zimbabwe state of mind

Zimbabwe State of Mind - Day Three

MacDonald Lewanika and Tawanda Chimhiri are your typical Zimbabwean born-frees. Both of them came into life on the year that the country saw its liberation and ZANU-PF came to power. However so many years since the chimurenga currency was misappropriated I find both of them concerned with the level of democracy education amongst the youth of their country. I'm thinking maybe it's because these two guys are still youth themselves. However I let them know that I am truly impressed by Zimbabweans, not because I am in their country but even my South African Disapora Zims have been told about this by me. Zimbabwe will never be a colony again; I can assure you since it has the smartest people this side of the equator. South Africans are passive, have a sense of entitlement, are led by a president who never went to school and are today doing their best to discount the value of education byy allowing a herdboy to become our number one citizen.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition's McDonald Lewanika
I pose it to McDonald that does he think his generation is smarter than that of Mugabe, Muzorewa, Nkomo, Banana etc? He says he does not think such comparison is fair since each generation is facing its own challenges and the world has moved since 1980. True, the world has gotten younger. He gives me a lecture about his country's liberation struggle. He says that not only were the fighters the only heroes of the struggle but people like his mother who cooked for the fighters contributed to that liberation. Napoleon Bonaparte once said that an army marches on its stomach. He protests that patronage should be dispensed based on with whom were you in a sandbagged trench. It irks him that the old generation which has abused the chimurenga credit card want young people like him to shut up because they are mere beneficiaries of the struggle and never tossed a grenade at a Rhodesian soldier.

McDonald is an articulate 33-years old Executive Director of Crisis in Zimbabwe - an organisation with a chapter in South Africa. I ask him what crisis is here in Zimbabwe and he thinks loud before addressing his response to me. He says the crisis is 'too many deficits and too many deficiencies'. There is  trust, honesty, responsibility etc deficits that need to be addressed. He believes they are not really going to be addressed by the same crop that has failed to do so in three decades. I'm looking at him and thinking 'this guy has never heard of the Damascus experience'. My source sounds very optimistic of the future regardless of allegations of attempts by the ruling elite to rig the elections by putting more hurdles infront of the generation that is most likely to outvote them.

One only needs to be ignorant not to remember how after the election that resulted in ZANU-PF losing the city council of Harare its response was Operation Murambadzvina (excuse my misspelling) which was reminiscent of the Boers' forced removals of Black families to uproot their ambitions and pave way for white occupancy of land. The next election was met with militias called the Green Berets who reportedly terrorised communities into voting for  a certain political entity. Now you see, the ruling elite here has always found a way of subcontracting violence.

Irrespective of all these challenges McDonald says there are only two things that are certain; death and change. Since death has made millions of sorties, especially on this country's voters' roll it is time for change to come to Zimbabwe. A sentiment echoed by another born-free director of Zimbabwe Election Resource Centre, Tawanda, whose task is to knock into the heads of society an understanding of elections as not only an event that takes place at the ballot but a pre-during and post process that should be a journey.

Zimbabwe Election Resource Centre's Tawanda Chimhiri
Tawanda is visibly youthful and believes even without a culture of succession the youth will have an understanding of what's at stake during this year's elections.

He makes a beautiful observation about why civil society often falls short of its desired target when it comes to conducting successful voter education and democracy education. He believes that such a task should be undertaken between elections when NGOs won't be competing for public attention with politicians.

Like McDonald he says contrary to popular belief that once power shift from the status quo into a new paradigm it will be couriered to Britain faster than Mugabe can fly to Waterkloof Air Force Base (will they let him land? hahahaha), the youth of Zimbabwe will never allow their country to be a colony again. He says their patriotism should not be judged by how many times they can sing liberation songs or march to the tune of the old guard but the fact that they stayed behind and never fled even when their country was experiencing an economic meltdown is proof enough. Three million left, these guys stayed behind.

Agreeing that the chimurenga is a thread that joins all Zimbabweans, Tawanda says it will be valued beyond the lifetime of the War Veterans - real and imagined. While shying away from talking about political parties as he says his organisation works with all political formations and civil society he believes that the violence which characterised the 2008 elections might not be experienced this year because "ZANU-PF has learned that losing an election is one thing, but losing legitimacy is another". He believes the balloting part of the elections might not be rigged so as to remove the justification for sanctions to continue but the voter registration process up to so far leaves a lot to be desired.

However, with two activists one often gets to this point of understanding the underlying factors of this country's problems. But I must admit I am still a little bit in a maze. What I observe is that Zim's problems might be socio-political but the impact is economic. This is a police state as I will blog some disturbing details when I am finally free on South African soil. It's so alien to me being warned that I can't pull out my camera and snap. Come on I'm a snapper. I take pictures of things that interest me and recently what interests me are cops washing the tyres of their bicycles. What interests me is the proximity of so many government buildings to each other which at the end means I can't snap pictures for the whole block of buildings. Imagine not being allowed to take a picture anywhere in Newtown.

That's a reality I want to tell you about. But now I got to tell you about my meeting with Reverend Dr Solmon Zwana

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