I stop at the traffic lights –of course not working – and as I cautiously check to see if I can proceed through the intersection, someone in an in-your-face 4x4, comes up on the illegal left and zooms past me, oblivious to the near miss. He’s saved two seconds and nearly lost somebody’s life.
I’m fed up with this macho posturing. At traffic lights, in offices, in politics. everyone is trying to get ahead at the expense of someone else, and in the case of politics – of everyone else. We’ve forgotten how to be African. We talk about Ubuntu. We talk about caring community. We talk about relationship with the land, but all we really want is a PHD. (Pull him or her down!)
In Zimbabwe we have been watching this in action over the last weeks and the locking of horns has reached its peak in the MDC-M, (not to be confused with the MDC-T) and now perhaps to be called the MDC – N.
There is a paucity of party names in Zimbabwe. As they fracture and factionalise, they refuse to let go of the name. A litany of name variations litters a history marked by brief moments of opportune collaboration and backstabbing. Zanu -PF, Zanu Ndonga, Zanu Sithole, PF-Zapu, Super Zapu, MDC-T, MDC-M.
So MDC –M held a party congress at which its leader Arthur Mutambara was voted out and replaced by Welshman Ncube. But Mutambara holds the post of Deputy Prime Minister (one of two DPMs). A cornerstone of this so called power-sharing government – which includes Zanu-PF. MDC-T and MDC-M - is the duplication of posts.
To be sure there is one President - Robert Mugabe of Zanu-PF. And one Prime Minister - Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T. Then the posts proliferate. There are two vice presidents, both from Zanu PF - one woman and one man, two Ministers of Home Affairs – one each from Zanu-PF and MDC-T, (because Zanu-PF refused to cede control of police, prisons and immigration), two deputy prime ministers – one from MDC-T and one from MDC-M.
No-one voted for Arthur. He was chosen as party leader when his party (now M) split from the original MDC (Now T). When the (GPA) Global Political Agreement was implemented two years ago, he took up the post of Deputy Prime Minister as representative of this, the smallest party in the agreement. Now that he is no longer party leader, he refuses to step down and claims the DPM post as his. Who is he representing? It feels all about ego, all about clinging on to some perception of power. Zimbabwe has certainly taught leaders how to cling on. The boss has been there for over 30 years and we are still counting. He managed to cling on to the Presidency in spite of losing an election. So Arthur has a fine precedent (president?) to follow.
While this political posturing continues, there is no listening and little consultation. More than thirty years after liberation the leaders still talk the masculine language of war. They claim we are battling for our land, our heritage, because of our deep, indigenous, sacred connection with the earth. But we have ceased to listen to the land and to our ancestral spirits who guided us through the war of liberation. Along with the rest of us, they have become expedient, sacrificed on an altar of ego and ownership.
We have licence to cut trees because they are ours. We pollute the rivers because the land ‘belongs’ to us, and no-one should tell us what to do and how to live. We rip diamonds out of the earth to enrich a few and while the political in-fighting occupies media space thousands of children cannot afford to go to school, teachers cannot afford to teach and citizens are arrested and charged with treason for discussing the fall of dictatorships in North Africa!
We need a new story. This macho one doesn’t work anymore. It’s time to recover, to acknowledge feminine wisdom, to listen. We have not been allowed to get on with living, with ordinary business because of egos and politics. It’s time to reclaim that space - to nurture our land, our children, our future.
This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard from corners of the world.