Waking up today in Zimbabwe to a strange sense of calm, positive expectation sprinkled with a tangible sense of excitement in the air...
In an uncanny, unimaginable move, the War Veterans Association (originally the biggest supporters of the regime) have called a solidarity march today in Harare in support of the Zim Defence Force's latest actions to bring some sort of sanity to this beautiful country. Yes, that last sentence is not a typo. The War Vets are supporting the army who are supporting change in Zim.
And you know what... so am I, so are we.
Along with tens of thousands (and no doubt way, way more) of people who will turn out today in the city to march towards State House to add their feet to the vote of no-confidence in a leadership that has been captured in the most horrific way (and I'm not talking about the current polite "coup" by the armed forces - this is a capture we're all okay with...weirdly). The way that the country has been manipulated in recent months by those close to the President (who are now mostly in custody or running from the army) has been the final straw in an otherwise very fragile camel's back for ordinary Zimbabweans. And today is the next step in a crazy past week which has seen a bloodless entry from stage left of the military, followed by very loud and vocal support from the War Vets, the opposition parties, religious groups, the awesome HE Ian Khama next door (the less said about the rest of the regional neighbors the better), the majority of the ruling party, and literally the entire smorgasbord of human society that makes up this small but unique country - calling for a moral sense of order & constitutional democracy.
And they are using social media and the national broadcaster to get the message across. Cell phones are buzzing off the hook as the WhatsApp revolutionary web gives details of the hows and wheres of the march:
The march has been approved by the cops.
The national brewery is providing free refreshment stations along the route.
Mobile public toilets have been set up too (only in Zim!!).
Who knows, rose petals & white doves may well be sold by the ever-present vendors alongside cheap Chinese sunglasses, scuds of Chibuku & roasted corn on the cob.
People are being told that no political messages, slogans or regalia will be tolerated.
This is not a march for parties or individuals, but rather a march of a tired, battered but unbroken society. People, not wanting violent retribution or military revolutions. People simply wanting a peaceful & prosperous place to call home - and if the army's actions of the past week is the beginning of that, then we're behind them all the way, as paradoxical as that sounds: we support the army who supports a non-violent change in leadership & direction that Zim is taking. If the events over the coming weeks unfold the way we are all hoping, it will be an unheralded, never-seen-before move in African politics.
Over the past 24 hours since getting back home there have been a number of weird scenes playing out in Harare...
Last night at a local restaurant I joined a group of locals of mixed races, mixed ages, (mixed alcohol levels), as they literally went bezerk on the dance floor over a techno version of Tracy Chapman's Talking 'Bout a Revolution while the breaking news headlines scrolled across the screen of a bulletin on a big-screen TV on the wall normally reserved for sport only - "Zanu-PF supports the call for their President to step down". We live in interesting times. An elderly ex-farmer who had his farm taken 17 years ago told me he was going to march today, alongside the very people who supported the crazy events during those invasions. We live in extremely interesting times...
The haters will hate. The when-we's will remember the past and say no, we cannot support these guys just because they are now up against an even worse bunch. They will bring up past human rights abuses and dodgy politics of the people in the spotlight at the front of this march. And they are probably right to.
The next few days, weeks, months in Zim will be a rollercoaster ride as the Right Way Forward (new acting president, interim unity government, free & fair elections, etc) arm wrestles with the multiple versions of the wrong ways we are all hoping will not surface. The moral high ground has never been more difficult to define.
But what is clear is that today is the beginning of Change. And Change is at the beginning of All Good Things...
So with hope & love in our hearts, we'll be joining the masses today on the streets - joining the movement for change in Zimbabwe... pamberi!
#lovelivinginzimbabwe #itsnotacoup #thetimestheyareachangin