The real million man march

By Luke Tamborinyoka



WE are a nation in crisis. There is no bread on our tables. There is no food on the supermarket shelves. We cannot even access our hard-earned money

because there is no cash in the banks.


There is massive starvation throughout the country. There is nothing taking place on the farms which Zanu PF grabbed seven years ago amid pomp and fanfare.


We are headed for another bleak Christmas. The usual carnival atmosphere that characterised this time of the year is long gone.


The camaraderie is now a thing of the past. Each family is mired in its own misery, wondering about the next meal and whether they will make it into the next year.


Our hospitals have become dark chambers of death. There is no transport to ferry us to work, to our homes and to our villages. There is no electricity in our homes.


Power cuts are the order of the day and the national power company, Zesa appears to have a special mandate to generate darkness into our homes and our factories. We have no access to clean water as the Zimbabwe National Water Authority seems competent at doing nothing.


In the rural areas, our mothers, our sisters, our brothers and grandmothers are in the throes of a debilitating crisis. The grinding mills are not operating because they have no power. Every night is an endured nightmare as despondent families keep hoping that the next visit to the grinding mill will bring them back home with maize meal.


Our industry has collapsed. Very few people are still in employment. Inflation, wreaking havoc at over 15 000%, remains the highest in the world.


We have no foreign currency for critical imports such as power, food and fuel. Eighty percent of the country’s population live below the poverty datum line and is surviving on less than US 30 cents a day.


Zanu PF cannot afford to be in denial about this crisis. A serious government should take its responsibility seriously. The Sadc-brokered talks between Zanu PF and the MDC were meant to be a starting point in resolving the national crisis. Zanu PF must simply accept that the MDC is a people-driven reality that cannot be wished away.


Although the Zimbabwean crisis goes beyond the persona of Robert Mugabe, the octogenarian leader is at the epicentre of our problems. Mugabe is at the core of the Zimbabwean crisis.


The man has chosen to intertwine the fate of the country to his own political fortunes. The old man from Zvimba district appears set to go down with the country, clinging to power against the rising tides from within and without Zanu PF. Mugabe has become the millstone around the country’s neck; an albatross that is determined to sink this country to the depth of a deep and dark abyss. History will judge us harshly if we allow his whims to prevail against the national wish. Mugabe must go, never again to bestride our beloved nation like a Colossus.


Like the civet cat that turns away all and sundry, Mugabe made sure several heads of state and government stayed away from Lisbon for fear they might have to shake his hand. Whether Mugabe made it to Lisbon or not is not the point. The point is that when your presence becomes a global subject and eventually turns away prospective delegates, it must be very clear who is the problem.


It must be cause for Africa’s embarrassment that in Portugal, the real feeling of the ordinary Zimbabwean was not captured by any African leader, especially Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who a few years ago said he would not belong to the “trade union of African presidents”. Today, he is neck-deep into that trade union.


The feeling of the ordinary Zimbabwean in Mandidzudzure and Msampakaruma was ironically captured and summed up by a foreigner, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Africa should be ashamed that it has become complicit with the regime in Harare against the spirit of the much-vaunted peer review mechanism.


Only a fornight ago, Mugabe dragged poor and hungry villagers from their fields and coerced them to march for him for over 20 kilometres in the name of a misnamed “million man solidarity march”.


For some of us, the ‘marching millions’ are the hundreds of poorly paid workers and civil servants who are walking to work.


The real million man and woman march refers to those innocent people who are slowly trudging towards an empty automated teller machine in the vain hope of accessing their hard-earned cash.


The million man march should indeed refer to the men and women in Harare, Chitungwiza, Bulawayo, Mutare, Victoria Falls, Kariba and other urban areas who march to the nearest forests and water aquifers to fetch firewood and water which have become urban scarcities while Zanu PF continues to pursue a power retention agenda.


The real million man march must surely refer to all those people who are marching to prophets and witch-doctors because they cannot afford medical care.


Indeed, the real million man march must refer to those millions who shall make a bold statement in a free and fair election that should usher in a new Zimbabwe and a new beginning.


The million man march is not Mugabe’s drama that we saw in Highfield. The real march will take place next year if the regime allows Zimbabweans to elect their own leaders in a free and fair election.


Zimbabweans derive their hope from the MDC and its leader, President Morgan Tsvangirai. Despite the crisis, the people know that a free and fair election next year will provide them with hope and purpose to change their lives. They know that their vote is their voice. An election should not be a purposeless ritual. It is an event that should change people’s lives.


The people are aware that their hour has come. They know that the MDC has solutions to the problems besetting the nation. They know that the MDC has the proper policies in education, in health, in the economy and in mining and industry that will provide the basis for a new Zimbabwe and a new beginning.


Zimbabweans are ready for change. History provides us with the cardinal lesson that no one can stand between a dedicated people and their vision; between a people and their destiny.


Mugabe is certainly no exception. Whether he likes it or not, the dynamics playing themselves out are a clear sign that Zimbabwe is in an irreversible transitional phase.


Mugabe is a crisis that Zimbabweans are ready to deal with. All evidence points to a crumbling edifice called Zanu PF. The fissures have become too glaring to be papered over.


Faith and hope are the last things we should lose as a nation. Freedom is coming tomorrow.


* Luke Tamborinyoka is the director of information and publicity in the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai. He is a former news editor of the banned Daily News.