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27 Feb 2005 23:59
As I entered my late 20s, a great aunt of mine sat me down to ask when I would get married. I explained that I could not find a man to fit what I wanted.
I proceeded to give her these specifications in great detail.
Great aunty Munjai looked me in the eye and said: “No, child of my child, you don’t understand. All you need is just a man. It doesn’t matter whether he is a chirema [not a very politically correct Shona term for a cripple], or if he is a drunkard, or even if he doesn’t have a dog or a chicken! The important thing is you need a husband. Just get one. Anyone. All you need is something, just so the sun sets quicker, [in Shona, chaunongoda kuvidza zuva — to help get you through the day].”
I never quite got round to finding the thing that would help my sun set quicker. Dozens of my friends, however, did.
Their sun has set hastily — many with drunks by their side. And the nights are terribly long, and are not filled with promised pleasures. But on the bright side, at least they have the dignity (their words), of being called Mrs So-and-so.
The only explanation I can fathom for the Movement for Democratic Change’s (MDC) participation in next month’s Zimbabwean parliamentary election is that they are only doing what my great-aunt advised me to do many years ago.
All they need is an election, any election. Why else would they be participating in an election so flawed and so hopeless? I don’t understand why the party thinks that participating in these elections will galvanize Zimbabweans and get us out of our present traumas.
How does yet another Zanu-PF victory — this time with a smattering of peace and half a teaspoon of legitimacy — lift our spirits? Zimbabweans are going through severe emotional trauma, watching our country slide down a slippery slope. At the same time the continued victory of Zanu-PF in election after election is sending the message that they are invincible and here to stay.
The past few by-elections in which Zanu-PF won back seats that it had lost in 2000 has strengthened their image (and propaganda). Most Zimbabweans are not stupid and they can see through the chicanery played out at election time. What people want are clear signs of hope.
It is like having a sick loved one in hospital. What you want to see when you visit them is some sign of a return to health: today she drank all her soup, tomorrow she eats the whole banana, the next day she walked two steps away from her sickbed.
Since 2002, these signs have not been visible in our sick country.
Each successive month the patient slips away. Call me pessimistic, but our patient can hardly open her mouth anymore. How a landslide victory for Zanu-PF (which I am willing to bet is guaranteed), will give anyone’s confidence a boost is quite beyond me.
A barrage of bad news only makes people depressed. Maybe the question to ask is: What is it that the MDC is seeing that the rest of us are oblivious to? Is there something they know that we don’t? An Angolan friend’s thesis is that when you are faced with an enemy bigger than you, you must not show them any fear.
He argues that you must, as he put it, “die fighting”. He likened the MDC to a mother hen. The party knows the eagle will take its chicks away, but it will scratch and flap its wings just to show the eagle that it can fight back.
Going with this kind of argument for a moment, we see the poor MDC flapping about, yet we all know that in the end, the chicks will definitely go.
All Zanu-PF is in the process of doing is making itself look like a nice eagle. Away goes the hated Jonathan Moyo (that should pull in at least 500Â 000 votes), the Russian delegation will find no fault and neither will the African Union.
The International Monetary Fund is rehabilitating the regime. I suppose my grand aunt had a small point, after all.
For the next few months our attention will be focused on this pointless election. The frenzied media attention on Zimbabwe will ensure that the sun sets faster and faster each day. It will also take everyone’s mind away from the fundamental issues driving Zimbabweans to desolation.
And as for the MDC, it shall have the “dignity” of being called a political party. Much like the woman who married the drunken, dog-less village idiot. Just so she could be counted as a Mrs ...
Everjoice Win is a Zimbabwean feminist currently based in South Africa
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