Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Rumour has it...

Thanks to the government's iron grip on Zimbabwe's media, local residents often find ourselves in the dark as to what's the real story. Rumours abound, are shared, leaked, exaggerated, and shared again. The city of Harare is basically one big Rumour Mill.

A few years ago, the Rumour de Jour was that the (largely unpopular) President -- Robert Mugabe -- had died, and that the government was hushing up this news. Weeks went past with no sightings of His Eminence, a noticeable absence of daily sirens heralding the presidential commute to State House, and an unusual reticence from the Minister of Information. The rumour reached giddy heights, with people actually daring to repeat it out loud. Champagne sales went through the roof. And then suddenly, it all came crashing down: there was the President himself splashed all over the local media, furiously denying the rumour. The angry headline of the national newspaper, The Herald, said it all: "I am ALIVE!", asserts the President."

With the recent election on 29th March, and the refusal of the government to promptly release the results, the Rumour Mill has rocketed into HyperDrive. The elections were held on Saturday. On Sunday, with mounting hope, people whispered that the opposition party (the MDC) had won, and that realising the game was up, "Bob has already skipped the country!" The story defied belief, but hope does spring eternal.

Yesterday the gossip was that the government had lost the election, and was delaying sharing the results until they could come up with a plausible Plan B.

Today the international media - Sky News and BBC World – reported rumours that the government was meeting with the opposition to negotiate a hand over of power. Of course, when you switch to ZBC (the only local broadcaster) there is no news, only a discussion on belly dancing and cultural practices among the Bedouin. Not even a denial! Maybe that means it's true.

Way hey! There will be one almighty Zimbabwean Celebration if this is the case. You’ll hear the partying, cheering and singing from here.

No comments: