Tanonoka Joseph Whande
27th December 2012
The end of every year and the arrival of a new one have always denoted a people’s fresh beginning on the right paths.
Resolutions for fresh start are made and we all enjoy the clean slate afforded us. We resolve to do good and to do better; we are upbeat and are fired up with a desire and wish to make the New Year the best ever.
In short, every New Year brings us a new hope.
Christmas, as we know it, has always been a time we celebrated Christianity; a time we cleansed our minds of any conflict and bad thoughts but celebrated goodwill.
Christmas, along with New Year’s Day, have always been family times when whole clans take a break from year-long commitments at work, school or other engagements to be together.
These two calendar holidays gave families time to gather in harmony in the absence of any conflicts.
Zimbabwe, a nation that has always prided itself with its Christian faith and tolerance of other faiths, has not been allowed to appreciate this most important holiday.
It has been a while since the true spirit of Christmas has been allowed to flourish among Zimbabweans. Our politicians and the problems they have created for us have diverted people’s attention as they deal with security of their families while they struggle to feed their families.
Normally at Christmas, feuds and misunderstandings were suspended and the people got along well even with strangers who might have wandered past their villages.
I am amazed that, today, our politicians are outdoing each other in denying the people a chance to enjoy this period of peace and reflection.
Daily, we are bombarded with thinly veiled messages of violence and intolerance at a time when peace, love and tolerance should be highlighted.
Our politicians are collectively abusing national assets, minerals and our tax dollars as weapons to deny us and our country the freedom and democracy for which we paid such a high price for.
As this very serene time of the year, our politicians are not looking at celebrating the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the New Year but are busy stock-piling venomous verbal vocabulary along with organizing their violent followers to beat up the people during the forthcoming elections.
They fight among themselves yet aim their fists at the people whose only concern is to be left alone to cast their vote and go home to their children.
In less than half a century, politicians in our country have destroyed a Christian ritual more than 2000 years old.
I remember in decades gone by when families prepared tea in large buckets and loaves and loaves of bread being sliced in large chunks then dressed with margarine or jam or both so that anyone who came by got a share. These were the good old days before durawalls and razor wire pushed us into tiny nuclear groupings no longer responsible for each other.
Beasts were slaughtered and people gave and ate freely even in homes they had never visited before.
It was a true celebration of a birth that changed humanity and a display of a true belief in the expected well-being of society as we celebrated yet another approaching New Year with hope.
The week of Christmas and New Year was a time to share, to receive and to give as old quarrels and arguments were put aside and people got on in the spirit of love and compassion.
Today we have three political parties that fail to agree on anything among themselves and, instead, vent their anger, frustrations and greed on the people they are supposed to protect.
We now hide from each other and lock our doors.
We are now suspicious of each other and won’t help a stranger.
We die in suspicious road accidents and our government does not tell us how.
Our government treats us as enemies.
We can’t plow our fields because we can’t afford inputs.
We can’t send our children to school because the teachers are being abused causing the departure of 700 000 of our trained teachers to leave and teach children of other nations elsewhere.
No one is there to protect us from our own police and our own army.
A culture of fear, suspicion and violence has been introduced among us.
Yes, Christmas and New Year were a time when people recharged their batteries, drawing in more inner strength and cementing good expectations with goodwill.
We were indeed one family who shared everything available.
Christmas mended broken spirits and renewed belief in family values.
People gave away goats, chickens, clothes, food, drink and anything as gifts. They did it freely but with love.
Today, our government glorifies murderers.
Our ministers steal from state coffers.
Our leaders accumulate wealth while their people are starving, using national assets to destroy the nation and punishing the very nation by withholding democracy.
And we have three political parties governing our nation.
I cannot recall the last time that Zimbabweans celebrated Christmas and New Year in the spirit with which we did before independence.
As I sit here, I not only think of those who died for this country but also of those who died because they noticed how evil had sneaked into our nation and dared to say so.
What excuse does Mugabe have for all these excesses?
What is the MDC’s role in all this?
What difference has the MDC brought since it joined ZANU-PF? Will they ever disengage from each other or they are now conspiring to stay joined together because they fear none of them might survive without the other?
Do we dare to hope for deliverance?
Now we are told that Tsvangirai is taking control of the country’s preparations for elections due next year, “in his capacity as the principal in charge of policy implementation in the unity government”.
That is utter nonsense and yet Tsvangirai is so busy with his muzzle in the feeding trough to realise they are toying with him.
In four years of the unity government, his party has been foiled at every turn and failed to implement any of their policies. He is in a unity government today because of elections which were overturned by the army generals and the electoral Commission. So he feels things are going his way because they made him handle preparations for the elections yet he failed, in all these years he failed to have chunks of the unity agreement implemented.
The politicians have banded together against us.
They cause violence amongst us and we don’t see anyone of them coming into our villages to talk to us after their political rivalry spills over into our homes.
What do we say to the year 2013 when our army brutalises people in Gokwe?
When our own government abuses us at Chiadzwa, using our own money to oppress us?
When assassination attempts are made on innocent people?
When COPAC is, as expected, remains deadlocked?
When children and pregnant mothers are abducted?
When our bishops have become gun slingers?
Without any doubt, Tsvangirai must do a lot of soul searching. He must ask himself if his presence has made things better or worse for the people. Has his presence not strengthened ZANU-PF, instead of somehow neutralizing it?
He must resist the temptation which we see now and that is thinking he can do it alone. Tsvangirai and his party are products of the people and cannot behave like Welshman Ncube who is not answerable to anyone.
The fact that the MDC is in shambles makes us sad because the political situation in Zimbabwe needs a counterbalance to ZANU-PF’s excesses.
Tsvangirai and his party must not polarize themselves from the people and from civil society like they have done.
They must not frown on those in the Diaspora because they have a lot to give as citizens of Zimbabwe.
The MDC must stop its growing arrogance. We need hope and the MDC appears unable to make people believe. Their advantage is not because of any ideology but is based on the hatred that people have of ZANU-PF.
The MDC needs to re-strategise because they have had almost three years in bed with ZANU-PF and has produced one spontaneous abortion after another.
I scan Africa’s horizons and see leaders struggling with their countries. Many are not endowed with as much education as Mugabe is nor with as much courage as Tsvangirai once had.
Many of the countries are not even half as rich as our Zimbabwe nor do they have such a high rate of literacy as we do. And yet they are doing better than us.
Our unity government does not exist for the people.
Our government looks for chaos where there is calm. It sows hunger amidst plenty. It imports death where there is an abundance of life.
The unity government is causing hate where there is love.
We need hope and none of these people is willing or able to give it to us.
The once joyous Zimbabweans are now beggars because of these men who claim they are united in government while they are not.
We can no longer walk our streets freely;
We cannot provide for our families although we are able bodied;
We cannot worship our God free from ZANU-PF interference.
Our children have been turned against us and have been taught how to kill innocent people, including their own relatives.
Because of ZANU-PF, brother no longer trusts brother,
Father no longer trusts son,
Mothers view their daughters with suspicion and worshipping has become risky unless we look for verses that can be used to praise Mugabe.
Do we honestly deserve a government that throws teargas into a church full of worshippers?
Would you believe that this is my Christmas message to my fellow Zimbabweans, with its sad, painful and negative content? But it is; ZANU-PF has infested every part of our living and has turned all the good things into bad.
Like in the past several years, I cannot honestly wish my fellow Zimbabweans a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year because that would be tantamount to insulting them.
Our tradition demands of us to give and share, especially at this time. But because of ZANU-PF, we cannot give and share because it has taken away our livelihood.
WE can’t give because we don’t have.
We cannot be happy because we are hungry.
We cannot celebrate because we are dying.
We cannot vote because we will be killed.
We cannot worship unless we praise Mugabe in our sermons and that is something we cannot do because the whole idea of congregating is to denounce the devil and chase him out of earth.
I sometimes wonder where the love of God goes when things seem so hopeless but I notice that somehow, Zimbabweans manage to keep their families alive until the next day.
We are not alone.
I pay tribute to my fellow Zimbabweans for their resilience and never-die attitude.
That, in itself, is a miracle and miracles are God’s acts. He is with us.
God bless you all; God bless Zimbabwe and may the true Zimbabwean spirit continue to reign within us all because we are more than conquerors.
Don’t ever let us despair because a hero is only braver a minute longer than the rest.
I thank my listeners around the world for supporting Heart of the Matter.
And I thank my compatriots in Zimbabwe for their courage and guidance. Enjoy what you can this holiday; because of you, we will get our country back soon, with or without the politicians.
Zimbabwe, I love you.
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Thursday, December 27, 2012.
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