Practiced hawks or silent prey

Dear Jag

Every day for the last fortnight a young hawk has been hanging around the neighbourhood. Sometimes it comes alone and other times with its parent: learning the ropes, fine tuning the techniques of being a predator.

When the adult hawk is there it’s like watching a thriller movie: the silent, unflinching bird; endlessly patient until suddenly the prey is seen: a blink of one eye, a rapid swoop and it’s all over. The young hawk’s got a lot to learn: it screams and whistles, fidgets in the branches and repeatedly gives its position away to potential prey.

While these aerial antics are underway overhead, a similar act is being played out down below in Zimbabwe this week. Ordinary people, like prey in the undergrowth, are watching, waiting and keeping quiet while political posturing begins to shift the ruling party’s 35 year grip on power.

Dramatic news this week comes from two people who have shared the same position in Zimbabwe: the recently expelled Vice President, Joice Mujuru, and the current Vice President, Phelekezela Mphoko.

Mrs Mujuru issued a full page press statement addressed to Comrades, Friends, Fellow Citizens and Countrymen. She explained that despite having served the people of Zimbabwe through Zanu PF for 42 years, her expulsion five months ago was inevitable because her “vision for Zimbabwe was divergent from that of the rest of the party leadership.”

Mrs Mujuru said that the Zanu PF leadership had collectively failed in their basic mandate to the nation, and for that, she said, she was truly sorry and apologized to the nation. Mrs Mujuru said that since her expulsion she’d had time to play with her children, to cook and work in the fields and to face the “day to day challenges of any ordinary Zimbabwean without the privilege of high office.” The former Vice President then said she imagined a Zimbabwe where, among other things:

The law protected everyone’s rights, regardless of race, sex, colour or political affiliation;

Where property rights were respected and enforced;

Where leaders embraced the people; tolerated different views and people enjoyed freedoms without fear of reprisals;

Where families returned from the Diaspora and helped restore Zimbabwe to its status as the breadbasket and jewel of Africa.

“Is this too much to imagine?” former Vice President Mrs Mujuru asked at the end of her press statement.

Whew! we thought; isn’t that what we’ve all been begging and struggling for, for so many years?

Then came the words of the current Vice President, Mr Mphoko, five months into his new position. Speaking in Mutare Mr Mphoko said: "It's true that the resettled farmers have failed us. They have put to shame our President. President Mugabe is being verbally abused everywhere because of the failed land resettlement. President Mugabe is now being forced to beg for food from neighbours. We were once the breadbasket of the region, but these farmers have destroyed the agriculture sector.” Castigating resettled farmers, Vice President Mphoko said:

"Why are you putting to shame our President? He gave you land so that you empower yourselves and feed the nation but, now we are begging.

This must stop."

Whew! we thought again; isn’t that what we’ve all been saying for the last fifteen years? While Zanu PF have been crowing about the success of their land reform program, we’ve been importing over 80% of our food and all criticisms have been met with blame on scapegoats ranging from white Zimbabweans, the West, sanctions and the weather.

Despite these two speeches sadly neither the past or present Vice Presidents addressed the issue that’s really on everyone’s mind this week: the threatened removal of vendors by the army from towns and cities. Given a seven day government deadline to get off the pavements, vendors say they aren’t going anywhere.” We are also giving them seven days to open industries and create jobs, failure of which we will then meet in the streets,” one vendor said. “If it is confrontation they want, then they will get that, but we are a peace-loving people and want to engage rather than fight."

Whether practiced hawks or silenced prey, Zimbabweans are watching and waiting; our crossroads draw ever closer.

Until next time, thanks for reading, love Cathy.

Post published in: Letters to the Editor

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