Scissors in the Belly- Reflections of Thirty Years of Independence in Zimbabwe

Monday, April 19, 2010

By Rejoice Ngwenya, Harare, Zimbabwe

Almost thirty years after independence, we celebrated our independence anniversary on April 18, 2010 with lots and lots of post-independence surgical instruments inadvertently tucked ‘safely’ in the national belly politic and causing untold misery, discomfort and pain.

There are numerous reports in medical history where people have suffered excruciating pain for years after undergoing abdominal operations. Only after x-rays are carried out does the cause of pain emerge as one of a surgical instrument embedded in the belly of a patient. Another painful excursion into the theatre usually follows to correct this man-made medical anomaly. Such is the contemporary history of my country, Zimbabwe. Almost thirty years after independence, we celebrated our independence anniversary on April 18, 2010 with lots and lots of post-independence surgical instruments inadvertently tucked ‘safely’ in the national belly politic and causing untold misery, discomfort and pain.

Thanks to the Robert Mugabe movement backed by an unholy cabal of misguided zealots, some of us now have a lifetime commitment of inciting tantrums just to raise awareness of the country’s unenviable condition.

Many Africans wonder why progressive Zimbabweans are disgruntled with the black majority rule of Mugabe. More accurately, those Africans who closely follow my commentary are at a loss why I dislike the Robert Mugabe brand of governance. In Ghana and Nigeria, many otherwise well-meaning citizens have been sold on the disfigured contraption of what Mugabe calls ‘land distribution’, so much that they believe how this draconian policy was meant for my benefit! The cycle of tragic deception has continued with another lie that our troubles begin and end with ‘illegal Western sanctions’. Some have now gone to an extent of attempting to persuade me to see the good side of Mugabe, with very little success. In USA, whole communities of Afro-Americans have elevated the ageing dictator to iconic status simply because they perceive him to be a rare breed of African leaders who has stood his ground against the bullying Uncle Tom. I am probably labelled a member of the mischievous minority ungrateful dead who do not appreciate the essence of liberation!

Thirty years into so-called independence, none of my critics have bothered to interpret my political, social and economic x-ray. The contortions you see on my face, guttural groans you hear are not symptoms of gluttonous constipation. I sleep with my knees tucked into my belly because there is a hedge-trimmer size scissors placed precariously just below my liver, and Mugabe insists it is discomfort cause by the Americans, Europeans and the Movement for Democratic Change [MDC]. In a country where Municipal Councillors are arrested for investigating fraudulent acquisition of council land, there ought to be a bellyful of pain. In a country where a mere minister can prevent a Parliamentary Committee from investigating ‘state sponsored’ diamond smuggling, the pain surely must be paralysing. Which country can a mere businessman order police to arrest civic leaders he claims tarnish his name by questioning his ill-gotten land assets? ‘Independent’ Zimbabwe!

It is not like Mugabe does not know the 1987 ‘unity agreement’ was more of a surrender proposition than an opportunity for reconciliation. The man is aware that the Chiyadzwa Diamond Mine is an expropriated venture benefiting only his cronies and that his cousin, property tycoon Philip Chiyangwa connived with party activists to secure 20% of Harare land through shady deals. Mugabe is alert to know that Roy Bennet, who has been on trial for treason was in fact innocent. Most of all, Mugabe knows that it is he who is scampering the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement [GPA]. Therefore those who argue that Mugabe’s cronies ‘keep him in the dark’ are themselves misinformed. The man reads and comprehends the minute details.

On this and future independence anniversary days, there must be collective unison from all progressive Zimbabweans that one-man presidential contestant Robert Mugabe is the pair of sore scissors in our bellies, and that as long as he is in active politics, abdominal discomfort will persist before developing into fully-fledged intestinal cramp. The rogue Southern Africa Development Community [SADC] appointed doctor dispatched from South Africa to seek a panacea to the frozen GPA has no clue what afflicts us. Both African Union [AU] and SADC have given him several tons of placebo painkillers to prescribe, hence the pain persists. The adage that: “when pain persists, see a doctor” does not apply. The doctor is on the side of pain! Someone has to tell them that this pain is not the cure but an extension of the problem!

In this respect, it is now left to us, the citizens of Zimbabwe to seek out our political redemption. ZANU-PF’s contempt for agreements, their disrespect of legitimate authority, arrogance and bravado requires robust, collective and decisive response. Ruling elites are essentially a minority, even if they are backed by a partisan army. Their main strategy is intimidation and abuse of power. We the citizens, have the numbers on our side. In the absence of free and fair elections; when deprived of freedom of association and press; face to face with autocratic brutality, corruption and patronage – our only chance is to limp to the operating table, stare defiantly at the anaesthetising ray of hope and beckon courage to pull out the scissors. This is a call to all Zimbabweans at home and abroad that the era of mourning about abdominal pain is over. Dictatorship can be defeated, the scissors can be extricated. “Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights,” sang the late reggae maestro Robert Nesta Marley. There is no Knight in Shining Armour or Buffalo Soldier who is going to rescue us from the clutches of racist fascism. We are our own liberators.

Rejoice Ngwenya is Executive Director of Coalition for Liberal Market Solutions and an affiliate of