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Mnangagwa’s visit to China: the 'easy' way of doing business

By Blessing Vava Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa is currently in China on his first  visit outside Africa. Mnangagwa’s visit ...

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

#FeesMustFall: Time to deliver

By Blessing Vava
Earlier this year, University of Wits proposed a plan to increase its tuition fees by 10%. For my friend Modisane (not real name), a third year Law student who hails from Mpumalanga, the fee increase would have been a major blow.
EFF's Vuyani Pambo & Former SRC President
Mcebo Dlamini leading the protest at Wits. pic by Blessing Vava
He already struggled to pay for this years’ fees, after failing to secure the NSFAS loan from government. Many students were in the same shoes, failing to raise the existing fees even before the proposed increase.
The previous weeks consequently witnessed sporadic protests by University students across South Africa, demanding that the proposed fee increase for 2016 be scrapped. The protest started the University of Witwatersrand on 14 October, under the hashtag #WitsFeesMustFall, before spreading to other universities. The national campaign adopted the hashtag #feesmustfall.  The movement grew until President Zuma responded to the students demands that the fees must fall, there was 0% increase.But the students’ demands were not just about the zero percent increase, rather they wanted free education.
Government must act
Modisane became part of the protest  at Wits from the day it began. He attended all the meetings and marches; singing, chanting revolutionary songs with the other students. His zeal and determination struck me. He had no choice but to be part of this noble cause in forcing the university to scrap the proposed fee increase, otherwise he was not going to come back to do his final year. ”If at all the time for free education was now inevitable, the government must act” he said to me.
Having had a not so pleasing upbringing in the shacks of Mpumalanga, Modisane’s hopes to continue studying were renewed by the #feesmustfall campaign. As the students of South Africa were claiming their space fighting for their constitutional right, across the Limpopo in Zimbabwe students were watching with envy. YES, the environment in Zimbabwe is repressive and the students union was demobilised, but there is one or two lessons that we can learn.
The 'Blunt'Blade? SA's Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande 
The #feesmustfall campaign united students from diverse political persuasions in speaking with one voice against the fee increase. And as a result, even those students who were not interested in politics became part of the campaign. It remains my wish that the students movement in Zimbabwe rise above political affiliation and fight for academic freedoms. Higher education remains expensive and a preserve for the elite in Zimbabwe, its simply if you are poor you cannot access education. Yet in 1980, the new government preached education for all by the year 2000.
Generational mission
The #feesmustfall campaign was at least a stepping stone that galvanized young South Africans to safeguard their future. I was impressed by how the students mobilized using social media, and the night vigils, marches showed me that yes, indeed this generation is determined to discover its mission.
Modisane’s father perished underground, in a disused gold mine as he was looking for the precious mineral to fend for his family. He told me about how his mother; a helper at a local hospital in Mpumalanga, now the bread winner, struggled to raise his university fees. Since he was an intelligent student, Modisane’s mother sacrificed for her son, and hopes one day he will be a great lawyer. As the eldest son in a family of five, he is expected to also assist in the upkeep of his siblings.
Born Free
Modisane was born at the advent of South Africa’s independence, at the end of apartheid. The racist apartheid laws had favoured the white minority, and good quality health and education delivery had been a preserve for a minority. The election of a black government meant the redressing of these imbalances. The masses had hope. In fact, the ANC promised to fulfil the dreams of the freedom charter which said ”the doors of learning shall be opened for all.”
The students of South Africa are simply fighting against the residual effects of that system of segregation. Twenty one years after the dawn of independence, society is still yearning for better; the thousands of students who are marched for the #feesmustfall campaign are simply asking the authorities why they are still paying high tuition fees. The struggle was fought so that there would be equal opportunities for everyone. And for the students, it was clear that free education comes as part of that package to correct the injustices of apartheid, which for decades excluded the black child from accessing free education.
Economic exclusion
The high fees charged by universities across South Africa have excluded many from accessing higher education. Students have found an opportunity to press the government for free education, but there are a lot of underlying factors. The debate around transformation of educational institutions remains topical. The government has shifted blame on the autonomy enjoyed by universities, whom they accuse of ‘wantonly’ increasing fees. On the other hand, the authorities argue that it is the government that is not giving enough funds to subsidize fees such that students do not bear the burden of paying tuition fees.
Aluta continua
For now, some are celebrating the victory of a zero percent. But for Modisane and thousands of other students, its aluta continua until the struggle for free quality education is achieved in South Africa. For them the fees did not fall; it was just not increased. The government announced that they need at around 25-30 billion to every year to achieve free education, it is yet to be seen how they will fundraise to achieve that goal.
Meanwhile frustrations keep growing not just amongst students but to most of the young people who are also clamouring for employment, as those graduating are waiting to be employed. It is not just about the fees, but signs of a deep rooted crisis waiting to explode if not handled carefully. This is quite a mouthful for the ANC government, and with the way events are unfolding it seems the honeymoon is now over. For the South African government, and other African governments in general, its now time for real delivery.
***Article first appeared on Ilizwi http://ilizwi263.com/2015/feesmustfall-time-to-deliver

Blessing Vava writes from Soweto, Johannersburg. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Samora Machel's legacy lives

By Blessing Vava

It is exactly five years since the Committee of the Peoples Charter  (CPC),  launched the inaugural Samora Machel Public lecture at the New Ambassador Hotel in Harare in 2010 to celebrate and remember the life of Comrade Samora Moises Machel.
Comandete Moises Machel

The inaugural launch drew eminent speakers drawn from various civil society organisation, with the guest of honour being  the Deputy Ambassador of Mozambique First Secretary of the Mozambican Embassy His Excellency Mr Ossisa.

The 19th of October will forever be engraved in our hearts as we remember a great revolutionary, Mozambican President Cde Samora Machel who was killed by the apartheid counter revolutionares together with 34 other comrades on their way from a peace keeping mission in Zambia.

 It is not a secret that this revolutionary belongs to that class of great icons of our struggle, despite efforts from Rhodesian forces who were instrumental in creating and sponsoring  a rebel force RENAMO,  Machel did not succumb, and he indeed offered brotherly solidarity to Zimbabwe.

Machel understood that even Mozambique’s political independence could not be complete without the liberation of our brothers and sisters across the borders in the region and the continent, particularly those who were under white minority regimes in the then Rhodesia and South Africa. Years to come he was instrumental in coming up with the ideal of the Frontline States, a SADCC initiative that also sought to assist bring freedom to South Africa.

Samora was not obsessed by divisive tactics but his call was for Zimbabweans to be united. His speech in 1980 was a piece of advise to our leaders when he said;  "To ensure national unity, there must be no Shonas in Zimbabwe, there must be no Ndebeles in Zimbabwe, there must be Zimbabweans. Some people are proud of their tribalism. But we call tribalists reactionary agents of the enemy.''  

 Machel believed in a multi ethnic-cultural approach and his vision for a liberated Zimbabwe whose revolutionary goal was to unite everyone regardless of race, religion, ethnic origin and religious belief.

Therefore, as we celebrate the life of Samora, we pay tribute to the people of Mozambicans who were also victims during of our struggle, thousands of their nationals perished as they assisted Zimbabwe attain her independence from the settler regime.

 Such great sacrifice, should forever be cherished.

As we remember Machel, the youth of this generation should  always be inspired by the works  of this great leader and his desires to see development in the  continent. It is a call to duty to fight for the future of Zimbabwe. Like Che Guevara said: “The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.” The generation of President Machel did not fail, they refused to, for  Samora was a man who attached so much importance to the national liberation of the African people.

His conviction, selflessness, devotion, dedication and commitment to the cause of his people was to him more than just a question of principle: it was a way of life.’

As we commemorate Machel, we should always remember the responsibilities and challenges we face for us not to move away from the solid principles that drove the vision of luminaries like Samora Machel.

However, we continue to ask ourselves if we have been able to  produce cadreship in the calibre of Machel to serve society as we seek not only to undo the legacy of colonisation/greed, corruption and undemocratic tendencies that seek to marginalise the poor but to rebuild a just society in the light of the vision Samora Machel and his generation advanced.
Presidente Castro and Machel

The revolutionary task at hand is enormous, for us to succeed in defeating the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe we need to have a situation that produces self-motivated, disciplined and committed individual cadres who can apply their minds on  defining issues of the day?

Dedicated and fearless leaders in the mould of Machel are needed to lead society.  

However, such leaders do not just sprout, they are nurtured and groomed to be able to lead the struggle for a prosperous Zimbabwe. Political and ideological clarity is a fundamental aspect that gives us proper meaning for the struggle for social democracy.

 Comrades should always read struggle documents in order to answer the questions of ordinary people about the past struggles and what needed to be done to take the struggle forward.

In conclusion I quote one of Samora's famous statements during one address, ''Aluta Continua ! Aluta Continua!   Aluta Continua! contra o que? Against what must the struggle continue? Against Tribalism ! Against  ignorance, Against illiteracy, Against exploitation, Against superstition Against misery, Against hunger, Against lack of lack of clothing.'' That was the great orator, great leader of our struggle, we will always remember.

Blessing Vava writes from Chipinge. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com, Twitter @blevava

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Thomas Mapfumo a 'prophet' not without honour?

By Blessing Vava
September, 2, 2015 was a historic day. I joined hundreds of Zimbabwe music legend Thomas Mapfumo’s fans at OR Tambo International Airport, where the icon was due to touch down from his Oregon, USA base.
The arrival at OR Tambo International Airport
After moments of anticipating, he finally emerged on the arrivals section. With his guitar hung to his shoulders, the legend, with a smile on his face, walked towards the cheering crowd.

In minutes he was mobbed and cameras were flashing all over as the many fans jostled to get a rare photo opportunity with Zimbabwe’s long-time music star. In the midst of the excitement, one airport security staffer, a South African, made a remark to me ''who is this guy? He must be great.”

With two concerts lined up for him in South Africa, Mukanya looked jubilant and ready as he interacted with fans and journalists. As we tried to maintain some order to give journalists an opportunity to ask questions, he asked for the Zimbabwean national flag from one of the fans, before he wrapped around his neck like a scarf and the interviews began.

He responded to all the questions, but paused for a few seconds after one journalist asked him on when he is returning to Zimbabwe. He continued, and told the journalist that he misses Zimbabwe and hopes one day he will be heading there to entertain his legion of fans.
Thomas  left Zimbabwe in 2004.

For the next two days we kept on interacting, especially during the rehearsals, mostly talking about  music,  his views on the political situation in Zimbabwe.

This was the man whose prophetic compositions could be interpreted with narratives  predicting the future of Zimbabwe. The raspy, staccato, smoothly deep voice of Mapfumo refuses to be bowed, to be bought and remains pointed against all forms of oppression. It is as if the music legend himself known as ‘Mukanya’ or “Gandanga’ (freedom fighter) hears from the ‘Gods’ themselves and delivers the message unmediated, raw and definitely upsets the status quo.
Thomas Mapfumo and Blessing Vava -Johannesburg 2014

Mapfumo's yesteryear compositions are still relevant even today, perhaps he had seen it coming? I asked him specifically about some particular tracks namely ''maiti kurima inyore'' (you thought farming was easy-Album Hondo 1991), todya marara (we are eating crumbs-Album Chimurenga Varieties 1994), nyika yaita mamvemve (the country is now in rags), ''zvataibva kuhondo'' (Album Chimurenga Explosion 2000) he responded, ''I had seen it coming that the future looks bleak.''

Almost bulk of his compositions done from his more than four decades career reflects the current state of Zimbabwe, politically and economically..

Mapfumo's predictions seemed  spot on, the country is being run by a clique of  corrupt, self serving leaders who are seemingly swathed in the tired mantra of nationalist and liberation rhetoric with all the promises they made during the war proving to be  nothing but dust.

In the same, he warned that we must be vigilant,  songs like ''kukuvarira mukati'' (suffer in silence) taken from the album Rise Up (2004), Mukanya is a sarcastic  provocation to  the masses not to be docile.

As we interacted I noticed his love for his country, Zimbabwe that has kept him away for long, and his song ''chikonzero ndiyo Zimbabwe yacho'' a 1998 production as if he was predicting that he was going to leave his country of birth to reside in a foreign land because of the troubles at home.  This has not been him alone, but millions of Zimbabweans have since fled the country away from political persecution and the decaying economy.

After listening to his story, of his arrest by the Rhodesian government, the banning of his songs like corruption by the Mugabe government, he however refused to be silenced and up until today his message has never changed. There is no doubt that Mapfumo’s music has openly challenged an ‘exhausted nationalist’ politics which has morphed into a hegemonic elite accumulation project for the ruling ‘party-state.’

Talking about the future of Zimbabwe,  believes that the future of Zimbabwe lies in the youth but only if they are organised to determine the destiny for Zimbabwe. And as a youth I felt inspired and this was a challenge for us to decide our destiny.

Although he has been away from Zimbabwe for almost ten years, he has kept Zimbabwe at the fore of his message in almost every album he has produced to date.

Suffice to say, as I wrote on the album sleeve of his latest album DangerZone:  ''His powerful, unique and to a certain extent representative voice speaks to our own realities and to our socio-economic, cultural, and political dynamics and realities which sets our feet on a life pastel of continuously self introspecting our ways of life.'

For his music, he has been an enemy of the government, and  the message in the music remains a source of hope to millions of Zimbabweans in and outside the country.

As he concluded the South African tour, he was now looking forward to Mozambique where he was invited by that country's government to be the main act during the Defence forces celebrations such a befitting honour.

 And this reminded me of the biblical verse "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.'' Indeed, Mapfumo had been vilified by his country, to be specific, the government which is now being led by  'erstwhile' colleagues during the war of liberation. 

For Mapfumo, the  phenomenon described by Simon and Garfunkel in their 1960s song ''Sounds of Silence'' with the lyrics “People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening, tells us his story and his music.

Mapfumo, through his music  remains an inspiration to all Zimbabweans who yearn for a truly democratic state. I am very privileged to work with this great revolutionary.

Yahwee ndakuona!

nb: No part of this publication may be reproduced without prior permission from the author, should you wish to republish please acknowledge.www.blevava.blogspot.com

Blessing Vava is a blogger who writes from Chipinge, and the Publicist for Chimurenga Music Company. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com

Monday, 12 October 2015

Did gays destroy the economy?

Last month as I was travelling from Zimbabwe to South Africa I had the worst experience when my bag, containing a laptop and a few belongings, got stolen in the bus I had boarded.
Everything seemed well as we passed through the immigration officials at the Beitbridge border post on the Zimbabwean side. It was only when I was on the South African side when I discovered that my satchel was missing from the bus.
I quickly alerted the bus crew, and they conducted an immediate search on the bus, to no avail.
The bag was gone.
After a while, we discovered that one passenger, whose final destiny was listed as Johannesburg, had disembarked at the Beitbridge Border post. He became the first suspect. It was strange to discover that he had cleverly boarded the bus using a woman’s passport, and he had travelled all the way without the bus crew noticing.

Desperate times

As I still trying to come to terms with the loss, there was a general consensus amongst the passengers that the man this was the guy who had stolen the satchel. The discussions went on and on about how thieves had become this skillful at robbing unsuspecting travellers.
Many stories were shared on how people are losing their belongs to thieves, especially at the Beitbridge border post. Still, I could not believe what had happened, but the bus crew and the rest of the passengers were convinced that the man who had disembarked at the Beitbridge border post was the one who had taken my bag.
Indeed we are living in desperate and trying times. I could only imagine that this is what happens when there are no jobs in the country. Criminal activities cannot be justified, but this is how many Zimbabweans are surviving. The economic meltdown and the soaring cost of living has turned many Zimbabweans into criminals.

United nations speech

However as the journey resumed, I tried to forget about the incident and took my mobile phone to catch up with what’s happening around. As I browsed through the news sites on my mobile, I came across a video clip of President Mugabe’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly.
I could only feel sorry for the 92 year old ruler, as he not only struggled to walk to the podium, but equally showed signs of tiredness as he delivered his  speech.
His speech was nothing new,  Mugabe has used every  international platform  to attack gays and lesbians. It is baffling that this is a president of a country where close to 90% have been forced out of employment because of the economic decay, and yet he keeps yelling at gays and lesbians as if they have caused the rot that’s affecting the people of Zimbabwe.

The root cause

ZANU PF’s misrule has turned Zimbabweans into criminals for survival; it’s now a dog eat dog, because it is the poor who are stealing from the poor.
After the speech, I was left with no doubt that perhaps for years our president has been reading the wrong speeches at the wrong platforms.  He has taken every platform to complain not only about gays-but sanctions too-as a scapegoat for his failures. If only he knew that Zimbabwe is down, not because of gays and lesbians, but because of his misgovernance. Very funny how he ignores that fact.
What is clear is that the ageing dictator has no clue whatsoever about the issues affecting his country, that’s why he keeps yelling at gays and lesbians. The issues of gays and lesbians are not an inch of the daily struggles of the people of Zimbabwe.

Out of touch

Mugabe  is out of touch with the issues especially in his country, his continued barraging of gays and lesbians, as if it’s what has destroyed our economy, is quite alarming. His obsession with gays and lesbians is a mockery to the million of Zimbabweans who expect him to be passionate about the real issues affecting the people.
Mugabe should take a leaf from  Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who instead told the US President Barack Obama that homosexuality is not an issue in Kenya, but rather that Kenya is worried about health, infrastructure, education and development etc.
And the sooner Mugabe realises this, the better. A leader ceases to be one when he fails to address the plight and aspirations of those who elected him to be president.

Bread and butter

Zimbabweans are not worried about gay rights, they want water, electricity, good education, health and jobs so that they stay away from criminal activities for survival. Clearly this gay issue is now  tired rhetoric that will not solve Zimbabwe’s economic woes. 
As Mugabe continues with his obsession with gays, Zimbabwe  is being turned from a once jewel of Africa to a tragic disaster. We don’t want to be a nation of thieves who reap were they did not sow, we want jobs. Please tell us about jobs, not gays.
Blessing Vava is a blogger who writes from Chipinge in Zimbabwe. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com

Friday, 4 September 2015

Can Dangote save Zimbabwe?

By Blessing Vava
I recently interacted with ZANU PF political Commissar and Zimbabwe’s Minister of Local Government Saviour Kasukuwere on twitter.
He had tweeted about the State of the Nation Address recently presented by President Robert Mugabe in Parliament:
#SONA emphasis is 'Let’s get involved ‘&build our economy. ME’s should be facilitated. A new economy is emerging & which we will be proud of, he tweeted.
But I challenged him by stating that Mugabe’s government, which he belongs to, has been making empty promises since independence with little or rather no fulfilment at all.
Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo, a political flip flopper whose current allegiance is with Mugabe, quickly joined the discussion defending his party.
I however lost patience in responding to Moyo, because he was just arrogant and I continued engaging his colleague. We kept on arguing and disagreeing until midnight.


However, what struck me the most is the zeal, or rather the optimism, exhibited by these two as they defended their party position.
On the same platform, Kasukuwere was praising Africa richest man Dangote, portraying him as the saviour for Zimbabwe’s economic woes.
now pinning its hopes on one Nigerian tycoon
It is alarming that the entire country is now pinning its hopes on one Nigerian tycoon, who promised to invest in power generation, cement and coal mining, among other deals we are told.
For me this is just one but the numerous ZANU PF propaganda machinations meant to divert attention from the real issues affecting the people of Zimbabwe.
It has become a regular ritual that, whenever a major event happens, we are told about multi-billion dollar deals to resuscitate our economy.

Economic recovery

Headlines from the state media will be screaming that Zimbabwe is poised for economic recovery terms that I have heard since I was in primary school whilst in actually reality nothing comes to fruition. It is all just a babble of promises, and deals that will never be implemented.
mega deals with the Chinese government
Zimbabweans should never forget that just barely after the 2013 elections, we woke up to screaming headlines that Zimbabwe has signed nine mega deals with the Chinese government and that it was a ‘boost’ to the implementation of the failed Zim-Asset.
Up until now there is nothing tangible to talk of the deals, save for dosages of propaganda that there is massive progress. 
And the Dangote deals are coincidentally coming just after Mugabe’s State of the Nation Address. Again the headlines were screaming that the economy was on the path to recovery. Seems we are always on a recovery path.


Surely, have we become that desperate to pin our hopes on one wealthy businessman? The truth is that ZANU PF wants to act as if they are doing something with the economy, and that Zim-Asset and the ten point plan are being implemented. Zimbabweans will never be enticed by this cheap politicking.

The Dangote deals are nothing new, we have lost count of the many billion dollar deals signed in the last ten or so years, producing the same results-hot air.
These are just desperate attempts by the government and we know that the so-called deals will remain a pipe dream. I will remain sceptical about all these deals because they have failed to bring food on the table of many Zimbabweans.

Mortgaging the country

The sad reality of pinning our hopes on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), like what our desperate government is doing, is that we are parcelling out our country to foreigners, never mind about the 51% indigenisation policy. I even doubt if the same requirement applied especially with the Chinese and the Dangotes.
modern day economic colonialism
There is no country the world over, especially in the developing world, that has prospered only through FDI, which some scholars described as a form of modern day economic colonialism.
With this route, we are continually exposing our country and making it vulnerable to exploitation by capital. At this rate, it is undeniable that ZANU PF is mortgaging our country for cheap pieces of silver.
Maybe what our leadership is failing to realise that Zimbabwe want to hear about food security, they want good education and better health facilities. Unless they start doing something about it the better otherwise all this talk about mines and cement production remains void, unless the issues of the stomach are addressed. 


Over the years as these ‘mega deals’ are being signed, no-one knows what was agreed, what were the targets and timelines and what is our country gaining out of it, and this is why I remain sceptical that there is something not good about these deals.
In this light I would argue that the media has been doing a great disservice in fulfilling its mandate of informing and educating the masses.  Quite telling is the lack of proper details concerning these mega deals.
The reports in the media are just scratching the surface without giving indepth reportage of the nitty gritties involved.
It would equally be interesting to do follow ups on the previous deals that were being reported in the past. What happened to them, were they implemented?
And I think in that way we would bring the government to account, so that they stop taking people for granted by selling them dummies.
The question will remain, is the media doing enough to inform the public? Equally, apart from us hearing about the billions of dollars that Mr Dangote is worth, I’m sure most Zimbabweans would want to who exactly is this guy what has he done before? And where is he coming from? What is the connection with our government?
If you were to ask it won’t be surprising to discover that many Zimbabweans only knew of this guy after reading the Herald.

Blessing Vava is based in Chipinge and can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Mugabe doesn't know the State of the Nation

By Blessing Vava

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe presented his first State Of The Nation Address since 2007, following massive job losses after a controversial Supreme Court ruling.

While following President Robert Mugabe’s 2015 State of the Nation Address on social media, each successive tweet and update was confirming my expectations; that there was nothing new the 91-year-old leader was going to say as a solution to Zimbabwe’s worsening economic crisis.

Plainly put, the address, which was the first of its nature in eight years, was not worth any hype as in the end, it was 35 minutes of nothing but hot air.

An opportunity
This is because my understanding of a SONA- which is made annually in other countries like South Africa- is that it is an opportunity for a president to give a genuine and honest report of the current political, socio-economic state of his nation.
It is a time when the president gives an update on the government programs- including achievements- and how the nation will be progressing from then on. In fact, it shapes the debate of the parliamentary session.

For the ordinary Zimbabwe who lost his or her job last month, or the vendor in Highfield, or my grandmother in rural Chipinge, all ears were on this address, waiting to hear what the President was to say on the state of affairs.

They wanted to hear if he had any solution to the economic situation that is spiralling out of control and has rendered over 20,000 people jobless in the past month alone.

Not going anywhere
For me, perhaps the only anticipation was to hear a major announcement of when he will be leaving office.

I say so because retiring is the only logical step for Mugabe as he has evidently failed to resuscitate our ailing economy.

The state of affairs in Zimbabwe right now can only be described as country in paralysis. And every citizen, including the leadership, seems clueless because the future is no longer predictable than before.

It has become so much unpredictable that any day any moment the boss will tell you that your services are no longer required.

It is just a traumatic experience. Thousands of Zimbabweans have been dismissed from work in a space of a month and more dismissals are coming.

However, Mugabe shortest speech while presenting SONA, equally shows that it was not even worth the wait, as Mugabe spent 35 minutes talking to himself.

His speech was hollow, and it just shows that Mugabe is completely out of touch with reality. Definitely the country has no leadership, no vision, and we are heading to a bottomless pit.

Everything that was said in his speech is basically a copy and paste from the last two decades.

We must be careful of the assumption that Mugabe had any ideas to begin with.


The odds are high that the only real plan is to perpetuate the trough snuffling as long as possible - until Jesus returns or there about. ZANU PF is dominated by denialists like Mugabe, self-serving egomaniacs who masquerade as "revolutionaries" fighting to save the "masses", whose true freedom is permanently on hold while "leaders" fiercely compete on who can loot more from public coffers.

As I followed the tweets, he spoke of revitalising agriculture, value addition, we'll tackle corruption, grow SMEs, reduce corruption and on and on.

The bottom line is that this is just mere rhetoric, and he is doing very little to make sure it is actually implemented. The government will only do what suits them.

The president was also very quiet on poverty, inequality and failed to address the disaster that happened in Budiriro and many parts of Harare were citizens have been left homeless after their houses were destroyed by the authorities.

All these years the big Chefs who have been allocating people illegal land have been doing it under the blessing of this government.

Skating the issues
These are critical and urgent issues affecting our people, and we expected the President to say something about it. Instead, Mugabe was skating around the real issues, talking about a ten point plan whose origins no-one knows.

It is not surprising that, like ZIMASSET, the ten point plan will only remain on the mouths of government leaders and the state media.

The president told the nation that he has a plan for the diaspora, while forgetting that millions of Zimbabweans either fled from the economic or the political crisis authored by Mugabe himself.

An appeal
Mr President, we appeal to you to restore what you destroyed, and for sure all Zimbabweans in the diaspora will graciously come back home.

This is the same diaspora that was denied the right to vote by your government, and yet they are Zimbabweans. From the look of things more and more Zimbabweans are going to leave Zimbabwe for greener pastures.

As I conclude, I would say that Mugabe and ZANU PF have destroyed Zimbabwe in spectacular fashion. Those who cannot accept this reality are either possessed, or have had rose-tinted glasses surgically implanted.

Everything seems to revolve around self-enrichment, power and holding on by all means necessary. There is zero accountability and the so-called rulers are fleecing the poor.

Mr President, if you have any self-dignity after your SONA, then please gracefully walk away.

This article is an edited version, the original version is  on https://wazaonline.com/en/article/mugabe-doesnt-know-the-state-of-the-nation

Blessing Vava is a blogger who writes from Chipinge in Zimbabwe. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com. Twitter: @blevava

Monday, 24 August 2015

Time for Zim’s civil society to go back to the basics

 By Blessing Vava

The defeat of the opposition in the June 2013 elections was a huge setback in the struggle for democratic change in Zimbabwe.  The result not only left the opposition in disarray, but led to another split which saw the birth of the MDC Renewal to add on to the already many existing and yet ineffective divided opposition parties in Zimbabwe.  

Equally, the defeat of the opposition had a direct bearing on the operations of the civil society since many of these organisations have for long been fighting from the corner of the MDC-T.

 Over the years, the relationship of the opposition and that civil society has been that of a love and hate relationship.

Moreover the MDC was formed by civil society organisations and other social movements of that time who came together to mount political resistance to ZANU PF’s dictatorship. 

The struggle for a new people driven constitution became the epicentre of the mass mobilisation campaign that necessitated the formation of the MDC in 1999 to challenge political power in the upcoming elections of the year 2000.

 It was the resolve, volunteerism, selflessness determination, the united forces of students, the working class, the churches and other social movements who, despite the violent campaign by ZANU PF made significant strides in posing a serious challenge to the ZANU PF government.

However during the past decade the civil society has not been homogenous in its approach and operations, shifting positions, and at times going against declarations and ideological positions that compromised their existence.

In fact the civil society reneged from its primary and core business of bringing the government to account, rather went into the armpits of government.

The constitution making process is one livid example when Zimbabwe’s civil society went against their long held belief, which set minimum benchmarks on   the writing of the country’s supreme law.

It was agreed during the National Working Peoples Convention of 1999 that the writing of a new constitution should be democratic and people driven. However the first compromise was to support a politician driven constitution making process during the time of the Government of National Unity in 2009.

There are different explanations given by sides, those who supported and those who were opposed to the politician’s led constitution making process.

However I believe that the operating environment has totally changed as compared to the years preceding the 2013 election. Yes, the dynamics changed hence the need for new tactics, gone should be the days were the civil society goes into bed with political parties.

 There is no doubt that civil society at the moment is at its weakest, with donor fatigue, collapse of some organisations and fatigue amongst the membership and this is mainly attributed to the loss of the MDC. I argue that however there is greater need for self-introspection because  the current civil society has been dominated by elite cliques and cabals with very limited organic mass relationships.

 To put it candidly, I would say that the civil society of today should shy away from too many elite meetings that are disconnected with the people. The civil society in the past few years has been characterised by elite declarations and blueprints which have generally failed because they have no mass ownership.  There is greater need for a paradigm shift, move out of the comfort zone of issuing countless press statements and hosting press conferences while shying away from the grassroots.  

 History has taught us that powerful, social-political movements are a consequence of mass agitation and unless we resolve this conundrum we can continue launching as many blueprints but they are weak because they are not backed by popular legitimacy. The question has always been about popular legitimacy, without the masses, there is little that the civil society can do to influence any fundamental change in our society. It is the masses that drive the civil agenda not vice versa.

Therefore, the civil society has to go back to the basics, it can be done, and the No Vote in 2000 came as a result of mass mobilisation, the agitation, committment and selflessness.

The civil society should be guided by effective planning produced as a distillation of people's active participation - not just a donor funded plan of action shoved down people's throats. That has been one of the reasons of our failures. The masses will always defend the peoples manifesto and not some blue print authored by elites. Amilcar Cabral said hide nothing from the masses of our people, and we must not claim easy victories.

The revolutionary task ahead is enormous; there is need to consult residents about residents’ issues; workers about labour issues; women about women issues; farmers about farming issues; vendors about vendors’ issues. The intellectuals must be the guide and catalyst NOT the replacement of the people - organic agitation and exchanges lead to a popular movement which in the hour of need will defend its demands. The civil society should therefore continue holding government accountable and stop this business of going into bed with political parties.

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Blessing Vava writes from Chipinge in Zimbabwe. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com