Friday, March 27, 2009

An Outside View

I have been away from Zimbabwe on a short trip that took me to Ghana and later, South Africa. I met some interesting people. I visited some interesting places. I read some interesting articles and a book – “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by an Afghan author, Khaled Hosseini. If you want to, look it up on the internet. It is hailed as an ‘instant classic’. But that‘s not my point. The characters in A Thousand Splendid Suns are Afghans in Afghanistan. Although the book is a novel, the setting is not. Between the book and the places I visited, I returned home to Zimbabwe knowing that I am a very lucky man to be living here. Although we have some tough times, and I realise that many of my black Zimbabwean counterparts have tougher times than I do, we are clearly a lot better off then the Afghans in Afghanistan, the majority of South Africans in South Africa and some of the Ghanaians in Ghana.

I met two former Zimbabweans now resident in South Africa but both enjoying opportunities to work outside their adopted country. Both told me that given ‘a return to normality’ in Zimbabwe and ‘an opportunity to use their skills’, they would be back home in no time.

And now I am back – home that is. Not much has changed. The current battering of the few remaining white farmers is seemingly chronic. The rationale for this ‘last loot’ mentality is not easily explained. That ‘The End’ (of the looting) is coming soon is evident to most of us. Why do a few misguided ‘chefs’ think they can steal for themselves a new place in the sun? It will not last much longer, that’s for sure. An agricultural land audit is coming sooner rather than later and some people who thought that they could get very rich quickly are going to be disappointed. But in the meantime there are a handful of very brave farmers who are taking yet another physical and psychological battering.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Everything is on target for the New Zimbabwe

I wrote this on Friday the 6th March before hearing about the death of Susan Tsvangirayi. I publish it today.

More than a week has gone by since I last wrote. Not a lot has happened. Roy Bennet is still languishing in the Mutare Prison. Jestina Mukoko has been freed on bail together with three other MDC activists. Part of the ‘deal’ to gain their freedom was that Mukoko and the other victims would refrain from pursuing the criminal acts of their captors through the courts.

Today we hear the Magistrate who first attempted to admit Roy Bennet to bail has himself been ‘arrested’. For what crime we have yet to hear.

The MDC has expressed ‘outrage’ at the continued detention of Bennet and their other activists. ZANU PF has not bothered to do anything other than that Chinamasa the Minister of (in)Justice has expressed his outrage at the UN for accusing Zimbabwe of ‘serious and systematic violations of human rights’. Chinamasa says we are no better or worse than ‘other states’ and we should not be singled out for special mention. It seems high time that Chinamasa became a victim of his own system so that he could appreciate what it is like to be kidnapped, incarcerated, beaten, tortured, made to lie with dead bodies in his cell and be grossly underfed by the system. Then denied bail because it seems like a good idea for someone at the time. He might feel a bit differently then.

But on a more positive note –perhaps – last night I met with an old and wise business acquaintance, highly placed in business and society in general in Zimbabwe, well respected by many for his business acumen and not known to be in any way corrupt. He smiled telling me that as he prophesied would happen when we last met in August last year we now had a new Prime Minister. I expressed my views that the new government was one of disunity rather than unity and that it would take a long time yet for an improved socio-economic environment to benefit the people. He said that I should not worry. Everything was on course. You know what it’s like when killing an old bull. It kicks and thrashes about, takes a long time, but it happens.

I added ‘eventually’.