“November Of Hope, Pictures And Purple Trees”
5 November 2020

By Josiah Mucharowana- Pretoria sunsets in Brooklyn are beautiful! Just like uptown Harare, the famed Jacaranda trees are blooming with a lush purple and a tantalising aroma that leaves one whiffing for more.

Bolouvards and parked cars on driveways are covered with a carpet of purple leaves.
Jacarandas are a colonial relic across Africa. A reminder of good times before in the suburbs by imperial races bent on subjugating and dominating the black race to extinction.
Each day, Pretorians young and old are out on the streets in full swing, some dressed to the nines bejeweled in evening wear. 

Others are in casual shorts and sandals capturing with expensive cameras for eternity the fleeting beauty of purple timely upon the universe.

It is simply a photographer’ s paradise! It’s November and the rains are upon most parts of Southern Africa. And yes, the sun has been baking relentlessly of late. Just like in British circles, talk of the weather has been an ice-breaker in most conversations here.

Water is life so has been the axiom since the advent of humankind. Notwithstanding the beauty of the environment that comes with the rains, water is a necessity without which man cannot live.

Economies run on water. There is  a humongous aqua- universe complete with attendant industries such as fishing, transport and electricity generation. Wars have been fought over water.

In agriculture, which is mainly the lifeblood of most African economies, water is simply indispensable. For the farmer, both commercial and peasant this is a season of hope. A time of utmost faith that the heavens will burst bowels and bless the earth with life.

It is beyond humankind to tinker with the skies for rains. No amount of scientific fidgeting will bring rains. The farmer only hopes to God and plays his part immensely preparing land to guarantee success. 

And yet still, for the Zimbabwean farmer, preparation alone for the oncoming planting season is a Herculean task.  The Zim economy is literally a beast threatening the existence of its very own children.Prices for inputs such as fertilisers, seed and fuel for the machines are unaffordable. 

An ordinary civil servant finds it hard to buy a cheap hybrid of seed for a piece of land acquired under Mugabe’s land reform programme aimed at empowering citizens to control means of production. 

And yet the current government is hell-bent on compensating evicted white farmers instead of heavily channelling energies on citizen empowerment programmes. Over the years government has painstakingly mooted agricultural schemes to aid farmers access inputs and equipment at fair prices  and without much trouble.

Sadly, these were immensely abused mostly by politicians and government operatives who saw  this as a once- off chance at the feeding troughs. Monumental sums of money were borrowed and never repayed.

Debt books have turned yellow on national shelves with nothing accounted for. It is shocking when news by the famed Big Saturday Read revealed that even churchmen like Nehemiah Mutendi and Ezekiel Guti owed the nation obscene sums of money and never made attempts at repaying.

 I would even vouch the entire Zimbabwean cabinet as the only one on earth that has officials doubling up as commercial farmers. Some are medical doctors, engineers, accountants but still like to dabble their hands in commercial farming.

Ordinarily, it would be a preserve of true farmers who do nothing else but farming. But alas the have been continually sidestepped when it comes to state schemes that benefit farmers’ s well-being. I am not going to rehash the nitty-gritties of the farm mechanisation programme exposed by fellow citizens with a conscience.

In our midst came Pvumvudza, yet another government pot-shot trying to stroke farmers ego. Yet another golden chance to loot and enrich those closest to the scheme while authorities turn a blind eye.

In November, the weather outlook is fickle, and so is the politics of the country.  Only two years back, the entire nation had de’ javu when longtime strongman Robert Mugabe was ousted from the Presidential office in a military- assisted coup. 

In the thick of things rose former army General Constantino Chiwenga as military genius over-flowing with chutzpah. Taking Mugabe head-on was tantamount to swimming in a crocodile infested river.

Contemporary leader President Munangagwa had skipped the border with an entourage of sons and close friends via Mozambique in the thick of the night fearing for his life. His escape on foot carrying a Luis Vuitton Presidential carry-bag in Mozambique enroute to South Africa is a reveting story of fear, hope and cunningness – proof the President has mastered the art of war. 

On that trip, he carried people’ s hopes. Whatever happened after he got into power is disheartening. Thieves, his corrupt friends and relatives previously unknown have come to the fore. Now we hear the First Lady and son Collins has allegedly been dabbling in gold smuggling even though it’s a story she vehemently denies.

The President’s own relation Henrietta Rushawaya and a couple of his aide-de-camps have been caught pants down at Robert Mugabe International airport enroute to foreign shores with pieces of gold in their possession.

That is only a tip of the iceberg. Much has been happening before our eyes. It’s time they sing like canaries. It’s not much to ask for. Mugabe was an untouchable for close to four decades in power. Who else would have volunteered balls on the line dealing with a dangerously unpredictable man like him. 

When the coup happened, we thanked the President for playing a starring role in dealing with Mugabe not knowing he would be equally if not more devious. It’s funny Zimbabweans like to hate on Chiwenga as an unseen presence on the national psyche citing his numerous battles with ill-health yet he is a brilliant military mind. I think he is not an ordinary uncle on the streets. He is one guy to watch.

It remains to be seen when and if its his time to win the keys to the State House. The opposition is sleeping on the job pulverized to ordinary men by Zanu PF’ s Machiavellian politics. A quick change of guard might be just what Zimbabwe urgently needs.

For a Pretorian, November is a time to be carefree, to enjoy the free things nature has to offer.  To the farmer elsewhere in Zimbabwe, it is time to continually scan the horizon with eyes of hope for the rains. A hope that government intervenes with genuine agricultural input schemes that benefit real farmers. 

 For the generality of Zimbabweans, November is nostalgic. We celebrated on the streets with a lot of hope when Mugabe wrote that terse resignation letter from the Blue Roof.
 It was a moment of madness for everyone in the neighborhood, the all night parties everywhere within and beyond Zimbabwe. 

What’s left are beautiful pictures of citizens atop military tanks in celebration. Pictures of armed soldiers smiling and hugging beauties. They were the heroes of the day. The happiness ended there, on the streets. A rude awakening awaited upon inauguration of the new man in town.

Investors fled. Some chose to be penguins with hands that cannot reach pockets despite the President’s junkets around the world with a begging bowl. 

Moreso, anarchy took over. The courts of the land became a tool of lawfare. Activists, oppostion leaders and opposing figures have been wantonly arrested and  jailed.

This November, we reflect on what actually went wrong. Cartels and unashamed thieves  took over national affairs. A lot of goodwill was criminally squandered. Things went awry. The coming in of the ‘ new dispensation’ rather the’ second republic’ if you like was supposed to regroup and refortify Zimbabwe’ s engagement efforts with the rest of the world. 

Lo and behold! Some people had other ideas trashing that beautiful dream to pieces like pottery. We now live in boarded up houses afraid state goons visit in the middle of the night carrying out abductions and torture.

Journalists, the watchdogs of society have become enemies of the State to be harangued at every turn possible by state agents for simply doing their work which is within constitutional rights as the fourth estate.

Firebrand award-winning newsman and anti corruption campaigner Hopewell Chin’ono is at the receiving end of neo-fascist gangsters running the show for simply speaking out. 
It appears government is allergic to the truth about corruption and it’s enablers.

He has stepped on many toes for shining a light on corrupt officials with an irrefutable paper trail that is shocking as it is revealing of the monster of governance at hand.
There is just a tenacious energy to muzzle free speech in Zimbabwe that is synonymous with dictators the world over.

There are even threats of Jamal Kashoggi type of killings to those activists and journalists in the diaspora. We fear and wonder when the beast strikes next.

Ferreting for the next meal is a tall order for many families. Schools have become houses of horror for our kids with teachers away in protest of meagre salaries. 

Hospitals have long ceased to be places of hope and reinvigoration but dark and dank places where death cries abound. Reportedly 2500 women die annually from little mishaps giving birth. 

Yet, in our midst, there are loyal  supporters of the President who hang on to his every word, every syllable. But we hope! Hope is the only thing in abundance for Zimbabweans. A preposterous belief that leaders will simply have good hearts and start thinking for the people. 

I won’t lie. I am surest of this, we have been too timid and docile to this government.

Josiah Mucharowana is a media graduate in Pretoria and writes in his personal capacity. Feedback: [email protected]