Storm clouds gather (01-03-07)

As I sit at my desk and write, a Force 4 cyclone is on its way up the Mozambique coast and I hear that the Eastern Highlands are being blown around by the winds. I am told that such a cyclone is quite a fierce animal, with 200km/hour winds and heavy rain.
Television viewers may have seen pict

ures of the Zambezi River spilling over and the 150 000 or so refugees now housed in tents courtesy of the Mozambique emergency services. Kariba is still far from full – about 7 metres to go and rising slowly, so these floods on the lower Zambezi have nothing to do with the Congo or Angolan wet season.
Here in the south of Zimbabwe we are on severe water rationing and do not have enough water in our dams for the rest of the year – so we are desperate for this particular cyclone and what it might bring. So much so that we have all been following it via satellite for two days.
Some welcome such an event, others dread it and think that it will make life even more miserable.
Our politics is a bit like that.
Right now, the edge of the cyclone system is just beginning to wash over us – it is quite different to our normal sky and you can feel the change in the atmosphere.
Street activity has been slowly gathering momentum and, on Friday and then Sunday, there was some serious street rioting in Harare. The crowd demonstrating, or just trying to attend a rally, responded fiercely when the police waded in, using excessive force. Cars were smashed and burnt, Herald House had a few windows broken and a number of police were injured.
I think everyone senses that a storm is coming. Like our cyclone, some dread its arrival and others pray for it to come quickly and then wash the land.
The economy has crumbled, Zanu (PF) has broken into several pieces. Mugabe wants to extend his term but his party, long just a rubber stamp for his slightest whim, is saying ‘no’.
Then there is the diplomatic sea we operate in – France at long last said enough is enough and sent a polite invitation to attend the annual Franco-African summit in Paris but on condition that Mugabe stayed at home!
When the Chinese leadership toured Africa in recent weeks, the third such tour in a year, they studiously ignored Zimbabwe and visited nearly all our neighbours – all except those who do not have assets to plunder, like Malawi. As all who have worked in the diplomatic sphere know, this was a massive slight to Mugabe and Zanu (PF).
Today there is speculation that Namibia is about to offer Mr Mugabe – guess what? – refugee status (to save him from legal action after he retires) Apparently his old friend Sam has a home in a national park and Mugabe is invited to join him there. Now there would be a tourist attraction, if ever there was one!
With this particular storm on its way and building up its strength, time is not on his side anymore. For the rest of us – batten down the hatches and get your brollies and gumboots out. When we come out of our bunkers, the sun will be shining, our rivers running and our country clean. I cannot wait.

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