I know many Zimbabweans in the diaspora. I am one of them.
Many such exiled Zimbabweans have written public break-up letters with the country of their birth and “filed for divorce” because the relationship had become too “toxic”. With each passing election, nothing changes despite all the promises. Yet with every election, that tortured relationship is rekindled with hope. Perhaps this one will deliver the chance to return home.
You see, no one likes being far from home. Even with all the sweet trappings of life abroad, and in spite of everything that drove them out in the first place, for some, in phone calls home, members of the Zimbabwean diaspora still always ask: “Kwanaka here tichidzoka? (Are things now alright for us to return?)”
This election on July 30 is no different. Among many of us, hope for change has been revived. We saw historic change when the man who led Zimbabwe to this crisis point was sent packing. That political change inspired new hope that we might now finally have arrived at a turning point for real change in our lives. Hope that perhaps this election will deliver a better economy. That maybe, with this vote, we can return home. Possibly now, after this poll, the roads will be fixed, things will work. Imaginably after the vote is done, there will be jobs and we shall all pack up our belongings, fill airports, bus stations and train stations with our “diaspora children”, and end this business of monthly cash transfers to support families left behind. That we can at last bid goodbye to those tags: “illegal immigrants”, “documented foreigners”, “economic refugees”, “political violence victims”. We are people, we are from somewhere, we have a country and many of us want to go back to it. These are our collective hopes.
When the nation votes in these presidential and parliamentary elections, it will be the first time that the familiar face of former president Robert Mugabe is not featured. With his raised fist and giddy smile, Mugabe was on the ballot in every election for 37 years; on the election campaign posters, in state media, on billboards and buses, on T-shirts. He was everywhere.
Now we have a new face, that of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the country’s first vice-president and Mugabe’s longtime ally … until he was fired, which triggered a coup (that was not really a coup). We were euphoric and free at last from the clutches of his predecessor Mugabe and all the suffering he orchestrated. Fellow Africans envied us. Our military coup was clean and educated, they said. That’s what many among us thought. The goal was to be done with Mugabe – understandably so – by all means necessary. But that exhilaration has long died down now. Coups, even the civilised ones cloaked in intelligence or education, rarely deliver freedom.
This coup has changed little. There are fewer police harassing citizens on the streets and fewer arrests of human rights activists. There are more business deals on paper being signed with investors. But that’s about where it ends. The enabling mechanisms for repression by the past brutal regime are still in place; they are more rooted. The laws have hardly been touched, the economy is still on its knees, and the country has no active currency yet is still dabbling in the strange and dubious practice of printing “monopoly money” – banknotes that have no value and cannot be used or exchanged anywhere outside the country. Zimbabweans are barely coping.
Civicus Monitor, a tool that tracks threats to civil society in countries worldwide, rated Zimbabwe as “repressed” before the coup. It remains repressed and is just one step away from the lowest rating – closed – a rating applied to only one other country in the Southern African Development Community, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The soldiers are now even more entrenched in government business, claiming to be assisting the police. But this time they are careful not to brutalise citizens. Those images of bleeding Zimbabweans will not be good publicity for the new government. The election is a legitimacy stamp needed by the military regime. They will need to secure the poll neatly, an exercise that is not difficult, given the uneven playing field.
Still we have hope. Revolutions sometimes come when they are least expected. So transportation companies will make considerable business as the hopeful among us Zimbabweans trek home to join our compatriots in voting. The election could again crush so many hopes. But still we hope. That is the human (and Zimbabwean) spirit. We live in constant hope.
Mawarire is a Zimbabwean and an advocacy and campaigns coordinator with global civil society alliance Civicus
ZTV repeats unbearable
In the past 21 days, television has become an integral part of most people’s entertainment.
Yes, we have social media but the small screen is supposed to be a cheap and reliable source of fun and information. After all, it is not like there is much of an option! Our usual night binges are currently frozen due to the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
One just has to learn to make the most of the amusement at their disposal.
But the guys at Pockets Hill should stop taking us for granted. Not many have access to satellite television, thus the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation-Television (ZTV) is a sole television option for many.
Sadly, ZTV is proving to be a great letdown. Like the guinea pig in a Ferris wheel, peddling hard, so are ZTV clients when it comes to programming.
Every day they wake up to the same programmes. Fetid! Honestly, how do you explain repeating the same programme/movie five or more times in a single week? We are now at a point where we can recite word-for-word most of the lines in the productions.
Repeats are a norm by most, if not all, channels world over, but certainly, they are not done the ZTV way. In the past month, they have been juggling about six movies. If an average movie runs for approximately two hours, how many hours do we have starting from midnight up to morning — the period they usually show the movies?
Do the maths using an average of 35 hours and six movies per week. Repeats are not only limited to movies. It is almost the same with every other programme. We understand foreign programmes might be too expensive. However, what is the justification of showing a single episode of a locally produced drama like “Paraffin” countless times?
Loyalists of the channel say this torture has been ongoing for years now. Some of us just got exposed to this because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is not our usual thing to keenly follow television programming for obvious reasons.Yes, drinks and socialising always come first. By the time we get home, there is little or no time for the small screen.
It is only sports and National Geographic channels that add value in our imbibing hubs.
Please ZTV, can you invest more in creating value for money for your viewers by creating quality programming that incorporates new, diverse and exciting programmes.
If you are struggling with this single channel, we shudder to think what will become of you after the digitisation programme adds more channels.
We are told there is a lot of content that has been amassed over the years intended for the new channels.
It would not do any harm if some of it finds its way to your station as we wait for the new channels.
Zanu PF again turns to their mistress MDC in hard times
Yet again Zanu PF is turning to their cheap and loyal mistress, MDC, for help in tough times.
When Zanu PF almost imploded, faced with a failing economy and a hostile international community back in 2008 they asked MDC to rescue them and they entered into a marriage of convenience.
It worked wonders as empty shelves started filling up again in the shops and fuel which had become a scarce commodity was flowing in again.
Zanu PF had stolen the election and after MDC protested, a government of national unity was formed. MDC were talked into accepting to go into bed with a party that they had beaten hands down.
The same Army Generals who the public has been treating as gods recently, denied MDC their chance to rule. Thabo Mbeki convinced MDC to accept Zanu PF’s offer of a few ministries and the Prime Minister post for their leader Morgan Tsvangirai to sweeten the deal.
Towards the end of the transitional government’s term, Zanu PF dumped the MDC and went on to win an election marred by many irregularities.
No real changes were made to the electoral processes to create a conjucive environment for a free and fair election. A vital point outlined during the formation of the inclusive government.
If you ask me why the MDC agreed to work with Zanu PF, I’ll tell you that it’s because they had seen how Zimbabweans suffered at the hands of a Zanu PF led government shunned by the international community. They could not watch the country deteriorate any further hence they offered the key to the much needed aid from the international community.
Did MDC learn anything from their union with Zanu PF?
NO, they have not learned that they are only recognised when Zanu PF want to sleep with them. If such desire is not there MDC are enemies and sellouts.
The ZDF has been MDC’s stumbling block on their route to power and all of a sudden they become a saviour for the people of Zimbabwe.
Reports that Morgan Tsvangirai is being offered to be Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister in return for help in the impeachment of Robert Mugabe easily brings back the thought of the transitional government in which they were used and thrown into the bin at the end of the term.
What MDC should do
If they seek temporary reprieve for the populace, they can help Zanu PF solve their faction battles and move to impeach Mugabe. This move, however, strengthens their opponents and will likely make them regret come the next election. Article continues after ads…
Or, they should refuse to be used again and let Zanu PF solve their own problems. By so doing they let Zanu PF implode from within and face a divided and weaker opponent in the upcoming election.
The military Junta has revealed it’s head and again they have expressed that they will only accept a leader from the revolutionary party, automatically ruling out any other party, MDC included.
This proves beyond reasonable doubt that they are a wing of the ruling party contrary to common belief that they are a state organ.
In my view MDC will not agree to be used to legitimise a coup committed by an army that has blocked their highway to power. They will also not help Zanu PF regroup and be one again, unless if they are determined to destroy a foundation skillfully crafted for them by Grace Mugabe.
The opposition will support Zanu PF out of a grave misdiagonisis of Zimbabwe’s problems as Mugabe himself not Zanu PF.
The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the publisher (i zim) but the writer’s own opinion.