Last time we voted, nobody lost

I do not usually deliberately listen to the so-called ‘urban grooves’ music by the young Zimbabwean artists, mainly because most of it lacks originality. Recently though, I just happened to watch dance hall artist Winky D’s video for his song ‘Vashakabvu’ (the late) and I must say, I developed a new respect for urban-groovers and musical artists in general. As we head towards the elections this month end, the role played by musicians in giving social commentary through sociopolitical satire is almost comparable to the fourth estate role of the media.

In ‘Vashakabvu’, Winky D ‘writes’ a two paragraph letter to the dearly departed of this country, those that never made it into the 90s’, informing them of the happenings and changes that have since taken place in this country over the past decade. He says ‘zvinhu zvachinja rough’ (things have changed drastically) since they died.  Among other things, he alludes to how the Chinese are opening up factories willy-nilly in Zimbabwe, how new and latest technologies coupled with piracy have cheapened and made music so easily available that artists’ families no longer enjoy benefits from royalties. He also makes reference to the ‘born-Facebook’ young people of this country, who have lost the moral compass and get away with skimpy dressing and immoral behavior by simply telling you ‘hausi kuziva zvirikuitika’ (you don’t know what’s happening).

Winky D

Winky D

 But apart from these witty and very hard-hitting words, the subsequent verses are more poignant and speak satirically of some of the most noteworthy developments and governance issues in this country. Winky says:

 Mari yoshandiswa muno ndeye kuAmerica, Zim dollar hapana kana achariyeuka.

(The currency being used now is American, nobody even remembers the Zimbabwean dollar).

This verse speaks of the time when dollarization happened and how much Zimbabweans never want to hear of the Zim dollar again following the traumatic crisis years of food shortages. So much for sovereignty. 

 Hakuchina macallbox, kwaane macellular.

(There are no longer any telephone booths, people now use mobile phones).

 Maboys ‘khaya’ amakavaka aya takapunza, zvakanzi haasi pamutemo asi hamuna kutiudza.

(The home extensions and backyard cottages you built were destroyed because they were apparently illegal, even though nobody highlighted this at the time).

This verse brings very forlorn memories of the government sanctioned urban ‘clean up’ Murambatsvina exercise that left hundreds of families homeless in the winter of 2005.

Magovernment ave mairi vanhu takachooser, takanovhota asi pakashaya akaruza.

(We now have two governments because even though we went to the polls to vote and choose, nobody lost.)

Depending on which version of the song you get, the last verse is replaced by the politically correct alternative words: ‘Kwava ne Unity Government ndinovimba makaudzwa, mapato enyika obatana nyika tosimudza’. I like to call this the ZBC version. Loosely translated, it says that we now have a government of national unity that has led to the unification and up-liftment of the country.

Government of National Unity

Government of National Unity

The long and short of it, with the GNU, we perfected a new system in which in a race, nobody actually loses. Next week as we go again to the polls, it is my sincere hope and that of many a Zimbabwean, that in this election, results will be announced in far less than a month and not everyone will win. It will not only be fair, but frankly we are tired of this charade of a bloated-for-nothing government.

When media practitioners fan hate speech

‘July 31: Who then has the last laugh’ reads Sunday Mail Assistant Editor, Munyaradzi Huni’s most recent offering in that paper. If you did not read it yourself, the article is nothing but a hate speech littered piece of writing full of cringe worthy labels and insulting epithets attached to different individuals, both real and imagined enemies of Zanu PF. Well, it’s hardly surprising, because many times Huni opens his mouth, or rather, puts pen to paper, his guts spill out. As an editor, we can be forgiven for expecting him to strive to uphold the ethics of objective criticism without resorting to insults. From the summary below, it’s hard to believe that at least two thirds of Huni’s article was dedicated to name-calling and denigration.

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Whatever you make of this, some of my colleagues feel that a lot of the descriptions above though hard-hitting, are very apt. I just think that dedicating all that real estate to insults is something that ought to boggle minds. Less than a month ago, Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) Director Andy Moyse had a serious talk with journos about this and the slow effects of losing readers in the process. Huni is not alone. I have read some really shocking things from many newspaper columnists like him, and the things politicians have said about each other. The First Lady herself recently took to the podium at a Zanu PF rally in Chiweshe, and dedicated half of her rant to describing the Prime Minister’s ugliness.

 We can only but expect more of such vitriol this silly season, when professionalism goes straight out the window. But if we can leave hate speech to the politicians, as media practitioners we may be able to show a little respect to our loyal readers who expect some level of objectivity from the people they also expect to play the critical role of fourth estate. And there we are ironically clamoring for media reforms while in the meantime allowing the profession to go to the dogs. Some uncalled for insults only make some people sound like blithering idiots.

Focus on the important things

I have been wondering about the ‘sorrow’ and ‘disappointment’ being felt in certain quarters over the recent Constitutional Court’s ruling to uphold the July 31st election date. Leaders of the different MDC formations had filed an application seeking an extension of the poll date only last month, following the Maputo SADC summit. Among other things, the MDCs argued that Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa had presented a ‘weak’ argument at the Concourt. But what did the MDCs expect, and whose side exactly do they reckon Chinamasa is on? Of course, he was instructed by SADC to undertake a process he personally did not subscribe to, so enough with the whining already. It is time to face the facts and re-strategize.

 At the same time, it has been interesting to try and make sense of what the ‘urgent’ court application to extend the poll date would have accomplished. Picture this; had the Concourt allowed for polls to take place on either August 12 or August 25: what exactly were the MDC formations hoping to achieve in those two or so weeks? Certainly not to facilitate implementation of all outstanding reforms set out in the Global Political Agreement! All the parties had what, how many years, and more than sufficient time to ensure the implementation of necessary reforms. Why scurry now? In any case, the recent official dissolve of Parliament would have made it next to impossible to implement any reforms no? Or perhaps it was a case of them just not being ready and trying to buy time, like being caught unawares kunge varoyi vaedzerwa, my grandfather would say. Even the Concourt rightly questioned why the parties failed to approach the court immediately after its May 29 ruling. Some people have perfected and normalized the culture of doing things last minute in this country.

More than anything, the argument against the early election date should probably have been less selfish and considered issues like the limited and frustrating voter registration process, which unfortunately terminated quite prematurely yesterday. The long queues that could still be seen snaking out of different registration centers yesterday were indicative of how the early poll date only grossly disenfranchises the electorate.

The women’s movement recently took to the RG’s office with a raft of sensible demands that included among other things, a more gender sensitive voter registration exercise that would take into account the need for more time and shorter walking distances, separate queues for men and women, special attention to the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women and women with children. Add to this, requisite nationwide voter education – which has been made clear to be the preserve of ZEC – has hardly started. A lot of people will go to the polls, without actually understanding what they have to do. Perhaps the Concourt would have been more sympathetic had the parties put the interests of people first rather than demonstrate a desperate desire to hold on a little longer onto their political careers.

Today’s papers claim that the political parties are questioning ZEC over the ‘sudden, suspicious ballooning’ of police officers in the election period. If there is any truth in this, it must be said now that these people must stop being preoccupied with the little things and concentrate on their game plan. We have three weeks for crying out loud. Heavy police and army presence are never a shock in Zimbabwe, particularly during silly season.

While many people are desperate for change, the behaviors of these parties do nothing to elicit confidence. We need serious people, who have their eyes on the ball and are willing to sacrifice, even for a little bit, their political interests and put the people first.