Over the years many have predicted the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy. However, the economy seemed to be able to defy the doomsayers and we all remarked on the resilience of both the country and its people. But the real collapse has now arrived. In this edition of Zimbabwe in Pictures newsletter– the first in a series called Harvest of Thorns – we look at the education sector and show how things have fallen apart.
On October 16 2008 – just 30 days after the signing of what some termed a historic deal – our political leaders were back at the Rainbow Towers in Harare – and not for a drink. On the agenda was the allocation of government ministries amongst the three parties – MDC (Tsvangirayi), MDC (Mutambara) and ZANU PF. True to character, Mr. Mugabe and ZANU were now reneging on the deal. Giving up power when all you ever known in your adult life is to be THE leader is heart-wrenching – if you do actually have a heart. So now there we were – warming the bar stools of the Rainbow Towers and buying whisky in greenbacks (oh the mighty dollar!) And all around Zimbabwe, people were saddled with the harvest of thorns Mr. Mugabe had bequeathed us. The thorns had grown in the place that Zimbabwean parents value most – the school yard.
A Zimbo will sell all her cattle to send that little one through school. And if now the cattle were gone and the school was amountain of rubble what would she do?At one of the state primary/preparatory schools that was still functional, the parents were not only paying the teachers’ salaries but they had gone further and raised foreign currency to enable the teachers to travel to South Africa for grocery shopping! On top of that the parents had met with the principal of a well-established high school to ensure that those learners moving to grade 8/form one were guaranteed of places. Look, reader, for the greater part of the 80s and 90s, we declared that politics was crap and we went on with our dirty little lives just trying to get that promotion, a company car and move to Marlbourough enroute to Borrowdale. Now we have discovered, rather late, that politics is too important to leave to politicians – especially to
a geriatric and deranged megalomaniac…
The bricks have fallen
We shall rebuild with dressed stone
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I HAD to be there on Monday 15 September. Up and early I struggled into a suit – jeans are my preferred item of clothing – but on this occasion I thought a suit might just be appropriate. I wasn’t exactly in a celebratory mood. Deep down I still felt that this was an unjust resolution to a simple problem – the lack of ZANU PF’s legitimacy. Mugabe had lost an election, had lost the support of the people. Now he would need to be accommodated – very much the way the National Party had to be acommodated by the African National Congress. It need not have ended this way. But our leaders had said this was the best compromise deal…
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View Edition 13 as a slideshow or alternatively download the PDF version at the bottom of the Editorial.
IT WAS a rare week – the week beginning 11 August 2008. It was a week in which the Higher Being conspired to bring to the fore the contrasting values and aspirations of humanity. Thousands of miles away from Johannesburg a young white woman was winning a gold medal for a country that did not like nor trust her kind.
In a building in Sandton, Johannesburg, sat the most powerful patriarchs of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) – in town for a two-day meeting that would be dominated by one country and one man. Amongst the darksuited men were two rogues – one a demagogue with a penchant for rigging elections and the other an absolute monarch with a penchant for marrying a virgin every year. As these men bellyached with executive power and as some slept through the marathon speeches peppered with “your majesty, your excellencies…historic blah blah”, the people were gathering a storm outside.
Activists from various formations had gathered outside the Sandton Convention Centre to give Robert Gabriel Mugabe and King Mswati III the red card. Maybe Voltaire was right – the voice of the people is the voice of God. You can fool some people some time but you can’t fool all the people all the time. The emperors had no clothes and you could see that the old bravado was gone.
But in the midst of the beauty of the struggle for another SADC, there was the little matter of the ugliness of the displaced foreign nationals – survivors of the horrific xenophobic violence. When the flames of hatred lit up South Africa in May 2008 the government had set up camps where thousands were housed.
Now a couple of months later the government wanted to close down the camps arguing that it was now safe for the foreign nationals to go back to the communities that had chased them away. But many were not convinced they were welcome back…This is the way our lives are. Ugliness in the oppression and starvation of our people by a brutal regime given to hypocritical Pan Africanist rhetoric.
Ugliness in the absolute rule of a monarch who bans all political activity and lives in obscene luxury whilst the people eke out a miserable existence. Beauty in our solidarity and commitment to a just and prosperous society. Beauty in our patriotism as seen in a 24-year old who could have decided to represent the US at the Olympics but chose to fly the Zimbabwean flag.
Our team brings you some of the photos that capture the above. We will be there when a new SADC is born. Afterall, we still believe in she-roes and he-roes and their ability to defeat the bad guys – whether in Harare or Mbabane.
PS: And oh this week in question was also one in which those Zimbabweans who own the franchise “Patriotism” and “Liberation” celebrated 28 years of glorious achievements.
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Posted in Protests, Talks, Xenophobia
Tagged Demonstration, Harare, Mugabe, Protests, SADC, Sandton, Swaziland, Tsvagirai, Xenophobia, Zimbabwe
View Edition 12 as a slideshow or alternatively download the PDF version at the bottom of the Editorial.
Abusive – that is the term Elinor Sisulu used in describing Mugabe’s relationship with the people of Zimbabwe a few days ago on SABC’s Morning Live programme. It was a particularly incisive comment. It captured the essence of what has gone wrong with that dear country. A relationship of trust had broken down over a decade of madness – stealing elections, looting the state coffers, subverting the judiciary, militarization of the state and general anarchy led by the elite. Now when will of the people was beginning to manifest itself there was panic in the corridors of power. The defence chiefs met to deliberate on the horror unfolding before them – the docile people no longer wanted the old man in the office.
No one can stop an idea whose time has come said Victor Hugo. And the time had come. As I traversed the country a few days prior to the election the feeling of something more that a political earthquake was palpable. People had now hit rock-bottom and they wanted to swim back to the surface and to the shore. It was an exciting period. Everyone wanted to vote. Everyone believed change would come from the ballot box. But the old man with a Hilterite moustache had other ideas. Suddenly the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission began to play games – Elinor called it “choreography” – election results were announced in dribs and drabs.
The tragic charade continues…Two weeks after the elections we stand on the brink of catastrophe. Mugabe should not be allowed to subvert the will of the people.
We urge all Zimbabweans, and those who support our cause, to mobilize against ZANU PF thuggery, shamelessness and illegitimate hold to power. For our part we have revived the Zimbabwe Election in Photos newsletter and we will bring you the action as it unfolds in our country. This action is little compared to the work of the opposition parties, civil society and the media. But at this point every little bit counts…Don’t moan, organise!
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