The world was silent when we died

July 2, 2009

The toad does not drink up the pond in which he lives… an adage from ancient philosophical thought.

Sitting by the window in my uncle’s house in birmingham im trying to come to terms with the prospect of another stolen election back home in Zimbabwe. With that prospect increasingly becoming a reality, the painful realisation that there will be more christmas holidays spent away from family, more birthdays and anniversaries that are celebrated in my absence. It would be naive to think that one could live at home in a sheltered environment forever, one does have to grow up sometime, but it is a different story when you are not sure when the next time you will be home is. When you cannot join your family in mourning the death of relatives because it is simply unrealistic, one must begin to ask what exactly went wrong.

Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980 as the new prime minister of the newly independent Zimbabwe. His message was one of reconciliation and development. He asked the people to put down the arms of war and instead pick the ploughs and get down to the business of rebuilding the nation. He was a hero. A champion for the will of the people and a man who commanded the greatest respect from the people of Zimbabwe.

It could never be a correct justification that, because the whites oppressed us yesterday when they had power, that the blacks must oppress them today because they have power…Robert Mugabe.

Twenty-eight years later one struggles to believe that the Robert Mugabe we see today is the same man who once fought for the freedom of the people. Zimbabweans have suffered a fate that noone could have predicted, especially at the hand of our once messianic leader. The hand that fed us has become an instrument of brutality and torture against the very people it claimed to free.

Once a nation among nations, Zimbabwe has become an example of exactly how no to govern a country. Zimbaweans are generally a peace loving and proud people. They aspire to have those things that all men wish for. They wish to put food on the table for their families, to educate their children and to enjoy the fruits of their labour with a certain amount of dignity and respect.

It is not only my belief, but my deepest understanding that when poeple go to the polls, it is not necessarily to place individuals in postitions of leadership, but more importantly it is to defend their right to a certain standard of living. It is to elect those people who share their beliefs that all men are created equal, those men who will champion the causes of those whose voices are not heard but whose problems are real. So when one analyses the recent elections in Zimbabwe one cannot possibly be convinced that the majority of zimbabweans could have voted for the contiuance of their suffering and strife. There are specific reasons why those who may have voted for Mugabe voted for him and it is these reasons one needs to study in order to clearly understand how this election was stolen.

The “ruling party” ZANU PF has claimed that the rural areas in Zimbabwe have always been the backbone of their support. It may be true that Mugabe has enjoyed enduring support in the rural and communal areas but what are the reasons for this? It is my belief that Mugabe had support in these areas because the needs of the rural man are simple. As long as they were able to continue with life as they knew it, they voted for him. However life has become so difficult that even the man with the most basic of needs can no longer make ends meet.

The war for independence was fought mainly in the communal areas of Zimbabwe. The people who live there bore the heaviest burden of the brutality that came with that struggle. For them independence was more than just freedom from colonial rule. It was freedom from poverty and pain. it was an elevation from the pit of dispair and suffering. ZANU PF is all too aware of this and constantly threatens a return to that suffering whenever those in the rural areas beging to question their own commitment to the ruling party, their support is not out of respect, but it is a product of their fear. One at this stage also needs to site that the Mugabe regime is no stranger to violence and will use militias against their own people without guilt or shame. Their history of violence speaks for itself and only served to solidify their supposed “support” in the rural Zimbabwe. That support however, placead against the backdrop of a harsh economic climate has now finally been put to the ultimate test.

In order to boost their dwindling support in the rural areas, the government instituted the land reform programme which was, simply put, a disaster and a detriment to the economy. This land reform programme was carefully choreographed to be hand in hand with Mugabe’s continued solidarity with the black majority. For the common folks in rural Zimbabwe, understanding of current affairs has always been based on the information they get from the state. All you can get on the radio are the state controlled stations, and in the shops you get the state controlled newspapers. Sooner or later one begins to subscribe to the philosophies that are communicated in these media. Some believe the election was stolen in the days after the poll, but upon further inspection one is able to see that the robbery was carefully planned. The execution however was careless and that was an error the regime does not know how to correct. You can lie to people about the West, and you can accuse their leaders of having colonial agendas with respect to your country but you cannot decieve people that the country has plenty of food when they are going hungry. It is virtually impossible to try and convince the people that the reason that they are no longer able get electricity and running water on a daily basis is because the west hates them. That is ridiculous.

It becomes self evident that the collapse of the education and healthcare delivery systems is lasrgely a result of poor governance and not punishment from former colonial masters.

I can understand the serious differences between the ruling party and the MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE(MDC). I agree with what the opposition has to say because i have seen the problems and i have been witness to the suffering of the people, however i cannot help but feel that the greater good is being scarificed at the alter of political games. Barak Obama writes in his book, The Audacity of Hope, that no matter how much our differences try to separate us, no matter how different blacks are from whites or how wide the gap is between the rich and the poor, there is more that brings us together than that tears us apart. We may have fundamentally different beliefs and value systems but our humanity is our uniting factor and i fear that this may have been lost in the days after the stolen election.

Maybe it is rather utopian to to try and believe that politicians can cross party lines in a desperate bid to do what is best for the people. That what matters most is not pushing the agendas of the respective parties but pushing an agenda with the benefit of the people at heart. Without that shift in thinking, we continue to water the tree of freedom with the blood of the people.

The only white man you can trust is a dead white man…..Robert Mugabe.

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