I spoke to my favourite Aunt, Vatete (Shona for Auntie) Ndakaziva, over the weekend. She is one of the most amusing and insightful people I have ever met and I love and admire her to bits for it!
We ended up talking about the recent street protests how the public euphoria was a repeat of the euphoria associated with our independence in the 1980s and more recently the new constitution during the GNU. The people were ecstatic with excitement convinced event marked the dawn of the free, just and prosperous Zimbabwe they had all been awaiting for. Their hopes and dreams were crashed on both occasions, as we all know.
I told her the people got what they deserved in 2013 because they were warned the new constitution would not deliver free and fair elections and should focus instead on implementing the democratic reforms agreed in the 2008 GPA. The people were making the same mistake again by being carried away with the street protests and taking their attention away from implementing the reforms.
“Sometimes people behave like crows!” she commented. I laughed as I remembered the first time she told me about the tale of crows screaming at the sun.
Where I grew up in the back waters of rural Zimbabwe, it was common to see a flock of crows swooping and crowing and making a racket just before sun set. In my Vatete’s fable crows often called a “humwe” (gathering to carry out a communal task) to scream at the setting sun. They would be unhappy at the short day because they did not find enough to eat and now faced the prospect of a long cold night. This would be especial true during the dry and cold months of May to August when, for the crows, food would be hard to come by.
“They can sass all they want,” Vatete would continue. “The sun will not hear them and, even if it heard them, it has far more important matters to deal with then than listen to pompous crows!
“Even if the crows would understand you,” she advised in a conspiratorial whisper, “you are must never tell them that the sun is not listening to them. They know it is not listening but will nonetheless be very angry to be reminded of their foolishness.”
Like it or not the street protests are foolish in that they are drawing attention away from understanding what democratic reforms are about and making sure that this time they are all implemented just as the new constitution was a unwelcome distraction during the GNU. Those spear heading the street protests have no idea what the reforms are and therefore will never get even one reform implemented just as MDC leaders who spear headed the new constitution during the GNU failed to get even one reform implemented.
The people refused to listen to the warning that the new constitution was weak and feeble and that it will never deliver free and fair elections. They voted to approve it with an impressive 95% Yes in the March 2013 referendum.
Mugabe went on to blatantly rig the July 2013 elections and the rest is history!
Mugabe rigged the 2013 elections and thought he would rig economic recovery too; that has proven to be a bridge too far. The country’s worsening economic meltdown is the invisible but irresistible force that has forced this Zanu PF regime to accept that the present economic situation cannot continue, there must be political change. It is for us, the people, to make sure that we finally get the meaningful political change we have waited for all these last 36 years by making sure everyone understands what the democratic reforms are about.
Unless a significant number of the people understand what the democratic reforms are about, it is unlikely that they will ever be implemented properly!
The street protests are being led by elements who have never understood what the reforms are about and they are concentrating all their energy on “Mugabe must go!” The street protests are popular because many people want to vent their anger and frustration. What must be understood however is that, at best, the street protesters will get their wish and remove Mugabe but only for him to be replace by another dictator, as has happened in Egypt.
If we want to stop other dictator taking over then we must dismantle the edifice of the dictatorship by implementing the reforms, something the protesters will never accomplish because they have never understood what the reforms are much less how they are to be implemented.
In many people’s minds, street protests are now more important than implementing the reforms. In fact street protests without reforms are as futile was the new constitution without reforms, as futile as crows sassing at the sun!
Until we finally end the scourge of rigged elections nothing else we say or do matters! And the only sure way of delivering the country’s first and long awaited free, fair and credible elections is by implementing the democratic reforms. Implement the democratic reforms - that is this nation’s Holy Grail!