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Philip Barclay and Grace Mutandwa

Zimbabwe

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Monday 16 February, 2009

We will rise and be great again - insha'Allah

The mood was electrifying. The setting was Harare's Glamis stadium, once popular in the early 80s for horse riding/jumping shows. Crowds had started gathering in the early hours of Wednesday 11 February to witness Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), leader Morgan Richard Tsvangirai's inauguration speech.

On the other side of the capital at the residence of the state president, a smaller group of prominent people and diplomats was also gathering for the swearing in ceremony, that was initially slated for 11am but only happened much later. This was a by invitation only ceremony.

I watched the proceedings from the office television set. Both Tsvangirai and Mugabe looked tense and like they had been dragged screaming and kicking to the ceremony. The MDC leader took his oaths of office followed by the leader of the other faction of the  MDC, Arthur Mutambara who smiled and looked more at home with Mugabe as they bantered amicably. Next was Tsvangirai's deputy Thokozani Khupe who has now become one of the two deputy prime ministers.

The ceremony was dry and lacked the excitement expected at such occasions. For the first time in many years, western diplomats normally shunned and vilified were invited to state house. This was indeed turning out to be an important day - a day on the political calendar remembered as the day South Africa's Nelson Mandela was freed from prison over a decade ago.

Back at the stadium crowds continued pouring in. Accompanied by colleagues, I went to join the crowds and witness the closest Zimbabwe could hope to get to a "Barack Obama" moment.

By mid-day it was getting hot and sticky but more and more people were determined to bear witness to the new political dispensation. They thronged the stadium, stood  or sat patiently while others danced to the blaring music.

Even when it started raining, they waited patiently for their leader. A few colourful umbrellas popped open and those without shared with fellow supporters. Others just remained standing or sitting in the downpour.

Sitting in the shade I was amazed at their resilience. Still the music continued and the dancing carried on. I have not seen so many happy faces in one place for a very long time. It was moving. Black and white people sat and chatted animatedlywith a touching comaraderie.

When MDC secretary general Tendai Biti (tipped to be next finance minister) arrived at  the stadium, the crowd erupted, waving their hands they chanted Gono, Gono, in reference to the central bank governor, whom people blame for the country's economic malaise andexpect MDC to get rid of. The party spokesman, the youthful Nelson Chamisa also sent the supporters wild.

The arrival of the man himself, Tsvangirai was a moment to behold. The crowd that had earlier endured the heat and later the rain was ecstatic. Emotions ran high. Journalists normally unseen in this country where journalism was almost barred, scrambled to take a peak and photographers jostled to get the best picture.

And when he stood to speak, Tsvangirai was a far cry from the man who took the first steps towards change in September 1999. He was confident and spoke eloquently about the challenges ahead.

"To my fellow African leaders, there can be no turning back on the political agreement, which each party has signed, knowing this is not a perfect agreement, buta workable one, an agreement that, if implemented with good faith, will deliver a peaceful way forward - towards a stable economy, new constitution and free and fair elections," he told the crowd.

As prime minister, he promised to help restore the rule of law, respect of human rights. In the heat of the moment  apart from promising an independent media, the new prime minister promised Zimbabwe's workforce foreign currency denominated salaries.

Politicians have a tendency to get carried away. Unless Tsvangirai is privy tosomething we are not aware of, I am quite convinced in this instance he got drunk on the adoration of his supporters and promised an undeliverable. Unless he has his own foreign currency printing press, I do not know where he will get the money.

He raised people's hopes and my sincere hope is that he will deliver for his own sake and more importantly for the sake of all Zimbabweans who stood by the MDC through thick and thin. Political prisoners still locked behind bars will also hold him to his promise. Wherever this new road takes him, may the force be with him.

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Comments:

Does Tsvangirai know something that we dont? How else could he join a "Power sharing" government in which Mugabe still holds all the power. Which bit of power does Tsvangirai get to share? I think Tsvangirai must have suffered brain damage whilst he was in prison. By allowing himself to be conned by Mugabe and the S. African president, he has set his cause further back and prolonged the suffering of his people

Posted by tonychowles on February 16, 2009 at 08:18 PM GMT #

"if implemented with good faith" - we have to hope.

Posted by OwenE2 on February 17, 2009 at 12:07 PM GMT #

Thanks a lot for this blog. I've been to Zimbabwe 10 years ago...I'm thinking a lot about the catastrophic situation there now, and It's a chance to have found your blog and to read you. ALL THE BEST..Yvonne, a french documentary director.

Posted by YDBM on February 20, 2009 at 10:31 AM GMT #

Thank you for this blog. I really want this to work for the beleagured people of Zimbabwe but can it with Mugabe holding the controls of the military, police and the misguided abused rabble that call themselves veterans? If only there was a way to mobilse the USA via Obama and to persuade the EU and UK to pump even a fraction of the money being used to prop up the banking sector in Europe into the Zimabwean economy without it getting mired in the Mugabe corruption. It will take a bold and imaginative lead that I am not sure exists in the UK and I am not convinced that the USA really understands Africa. Unfortunately RSA wants to take the line of least resistance rather than take the bold lead that is desperately needed. What is the answer? I just don't know but unless we can get money to the MDF the country will continue down the long road of ruination. Hopefully, there can be a rebuilding of confidence that allows inward investment in the wrecked agricultural sector, encoraging the return of the skills that Mugabe cleared out. A truth and reconciliation policy may encourage people back without the festering wounds of the land recovery draining resiliance and the common good. I just don't know the answer, I do know that as my place of birth and childhood this deserves to recover.

Posted by Robert Murray on February 20, 2009 at 07:57 PM GMT #

I think what has happened to my country is a sad and terrible shame,i remember the days when i was young when no other country came close to my ZIMBABWE,i never thought it would come to this,now im almost 30 and i live in another country because what was my home no longer exists.Its amazing what a few greedy men can do,it is my generation that will have to pick up the pieces,but only if we can all accept responsibility for what has become of our country,we need to all come together wherever we are and focus our minds,dreams and resources on our beautiful country.When we left our home we thought things would get better without our help,but it just seems to be getting worse.we all moan and complain and pray for our country but we all actively do nothing to change the situation.We leave the job to weak and powerless people like tsvangirai and his weak party,we hope he will resurect our counrty while we hide away and watch.We dont need white farmers,we need FARMERS,we dont need white investors we need INVESTORS and we dont need heroes we need US!.Only we can change the fortunes of our country.Only we have the voice and the power to remove all tyrants from office,all we need do is use it.We've let others speak for us,when we have voices of our own,we have all the finances our country needs,if all 4,5 million of us in diaspora each gave US$100 to the redevelopment of our country how much would we have?The reason we do nothing is because we lack the motivation to change what has happend.WAKE UP MY PEOPLE!!!...your country needs you.Join me on the above website and we can all contribute ideas that will benefit our countries future insted of reading the news and complaining and praying.That will solve nothing.I am calling out to all the Zimbabweans that are sick of hearing how bad it is back home,WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING!as we procrastinate ZIMBABWE....OUR HOME DIES,what will be the legacy we leave for our children??,a prosperous country recovering from near ruin,or a ruined country that will never be prosperous?.I for one will stand up and be counted,i for one will make the change,i am a proud zimbabwean who shall no longer be ashamed of his country,as i write this my heart is filled with sorrow,i have let this happen...now i will change it..WAKE UP ZIMBABWEANS!...YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU! http://zim-update.blogspot.com/

Posted by suley on February 24, 2009 at 06:24 PM GMT #

I have a Zimbabwean housemate in my place in London called "Yasha"...He tells me alot about the good old days in Zimbabwe...I believe you'll rise again...i really do!

Posted by Horse Riding Saddles on May 21, 2009 at 04:57 PM BST #

Hopefully, there can be a rebuilding of confidence that allows inward investment in the wrecked agricultural sector, encoraging the return of the skills that Mugabe cleared out.

Posted by download free movies on October 27, 2009 at 06:27 AM GMT #

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