Africa 8.10.2014 08:00 am

Mugabe succession heats up Zimbabwe summer

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. Picture: AFP

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. Picture: AFP

Summer has arrived in Zimbabwe with sweltering heat leaving us casting our gaze upwards each day, searching eagerly for clouds that may bring rain.

Streets and avenues in urban areas are ablaze with purple jacaranda flowers and everywhere the familiar sights of summer bring brief respite from soaring temperatures. After almost no musasa pods last year, this season the pods are prolific: they’ve been carpeting the ground, filling gutters and curling around bare feet for nearly two months – and still more hang heavily in the heat, preparing to explode and drop.

Season’s return

The familiar sights of summer are like old friends, bringing relief to a country suffocating in bad politics and dramatic economic shrinkage.

The stunning diversions of nature this summer pale into insignificance against the daily political dramas engulfing the country. The scramble for positions of power in Zanu-PF has reached fever pitch as their annual December congress approaches. This year, the two prominent words are “succession” and “factions” and Zanu-PF party members are in a scramble to ensure that supporters of their favoured successor are in the best position to influence decisions.

The only question seems to be who is in line to take over from 90-year-old President Robert Mugabe if and when he steps down. It’s a decision that’s been 34 years in the making and answers don’t come easy.

Many of the goings-on are making sensational headlines; undoubtedly leaked to the press to tarnish the image of one faction or the other in the succession frenzy. While tongues are still wagging over Mrs Mugabe’s controversial PhD in social studies (awarded apparently just a few weeks after enrolling at the University of Zimbabwe), the First Lady has embarked on a campaign trail, launching her entry into Zimbabwe’s political arena.

Meanwhile, fists have been literally flying with the wife of one MP slapping another MP at a meeting in Chinhoyi. In another incident, two MPs are suing another MP after he called them gay gangsters and accused one of being a CIA spy.

And this is all happening within the same political party.

Deafening silence

It’s pretty disgraceful that this is how our leaders are behaving at a time when we are again crippled with power cuts, water shortages and price hikes, leaving people struggling to make ends meet. As I write this letter, it is the fifth day in a row that the electricity has been off for 16 hours a day; the garbage hasn’t been collected for six weeks and water is virtually nonexistent.

Every day, we feel more and more like we are hurtling back to the way things were in 2007 and 2008. And the only difference is that this time the voices of opposition are deafeningly silent; perhaps for them, answers also don’t come easy.

 

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