An African storm


For those of you who have not lived in Africa, an African storm is a fearsome thing. The day will be hot and breathl

ess and about mid afternoon you will hear a low rumble in the distance. In a short while the wind comes up and the black clouds tower majestically into the skies above.

Suddenly lighting splits the sky and the clouds seem to be cut in half as the air rushes into the space created by the heat of ‘God’s fire’. Then comes the rain falling in vast wet sheets across the open veld. In seconds the gullies are full and in minutes the streams are rising out of their banks. When the storm passes we are left with the roar of nearby rivers as they rush down to the lowlands.

Each of the seasons of Africa has their own special character. Of them all I appreciate the late summer and early winter – it is still green and lush, the rivers are running and yet it is cool and dry, often with zero humidity. The early mornings are just superb, the early light from the rising sun, cool and crisp atmosphere and the joy of the birdsong. The late evenings, iridescent greens and fantastic skies with the glow of the setting sun. The early night sky, clear as crystal with millions of stars and a translucent moon, the night sounds, a roar of crickets, the rasping grunts of frogs, the soft cry of a nightjar.

As I write this, a storm approaches – I am nervous for the computer and my modem, but the news of the day compels me to write again of the storm over Zimbabwe.

At a cost of Z$10 thousand million dollars, our president recently held his birthday party in Mutare – a City close to the epicenter of the earthquake that hit this region a day later. He arrived, I am told, in a 150-vehicle convoy with his own ambulance, a contingent of the Presidential guard and dozens of Ministers (we have 58 at last count) all of whom would have been accommodated in local hotels and lodges at even more expense.

At the rally held by local Zanu (PF) “chefs” thousands gathered – many were simply told to attend (school children) others were forced to attend by roaming Police and Army patrols. They arrived at 09.00 hrs and sat in the sun until 12.00 when the “great man” arrived to speak. He spoke for an hour and then, without even a free cool drink, they were told to go home while the elite went off to a fabulous spread.

Then the shocking news from an IMF press conference in Washington that our estimated budget deficit in 2005 was 60 per cent (yes, I said SIXTY per cent) of our GDP. In 2004 it was a “moderate 24 per cent). No wonder our currency is spiralling out of control and prices are rising so fast we cannot keep track any more.

Far from facing up to the crisis in the country, Parliament met for two days and then adjourned until mid April – not a mention of the crisis and no discussion of any solutions. In fact I think they have given up on finding a solution while Mugabe is in power and his henchmen rule the roost. It’s not that they do not know what to do – they do. It’s just that to take those steps would run the risk, which they dare not take, of letting the tiger loose.

So Zanu (PF) finds itself locked into a crisis situation of it’s own making and to which they have no solutions, no exit. I found it interesting that they did not bring forward expected constitutional changes designed to extend the term of office of the President to 2010 and to allow Zanu (PF) to appoint Mugabe’s successor. This legislation was expected and has been drafted. I think it points to the fact that Mugabe does not want to step down at all – he wants to finish his term and he wants it to run to 2010. He wants four more years!

There is simply no way that that is going to happen. So I predict a storm is coming – a real African storm, violent, spectacular and short and that this storm will wash away the debris we have accumulated in the past 25 years and signal a new beginning for Zimbabwe. If you do not like or fear storms like this then it is time to get your closet ready. You might need it for a while, but when you come out hopefully you will find the country washed clean and the dry veld coming alive again.

Post published in: Opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *