"PM Message Was Right, Get In Step"

OPINION – I was baffled at the Southwark Cathedral last Saturday. Thousands of people booed their leader in an unprecedented show of defiance and intolerance. People in the Cathedral stopped the Prime Minister midway through his speech and started chanting that ‘Mugabe must go’

I went out of the hall at that time to answer the call of nature but some MDC supporters followed me up the corridors and pulled my jacket. They demanded to know why the MDC UK leadership had ‘failed to advise Tsvangirayi properly’. As I started to respond another group of youths wearing ‘Vigil’ attire started singing around me ‘Tsvangirayi usaite fun fun nevanhu’.

I left the Cathedral grounds and I made an early trek to the venue of the dinner that evening. At the hotel I had a one to one discussion with the Prime Minister about what he had said at the Cathedral and his views about Mugabe.

He said Mugabe is committed to the deal but does not trust him. The sporadic attacks on people and farm invasions were brainchildren of remnant forces who want to see the failure of the inclusive government because they know that the success of the transitional government means their demise. These people are in the minority and they will shortly fizzle out, said the PM, adding that acts of banditry are not sanctioned by government but by some criminal gangs sponsored by hard-line remnants in ZANU (PF).

This happened in 1980 when the Rhodesian security forces remnants and Selous Scouts and Pfumo Revanhu continued to brutalise people until 1982 and when Smiths’ hard-line remnants stole aeroplanes from Thorn hill Air Base to Apartheid ruled South Africa.

They did not want the will of the people to prevail but eventually they fizzled out. They also planned to assassinate Mugabe in an operation code named ‘Operation Quartz’ because they were against Mugabe becoming the new Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

So what was behind the Cathedral defiance to Tsvangirayi by his supporters?

The area of contention was probably the way Tsvangirayi says things about Zimbabwe dictator Mugabe and how he seems to have downplayed human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, giving information which if picked by the home office would devastate asylum applications, putting at risk the ability of those who fail to regularise their stay to claim benefits, housing, get jobs and live normally in Britain.

Some want to bring their families to the UK which is only possible if they get asylum, which they feel is being threatened by Tsvangirai’s statements. Many Zimbabweans expected Tsvangirai to actually come and assist them to get asylum by demonising Mugabe and painting a bleak future for the inclusive government. That’s where the fire is mostly coming from.

I understand the problems faced by asylum seekers in UK. They live as second class citizens. I understand their grievances against the party but I must also say that it is undemocratic to silence anybody from airing their views and this includes everyone, king or pauper, rich or poor, prime minister or asylum seeker.

It is therefore very unfortunate that people at the Cathedral on Saturday afternoon decided to silence PM Tsvangirai who was supposed to be allowed to finish and answer questions about all our grievances and his relationship with Mugabe, his democratic right which we denied him.

But he managed to do that at the dinner in the evening. Most people who attended the dinner now back what he is doing, unconditionally. This is so because we allowed him to speak and we asked him all the questions we had and as usual Save did not disappoint.

A young lady asked Tsvangirayi what he will give her if she takes his advice and go to Zimbabwe. She is already looking after five people. Tsvangirayi said that he is inviting people to Zimbabwe, not to give them things, but for them to give something to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a non-runner state and nothing can be taken from it.

The problem is that we want someone to do the work but not ourselves .We want to go there when Zimbabwean roads are all tarred by someone, when clinics are working and when schools and universities are flourishing. We want God in heaven to offer Tsvangirayi the personnel to sort the country for us then we fly back just to enjoy. We have been wired to look up to donors and foreign leaders like Mbeki and Bush to sort our problems for us.

I personally must fight against this donorism. I was born in Buhera South at Muzokomba Clinic, built by donors; my parents survived on foreign donations, I grew doubling up on breast feeding and donated powdered milk from the EU; when I was one, I started feeding on donated cereals from the department of Social Welfare at Murambinda Growth Point.

I received free life-saving medical immunisation and I do not even know where all those vaccines came from, nor did my mother. From age of two to seven I had food at feeding points and ate very highly nutritious porridge donated by Kellogg Foundation

At the age of seven I went to Primary School where we drank mahewu donated by the Red Cross Society. The water that all the school children drank was wholly pumped and piped to school by donors who provided the funds to DDF.

I had this donated mahewu for seven years at Primary School before going to a secondary school started by missionaries but with the laboratory, the administration block and dormitories built, and the Benson burners and chemicals in the laboratory funded by the Japanese government.

At the University of Zimbabwe, donors paid fees and payout for me and many other students, and after graduation my office and all the safes, vehicles and tents, were donated by UNICEF, as was the fuel I used, my salary and the salaries of my eight subordinates and my boss.

Then Mugabe became a problem in Zimbabwe.

We started looking up to George Bush, Tony Blair, Kofi Annan and Thabo Mbeki to sort Mugabe. Instead of joining mass action and final pushes we hid in our houses and looked out through the windows to see if someone is hitting the streets when demonstrations were called. We decided to run away from the country and plan to go back when Mbeki, Obama, Bush and Blair have sorted Mugabe and the country. I am not the only one like this.

There are many like me.

Many, as evidenced by some of our comments at the Cathedral. We have a warped thinking that someone must do the work and I must go there to enjoy. Someone must sort the sewerage pipes in Chitungwiza before I set foot there. Many are like this.

The Prime Minister is saying; let us build our country together. Let us together fight for our freedom. Let’s not be selfish. People inside Zimbabwe want their clinics to function and he wants to deliver. The quality of lives of people must improve. But all the skilled workers are gone. Unless sacrifices are made then clinics won’t open and services won’t be delivered and cholera will worsen. He is doing the correct thing and he is not selling out.

The Prime Minister said that groundwork is being prepared for free and fair elections with international supervision in the next 18 months. The choice is yours. If you want to assist rebuild your country this is the time.

We need to make a clean break from depending on donations to doing our own things. Those who are out of step are being left behind as we continue to journey towards or freedom. www.changezimbabwe.com