Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Holding our breath...

Today could be a momentous day for Zimbabweans. A mere 11 months after the election, which was resoundingly won by the opposition party to the current (self-declared) Zimbabwean President, a new government is being formed. Not only that, but the opposition party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai has been sworn in the newly created post of Prime Minister.

What a turn up for the books.

It was less than a year ago that Tsvangirai was photographed with a broken skull, beaten and bloody in the violent run up to last year’s election. And in 2005, Tsvangirai was locked up on treason charges – which, if proven in the (likely to be rigged) court case, could have resulted in the death penality. And yet today our TVs show pictures of him being sworn in as Prime Minister, by – who better – than his former nemesis, the Old Man, Uncle Bob himself.

What a week it’s been. Last Tuesday , we woke up to the news that 12 zeros had been removed from our currency, rendering our newly minted 100 trillion dollar notes (only released at the end of January) worth a mere 100 zim dollars – still barely enough for a loaf of bread. All of which was a waste of time by the way – since we’d been told a few days before by the (Mugabe-imposed) minister of Finance, that Zimbabwe was abandoning its currency and businesses are free to trade in foreign currency – which is pretty much what we’ve all been using solidly for the last six months in any case.

Then on Friday the deputy leader of the opposition party, Tendai Biti, was released from prison where he’d been held pending a trial for – you’ve guessed it – a charge of treason.

Yesterday we were told that Mr Biti was appointed by Tsvangirai as the new Minister of Finance – a poisoned chalice if ever there was one. Officially Zimbabwe has an inflation rate of 231 million per cent. But in reality it must be in the sextillions – and no, I can’t tell you how many zeros that is. Think of the longest number and double it. At least 5 times.

But what was the big story in The Herald, our very own version of Pravda, the old communist propaganda paper? Yesterday The Herald published and emphatic denial that Zimbabwe has abandoned its currency (as previously reported by The Herald in an interview with the Min of Finance), and deploring the greed of companies that refuse to accept Zimbabwe dollars in payment for goods and services. In my experience, no one has accepted a Zim dollar cheque (including the government utility companies) since November last year, and since then it has proved impossible to get the cash to pay for the smallest, most menial debt.

And yet today, we held our breath and the world watched as Tsvangirai was sworn into his new role as Prime Minister. He promised to tackle the economy , the failed health system, and to ensure that food aid is distributed regardless of political affiliation or ethnic origin. With inflation at incalculable rates, over 90% of the population unemployed, a massive cholera epidemic and over half the population in need of food aid, the Prime Minister has his work cut out for him.

As for us – yup, we’re on tenterhooks. Emotionally drained. Dare we hope that things will actually start to change? We’ve had our hopes dashed so many times before. Cynicism reigns supreme.

And yet, and yet… we can’t help ourselves; we secretly, quietly and desperately hope for a new dawn in Zimbabwe.

5 comments:

David said...

I just wanted to commend you on an excellent blog - it really is so interesting to read the unvarnished personal perspective of someone living in Harare through all the problems there.

Best wishes to you in these difficult times!

David

. said...

I think what has happened to my country is a sad and terrible shame,i remember the days when i was young when no other country came close to my ZIMBABWE,i never thought it would come to this,now im almost 30 and i live in another country because what was my home no longer exists.Its amazing what a few greedy men can do,it is my generation that will have to pick up the pieces,but only if we can all accept responsibility for what has become of our country,we need to all come together wherever we are and focus our minds,dreams and resources on our beautiful country.When we left our home we thought things would get better without our help,but it just seems to be getting worse.we all moan and complain and pray for our country but we all actively do nothing to change the situation.We leave the job to weak and powerless people like tsvangirai and his weak party,we hope he will resurect our counrty while we hide away and watch.We dont need white farmers,we need FARMERS,we dont need white investors we need INVESTORS and we dont need heroes we need US!.Only we can change the fortunes of our country.Only we have the voice and the power to remove all tyrants from office,all we need do is use it.We've let others speak for us,when we have voices of our own,we have all the finances our country needs,if all 4,5 million of us in diaspora each gave US$100 to the redevelopment of our country how much would we have?The reason we do nothing is because we lack the motivation to change what has happend.WAKE UP MY PEOPLE!!!...your country needs you.Join me on the above website and we can all contribute ideas that will benefit our countries future insted of reading the news and complaining and praying.That will solve nothing.I am calling out to all the Zimbabweans that are sick of hearing how bad it is back home,WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING!as we procrastinate ZIMBABWE....OUR HOME DIES,what will be the legacy we leave for our children??,a prosperous country recovering from near ruin,or a ruined country that will never be prosperous?.I for one will stand up and be counted,i for one will make the change,i am a proud zimbabwean who shall no longer be ashamed of his country,as i write this my heart is filled with sorrow,i have let this happen...now i will change it..WAKE UP ZIMBABWEANS!...YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU

Fambai Zvakanaka said...

Hi David,

Thanks for your comment. It's good to get feedback from readers. Hope you enjoy my latest posting and see that's it not all doom and gloom in Zim. Well, not all the time anyway!

Thanks again, and please keep reading & commenting.

best wishes

Fambai.

Fambai Zvakanaka said...

Hello "."

Thanks for your comment. I still think no other country can come close to Zim, but like people, countries change. It's great that you want to do something to catalyse change in Zim - please let me know what you think other people can do to help Zimbabwe. Many people ask me what they can do to help Zim. The two things I ask people to do is to raise awareness of what's really going on in Zimbabwe to pressure SADC and regional governments to come their senses and support change here. They can also send donations to the few reputable organisations that manage to control expenditure so that aid reaches the people who need it, as opposed to those who are in a position to co-opt it. What else can people do? I'd love to hear your views.

Thanks so much for your feedback and good luck in your endeavours to help Zim.

Best wishes,

Fambai.

robertstrobel said...

Life under Mugabe has certainly had its ups and downs, but I ask the question is the world ready for a Zimbabwe post Mugabe. More over is Zimbabwe really prepared for a world post Mugabe. There are so many things to consider and questions that remain unanswered that maybe we should really begin to seek out truths for some of the harder questions about how we will prepare ourselves to rebuild a shattered nation and who's going to help us do it? Read more of my thoughts here: http://wp.me/pyq3l-3Q