Storm Clouds Gather
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 associated with it. I am told that such a cyclone
quite a fierce animal with 200 kilometers per hour winds and heavy
UN issued a warning yesterday that it was standing by for emergency
assistance to Mozambique.
If you are watching television you will have seen the pictures of the
Zambezi River spilling over its banks and the 150 000 or so refugees
housed in tents courtesy of the Mozambique emergency services. Kariba
still far from full - about 7 metres to go and rising slowly, so
floods on the lower Zambezi have nothing to do with the Congo or
season. Here in the south of Zimbabwe we are on severe water rationing
do not have enough water in our dams for the rest of the year - so we
desperate for this particular cyclone and what it might bring. So much
that we have all been following it via satellite for two days.
There are two other storm systems developing out at sea and over
and we might see another cyclone shortly. Some welcome such an event,
dread it and think that it will just make life even more miserable than
is at present.
Our politics is a bit like that - last night it was clear skies,
stars, I have seldom seen Venus in the evening sky showing such
There was also a thin sliver of moon just appearing. For those of you
live in wetter climes, the evening sky here is something to behold -
especially on a dark night after rain when the air is washed clean of
and smoke. The Milky Way just blazes across the sky. I put my
grandson to bed the other night (the girls were at a piano concert) and
demanded to go outside and lie on the ground looking up at the wonder
night sky. Kids know what is important.
Right now the edge of the cyclone system is just beginning to wash over
it is quite different to our normal sky and you can feel the change in
You might also have been watching Zimbabwe on the news this week. The
activity has been slowly gathering momentum and on Friday and then
there was some serious street rioting in Harare. The crowd
just trying to attend a rally responded fiercely when the Police waded
using excessive and unwarranted force. Cars were smashed and burnt,
House had a few windows broken and a number of Police were injured.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to political
here at present and I think everyone senses that a storm is coming.
cyclone, some dread its arrival and others pray for it to come quickly
then wash the land with its aftermath.
Zanu PF has broken into several pieces that simply can no longer be
reconciled. Mugabe wants to extend his tern by two years and then run
for another 6 years. But his Party - long just a rubber stamp for his
slightest whim, is saying no. Both the Central Committee and the
have been unable to reach consensus and the matter is now back in the
Provinces where the debate rages. It seems to me that Mugabe may lose
one - only his second major political defeat in 27 years.
So the debate is on whether to hold both Parliamentary and Presidential
polls next year in March or to simply go to the Presidential poll as
required by the Constitution. Either option is possible at this stage.
This particular storm is gathering strength from its environment -
a cyclone. On the one hand the melt down in the economy is still
momentum. Inflation at 50 per cent a month (8 000 per cent per annum)
shortages of just about everything that is essential to life. Bread,
oil, flour, sugar, fuel and maize meal are all difficult to come by and
at a price.
Then there is the diplomatic sea we operate in - France at long last
enough is enough and sent a polite invitation to attend the annual
Franco/African summit in Paris, but on condition that Mugabe stayed at
So no one went and the government issued a sour note saying that it was
that developed States stopped inviting African Heads of State to attend
meetings in their capitals as if they were all lackeys - I agree with
sentiment. But when Mugabe was invited, with all other African leaders
China recently - he went and dutifully stood in line to shake hands
Chinese President before being wined and dined in aristocratic
When the Chinese leadership toured Africa in recent weeks, the third
tour in a year, they studiously ignored Zimbabwe and visited nearly all
neighbors - all except those who do not have assets to plunder like
As all who have worked in the diplomatic sphere know - this was a
slight to Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Today there is speculation that Namibia is about to offer Mr. Mugabe
what? Refugee status after he has retired because of the understanding
he simply will not be allowed to remain in Zimbabwe without the threat
some sort of legal action after he retires in March 2008! Apparently
friend Sam has a home in a National Park, and Mugabe is invited to join
there. Now there would be a tourist attraction if ever there was one!
Add that all together and you might even feel a bit sorry for the old
Zimbabwe politics. After all the adulation and respect garnered over a
lifetime of struggle, to end his days in disgrace (with Grace) and
isolation. Not even able to control the debate in his own Party. As
Mbanga said today - there is time to redeem yourself, but to do so
to do the unthinkable - apologize to your own people for what you
and then step down with as much dignity as possible.
With this particular storm on its way and building up its strength,
not on his side anymore. For the rest of us - batten down the hatches
get your brollies and gumboots out. When we come out of our bunkers,
will be shining, our rivers running and our country clean. I cannot
Bulawayo, 22 February 2007