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Women’s political participation not an act of charity

By  Blessing Vava    File picture: Is engaging Kenyan women in security affairs the key to creating better policies? Photo: Mari...

Monday, 1 December 2014

ZANU PF 2014 Congress: Mujuru Learnt Nothing and Forgot Everything

By Blessing Vava

The ZANU PF national congress is here, probably the last congress for ZANU PF’s first
Rivals-Mujuru and Mnangagwa
secretary Robert Mugabe. The much awaited congress which had been viewed by many as not just a congress, but a transitional congress (though not elective) likely to seal ZANU PF’s succession battle. The road to this congress has been boisterous, melodramatic coupled with shocks and surprises as, and since the beginning of the year it had seemed that the embattled vice president Joice Mujuru was tipped to succeed Mugabe.  With the backing of nine provinces, and the fact that she was the second secretary and vice president of the country, punters had already put their biggest bet on Mujuru to lead ZANU PF after Mugabe. It is this false postulation or rather the miscalculation on Mujuru that backfired on her after failing to understand the political dynamics in her party. The notion that she was going to be the automatic successor of Mugabe by virtue of being vice president and possibly the false assumption of popularity in the structures in ZANU PF was ill-informed.  
Those who had put their money on Joice, including the private media had ruled out Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa  in the succession race because his alleged backers had been thumped in the controversial elections that saw him losing control of nine of the ten provinces of ZANU PF.

Rekindling the Memory of 2004
Rewinding the clock ten years back, Mnangagwa, the preferred choice by the provinces in 2004, was made to eat a humble pie after Mugabe controversially amended the ZANU PF constitution to pave way for Mujuru. Six of ZANU PF’s provincial chairpersons aligned to Mnangagwa were suspended and equally accused of trying to topple the ZANU PF presidium. In the process Mnangagwa failed to get the vice presidency Mujuru assuming the post at the benevolence of Mugabe. The biggest lesson that came out that time was that in ZANU PF, one does not necessarily have to be popular amongst the structures to get to the top but rather, one’s loyalty to the president that mattered.  Almost ten years down the line history has repeated itself (Mujuru), despite the backing of nine provinces has suffered the same fate.  Her allies have been purged and now facing serious treason charges.

Interestingly after the youth and women’s congresses held this year, it had seemed Mujuru was now a clear favourite with nine provinces in her back. However as it stands now the writing is now clear on the wall that VP Mujuru’s borrowed robes have waned. Most of her backers have failed to make it to the Central Committee, and like face powder all her assumed control she thought she had in the party has disappeared to an extent of even failing to secure a nomination from her district. It’s now clear that most of her backers, especially the provincial chairpersons will be watching the congress with binoculars, they won’t be part of it.

Learnt nothing and forgot Everything
Mujuru’s tragedy that she will live to regret is the failure to understand the undemocratic nature and character of the party and President Mugabe. Mujuru learnt nothing from Mugabe and the ZANU PF system of patronage and forgot that the party’s supreme decision making is embodied in the president. Here is a party and a president who has used patronage, corruption, state machinery and dictatorial tendencies to intimidate perceived enemies to stay in power at whatever cost. Mugabe thrives on fanning factionalism in the party. He has used patronage systematically to an extent that most leaders in ZANU PF are where they are because of Mugabe’s benevolence and not necessarily about their capabilities. He knows who has been doing what and how they have all acquired quick riches. The balancing act for Mugabe’s power has been the absence of a united voice within ZANU PF calling for Mugabe to step down to an extent  that factionalism has maintained his grip on power. And the history of ZANU PF in the past ten years has been a serious contestation for control of party structures (DCCs and PCCs) and ultimate succession of Mugabe.

Mujuru’s greatest blunder was the failure to locate where power resides in ZANU PF. In a dictatorship like ZANU PF power resides not in the people but in the leader who happens to be Mugabe. So the thinking by Mujuru that she will have a majority of votes at congress was not only wishful but rather foolish and misplaced. They thought Mugabe was going to act by the rules but alas he has shown them that he is the master and what he says carries the day and not otherwise.   On the 8th September 2014 Mujuru, at a Politburo Meeting boastfully challenged Opah Muchinguri to the ballot at congress as she thought she her perceived control of the structures was sufficient to retain her post and subsequently succeed Mugabe. Thus:
‘’Don’t speak — go out and fight, then you will see; Now I say to other people, if they want to take the risk, then take the risk, That is good. And I am happy to fight. But if you take the risk you also have the chance to lose.’’
Daily News 9 September 2014

Unfortunately Dr VP, it does not happen that way in the revolutionary party. The bark starts and stops with Mugabe.  ZANU PF is not a democratic party, and Mujuru herself was catapulted to the vice presidency through dictatorial means something she has easily and quickly forgotten.  Similarly in 2004, the constitution has been amended again, making this congress ‘selective’ rather than elective because the president has been given sweeping powers to choose the team he wants to work with.
In all this drama, there are some who think ZANU PF is heading for a split, possibly being orchestrated by the Mujuru faction which I believe will not happen anytime soon. The view that a post Mugabe ZANU PF is headed for a split is misplaced and fails to understand that the dominant centre of power in ZANU PF relies on patronage and the control of state power and machinery to thwart dissenting voices or rebellious elements.   Those who have fallen by the wayside including Mujuru herself will either remain in ZANU PF or if they so wish die poor because most of them are products of a patronage system and corruption. Any attempts to defy the status quo will result in some of them being persecuted or dying poor, a compromise non amongst them is willing to undertake. The current expose’ on corruption and underhand dealings by the VP is a clear reminder to her that if she decides to go against the wishes and decisions of the ‘Prince’, her actions will be complemented by serious ramifications to her person, family and business empire.

Postulating the Congress:
The outcome of the congress is almost predictable and the ZANU PF presidium will have new faces after the 7th of December.  It will be dominated by Mnangagwa loyalists namely Oppah, Mphoko and Mudenda. Mnangagwa is the front runner to succeed Mujuru in line with the recent amendments of the ZANU PF constitution.
Apart from these changes in the Presidium and Politburo respectively there is a likelihood of a cabinet reshuffle.  Most Ministers who were fingered in the plot to assassinate Mugabe will face the boot, and the list has Goche, Bhasikiti, Mutasa, Mavhaire and several other deputies will be removed but also not ruling out that one or two names will bounce back at the mercy of Mugabe, who still has 10 more direct appointments to make in the Central Committee.  The cabinet reshuffle will likely take place before Mugabe goes on his annual leave with Mujuru probably facing the axe and replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa. The First Lady, Grace Mugabe has already indicated that the country’s vice presidents can all be men sustained by a constitutional amendment on the ZANU PF removing the gender clause. It will also be interesting to note how the congress will deal with the renegade MPs considering their centrality and designation in national legislation. Is the congress momentum going to be sustained beyond 7 December or we will witness a halt of the sackings and attempts to regroup with all party cadres?

Zimbabwe’s VP and Interim Heir
Emmerson Mnangagwa has for years been a loyalist of Mugabe having served as his Personal Assistant during the war and Mugabe’s Chief Election Agent in the 1980 and the watershed 2013 elections. Mnangagwa is believed to have rescued ZANU PF and the president after the 29 March 2008 electoral loss at the hands of the MDC by swiftly coordinating the Joint Operation Command (JOC) in the run up to the 27 June 2008 ‘run off.’ He is tipped to take over as President after Mugabe with some media reports suggesting that Mugabe told the Chinese during his state visit to that country this year that Mnangagwa was his successor.

The choice of having Mnangagwa, a hardliner is a progression of radical politics and will both preserve and strengthen Mugabe’s legacy of dictatorship and ruthlessness. Joyce Mujuru’s sympathy from the opposition and links with the West cost her dearly in the eyes of Mugabe. Mujuru is rumoured to have failed to guarantee the security of the First Family in the event of departure of the president with recordings of her voice threatening to reverse ZANU PF policy direction and international relations. Because of Mnangagwa’s proximity and loyalty to the First family makes him a good replacement to the nonagenarian leader.

This congress and the whole succession issue is about the security and future of Mugabe’s family, this is why his wife Grace has been playing a pivotal role in this power matrix. Its either she together with her allies, the Mnangagwa group are probably privy to some  alarming health records on Mugabe or maybe he wants to retire in 2015.  Hence, the spirited campaign to decimate the Mujuru group in the process throwing them further away from the succession dynamics and dealing with this issue once and for all.

The Future:
The ZANU PF congress will come and go; not even the reshuffling of cabinet will change the fortunes of this country in the not so near future. The economic woes are likely going to continue and 2015 will be a very difficult year with the continuation of the Zimbabwe-China/Russia relations with the EU being marginal. Investment partners given the preferred FDI by the Mugabe-Mnangagwa group in ZANU PF. The new incumbent will obviously consolidate power, and the template will not change the use of state apparatus to intimidate opponents, the manipulation of the country’s electoral process will continue. The Mnangagwa group will derive benefit in engineering by-elections in parliamentary seats belonging to Mujuru’s allies as a means of gauging the state and performance of the party ahead of the 2018 elections. On the whole, the 2018 elections will continue to be a no contest with the new incumbent fiercely defending his position and given the current absence of a viable opposition voice in Zimbabwe, ZANU PF’s hegemony will go unchallenged. The Mnangagwa group will need to be mindful of the ramifications of a disjointed and weakened ZANU PF in the 2018 elections possibly with the resurgence of the Bhora Musango phenomenon by disgruntled cadres.


Blessing ‘Vuvuzela’ Vava writes from Chipinge and can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Succession Wars: Mugabe’s Self – Preservation in ZANU PF

By Blessing Vava

It was never a secret that President Mugabe wanted to rule Zimbabwe for life, and he never envisaged anyone other than himself to be the President of Zimbabwe as long as he is alive.
ZANLA Commander eliminated on the eve of Zimbabwe's


Since he took over as leader of ZANU in 1976, his tactics of intimidating, outwitting and eliminating political opponents and anyone who dares challenge his power is well documented. A great deceiver of our time Mugabe has used the ‘divide and rule’ tactic for self-perpetuation in power. Some quarters say he had a hand in the elimination of revolutionaries like General Josiah Tongogara, Herbert Chitepo to mention but a few and all elements he saw as an impediment in his road to his self-made ‘throne.’ Even in post-independence Zimbabwe the man’s dirty tactics of thwarting opponents are all written and told from one generation to the other. We all know how he plotted against the late Father Zimbabwe Joshua Nkomo, Dumiso Dabengwa and all the revolutionary leaders of ZAPU, as he saw Nkomo as a threat falsely labelling him a dissident. He made sure they were powerless and even unleashed the notorious Five Brigade to kill the people of Matabeleland and Midlands Provinces, all this was done to maintain his dominancy as the all-conquering leader of the Republic of Zimbabwe. One thing for sure Mugabe succeeded in his plan and most of the ZAPU leaders succumbed and, for the sake of ‘unity’ they joined Mugabe in 1987, to become ZANU PF. But over the years Mugabe never rested, his life has always been scheming and consolidating his power. Nkomo and his crew were just figureheads used under the guise of a Unity Accord signed on the 22nd of December 1987.

Pardoned by Mugabe:  Dzikamai Mavhaire
I pity the late Edison Zvogbo, who was eyeing the Presidency and even going to the extent of amending the constitution creating an Executive Presidency, possibly to enjoy the same powers after Mugabe’s departure. His mistake was thinking that Mugabe was a democrat who will at one point leave office to pave way for another leader. That was not to be, Zvobgo got demoted by Mugabe to a Minister without Portfolio. Dzikamai Mavhaire a Zvobgo ally braved the Mugabe’s ruthlessness and became the first ZANU PF senior official to call for the resignation of Mugabe. Not only was he suspended from the party, Mavhaire went into oblivion and became a pale shadow of his former self until he was pardoned by Mugabe post July 2013 when he was appointed a minister. And he was set as an example.  Mugabe has his way of managing rifts and discord within his party and always his will carries the day. Those in ZANU PF know this quite frankly. This is why both factions will be battling to bootlick him at whatever platform and expense making reassurances that he is the sole candidate at congress and that he is the party’s candidate in 2018, even if they know he is no longer capable.

The Present….
For as long as Mugabe is still the leader of ZANU PF, he determines what happens in the party and who will compose the presidium and the politburo. He enjoys these factional fights because he knows that they will be pre-occupied fighting amongst themselves and not challenging his power. In fact all factional wars in ZANU PF hover around the vice presidency and never an open contest to his post. Mugabe has used patronage and fear as his weapon to weaken members of his party. He has made them to believe (though they  do not necessarily believe) that he is the best thing ever to happen to ZANU PF.  Given a closely knit patronage system that has evolved over the past 38 years and has been supported by state sponsored ‘disciplinary’ wings none of the ZANU PF top leadership have the guts to openly challenge his post. They cannot challenge him, they might do secret meetings behind his back, but he has an effective intelligence system and he will be in the know-how of all the plots to have him out. His comments at the luncheon after the opening of the 2nd Session of the 8th Parliament are clear that Mugabe is aware of those plotting to oust him, thereby buttressing statements echoed by his wife during her ‘Meet the People Rallies’. Mugabe is not prepared to go and from his speech it was clear that he is in support of what his wife’s sentiments. However, he was trying to appear as if he is managing both sides. It is these factional battles that maintain a balance on his power as he then appears to be the mediator reigning sanity in the party; in fact some of these factional fights have been a creation of Mugabe who lies back with an eagle eye and strikes to bring sanity before they blow out of proportion.

Oppressor turns Victim…………
Dressed in borrowed robes: Joice Mujuru
As the succession plot thickens in the revolutionary party, Zimbabwe’s so-called opposition leaders and some elements within the civil society and the media have gone to the extent of openly showing their allegiance and sympathy to Joice Mujuru. How short their memory is, maybe they have forgotten that she is the Second Secretary of ZANU PF, who has been part of a corrupt government acquiring vast business empires through unscrupulous means – the ‘zamu ramai Mujuru’ case in Marange cannot be easily wished away. She was part of government during Gukurahundi, Operation Murambatsvina, 2000-2002-2008 violent elections……among numerous other crimes against socio-economic and political justice. Joice Mujuru is no saint!!! She has never on a single day condemned ZANU PF or state barbarism that is an affront to the values of the liberation struggle. Any sympathy for her is a great betrayal to what Zimbabweans have been fighting for since 1997 – a free and open developmental society where every citizen is protected by the state. We have all been fighting for a democratic country, where the rule of law is respected, a free corrupt society; however it’s difficult to separate the Dr Vice President from all the ills committed by her party. In 2004 she was used to block Mnangagwa from the post of Vice President, subsequently she was elevated by Mugabe and dressed in borrowed robes as the person to fill the post of Vice President and second secretary of ZANU PF. Like all borrowed robes, those given to Mujuru are beginning to wane down because of her ‘ambitions to unseat Mugabe.’ And as Mugabe said yesterday that come congress ZANU PF will be moving in one direction, and the same Joice will be part of it. The jostling in civic society and opposition to support Mujuru has been successful in diverting national attention from building strong political movement(s) to challenge ZANU PF in the near future. Zvazviri!

Blessing Vuvuzela Vava is a defender of the Peoples Charter and can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com

Friday, 10 October 2014

Zimbabwe and the contagious ‘Life Presidency' Phenomenon

By Blessing Vava

The concept of leadership change and Organisational Renewal is the height of democratic
Zimbabwe and ZANU PF's Life President
practises promoting innovation, adaptability and seizing opportunities ahead of competitors. In a political organisation it seeks to integrate the aspect of introducing new ideas and revamping structures and entities in a dynamic political and contested environment. In institutions, entities and states that underpin their value system on democracy, it has been a culture that leadership is recalled expressly or voluntarily after major political events that may have a bearing on the success and progression of a political movement. In a democratic structure, open dialogue on succession as well as engagement with structures is not outlawed but enhanced. In a similar fashion leaders who have a tainted personality trait(s) would normally voluntarily disembark at the helm of a movement as a strategy to rebrand and protect the integrity of an institution Bill Clinton and Strauss Kahn are such examples, in the region Nelson Mandela’s divorce to Winnie Madikizela Mandela is one such case. In a failing political system it is normal for leadership to be recalled before congress. In some scenarios the leader would voluntarily step down after a denting political defeat that may have a dampening and demobilising effect if not divisive. In Zimbabwe leadership renewal and succession is taboo, internal democratic systems do not exist in political parties and some civil society formations.

Earlier this year the main opposition party in Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai was plunged into turmoil following a letter penned by Elton Mangoma to party President Morgan Tsvangirai, advising the latter to step down. Thus calling for an early elective congress for the party to reflect and come up with new strategies especially after the embarrassing defeat at the hands of 90 year old Mugabe and his party ZANU PF.  The issue of leadership renewal and succession in Zimbabwe’s political movements is a hot potato. The ruling party ZANU PF’s template of ‘Life President’ has been copied by Zimbabwe’s opposition parties, cascaded and pasted to the so-called pro-democratic organisations. I hasten to say that the failure to renew leaders has had disastrous implications on solutions and ideas generation for the normative and has further weakened not only ZANU PF, but opposition parties and the civil society.  ZANU PF has had one leader since 1975, and it is the liberation’s movement’s failure to nature succession politics that has plunged Zimbabwe into a monarch. The MDCt has had Tsvangirai since 1999, same with some Zimbabwean civil society leaders flouting their constitutions to stay in power .Those who dare challenge the status quo are quickly labelled ‘enemies of progress.’

In  the MDC the calls for leadership renewal   attracted a lot of discord and violent scuffles that at its worst resulted in the physical attacks on the Deputy Treasurer Elton Mangoma and other senior officials  at the party Headquarters on Saturday 15 February 2014. Tsvangirai hung on and those who were calling for leadership renewal brokeaway from the Tsvangirai group and are now fronting a faction calling itself MDC Renewal Team.
Handiende...handiendewo..The two life presidents in happier times

Unlike in ZANU PF, leadership renewal is a concept enshrined in the MDCt party’s founding principles and document. And indeed it was a legitimate call that resonates with movement building and reconnecting with the masses in the face of an electoral defeat on 31st July 2013. In sticking with both moral and the party’s congressional mandate established in 1999 the party has since reneged from its founding principles, i.e. the National Working Peoples Convention of 1999, which gave birth to the party. As the Tsvangirai group is now preparing for its congress, fissures and division are already manifesting and the party will emerge weaker and further divided after the congress.

For ZANU PF the script is even much worse, Mugabe’s failure to deal with his succession is now haunting him. It’s no longer a secret that President Mugabe is now too old and whatever science, rocket or African will remake the President, the man is old and he needs rest. He has presided over chaos, dictatorship, corruption and destroyed the economic fortunes of this ‘once beautiful nation.’ Change management is a key component for healthy democracies and a preservative to institutional memory beyond individual tenancy. A good leader is seen by his ability to groom other leaders to take over after his departure, something that President Mugabe overlooked during his reign. For his selfish reasons it is all about him and no one else or maybe his wife Grace that are capable of leading.  Interestingly the recent events in the ruling party are reaching the boiling point and the writing is now clear that the party will face insurmountable problems when Mugabe is no longer in the picture. The emergence of his wife is nothing but the extension of Mugabeism in ZANU PF to protect the business empire of the first family after his departure. However, not even the ascendancy of Grace will save this raptured political outfit from demise. If we had a strong opposition 2018 was going to be a waterloo for ZANU PF. Political movements should never be personalised, leaders should come and go-that’s the essence of democracy. The events in ZANU PF are a huge lesson to opposition parties, never to idolise or immortalise rather, leaders should be seen as servants of the party and not ‘saviours.’

Blessing ‘Vuvuzela’ Vava is a defender of the Peoples Charter he writes from Chipinge and can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Bhora Mugedhi-‘ZANU PF’s own-goal’

By Blessing Vava

It is now almost a year since Zimbabwe went for polls on the 31st of July 2013 to choose a new government to run the affairs of the state for five years until the 2018 plebiscite. The ‘victory’ by ZANU PF and Mugabe was a major setback in as a far as turning around the fortunes of this country was concerned. Despite having the most sound manifesto compared to the two MDC's, Team ZANU PF, and even their economic blueprint –ZIMASSET have failed to drive the country out of economic deflation, create employment, eradicate corruption and  nepotism and revamp the economy to the pre-ESAP era. The colourful Bhora-Mugedhi campaign by ZANU PF was in fact an own-goal. With almost a year after the elections the reality donning is that ZANU PF scored an own-goal as evidenced by their cluelessness in administering the affairs of the country.  As usual and expected the government of the day lacks the gusto and gravitas to steer a turn-around of our ailing economy. The economic chaos that dominated Zimbabwe prior to its stagnation during the inclusive government has been reincarnated in less than a year post 31 July era.

Without shame ZANU-PF is now talking about the next elections to be held in 2018, already they now have brand new vehicles branded VOTE ZANU PF 2018-Ohh what a shame! The ZANU PF Chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo has of late been making noise to that his party is now preparing for the next elections. Whilst there nothing is wrong for a political party to plan ahead but there is everything wrong when the promises made during the 2013 campaign period are not fulfilled. What development theory has always argued is the non-functionality of an economy that is always in an election mood.  Not even their much talked about ZIMASSET is yet to get capital injection and already there is grandstanding on the blueprint with VP Mujuru saying ZIMASSET can only be achieved in a period of 30-40 years. The 31 July victory means that Zimbabweans gave ZANU PF a ‘mandate’ to run the affairs of government till 2018. And as such the five year period is about delivery and not a campaign period.  The ruling party should stop taking Zimbabweans for granted, we do not eat elections, and therefore this election talk before addressing what they promised to deliver for the five years preceding elections is very irresponsible and should not be tolerated. Elections cannot and should never be a pre-occupation of a ruling government, and therefore Robert Mugabe and his party should deliver period!

ZANU PF made flimsy excuses during the GNU, they complained about the lack of policy coordination in the operations of government due to what they termed ‘ideological’ and ‘irreconcilable’ differences with the two MDCs.  Logically, after the resounding victory we expect them to function as government and address the socio-economic woes bedevilling our country. However the factional fights hogging ZANU PF are now a real threat to national security, progress, and development. The inconsistencies are reminiscent of the infamous government of national unity which was characterised by such discord. In fact Zimbabwe now has three governments within one administration. It is now clear that ZANU PF is now a three legged limping creature with each leg stepping in its own direction. The divisions are palpable that there is no cohesion in policy formulation and coordination in the running of government business. Each of the factions is pre-occupied in outwitting each other ahead of congress as they position themselves for a life after Mugabe. The factions are incompatible and it will take a miracle for ZANU PF to deliver not even a resurrection to political life of Mugabe will paper the crevices unless there is a formidable opposition to the ZANU PF circus - i.e the people of Zimbabwe save themselves.

Clueless-Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti in happier times
Sadly, the whole nation seems trapped in the ZANU PF succession war, we watch with excitement as if it’s a soap opera or a football match, without the people making this ruling oligarchy accountable to deliver their mandate as government. The media again has also been directly or indirectly trapped in the ZANU PF factionalism; the state media has been a catalyst and fails to play its role as the fourth arm of the state. Basing from the stories we have been getting its easily evident that both the private and the public media is sucked deep into the ZANU PF succession fight. With the Baba Jukwa case being a classic example. Objectivity is now a thing of the past, in short Zimbabwe needs a renewed and robust media that defines and refocuses on the national agenda not this ZANU-MDC factions and Baba Jukwa which have become our daily headlines in the local media.

Zimbabwe is bigger than ZANU PF factional politics or the exposure of Baba Jukwa, this should be a time to make ZANU PF accountable in terms of delivery.  As this hullaballoo is unfolding, Zimbabwe’s opposition parties are nowhere to be seen to pressure the ZANU PF government to deliver. The petty fights within our opposition movements (which are an extension of the factional fights in ZANU PF) have somehow destroyed hope amongst Zimbabweans and again it will not be a surprise come 2018 with ZANU PF scooping over 75% of the vote by hook or crook unless real comrades come to the foe to provide leadership. Spending time in the courts fighting for asserts or cheap publicity is not in any way an item near or related to the national democratic development agenda and will never bring political and economic change to our country.  Methinks that only an organised, conscious grouping which will come up with a clear political agenda rooted in the total fulfilment of the liberation struggle and the democratic aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe as clearly articulated in the Peoples Charter will complete the revolution.

The onus therefore lies amongst the young generation to envisage an ideal Zimbabwe and decide on the future by providing strategic leadership - it will take time of course, but only if there is a resolve, national development vision and agenda, commitment, selflessness and sacrifices will a new Zimbabwe be a reality.

Blessing Vuvuzela Vava is a political commentator. He writes from Chipinge and views expressed in this article are personal. 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Toll gate fee increase irrational

By Blessing Vava

Minister of Transport- Obert Mpofu 
The Herald of 5 July 2014 reported that the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Obert Mpofu made amendments to the Toll Roads (Regional Trunk Road Network) Amendment Regulations of 2010 to effect an increase on tollgates. The report follows a   Statutory Instrument published in the Government Gazette by Government. The increase,   the first since tollgates were introduced in 2009 will see minibuses paying US$3, up from US$2. Buses will now be required to pay US$4, up from US$3, while heavy vehicles will pay US$5, up from US$4.

The increase itself is irrational, unreasonable and cannot be justified considering that not much maintenance has been done on all the countries major roads. Zimbabwe’s major roads have remained death traps with accidents because of minimum road maintenance despite the millions already being collected through tollgates. Already the money being collected from the tollgates cannot be justified or accounted for properly. Though the government needs resources to institute improvements on our major highways, this should however not be a justification to increase the tollgate fees by 100%. Instead, there should be other efficient means to collect these “taxes’’ to improve our roads. Raising funds for national road rehabilitation projects of this nature should be done with the least negative impact on the pockets of the public, whilst achieving the goal of funding the infrastructure.

The tollgate increase has indeed exposed the government’s arrogance in public engagement by introducing a policy of this nature. It should be the responsibility of every government to engage stakeholders on matters of policy that affect its citizens. While Minister Mpofu and ZINARA will try to justify and have us believe that this decision was arrived at through a consultative process, the simple truth is, they as a Ministry have failed and fell far short of what would be expected in a matter of this magnitude. This is validated by the outrage and surprise motorists expressed when the announcements of the toll increase were made. This did not only shock the individual road users, but business community as well.

In fact it was totally wrong and unacceptable, in the first place, for government to charge people to use existing roads. This is a form of privatisation of an existing public asset, our roads, which should be a public service paid for through taxation and not a commodity for sale to those with money. There should be a transparent discussion on why there has been a sudden increase. The increase will obviously affect the poor as this will also lead to the increase in the fares of public transport, thereby piling on the burden to the already suffering citizens. Poor consumers will also be hit by the inevitable higher prices in the shops as haulage firms pass on the cost of the tolls to the retailers, who will then pass this on to their customers.

 The move by Mpofu should not go unchallenged, it is a call to the trade unions, motorists, public transport associations, social movements, and community groupings to organise themselves and resist this illegal move.  It should basically be a campaign against the commodification of the highways. Equally, that campaign should speak to the broader demands for accessible, affordable and safe public transport system.  Whilst there is absolutely no doubt that even if one does not necessarily use the roads a good road infrastructure will be of great benefit to the country as a whole, but the burden should not entirely lie on the public but equally the national treasury needs to be an important contributor to the funding of roads.

The announcement by Minister Mpofu that less than $40 million is collected from tollgates annually is rather an under estimate, the government should disclose or share with the public the expenses needed so that it gives us a fairly accurate account of the tollgate costs and road rehabilitation.
Understanding the logic and issues above, the toll increase is fundamentally flawed and should be challenged even legally. It is most certainly not in the best interests of the citizen and works against the ultimate role that Government ought to play – i.e. to enhance the wellbeing of its citizens.

Blessing Vuvuzela Vava is a social commentator. He writes from Chipinge and can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Role of arts and culture in political transformation –how it shapes public discourse

By Blessing Vava

Freedom fighter-Thomas Mapfumo
The past and present centuries have been awash with artistic productions and cultural practises that speak towards political life- whether dynamic or static arts and culture have played a big influence and role in influencing society and public discourse and participation in politics. The arts and culture have been catalysts for positive social change and transformation. They represent the ideals, norms and standard acceptable group behaviours with which a people identify with and are obliged to comply for the sake of social harmony and co-habitation - crudely understood as social order. It is the idealism of a normative world that artistic and cultural acts seek to raise by exposing socio-economic and political ills. From a crude understanding one would define culture as the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society. Many a times it is these ideas and customs that regulate human interaction and form the basis of our political system. John Street in his cultural determinist interpretation of politics asserts the inextricable nexus between culture and politics arguing thus ‘if we fail to take popular culture seriously, we impoverish our understanding of the conflicting currents and aspirations which fuel politics.’ In this paper I seek to reinforce the credible role that arts and culture play in fostering public awareness and positive political transformation towards an idealised society.

Culture, for instance is a peace keeping phenomenon that undermines conflict reconfiguration by giving emphasis to solutions on specific social or political ills while moulding or reasserting group identities - e.g the popular expression of the spirit of Ubuntu. Identity emanates through the expression of artistic skills that are unique to our own society sometimes known as cultural relativism. In conflict scenarios culture tends to be the stringent to further harm or violations as it teaches us to tolerate one another and humanity is thus promoted. In this regard culture can be said to be that emphasis to live and observe a set of moral etiquette. The principle of morality in politics is one which this paper will devote some effort to. Liberation political movements often find their niche in political conflicts by rallying people around morality and cultural progression. It is the mention of moral lessons of life that distinguishes right from wrong, oppression from freedom and anarchy from order.

Global politics has always been a sphere of conceptual conflict over the role that arts and culture play with radical Universalists arguing for cultural erosion into a global entity, it is cultural relativism that remains safeguarding national sovereignty and preservation of identities. What is of interest is that political universalism has also tended to derive part of its legitimacy to morality - governments that violate human rights are seen as immoral. The discourse on human rights itself derives from natural law which emphasize morality in political organisation. Natural law becomes an aspect related to Culture - which envisages an ideal society.

Numerous artistic plays have been produced over the years to challenge oppression or suppression of rights of citizens or challenge a specific social construct such a play would be Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet which challenged the vagaries of societies built around a caste system - divisions based on wealth. In Zimbabwe, Charles Mungoshi’s ‘Coming of the Dry Season’ is one notable play that exposed the excesses of British colonialism while rallying the youth to take up a leadership role as a vanguard of the liberation movement. In post-colonial Zimbabwe the piece serves as a reminder of the principles that rallied national independence. It is indeed indispensable that arts and culture would give young people or a society an opportunity to introspect on social and political structures that they had not been inclined to.

Arts and Culture can be expressed through music or play which is also known as protest arts often popular in closed societies. Protest artists use the banner of entertainment to trigger critical thinking among audiences on particular issues using riddles as a modicum of communication. There are many politically charged pieces of fine art - such as Picasso's Guernica, some of Norman Carlberg's Vietnam War-era Work, or Susan Crile's images of torture at Abu Ghraib. In contemporary times Tafadzwa Muzondo is one such artist with his painting and plays, the Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights have also exposed the vagaries of dictatorships and misgovernment through poetry. Social movements produce such works as signs, banners, posters, and other printed materials used to convey a particular cause or message. Often, such art is used as part of demonstrations or acts of civil disobedience. These works tend to be ephemeral, characterized by their portability and disposability, and are frequently not authored or owned by any one person - such as the famous anonymous authors. The various peace symbols and the raised fist are two examples that highlight the democratic ownership of these signs. Protest art also includes (but is not limited to) performance, site-specific installations, graffiti and street art, and crosses the boundaries of art genres, media, and disciplines. While some protest art is associated with trained and professional artists or musicians, an extensive knowledge of art is not required to take part in protest art. Protest artists frequently bypass the art-world institutions and commercial gallery system in an attempt to reach a wider audience.

It has long been established that some aspects of Arts and Culture e.g. music, play a significant role in promoting health, social cohesion and uniting society. Schools with strong fine arts departments have, according to recent studies, achieved higher grades than those without. This is often alluded to the emphasis on critical thought. To this end Arts and Culture enhance and change life for the better.

Zimbabwe is a classic case of a nation that has evolved over time experiencing changes of different magnitude often facilitated by arts and culture. This paper will explore narratives, tracing back to the 14th century, early years of colonisation, Zimbabwe’s war of liberation and post-independence. The importance of the arts and culture in political transformation cannot be underestimated especially in the democracy debate of any society.

During the 14th century, a classic piece of art/architecture, the Great Zimbabwe was constructed by the Mutapa people south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country's Late Iron Age. Construction on the monument by ancestors of the Shona people began in the 11th century and continued until the 14th century. It was a cultural heritage and until today it plays as one of Zimbabwe’s best tourism a site which has thus led to the booming of the tourism in the industry in Masvingo. Masvingo now boasts of several hotels and thus created employment for the locals. The artistic value of the great Zimbabwe is also seen in the eight Zimbabwe birds carved from micaceous schist (soapstone) on the tops of monoliths the height of a person, until this day the bird is part of national insignia on our national flag.   It is this artistic creation that has become the symbol of nationhood not to underestimate the importance that it played in the liberation struggle from colonial bondage. Nationalist struggles were equally driven by the desire to protect and preserve national heritage and culture. Many are privy of how Nehanda and Kaguvi mourned the westernisation project on African soil and the elderly would dramatised narrate stories of how colonial incursion had led to an assimilated western culture. These artistic and cultural expressions were to be the rallying point of the decolonisation project and equally the same tune sung by the early nationalist movements dominates post-colonial Zimbabwe’s political discourse though now dominated by a mantra of hatred meant to stall democratic dialogue and progress.
Zimbabwe has had a long history of a protracted war of liberation during the colonial era where music and dance played a significant role during that time. To a greater extent music was a powerful tool in driving the war of liberation. The power of art has deeper effect and emotional therapeutic effect in any society. Some scholars have since argued that indeed the war was won through song and dance, drama and poetry. Those who participated during the war had left their homes, their beloved wives, children and parents in pursuit of one goal, to liberate the country from the yoke of colonialism. In a war environment there is a lot of emotional stress resulting from the deaths, injuries, and violence and above all the stress of living in the bush away from the comfort of one’s home and away from their beloved ones. There had to be ways of dealing with stress, ease tension as the war was progressing. Music, song, dance and drama became a common phenomenon in the war of liberation. As one scholar said: ‘’Music plays a powerful role in society. It plays a prominent role in the ability to create associations to place and to cause emotional impact. Music has the potential to influence emotions and to positively express the sense of belonging to a specific group; it can also communicate antagonistic attitudes towards other groups.’’(Grant et al. 2010: 185). Zimbabwean music has played a major role in social identity formation.  In the everyday life of the people, Zimbabwean music threads throughout the society. It not only predates colonialism but also   links to Zimbabwean historical and cultural processes. Many of the songs are about the problems of the poor, and most of the musicians live in the same locations as their listeners. "Music was a central part of Zimbabwean society, e.g. in times of war and peace at workplaces, in the home and outdoor, in religion and social ceremonies (rain-making, collective labor, religion, marriage, death or love, for instance) (Mano 2007: 67)."  This article traces the role music and other forms of art during and after independence, and the present day. It will highlight how music has continued to play influence in either shaping political discourse of social transformation.  The extent of influence and importance come in different ways which will be explored in this paper. 

Pre-independence-Music and the War of Liberation

Zimbabwe’s war of liberation started in 1966 which marked the second Chimurenga (war of liberation). During that time guerrillas used to do night vigils known as pungwes and these were gatherings which were meant to provide entertainment, relieve stress and it was again a platform to boost morale and inspire the fighters. Songs that were composed during that time mirrored the trials and tribulations of the oppressed masses. It gave society hope and the zeal to fight oppression and most of the compositions were in the vernacular language, mainly to create a language barrier with the whites because the some of the lyrics were insulting. Music and poetry were tools and forms of social commentary that were used to move the masses to act. Several talented musicians emerged in the bush, and composed music that inspired the guerrillas.  Musicians like Dickson Chingaira better known as Cde Chinx, LMG Choir, ZANLA Choir, composed inspirational songs that drove the war of liberation.   Songs like Maruza imi (You have lost) suggesting that the Rhodesians have lost the war became anthems during pungwes and they gave the fighters hope that indeed the war will be won. Other compositions merely played a unifying role as it created a strong bond amongst the fighters who were drawn from different tribal, geographical backgrounds. Songs like nzira dzemasoja (A soldier’s code of conduct) were songs that guided the conduct of the guerrillas in the bush it spoke how a soldier must behave, to obey rules and regulations, not to exploit or rob the masses, return anything confiscated for military reasons. Music was also used as a mobilisation tool to recruit fighters. There are other musicians who were not necessarily in the battlefront but whose music inspired the struggle and the masses of this country. One such outstanding musician is Thomas Mapfumo, who sang about politics, social injustices, poverty and chooses highly emotive lyrics. He championed the plight of the rural masses by singing protest songs which criticised the colonial regime. Before independence he did compositions such as Hokoyo (Watch out), Pfumve paruzevha (Hardships in the rural areas) which depicted the plight of the rural people ar a time when the freedom fighters were in battle with the Rhodesian army. Songs like, Tumira Vana Kuhondo (1977) ("Send Their Children to War"), were meant to mobilise young men and women to join the war of liberation. To show the extent of influence in Mapfumo’s compositions in the society, the state banned his songs from being played on radio and he was arrested on several occasions as a result.

Another musician whose music had great impact and influence during that time was Oliver Mtukudzi.  He recorded ‘Dzandimomotera’ which was inspired directly by Zimbabwe’s 1970s war of liberation. The song depicted the black man’s life struggles under the minority white settler regime; it was a troubled man’s prayer for redemption. Oliver’s compositions were about people’s power, freedom and hope. He also did ‘Mutavara,’ a song was about a man bidding farewell as he leaves home to take up arms. After the country attained independence from British colonial rule in 1980, Oliver released his fourth album, titled ‘Africa’ which carried hits like ‘Zimbabwe’ a celebratory song for majority rule. The title track to the album ‘Africa’ symbolized the people’s determination for self-rule.

Before independence and during the colonial period, Oliver’s lyrics spoke against white supremacy rule under the Rhodesian regime. Mtukudzi’s music carefully spoke against oppression and the repressive regime and how the black people were suffering because of colonisation. As for poetry, liberation war poets like Christopher Magadza, Freedom Nyamubaya and Thomas Bvuma focused on the fighter’s experience of the war, although the former transcends this by offering an inclusive nationalist and trans-nationalist perspective. All three poets question the direction the postcolonial state has taken. Magadza, despite the conservatism of form and diction, uses language of indictment associated with African oral literature to castigate cultural and political defilement, and short national memory in his poems ‘Ghosts in the Maize Fields’ and ‘Quiet Diplomacy’. It is not just bodies that are eliminated and disappear but also the nation’s capacity to remember and mourn those destroyed by a revolution that has gone wrong(An Overview of Zimbabwean poetry 2008).


At the don of independence, music continued to play a great influence in our society. The main actors were of course Mapfumo and Mtukudzi. In 1980, the government of Zimbabwe invited Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley. Years to come we also saw musicians like Thomas Mapfumo at the forefront singing against corruption especially in 1987 when government ministers were involved in a vehicle scandal called the Willowvale scandal. The government banned the song corruption and Mapfumo became a target as lyrics on his song corruption raised awareness to the nation. Numerous other musicians have since emerged exposing social and economic ills - another famous being Leonard Karikoga Zhakata with his ‘Mugove’ and Mubikira hits. Oliver Mtukudzi’s ‘Bvuma’ was interpreted by society as showing a dented autocrat who continues to cling to power, the song saw legal prosecutions of members of the public who used the song to ‘undermine the person of the president.’ The post 2000 era presents an interesting development when political parties scrambling for power used music as a way of rallying their supporters and selling their manifestos, ZANU PF had its Mbare choir, Tambaoga and Bornfree Crew while the MDC had protest songs from Paul Madzore and Dread Reckless. What is striking is the realisation, that through entertainment political messages can be communicated which have a direct bearing on how people associate with their leadership or challenge a status quo. Civics working in human rights have also (though not exhausted) the use of art and culture in peace building and democratisation processes.

From the discussion the paper has analysed the conceptual and theoretical frameworks around the significance of culture and politics tracing the empiricism of its global use then narrowing down to internal political processes that have been communicated through arts in Zimbabwe. It is therefore indispensable for political and social movements to impact communities by way of art that reignites the cultural foundations of Zimbabwean society as we return to a political normative discourse of a fairer and better future. The evolution of culture and its seemingly global outlook still derives from the Natural School of Law of a just world.

Nb-Extract from a Book titled Arts and Culture in a Changing Society published by the KAF 2014. Here I present it in its raw state. All rights reserved, no part of this publication may be reproduced without permission from the author.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Zimbabwe @34: Regrouping for a People Driven Way Forward

By Blessing Vava
Zimbabwe turns 34 month with its President, Robert Mugabe making history as the Africa’s oldest Head of State at 90 years of age. The generation of Mugabe, Chitepo, Tongogara, Nkomo and all those who participated in the struggle for independence must be honoured and saluted for the selfless sacrifices they made to liberate Zimbabwe.

The coming of independence was a joyous moment for all the citizens, who for a long time had been subjected to a racist colonial regime that denied the black people political and economic freedom. With the struggle of liberation have been long and protracted, the pulling down of the Union Jack at Rufaro Stadium in April 1980 marked the beginning of  a new stage to the revolution to full freedom for the people of Zimbabwe.

The reasons why Zimbabwe went to war are quite important for us to understand the concept of national liberation. The national liberation of the people entailed the destruction of political and economic domination of the racist supremacists Rhodesians. The questions we ask today are- was our liberation struggle about removing the white man? Or it was about addressing the political and economic system for the benefit of the majority.

Our revolutionary task after independence was for us to strive to achieve those goals for the benefit of the citizens of this country. For years after independence Zimbabwe adopted a transitional constitution negotiated in Lancaster England. It is that constitution that guided Zimbabwe’s political and economic trajectory until 2013, with the first amendments in 1987 together with 19 other amendments that followed.

The Lancaster House document guided Zimbabwe to its first democratic elections which were won by President Mugabe’s ZANU PF and he became the country’s premier, with the late Reverend Canaan Banana, assuming a ceremonial presidency. The Zvobgo amendments abolished the post of Prime Minister and created an executive presidency with Mugabe assuming office as the ultimate leader of the Southern African country.   Already this step in itself was a clear negation of the values and principles of the liberation struggle. This marked the first step in reversing those gains. The constitution in itself should protect its citizens from absolute rulers

Ironically, the late Edison Zvogbo, the then Minister of Legal Affairs master-minded the amendment to Executive Presidency.  However the shortcomings of our national constitution was its hollowness in addressing the term limits for a president of the country, and it is this gap that Mugabe later abused to stay in power. It also failed to adequately address social, economic rights. With unlimited term limits and excessive power at his disposal, Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980. And I argue that Zimbabwe’s problems emanated from the constitutional order that allowed one man rule and not majority rule. Suffice to say, aided by the executive powers, the state security apparatus have been Mugabe’s trump card for the past thirty four years.

 As we reflect 34 years down the line, Zimbabwe now boasts itself for having finally authoring its own constitution, which however was controversially sponsored by the inclusive government. The liberation struggle was about freedom, it was about democracy, it was about land, the national economy.  The struggles for a people driven constitution of by the constitutional movement in the late 90s were a fulfilment of the goals of the liberation struggle and total independence, not of a few black elites by the majority of Zimbabweans.

  Despite Mugabe’s attempts to cheat us into accepting a flawed constitution in 2000, the pro-democratic forces armed with the National Working Peoples Convention resolutions mobilised Zimbabweans into rejecting that constitution in the referendum. However the rejection of the Chidyausiku document meant that we were back to square one and again the constitutional debate escalated to the extent that ZANU PF could not ignore anymore. Even during the negotiations that led to the crafting of the GPA, the issue of the constitution was topical and a whole section of that agreement was crafted as a result.

Alternatively, the civil society had gathered earlier that year in February 2008 just a month before the harmonised elections to come up with Zimbabwe Peoples Charter which outlined a framework writing a new constitution in its Section 3.

To address the challenges affecting our country I pose to the young generation to embrace the people’s charter. The historic programme which has evolved to express the common immediate aspirations of all the classes of the oppressed people is the Peoples Charter. This document is in itself, a programme for social democracy as it can provide a basis for uninterrupted advance to a social democratic future.

Moving forward, we must accept the mistakes of the past generations and put it to ourselves to address that. The GNU promised us about the so-called incremental gains have actually turned out to be a decrement. The thirty four years of independence should be equated on the basis of the state of progression of the laws that govern us, the political will and the success of our economy. The framework is brilliantly captured in the Zimbabwe Peoples Charter. The fulfilment of the charter will be the completion of the revolution towards a social democratic state. It is no longer a doubt that the Zimbabwe Peoples Charter aspires to fulfil and safeguard the values, principles and gains of the liberation struggle and our national independence. To achieve that we need not just political statements, neither do we need cult leaders to safeguard the values of the liberation struggle and our national independence. It now requires fortitude, selflessness and discipline, a clear programme of mass mobilisation action in the fight for total freedom from the ZANU PF regime.

Our generation should lead a guided struggle which like  the Freedom Charter in South Africa and adhere to those guiding principles so that we do not end up personalising the peoples struggle like what happened with ZANU PF and what is currently happening in the MDC. Internal democracies or peoples struggles should be challenged based on a set of principles which have to be agreed upon by the people. Our generation should move towards fulfilling the Peoples Charter and the National Working Peoples Convention. Going forward there is need to regroup and merge the Peoples convention and peoples charter to come up with a framework to guide our generational struggle- create a social democratic movement of young energetic people to fulfil its provisions and principles.

NB-the article was first published on independence day as part of the CPC's Notes on 34 Years of Zimbabwe's Independence. http://peoplescharter.blogspot.com/2014/04/notes-on-34-years-of-zimbabwes.html

Monday, 10 March 2014

‘Equality for women is progress for all’

By Blessing Vava
One of Africa’s greatest revolutionaries, the late Mozambican President Samora Machel, once said: “The liberation of women is not an act of charity but a fundamental precondition for the success of our revolution.” These are relevant words as the world commemorated International Women’s Day on Saturday 8 March 2014. The international theme for the 2014 International Women’s Day ‘Equality for women is progress for all.’

In Zimbabwe and the world over women have been suppressed in this patriarchal society since the biblical times.  But however, strides have been achieved in the fight for gender equality and a lot needs to be done. The Peoples Charter does recognise the important role women continue to play in our society. The Peoples Charter states that ‘all human beings are created equal, must live and be respected equally with equitable access to all resources that our society offers regardless of their gender, and that gender equality is the responsibility of women and men equally, we recognise the role that our mothers and sisters played in the liberation of our country from colonialism and their subsequent leading role in all struggles for democracy and social justice.’

Thus, International Women’s Day is a special occasion as we all celebrated what women are doing in their jobs and in our trade unions, in politics, in the media, in our education and religious institutions, in our homes and in our communities.

It is a day of solidarity between women – solidarity in the continued struggle for total emancipation from economic and social subordination, a day when women unite to protest against the continued exploitation of the majority of women – at, the work place, and at home.

Quite significant, is the achievement, that hundreds of Zimbabwean women today hold high office in government, parliament and civil society, shattering the old myth that only men have the skills and ability needed to be leaders and hold the most senior jobs. However there is still a great need to increase in political participation of women.  It also has to start with our laws of the land, the constitution, whose vague provisions on gender need to be revised. We need laws that continue promote gender equity in employment, and human rights for women in the community and the family.

Despite many women occupying various positions of influence it is sad that there are only 8 out of 63 cabinet Ministers in our present government. As for parliament, the constitution did not manage the issues of gender equality, rather despite an additional 60 seats for women, it would have been proper had the quota for female MPs been taken out of the existing number of MPs that time.

 During the liberation struggle, young courageous women made great sacrifices when they joined the war of liberation. It was not an easy terrain; they faced all kinds of hardships, which also included gender based violence and sexual abuse during the war.
 But we would be dishonouring the memory of those heroines of the past and present if we were to be complacent about the huge problems women still confront. Despite the advances since 1980, millions of poor women still battle against unemployment, poverty, access to health services, access to economic opportunities, issues of maternal mortality, cervical cancer, discrimination and abuse. Little is being done to address these challenges affecting our women.

The most astounding manifestation of the continued subordinate position of women is reflected in our statistics on violence against women – some of the worst in the world.  Last year alone from January to April 2013, a total of 2 654 new cases of domestic violence were received by the courts. Rape statistics vary because at least two out of three rapes are not reported, but it is estimated that at least 15 women are raped a day. Some of the perpetrators being senior politicians, business people, academics, yet this call on us as a nation to be uphold our morals.

This means we need to develop new strategies, including a call to all men in our society to reflect on and talk about how they see and relate to women. Our male comrades should be honesty with each other about what they can play in changing their own behaviour and perceptions of women as commodities to be owned and disposed of.

 This call to our male comrades however does not ignore the fact that unfounded allegations of abuse are made by women from time to time. This problem however is small in comparison to the scale of proven abuse, and should not detract from the fact that we have a serious societal crisis that needs to be dealt with. More and more male comrades are beginning to understand that empowering women comrades is essential in building a movement that can challenge patriarchal views and lay the foundations for a society free of all oppression.

Blessing Vuvuzela Vava writes from Chipinge and can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com