be gained by an MDC-M seeking to ingratiate itself with MDC-T or Zanu-PF. There is much to be gained by an MDC-M which plays compliant arbiter between two charging bulls.

A Mutambara who honestly tells the media the only outstanding matter between the contesting parties is that of Home Affairs; who honestly tells the media MDC-T is set for a dead-end by opposing a Sadc verdict, is a Mutambara successfully ducking the damaging charge of partisanship. Which is why I assert that MDC-M’s muscle is its skill in compensating for its powerlessness through a firm, middle-of-the-road position at once pleasing and upsetting both parties in equal measure.

A pinch from the snuffbox

Against all these muscles, the Sadc muscle is a moral one deriving from its coveted status as the AU’s political referral. It is correct the AU derives its position from the sub-region, which is why MDC’s investment in Kikwete may never pass for much. But there are internal factors. I hear fatigue is setting in within MDC. Some within MDC are itching for a showdown. They will get it if they are carving for some salt. Others want to come into Government, hoping to fight and subvert Zanu-PF better from within. They think they are better intellect in Cabinet; they think they will be better able to reorganise their MDC, to overcome the June and post-June debility. Their funds are running out, or are being withheld by Strive Masiyiwa. So they hope to prey on the State.

I went to CMED the other day and saw a row of brand new Mercs I was told are waiting for MDC ministers. My heart sank for I remembered many families who daily "sleep with it", or whose breath reek of hacha. I heard that the Speaker is already driving his and will not hear anybody who speaks ill of the inclusive Government. Is this as subversive as MDC will be, once in Government? "Your Holiness, I do not have that vice." If it were a vice, you would have it! Tell me, who in MDC does not want the snuffbox passed on to him?

When 15 may be the number

I notice there is a false debate in the media on whether or not President Mugabe will form an inclusive Government. Well, it depends on what passes for "forming" an inclusive Government. The President should invite all the parties to forward nominations for appointment to Cabinet. I hope he does this publicly so that he is seen to be implementing the Sadc resolution.

On the basis of forwarded nominations, the President will proceed to appoint and swear in a new Cabinet. It may not matter how many parties respond positively to the invitation; not matter how many members constitute that Cabinet. He only needs a nucleus of a Cabinet which could very well turn out to be 15. Those 15 men and women will proceed to run Government, including running in an acting capacity all those other ministries assigned to other parties.

I doubt whether Cabinet has a quorum; I know that Cabinet decisions are by consensus. True, the Cabinet will be incomplete, but that cannot make it illegitimate for as long as the invitation for other parties to join Government is not rescinded. And he can run the affairs of the State until the next poll with only 15 ministers, and a standing hope for others to join "later".

The baby and the bathwater

Where will the resources come from? From spending approvals by Parliament! It will not matter what stance a bitter MDC will take in Parliament. All Zanu-PF needs is to craft a budget with goals firmly coupled to the burning challenges confronting the people: around food, agriculture, employment creation, etc, etc. This is the budget it must take to Parliament and dare MDC to throw it out.

A politically skilful party will effortlessly turn such a development into a huge political dividend. It will be a concrete phase of exposing MDC and its false heart for the people. As for Amendment 19, aa-ah that is a Morgan Tsvangirai/Arthur Mutambara Bill. They are the ones who need that amendment. Not Zanu-PF which can still govern by the laws it passed during its zenith. And hey, why not craft it for a round rejection by MDC so we are back to a situation comparable to February 2000, where the fools throw out the baby together with the bathwater? After all, we can always tell Sadc who is not complying with its communiqué. That is an exciting prospect. And who will charge Zanu-PF for rejecting an inclusive Government?

Dabengwa and the MDC factor

What is Dabengwa up to? How does what he is up to connect with the British politics driven through MDC-T? This is the one important connection the media has been failing to make. It is not fortuitous that the revival of "Zapu" has as its precursor the launch of the second part of the Gukurahundi report. It is not fortuitous that the re-launch of "Zapu" was preceded by attempts to politicise liberation shrines in Zambia, with a view to making them degraded and rivalled symbols claimed by a party, a region, a tribe. Government had to intervene to stop this abuse of the dead who are really national heroes. Equally, Dabengwa’s "resignation" from Mavambo was part of a grand scheme and this column made the point at the time. The one important interview Dabengwa made after declaring his membership to Mavambo did not affiliate him to Mavambo. It disaffiliated him from the Unity Accord and the united Zanu-PF. It hinted at the revival of Zapu, with his stint in Mavambo as a mere resource mobilisation detour. Now that both Makoni and Mandaza gave the man no chance for reaching the coffers which now stand empty, Dabengwa has had to plod on, with the few miserable vehicles he impounded.

But Dabengwa has been venturing into treacherous waters. He has been trying to cultivate some tribal supremacists within a regional liberation movement; he has been trying to reconnect with old members of Zipra who left for South Africa for different reasons. He has been cultivating some figures in Botswana. He is stoking fires within some elements of the war veterans, hoping the new breakaway structure he hopes to launch will have its Zanla equivalent by way of the so-called Mwana Wevhu. The political format attempts to ape ANC’s breakaway politics. He thinks Zanu-PF is at its weakest; that he can try his luck. He can try and use the acronym Zapu, but he cannot hide the military basis of what he is seeking to form and launch. I am sure he knows what response he is courting. I posit that as the first linkage with the British and their MDC-T.

The second linkage is much more subtle. With the proclamation of a Zapu withdrawal from the Unity Accord made, the British are hoping that MDC-T can be freed from the preamble of the Global Political Agreement which gives the 1987 Unity Accord a pride of place. As long as that paragraph exists, the British cannot mobilise the Southern region whose interests in the present political agreement appear to have been championed and guaranteed by Zanu-PF. It is the 1987 Unity Accord argument which put the second rung of Vice-Presidency beyond the claim and reach of MDC-T in the negotiations. Equally, it is the same agreement which is making the Home Affairs Ministry unreachable to MDC-T’s exclusive control, if ever there is anything like that in any government. But with the Unity Accord proclaimed dead, it means an important premise of the Global Political Agreement will have collapsed, thereby justifying a call for a reopening of the negotiations. It should never be forgotten that the discussions between Mavambo and MDC-T centred on ensuring Dabengwa would come in as either Vice-President or Speaker of a Tsvangirai-led MDC government. It should never be forgotten that Dabengwa played a big role in wrestling seats from MDC-M for MDC-T in the March harmonised poll. These are very important dynamics which the media should not obfuscate in the name of Zapu properties or indigence of Zipra fighters. Ironically, Dabengwa stands accused of abusing Nitram assets after these were returned to Zipra cadres, the same way the story of the missing resources for MZWP drags him right in. I mean if you want to see real indigence in ex-fighters, just go to Mashonaland Central or Chipinge where it all started. Which takes me to my point. It will be most unfortunate if forces of the then Patriotic Front’s response to current phase of the struggle for total independence is one based on a nostalgic revalorisation of old structures, whether of Zanu or Zapu, Zipra or Zanla. That is one dynamic which will bring armed chaos to Zimbabwe, and one with far-reaching consequences for the region. God forbid.


Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Zimbabwe: Ode to the Muhacha Tree

Zimbabwe: Ode to the Muhacha Tree

Picture this: you work for one of those governance NGOs, themselves a big part of the political question and problem we have to resolve in this country. You are employed to damn this country and are quite good at it. You get paid handsomely, get paid in United States dollars.

Monthly you drive to Gaborone, fly to Johannesburg, to pick your salary, your fuel, your grocery, thanks to your externalising white masters who give you enough food for thought and stomach. Up until now, life has been quite comfortable, in fact unfolding in the rarefied sphere of angels you so delightfully inhabit. You eat well; you dress well; you drive well; you sleep well in one of the leafy portions of Harare. Your life is green, well manicured. Your child goes to expensive schools, with single parenting no longer a drawback, no longer a stigma.

When all sin

But below and beyond you zone of cushioned comfort, lies a world, a cosmos of biting and boring hunger. It is furious hunger which has been eating into the entrails of the poor, including the poorest of the poor who survive in rural areas.

The goods they could not find in shops yesterday, today exist in abundance, and can be gazed from the undiscriminating, permissive windows of FOLIWARS, the endowed foreign currency shops. But these necessaries shockingly transact above our means, well above our earning ways.

What only matches their daily soaring prices is the poor’s needs, always unmet. Only those operating below the labour or wage counter begin to afford them. Such as those who have mastered the art of "burning". Yet live we all must, and in fact do, rich and poor. Which means daily we live and have to live below the counter, beneath legality, to become the systematic criminals we have all become: rich and mostly poor: the former from vapid greed; the latter from burning need. But before the commandments we all stand sinful, perhaps evenly sinful if the Mighty God who puts this evil world right is as judgmental as the scriptures tell us He is.

Misdeeds and prophets

Yet by blood, the poor stand connected to their better circumstanced peers, who live so delightfully. And since they belong to the tribe of the poor, they are the majority of this small earth called Zimbabwe. They are the wretched lives that are sublimated to dismal statistics by rich workers of the NGO world for proclamation to polities abroad.

Their plight, their poverty is so vital, so central to the upkeep of the conscience industry which now employs so many of our elites. Spouting adjectival superlatives on the condition of the poor has become a speciality and livelihood.

Our NGO experts have become prophets who work for the realisation and passage of own prophecies, seers who project and exteriorise their misdeeds as agents for those seeking "democratic change", a.k.a. regime change.

Death too in the valley of the rich

Yet a wonderful development has been shaping up surreptitiously in the land. The rich tribe’s Nemesis has been coming, stealthily too.

Both by vivid plight and plaintive pleadings, the poor have broken into the barricaded world of the rich, past the high, surreted dura-walls. By their sheer wretchedness, the poor begin to levy the conscience of the rich, ensuring the asking price is devastatingly considerable.

The plight of the poor is beginning to exert pressures on the fat purses of the hitherto rich, happy brethren. They cannot eat alone. The poor cannot suffer alone, die in their faces, these our eating chiefs. The rich cannot ignore the poor, much as they may want to be left alone.

They know the consequences. They fully know that the blighting effluvia of Chitungwiza and now Budiriro, will blow northward, efficiently conveying pestilential cholera into their manicured homes. Today the rich can postpone the malady; tomorrow they may never be able to buy it off, these our rich ones. Soon carrion, human carrion, will visit their happy valleys, happy vleis. And before the carrion, the stench of the poor’s shrivelled, and now rotting flesh loosely fastened on bones so ashen-ed by hunger, shall begin to suffuse their once salubrious airs. But before the poor’s death, crime — itself the poor man’s register for his troubled existence.

A few shots ring in the Brook, a few ounces of rich blood dissolve into the hungry earth, a few violent deaths from the rich tribe. Before the poor begin to lose our lives, they make sure the rich begin to lose their peace, their security, their estate, even a little of their well-endowed lives. The poverty imported into their lives becomes the violence they export to the world of the greedy eaters of this earth. The rich shall know no peace; they have killed sleep.

The stench of God’s manna

Do the rich know what is happening in the countryside? If they still follow the ways of our forebears, I am sure they still go to mourn and bury the dead. During such rural errands, I am sure they have discovered that far faster, far stronger than the poor’s welcome, is an enveloping stench of pounded or ground rinds of chakata or hacha generated from rural homes of our poor.

This fruit the poor now call food. Once, it used to be food for scabby donkeys. Today this dank, foul smelling wild fruit sustains our people.

The stench greets these rich sojourners, well before they settle in the real homes, well before the poor reinforce the unforgiving stench through their belching bottoms. It is wonderful vengeance by the poor on the rich who eat well, whose rich farts pass for sumptuous aroma the poor can only feast on in dreams.

Away from the manicured lawns of our rich brethrens, the foul-smelling hacha fruit has become porridge for the rural poor. Away from the overflowing kitchens of the rich, the hacha fruit has become the poisonous drink that pretends to wed the poor’s body and soul, yet in fact slowly sundering them.

Or it has become just itself: a fruit that fills the poor’s mouths, one moment churning inside the left cheek to create bumpy nodes, another moment hurriedly posted to the right cheek, right jaws for a similar fate.

The sunken cheeks vainly hope the dank fruit could re-inflate them to newfound chubbiness. Before dawn, man and beast jostle for the fruit that may have ripened and dropped the night before.

There is fierce territoriality in all our rural areas which teem with broken lives and hopes. In that pebble-sized, imperfectly round, soft, foul-smelling, saccharine fruit lies the forlorn hope of men, women, children, widows and all. Unlike other years the boughs of michakata trees bend from the abundance of this fruit. Who says God in cruel?

Sweet death

But well beyond the struggle to catch the ripened fruit stalks a bigger tragedy. Whether taken as drink, porridge or as fruit, hacha can never be a staple food that it has now become. However inventive the womenfolk is with the fruit, hacha can never become a foodstuff: more accurately put, it is a sweet-stuff that smells implacably foul, that tastes implacably sweet — sweet enough for boundless energy, too, too sweet to nourish and sustain balanced life.

Beyond surfeit glucose, it dispenses little else. No starch; none absolutely. Taken gratuitously, taken on an empty stomach, taken in the sweltering heat of October, it begins to ferment inside the belly which begins to boil, in no time, bringing real ruin to the eater.

Taken to excess and on an empty stomach, the fruit begins to mix with the other fluids that inhabit the stomach, to create a lethal concoction in the body. It is terrible. Many have died — many rural poor — away from the glare of our well-fed tribe. Are you, my gentle reader, familiar with this other side of Zimbabwe today, sanctioned Zimbabwe?

The great link I miss

I am told there is a link between the creation of an inclusive government and the state of food security in the country. I am told there is a link between the elusive agreement between Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations and the recovery of our economy.

I fail to grasp the linkage. I hope someone can help me. Yet the connection between these sets of magnitude is being made so repeatedly, to a point of being overbearing. By failing to strike a deal, we are being repeatedly told, politicians are causing hunger, are delaying the recovery of the economy whose decline has become vertiginous. For the first time, the censure is all-inclusive, like the government wished for in Zimbabwe. Zanu-PF and MDC politicians alike, are increasingly coming for a roasting. Why don’t they just agree, everyone importunes, for once undivided by party membership. We have united in condemnation, undivided by slogans.

That is very hopeful as it suggests the pangs of sanctions are beginning to be felt evenly, to be distributed evenly across the political divide.

Why these politics?

But why is it easier to draw a connection between talks and food insecurity, and yet harder to connect sanctions to food insecurity? How do the two disputants cause hunger? How do they resolve it once they have recovered amity? This is not the first time we have faced a cereal deficit as a country. We have had it from 1982, soon after our Independence. As now, the cereal deficit has always played itself out in circumstances of political differences. And even war between 1982 and 1987. Yet Zimbabwe has never been this desperate. Why now? Why these politics? Why this hunger?

These are the questions, which we will not ask, or seek to answer because hunger bites. Which is why we could give ourselves false explanations, false hopes. Surely we know that in all the past years of drought, the Zimbabwean has stood by Government, fed from it? Surely we all know that Government has always gone out to source food to fend off hunger. NGOs and foreign governments have always been a complementary factor, with the State taking a lead. Why now? Is this not the big clue to the political economy of Zimbabwe’s hunger?

The great targeted sanctions.

Until we come to terms with the fact that the war against the Zanu-PF Government has in fact been a war against our own social security, we will never begin to understand where the rains began to beat us. There is a causal link between the siege laid against the Zimbabwe Government through sanctions, and the present state of food insecurity and hunger.

What has been under attack has been the State’s loco parentis status, its ability to defend our collective welfare threshold against the vagaries of nature. Today, the consequences extend to all of us. No one can escape the consequences, rich or poor. We have all been sanctioned by America’s ZDERA, by the EU. Are we all Zanu-PF?

That is how smart the sanctions have been, indeed how targeted the MDC-courted sanctions are. When Chamisa tells us that Zanu-PF must concede to an unconditional power transfer to end people’s sufering, he is telling us MDC and its handlers will continue to lay siege on Zimbabwe until the people buckle from hunger. Mati maziya? Hamusati. Muchati mosanoziya chaizvo-izvo, Tsvangirai once said. A prophet who describes his misdeeds?

Why have we allowed the MDC to build its regime change politics on our hungry stomachs? That, to me, is the question, which MDC must never be allowed to duck. But worse may come. I see the media is already agog with speculation on the substance of the forthcoming Sadc Summit on Zimbabwe, sitting as the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security. Such a Summit strongly suggests the issue afflicting Zimbabwe is both internal and related to the partition of power. Is this so?

Why has no one bothered to ask Chinamasa why he keeps drawing an analogy between Tsvangirai and Savimbi; between the MDC and UNITA? What was the substance of Zanu-PF’s presentation to the Troika? Power-sharing? Why has the MDC not obliged the charge of banditry by a response? What is the link between this charge and the dispute over the security Home Affairs Ministry?

What is the link between the MDC and a place next to us called Break-the-Heavens? Who is there in small groups? Doing what?

Hondo mutsvairo vakomana.


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Monday, 3 November 2008

Paul Crossley. A dignity tag on a hopeless puppet wont wash.

Enough is Enough - SOKWANELE
Paul Crossley

What is happening in Zimbabwe is an outrage. Come on Thabo Mbeki - lead your country and region - and stand up to this man who has the blood of Zimbabweans on his hands and the destruction of a country on his conscience. Mugabe must go. At the least support your own workers and do not allow weapons to transit through South Africa to Zimbabwe.

Watching the dignity of Morgan Tsvangirai face up to the world's indifference in the clear light of his party winning the elections on contest should be a lesson for democrats around the world. If we believe in democracy now is the time for us all to give Zimbabwe our support.

Mugabe's destruction of Zimbabwe has been premised on economic sanctioning regimens like ZIDERA and other measures from the EU led by Britain. That is the fact. As far as Zimbabwe's demise is concerned, the major culprit is British retaliation at the repossession of land once stolen from blacks at gun point by british settler colonialists.

One more thing. Tsvangirai has no dignity. He has gone around begging for sanctions that have harmed and disempowered the ordinary Zimbabwean, collapsed every sphere of our lives and endangered lives. His party has led violent campaigns in his strongholds eg, Mabvuku and Budiriro since 1999, a violence that the west and you conveniently chose to ignore for obvious reasons.

We all know why you love Tsvangirai, and his dignity is not one of them. He simply dances enthusiastically to Anglo-American imperialist tunes.

If anything what Zimbabwe needs is a stop to any form of british interference. You are the problem and not the solution.