#ZimShutDown – Kubatana members speak out

To my dear Zimbabweans

You’ll only get this when we are all back online, if we are. But I wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Pick and Pay Arundel today was a nightmare. Queues to the middle of the shop and barely moving. The first queue in fact, is the queue outside to nab the first vacant trolley. Or more like stalking those with full trolleys who look like they’re heading to their cars. I did a quick shop and then joined a queue. After about 15 minutes in the queue my 11 month old started crying and crying. I felt desperate. I contemplated breastfeeding in the middle of it all. I would have left but I’d opened a yogurt to try and placate her so needed to pay. Standing there patting her back and trying to quiet her, I watched the faces of those around me. So many of them were so joyful, laughing, waving at friends and making the best of it. You are wonderful. I felt a little ashamed of my anxiety and fluster. So impressed with those who just rode the wave. I felt more desperate as nothing was working for my screaming baby and the queue looked endless. I was wondering about abandoning trolley in the queue and going to the car, when out of the blue a very sweet, motherly woman swept up and said, this baby has been crying for too long. She tut tutted, grabbed my trolley and started carving a way to the front explaining to everyone along the way. My trolley was taken over by a wonderful gentleman who left his own trolley and took me right to the till, unloaded my shopping waited for me to pay and loaded it straight back into my hard-won trolley again. My throat choked up and my eyes swum so much I could hardly see my PIN. Thank you my wonderful fellow Zimbabweans for your love and care. For not complaining. For making my day. And for teaching me something about what it’s about. Kindness and joy and love and selflessness in the midst of adversity. Thank you.

– Tired Mamma, via email

The govt must just eat a humble pie and accept that our economy needs inclusiveness to move forward which will entail that the opposition, churches, NGOs and media should get enough open space to play their roles.
– John

On Privilege

I have to admit that I struggle with my privilege a lot. I’m so grateful for the life I have and all the opportunities it has afforded me but in the quiet recesses of my heart, I am often reminded that if my privilege is not used for good it will become a tool for oppression – merely by being comfortable in my silence.

When those around us suffer, it is easy to turn a blind eye – to rationalise problems, to sanitise our space, to find the comforts that make it easier to survive – whether it be hustling extra hard for some USD to get fuel or indulging in some wine time at your fave chill spot. Don’t get me wrong, these activities are not bad, heck I am describing my own life at this very moment.

BUT when we wilfully use these comforts to ignore the world around us then we are doing more harm than good. This week in Zimbabwe reminded me that without unity we leave our fellow countrymen exposed to treachery. I understand that some have businesses and jobs that made it difficult to shut down. I understand that these very businesses allow you to pay your employees. I get it. I really do. But the thing with an unjust system is, you can’t outrun it. You will feel the pinch eventually, through that 2% tax, through the rising cost of living, through the fuel queues, the costs of getting your employees to and from work etc. The list is endless.

So when the time comes to stand in solidarity whether it be through a shut down or mass protest, we must take a moment to consider it. Our ecosystem ties us one to another. The man who serves your tea is also the man who was hiding in the bushes in Mabvuku to avoid a thrashing from the army. He has to pay $14 to get to work ($5 to get into town & $2 to get to Avondale. Repeat the same to get home). The woman who looks after your baby, has her own children choking on fumes as soldiers throw teargas at random.

We are one people, united by the bonds of nationhood. If we don’t take a moment to assess our privilege and hear our brothers and sisters, we will create an even deeper social divide, whose consequences will be with us for generations to come. Let’s ask ourselves what we can do for those who don’t always have our advantages. Whether it be helping the victims of violence, using our social networks for good, providing food for those in cells, allowing our employees to stay away – not because it is unsafe for them to travel but because it is the right thing to do, and just being kind and more aware that while things are hard for all of us, they are harder for most.

If we remain quiet and only speak when the internet is cut off we run the risk of having no one left to defend us when they finally come for us… and trust me they will.

– Cee, via Facebook

I pray for peace for Zimbabwe but I also pray for the breaking of stone hearts in our leaders. Your people are suffering needlessly. Admit that the Bond Note has failed. Outline your strategy for economic recovery clearly and openly. Tell us where our 2% tax has gone and when it will end. Show us that you too are willing to tighten your belts and endure this economic hardship with us. Prioritise basic services and enable people to get to work so they CAN be productive. We are tired. #ShutDownZimbabwe #NoViolence
– Jess, via Facebook

First and foremost, the truth have to be told. Life is just unbearable for the ordinary Zimbabwean. What is happening might seem as political infested agenda with individuals aligned to the Opposition Political Party but the truth of the matter is that ordinary citizens are now cornered and their fears and concerns are genuine.

Economically, our country Zimbabwe is at a standstill position and the call by the masses are of a people who are suffocating and crying for help and assistance. I am commenting as a religious figure and my understanding is that when the Church or any genuine person keep quiet at a time like this then that person or institution has lost its prophetic voice and mandate. The Church and its religious leaders are the voice of the voiceless and the voice of conscience to the establishment of the day.

What is culminating in Zimbabwe is an economical stalemate which our respectable political leaders have failed to address. It’s a pity that they remain adamant and ignorant of the realities on the ground. The people who are feeling the pinch are the majority poor people who are at the core of the blast furnace. Our political leaders must acknowledge that their ascendancy to power was a directive by the masses to lead us. At this juncture what I think is lacking is a well grounded leadership that has the people at heart.

It does not call for a political scientist to ascertain that our country is in a mess and that we have reached a climax of our economical meltdown. Zimbabwe does not have an industry that is up and running. The masses are surviving on the mercies of the gods if we are to take the religious route. What the government is promoting is as good as forcing the masses to accepting witchcraft or voodoo as the remedy of our own problems. Book economics must be separated from political economics. Our government cannot expect the masses to adhere to the so called pinch measures whilst the powers be are not in themselves walking the talk. Ever since our President was inaugurated and voted into office to take charge of one of the most powerful positions in the land he has been globetrotting with a begging bowl and nothing has materialized from all his trips. That alone must show him and his cronies that outside there, there is no one who believes in our political and economical mantra. We might fool ourselves that, “Zimbabwe is open for business” but in actual fact Zimbabwe is a ghost town or rather cemetery for investors to pour out their monies to a corrupt establishment/ government like ours.

Zimbabwe has a capacity to determine her own future. That we can only do when we swallow our pride and bury our political rivalry and think for the greater good of our nation Zimbabwe. Before our political affiliations we are Zimbabweans first and foremost. That is what counts. Not this behavior we are witnessing. What history are we ushering to our children and generations to come? No one is perfect. Either President Mnangagwa or Advocate Chamisa. They all are Zimbabweans and their struggle must be to bring bread to us their citizens. The spirit of bigotry must end. The cancer of corruption must end and must be shunned forthwith. Our leaders must exercise the gospel of transparency and accountability. Their focus must be to usher good governance whereby every discerning voice is to be treated with respect and consideration.

Zimbabwe must rise and prove to the rest of the world that our politics is the politics of the people. We must be exemplary and show even superpowers that our political conduct is mature and progressive. Zimbabweans are hardworking people and our people can be very understanding and responsible. Our struggle for independence has taught us to be a united people. This environment of anarchy we are creating is not for us.

God Bless Zimbabwe!

– Rev’d Masango Roderick Warakula, via email

It is sad that the government decided to increase fuel prices yet people’s salaries had not been increased. They might argue that all other commodities had gone up save for fuel, but we can’t use that as suitable justification to such unreasonable price increase. The effect of which has been further increase of prices for basic commodities and over a 100% on transport fares yet our salaries have remained constant. The government should just admit the mistake they did when they introduced the bond notes and coins. How could it be at par with the USD yet it couldn’t be used anywhere outside the country’s borders. Now that the damage has already been done, they should just let go of the Bond cause it has resulted to nothing more than bondage and increased poverty with the poor feeling the pinch most.
– Winnet, via email

Zimbabwe has been crippled by a shortage of cash hence people and the business community mostly rely on #emoney especially through Ecocash. What were the financial losses incurred as a result of #internetshutdown in Zimbabwe. What was the socio-economic impact that the internet shutdown in a highly informal economy. Political decisions once again negatively affecting the economy…

In a highly informal economy, where any stay away hits hard on a household, to what extent will the #zimbabweshutdown succeed in bringing the change that Zimbabweans need? What strategies are in place to ensure continued pressure on the politicians beyond the 3rd day? The day to day struggles of a common Zimbabwean are not felt by those in the high offices and the highly connected. Their stories are different. It is most likely that people will go back to their hustle in order to fend for their families and recover whatever was lost during the 3 days…..that is rational human behavior.

– Chikatsa, via email

The government of Zimbabwe must remove bond notes and pay salaries in US dollars and also 100% US in all minerals not 70% US and 30% bond
– Moses

Reflections from a media blackout

The phone crackled and her voice was strained and tinny at the other end “we are ok, but they were going door to door …” the line trailed off, I held my breath. “… hello, can you hear me?” My brave friend in Epworth sounded like she was both laughing and crying. She told me how glad she was to hear my voice. The army had been going door to door, particularly targeting men and boys. They were pulled out of their houses and beaten in the streets, ‘payback’ for their desperate protests the previous day. No Internet, no WhatsApp, I called another friend, this time in Dzivarasekwa. She told me that her younger brother had spent the day under the bed. If they knocked and you didn’t answer they would break the door down. Her voice was flat, no emotion. Then she told me the thing that broke me utterly – after they were beaten, after friends, neighbors and families witnessed these savage reprisals, they got back up, went back to the roads and placed rocks back in them. I could barely say goodbye to her for the tears strangling my voice. This is the act of a desperate and brave people, beaten, terrorized but determined that their protest would be heard. This is what they were doing to try to enforce the stayaway, to try to protest insane price hikes and fuel queues. Placing rocks in the street may not seem like much, but even this small sign of defiance takes courage after you have been beaten. After you have watched your brothers and fathers being beaten.

Are you watching, world? Are these the acts of a freely and fairly elected government? Now we live with the aftermath, with reports of 600 activists imprisoned, there will doubtless be trials – so, Zimbabwe, lets dust off those flags. When desperation and anger and bitterness threaten to suck all meaning out of life, you do what those brave men and women did. Keep. Putting. Rocks. Down. Your rocks may be your prayers, your compassion to give from your abundance to those who do not have, your skills to tend mental and physical wounds, your words, your love, your fuel, your time – place these things down. Offer them up. Come place your rocks. When people come to tear down, it takes courage to get back up and build. Bring your rocks, and BUILD – an altar, a barricade, a monument.

– Bex, via email

It has been a horror week last week even up until now I’m still yet to understand “was/is the army sent to protect us or to terrorise us”. I’m one of those few citizens who now have a military phobia. As I walk down my neighborhood I’m always checking behind my back. I think they should give a person a chance to explain before beating them because some innocent civilians are being caught in the middle of all this confusion.
– Anonymous, via email