Zimbabwe: My Vision of a True ‘Civolution’

Published on 8th November 2008

My current condition of post-GNU insomniac behaviour has a direct correlation with the demise and lethargy of civil society in Zimbabwe in the face of anti-citizen adversity. For some, lethargy is gross misrepresentation of reality.  They would prefer hard  terms like ‘moribund’, ‘paralysed’, ‘inexistent’, ‘invisible’, ‘lifeless’, ‘brain-dead’  or any other context that were it to be applied to human medical condition, there would be no other choice than switching off the life-support system. 

And yet I have had a revelation that Morgan Tsvangirayi, Robert Mugabe and to a limited extent, Arthur Mutambara – the three musketeers of Zimbabwe’s version of the Broadway Blockbuster ‘Zimboloosers’ – have detached themselves from the mainstream political command module to a breakaway unit now totally lost in constricted democratic space.

The consolation for the hapless people of this nation is my gift to perceive the encrypted emissions beyond the microscopic pixels of the subconscious.  The spirit takes me to Africa Unity Square in Harare’s Central Business District, adjacent to Parliament Building. For seven days beginning 1 December 2008, more than one million Zimbabweans from all walks of life have braved the scorching summer heat and chilly spring nights in search of a historic Civolution.

Small tents, umbrellas, stools and discarded fast food packets are strewn about the patchy green lawn, while vendors of fruits, recharge cards, drinks and sweets mingle freely with the carnival crowd in pursuit of legitimate self-enrichment. Somewhere next to Third Street opposite Old Mutual Centre, a philanthropic citizen has set up a first aid tent where those in medical distress are treated by volunteers. In the centre of the garden, the perpetual fountain has been switched off, where the splatter of untreated Harare water has been replaced with a circular stage of bright lights and a 10k sound system.

I am convinced that this multitude includes school children, lawyers, construction workers, medical doctors, soldiers, footballers, housewives, members of the Apostolic church, bus drivers, bank tellers, nurses, teachers, college lecturers, street children, factory workers, carpenters, members of Parliament, chiefs, policemen, telephone technicians, government workers, prison guards, pilots,farm workers, company executives, messengers, secretaries, receptions, curious tourists, journalists, ZBC news readers, night club disc jockeys, shop keepers, pharmacists, architects, council workers, welders, pastors, bishops, traditional healers, spirit mediums, pensioners, commercial farmers, security guards, radiographers, football coaches, advertisers, models, cross-border traders, stone carvers, florists, domestics maids, gardeners, diplomats, municipal police, councillors, mayors, cricket players, golfers, school masters, chancellors, waiters, barmen, bus conductors, taxi drivers,  flea-market traders and secret service agents. 

My vision is recurrent, troublesome and mentally engaging. Of particular interest is a speech alternately recited  by a representative group of fourteen people: a business person, a worker, an unemployed person, the disadvantaged, a scholar, a policeman, a doctor, a company director, a traditional healer, a school child, a pastor, a soldier, an NGO leader and a civil servant.

With irritating redundant frequency, each speaker begins by saying: “My fellow countrymen, this is the beginning and the end of Zimbabwe’s first Civolution.” It is always followed by a deafening sound of ululations, whistles, shouts and a mass of white flags flapping nonchalantly above a sea of heads. My heart beats faster as I look around the multitude, whose faces beam with pride tinged with high self esteem and unprecedented confidence. As I surge forward to take a closer look at the speaker, someone tugs at my sleeve. When I look back, a soldier clad in new camouflage winks at me, smiles and gestures me to the direction of the last speaker.

“This, my fellowmen, is the penultimate hour of our Civolution. We can look back with pride at the preceding six days and nights, when you, the citizens of this country, have forfeited the comfort of your homes, the security of your jobs and the fruits of your investment, to come in peaceful solidarity with the awakened forces of civil power. For the first time in twenty-eight years, the people of this country have converged in defiant disregard of the forces of tyranny and oppression. They have ignored the hypocrisy of the principalities of political trickery that have toyed with our hearts, minds and souls since 30 March up till 15 September 2008 in a deceptive game called negotiations.”

“Today as we speak, the cabal unholy trinity of Morgan Tsvangirayi, Robert Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara are holed up in some hotel with pretenders to the throne of African nationalism, claiming to represent our interests and yet in pursuit of self-aggrandisement. Speaker after speaker has disowned these three men, appealing you to once again put your own agenda forward to define your own destiny through new leaders. You have demanded that political greed be neutralised with civil unity and popular satisfaction through a new system of governance – the Civolution. Speaker after speaker has pointed to that house – Parliament building – and stressed that its occupants must emerge from a cross section of civil society that has braved the hot sun and chilly nights to disown the three products of a fictitious democratic system that we have been subjected to for almost thirty years.” 

“My fellow countrymen, those three are not negotiating on your behalf, but parcelling out spoils and sweat of your moral and political support for their own individual good. They pretend to grieve over your poverty, your aspirations, your needs and desires, yet their political radar is locked onto selfish ends. We are told the hiatus is on who takes the Ministry of Home Affairs. My fellow countryman, while Mugabe wants to retain this Ministry as an instrument of perpetual repression, Tsvangirayi’s covetous desire for it is to exert a measure of vengeance over his enemies.”

“Today, my fellow countrymen, we stand on the verge of deliverance, as we, in unity with our brothers in the army, police, prison, factories, civil service, schools, homes and offices, advise those three that they are no longer the chosen representatives of the people. We are our own representatives. We are the Civolution and from tomorrow, we will bestow the new powers of governance to those that you will choose today.”

My vision is recurrent, troublesome and mentally engaging.



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