Saturday, November 22, 2008

Zim: SA chickens coming home to roost

So, the South African cabinet says the cholera outbreak is a clear indication that ordinary people are becoming “victims of their leaders’ lack of political will”.

“No amount of political disagreement can ever justify the suffering that ordinary Zimbabweans are being subjected to at the moment”, a c
abinet statement says.

Just last week SADC, of which South Africa is chair, was taking up Mugabe’s negotiating position that MDC should share the Home Affairs portfolio with Zanu-PF.

What a volte face!

Pretoria is worried.

Just this weekend, its paramedics treated 68 cholera patients at Musina, which borders Zimbabwe’s southern town of Beitbridge, where 36 people have
died since last Friday alone. Toilets at the border post shut to the public four months ago, according to Radio VOP.

Meanwhile Médecins sans Frontières warned Tue
sday that 1,4 million Zimbabweans are at risk of a cholera epidemic.

I have often heard people say that if Zimbabwe had oil, a nuclear bomb, or terrorists, our crisis would have received a lot of attention a long time ago. Well, such critics can relax now: cholera is Zimbabwe’s oil, our nuclear bomb.

Nobody enjoys running to the toilet every ten minutes. That is what the South Africans are scared of. Boy-oh-boy, do they love roasting inyama outdoors! Me
anwhile Zimbabweans are bringing cholera by the bus-load to Park Station. ‘Makwerekwere’ has become ‘Zvirwererwere’!

That’s right, we may in fact contaminate them. We have the power to contaminate. So they now want to make sure that we do not leave our country to contaminate them. We are armed with pathogens.

The South Africans are strangers to our reality, you see. They often hear that people are suffering, and are quick to believe Mugabe’s stories that we are not. So now we bring our suffering in person—armed and deadly.

Hail the power of Vibrio cholerae!

So powerful is the strain that it literally turns its sufferer into a weapon of mass diarrhea contamination. A few so-called garden-boys like th
at commuting daily from Budiriro to Borrowdale Brook and voila, even our high and mighty tormentors are making persistent pilgrimages to their well-manicured toilets. Sorry, I digress past the Samora Machel—Second Street cordons sanitaire. The urchins won’t pass north, Your Excellency.

At least before last week we knew that although the hospitals have collapsed, still they were open. Now they are closed—“virtual
ly closed”. Hands up all those who still haven’t had a funeral because your close relative has not been turned away at Parirenyatwa, Harare, Mpilo, or Mutare general hospital—or any other hospital. Hands up!

Maternity hospitals—CLOSED! The once-revered UZ Med
ical School—CLOSED! Disease monitoring mechanism —DEAD! Pronouncement on the health of a nation—DEAD!

Many of our relatives live with HIV/AIDS. They were already suffering occasional diarrhea. Now with cholera, the diarrhea is a flood. We are getting ready for the funerals we cannot stop. Powerless.

We can’t even afford coffins. Even if we did, the funeral parlours don’t have them, have closed, are too full, or charge an arm and a leg.

Just the other day they were about to bury my sister on a reed mat, just before my carpenter relative turned up to put together a few planks into a coffin. I am choking…. It is very painful.

Yes, the political violence has killed many hundreds. Yes, if people go into the streets, death is possible. True - many are staying at home where they are safe. They drink the next cup of water from Mukuvisi River. It’s full of Vibrio cholerae. The drink of death!

Two deadly weapons have been used since our so-called ‘independence’. It was all there during Gukurahun
di—‘starve them to death unless they repent and forsake the opposition’. It was Nkomo then, it is Tsvangirai now.

Mugabe can’t find or care to find money to combat cholera, yet he has money to send riot police armed to the teeth to bludgeon doctors, nurses, and health workers trying to tell the world of an impending, if not already unfolding catastrophe.

These doctors and nurses have no dialysis or other surgical equipment, no protective gloves, and no drugs, to speak nothing of pay. They wanted to tell the world—including South Africa - that they have nothing to save life with.

These brave men and women were prevented from telling all of us that they are tired of watching people die - your relatives, my relatives, Zimbabweans! Human beings dying like pests, flies in the land of their birth. All because of one ruler SADC - South Africa -protects.

Mugabe has one objective in mind. He is determined to starve all Zimbabweans to death if that is what it takes to make Tsvangirai capi
tulate. I am reading the newspaper reports from 1980-7 and I can tell you this is exactly what he did to Joshua Nkomo.

Mugabe has never wanted an “opposition” or a parliamentary system to start with. It was imposed on him at Lancaster House! His ideal was a one-party state, by swallowing up or destroying the political careers of his adversaries through mysterious charges of plotting. Lookout Masuku, Dumiso Dabengwa, Joshua Nkomo, Ndabaningi Sithole, Morgan Tsvangirai—all of them share one history in common. They were all at one point or other charged with “plotting”—and treason.

Masuku died in prison. Dabengwa and Nkomo were swallowe
d up under the unity accord, Sithole was found guilty of treason and pardoned in return for staying out of politics. He died a pariah. Tsvangirai found a good attorney, was acquitted, and is resisting being swallowed. The stakes are high: if he is swallowed, there will never be democracy in Zimbabwe.

There is a parallel between the current attempts to swallow the MDC and what happened to Zapu. Nkomo was made to watch as his people suffered, to make him submit to a one-party state through pain. Pain he could actually stop by just capitulating.

Already we are hearing stories of “plotting”, arrests and disappearances, and an attempt to link Botswana to a non-existent rebellion. Tsvangirai’s secretary-general Tendai Biti has a treason trial hanging menacingly over his head.

Mugabe succeeded with Nkomo because he was playing the “tribalism card”, inflaming emotions in rural Mashonaland to justify the killings in Matabeleland. Not this time. Slowly it is beginning to dawn on Mugabe’s club of “liberation movement colleagues” that the revolution has long since come off the rails - as all sane people have been warning for some time.

Just as well! Surely, one knows that solidarity has run its course when a whole country is one vast reservoir of cholera. How does one relate to the person who is the cholera itself?

As I see it, South Africa’s withdrawal of aid to Mugabe is in reality the earnest beginning of a SADC sanctions net. Just last week, COMESA canceled its Victoria Falls summit where Mugabe was going to take over as chairman.

With Botswana and Zambia already grumbling, South Africa has a choice: to stand with a tyrant or risk splitting up SADC, with the resultant loss of members to the larger COMESA trading.

It’s a tough sell, especially as global markets shrink.

1 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

This article was originally published by The Zimbabwe Times, and was written by Clapperton Mavunga