9 December 2012

Zimbabwe: No Forward Movement


Mutapa Hall virtually looks like it did way back in 1964; just a rectangular building which African residents of the township of the same name used as a bioscope at the weekend.

In other countries it would have been made a national monument, for that decrepit hall is where Zanu PF was founded back then. It is the place where monumental decisions that shaped Zimbabwe's history were made.

But the monstrosity built by the Chinese recently where Zanu PF held its annual conference last week will overshadow the more historical building. This discrepancy is a metaphor to the transformation the party has gone through in the past 50 years.

The humble Mutapa Hall symbolised not only all that was wrong with the colonial set up, but also the fighting spirit that was to shape the liberation war.

The world over all resistance to an oppressive system has had humble beginnings, be it in a bus as did the American civil rights movement when Rosa Parks refused to give a seat to a white passenger in the racially segregated America of 1955 or the farmhouse in Rivonia where Nelson Mandela and other militant members of the ANC began their activities.

The new hall, with all its trappings of modernity surely must symbolise all that has gone wrong with Zanu PF.

The ostentation in display belies the underlying poverty in the country and is the manifestation of detachment from the people that the leadership now revels in. Mutapa Township, 32 years into independence, remains its old self, overcrowded and dirty with some of its residents only until recently still using bucket latrines.

With the choice of Gweru as the venue of this year's conference, one would have expected the fulfilment of the old adage, "what goes around must come around". The party was expected to take a deep look into itself, take stock and define a new path.

But it has been the same old rubbish; the same old platitudes and the self-same path to stagnation based on populism and self-destruct tendencies marked by the total lack of rejuvenation. God bless Zimbabwe!

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