One Extrordinary week.
I have held off writing this until the dust has settled a little bit. I do not normally get involved with Politics but this could not go past without at least a passing view. As a member of the vast Diaspora of Zimbabwe who live in far flung countries – away from my family, This is a view of my views over a life changing transition.
What it is like to be free?
WOW! what a week this has been. November 14th 2017. When news broke about the tanks rolling into Harare, some breaking down along the way. My heart just sank. Especially because my parents live on the main road to one of the barracks where the army are situated. But another emotion was also being suppressed. “Could this be the time Zimbabwe is waiting for?” Living in the UK, now was time to turn to the news, only to find there was very little being covered so we now had to resuscitate old twitter accounts and social media accounts to find out what was happening.
The deluge of material coming through was Mind Blowing and when I did turn to the Mainstream news it was only to learn information that had broken days or hours before. The tension was palpable. But this had an air of something very different about it, I could not put my finger on it but it was different. You see, the western world and the media dictate that when the Military rolls into town, it is a “Military Coup d’etat” and again the media tells us that with this comes death destruction and Violence. A day passes with the president under house arrest, No violence!! Zimbabweans of all walks of life, just do what they have done for many years, go about your day as if nothing is happening. Extraordinary to say the least!
In the background and all across social media the cogs were turning, Zimbabweans, slowly albeit hesitantly start to believe that this could be the time. They have been in this situation so many times before with little success But it is soon apparent that their belief in the “winds of change” are growing and growing fast! Western media finally catches up and the news erupts around the world of a very bizarre, Bloodless (not entirely but vastly), non-violent Coup was underway. With the ZDF (Zimbabwe defence forces) pulling the strings and wanting to stick, as much as possible to the constitution – Not something that they, or the ruling parties are known for or particularly good at.
By Friday, The president is still under house arrest and other prominent leaders from around the globe have flown in to try and enter the negotiations. The main aim, To get the president to resign under his own accord, not an easy task to try convince someone who has held on to power AT ALL COSTS for 37 years to accept. While their negotiations continue, outside of state house, in the country at large,the cogs are now spinning freely, Mass gatherings have been announced around the world. Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and various other social media outlets are buzzing with normal citizens taking up the mantle of organising these protests/gatherings. In a bizarre twist, the local media and newspapers are openly printing and broadcasting Anti government headlines. Something not seen for at least 20 years. Transport has been laid on for free and these gatherings are not political, Just a gathering of the people.
Saturday 18th November. Will go down as one of the most momentous days in Zimbabwe’s history. It seems that most the country, black – white- coloured, Rich, poor, employed, unemployed will all unify in a gathering the likes of which has never been seen. Figures of 6 million people (Unratified) from around the country are on the move in various parts of the country, all standing shoulder to shoulder with one aim – to show their leader of their discontent. In the past, gatherings against the government have been savagely and swiftly quelled. Gatherings similar to this one have happened in the recent past, but not on this scale. The vibe is electric, citizens join with the military, Pictures of tanks rolling down the streets absolutely surrounded by citizens whilst army personnel and locals are high fiving each other. Entire roads are blocked due to the number of people. They are marching on state house which has, for the past 37 years had an exclusion zone heavily guarded by armed personnel. Mind you, you would have to be pretty stupid to open fire on 3 – 4 million people when you only have maybe 50 rounds of ammunition. And whilst all this was happening, The west were more and more perplexed at how this could be a military Coup, there was no violence, no bloodshed, no looting, no anger, a nation united! This really did not fit in the western world’s script! Then, at the end of the day, after a few speeches by certain citizens, all were told to go home and they did. Again, the Western media were scratching their heads in utter disbelief.
Meanwhile, across the globe, The Zimbabwean Diaspora were showing their support, from gatherings of a few people in a bar to mass gatherings outside Zimbabwean embassies ( I was very privileged to go to the one in London UK) where a vigil has taken place every Saturday for the last 10 years demanding the resignation of the President. Albeit the British weather, the atmosphere was profoundly joyous and peacful and after spending about 6 hours there we left the gathering that was still growing. It was Amazing to be part of it. But there was still no word from the president, – still under house arrest and further dignitaries from African union and Southern African development Community SADC, commonly renamed the South African Dictators Club, due to arrive to assist in negotiations
Sunday, further gatherings planned to pray for the country, Africa Unity Square in Harare becomes a hive of activity. Provincial governments start to issue their discontent , issuing a vote of no confidence against their leader in a small, then total show of disdain. Letters come in from Foreign leaders asking The president to step down. Now, not only the army, the country, the diaspora, but also his own party were against him. Surely the nails just needed to be put in the coffin!!! You would think. But this is Africa. Then an announcement by The president. Globally we are Glued to our TV sets, ipads, smartphones, computers to watch what was possibly the most boring, lack lustre address in the history of a nation. It was a struggle to stay awake but by the end of it, The President DID NOT RESIGN. An entire nation and its Diaspora were left with a WTF (What the F@*%)moment. No one could actually believe what they had just sat through. Round the world 15 million Zimbabweans were now left with a conundrum of how to put a cork in a perfectly good bottle of Champagne. Rumours are rife that he had missed a few pages out, he had read the wrong speech (common occurrence for this fella) That Night nearly Every Zimbabwean went to bed confused and thinking the Worst, For 37 years they have tried to get rid of him and this may have to chalked up as another failed attempt to oust him.
Monday:- Talks of impeachment are imminent; a new Deadline of midday comes and goes for a resignation. Twitter is alive with the details of an impeachment process that could stretch from 2 days to 2 years! Things are not looking good, combined with the fact that there is no Vice President in the country to take over the reins. One was fired about 11 days ago and the other is out the country. All this time, totally peaceful leaving the western media utterly dumbfounded by how this is going down. Prayers in African unity Square are being held permanently by this time.
Tuesday, as the Impeachment process is about to start, there is hope, Parliament are sitting to start the process and the meeting has to be moved as there is not enough space. Then, what every Zimbabwean has been praying for, some their entire lives. Mugabe Resigns, The speech could not be finished due to the eruption of joy that ensued. Outside, the crowds go wild, news rapidly spreads throughout the world on twitter and the party begins. You may ask, why is this so important?
For any Zimbabwean below the age of 40, this is the first time EVER they have been able to say Our EX president. Anyone who has NOT endured 37 years of tyranny, oppression, lack of free speech, total fear cannot understand what this feels like. Parties erupt around the world again, In Harare, it is like one massive street party.
But wait, there are the naysayers. Through all of this, many scenarios have been played out as to the legitimacy of the Coup/Non-coup. Many questions of Who will be next? The biggest statement being, “Well, the next guy could be worse!”.
Saturday and Tuesday Must be left with every Zimbabwean
as a dedication to the changes that are taking place.
Let them bathe in the glory of what they, as a united people, have done as a Nation. None are blinkered by what the future may hold but all can relay stories of poverty, oppression, broken families, brutality, violence, joblessness, imprisonment for your views, infrastructure collapse, not being able to afford food for the table, having to choose which of your children will be educated, having to choose which of your family members can have life-saving drugs, homelessness, and coercion by the government to maintain their grip. Just last week, 2.7 billion dollars was written off the Zimbabwe Stock exchange. Unless you have queued for hours or days just to get food, a tiny amount of money out of YOUR bank account, petrol, you will never understand what these moments are like. The list is endless and very sad. Just join with every Zimbabwean in the Moment they finally became free from a tyrant.
They are under no illusion that bringing Zimbabwe back from the brink of – another financial collapse – is not going to be easy and some hard decisions have to be made but Noone can really say what the future will hold but Zimbabwe have been given the opportunity to write their future now, something that has been lacking for the last 20 years at least. Again, the Western World will never understand what it is like to live and exist under those circumstances. But they can learn from Zimbabwe too. It might sound odd that a Supposed first world Country can learn from a third, fourth or fifth world country. They will never believe that what happened in Zimbabwe was a Military Coup. There was no bloodshed, violence. I am sure in time they (the Western media) will come up with a new label – We know how everything has to have a label to put to it. To say what actually happened.
One thing that is certain and has now been proved to the world, People power can work. Hopefully the new leaders will learn that you cannot subdue an entire population indefinitely. Eventually the “Chickens will come home to roost” – which is pretty ironic seeing as the Symbol of the Zanu PF is the Jongwe (Shona dialect for Cockerel)
The Road ahead is long and uncertain but at least, now, there is a road where last week, there was not. Go Strong Zimbabwe. The world wishes you well for the rebuilding of an amazing country where ALL can live in peace and harmony. And for the leaders, just remember this week and never again believe that you can ride roughshod over an entire population