Summer has arrived in Zimbabwe with sweltering heat leaving us casting our gaze upwards every day, searching eagerly for clouds that may bring rain. Streets and avenues in urban areas are ablaze with purple Jacaranda flowers and everywhere the familiar sights of summer bring brief respite from soaring temperatures. After almost no Musasa pods last year , this season the pods are prolific: they’ve been carpeting the ground, filling gutters and curling around bare feet for nearly two months and still more hang heavily in the heat, preparing to explode and drop.
The familiar sights of summer are like old friends, bringing relief to a country suffocating in bad politics and dramatic economic shrinkage. Respite comes when watching egrets hunting on the lawn: the prey is sighted, a slow and focussed stalk follows. Then the bird stops, swaying its neck from side to side, gathering momentum for the kill. One quick stab of an insect in dry, crackly lawns and it’s all over; time to look for another victim in brown lawns alive with termites and fat pink writhing worms newly emerged from Musasa pods.
The stunning diversions of nature this summer pale into insignificance against the daily political dramas engulfing the country. The scramble for positions of power in Zanu PF has reached fever pitch as their annual December congress approaches. This year the two prominent words are ‘succession’ and ‘factions’ and Zanu PF party members are in a scramble to ensure that supporters of their favoured successor are in the best position to influence decisions. The only question seems to be who is in line to take over from 90 year old Mr Mugabe if and when he steps down. It’s a decision that’s been thirty four years in the making and answers don’t come easy.
Many of the goings-on are making sensational headlines; undoubtedly leaked to the press to tarnish the image of one faction or the other in the succession frenzy. While tongues are still waggling over Mrs Mugabe’s controversial PHD in Social Studies (awarded apparently just a few weeks after enrolling at the University of Zimbabwe), the First Lady appears undeterred and has embarked on a campaign trail launching her entry into Zimbabwe’s political arena.
Meanwhile fists have been literally flying with the wife of one MP slapping another MP at a meeting in Chinhoyi. In another incident two MP’s are suing another MP after he called them gay gangsters and accused one of being a CIA spy. And this is all happening within the same political party!
It’s all pretty disgraceful that this is how our leaders are behaving at a time when we are again crippled with power cuts, water shortages and price rises leaving people struggling to make ends meet. As I write this letter it is the fifth day in a row that the electricity has been off for sixteen hours a day; the garbage hasn’t been collected for six weeks and water is virtually non existent. Every day we feel more and more like we are hurtling back to the way things were in 2007 and 2008 and the only difference is that this time the voices of opposition are deafeningly silent; perhaps for them answers also don’t come easy.
Copyright © Cathy Buckle. www.cathybuckle.com