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This article participates on the following special index pages:
NGO Bill - Index of Opinion and Analysis
Bill - the trap is set
October 08, 2004
A STORY is told
of a man who set up a mousetrap (riva/isifu) to catch a troublesome
rat that was ransacking his granary at will. When the rat discovered
the trap he ran to cockerel to advise him to put it down.
The cock just
laughed since it seemed apparent that the trap was meant for the
rat. The rat warned that things are not what they seem; the trap
was ill-fated (riva rine ngozi / isifu silengozi). The cock refused
to set it off anyway.
The rat then
approached the goat. Similarly the goat was too big to be caught
in a mousetrap. The rat again advised that the trap was damned.
The goat could not be bothered.
giant ox. No amount of persuasion or talk of solidarity would convince
the ox to trip off the trap. He could not be bothered because it
seemed obvious that the trap was meant for the mischievous rat!
Again the rat warned that the trap was damned.
In the evening
the rat used his normal route to the granary but remembered to avoid
the trap. Lo and behold a hungry black mamba was drawn toward the
granary by the scent of the rat. It got into the trap, tripping
it off and getting caught in the midsection, leaving the upper half
of the serpent free.
When the owner
of the trap was awoken by the sound of its falling, he was excited
and went out to investigate in spite of wise counsel to wait for
the morrow from the wife.
When he got
to the trap the angry mamba bit him in the stomach. His cries of
anguish woke the whole neighbourhood. By the time the villagers
had killed the mamba, the man was already paralysed and his body
turning black. Nothing could be done to save him. He died after
a couple of minutes.
All this happened
in the full view of the rat that had hastened to investigate the
victim of the trap. He rushed to tell the other animals of the developments
in the household. They remained unfazed.
As per tradition
word of the tragedy was sent to the elders, relatives and friends.
At daybreak the elders started the rites of announcing the death
of the man. The rites demanded that a cock be slaughtered for the
From the thatched
roof the rat heard the plan and rushed to inform the cockerel of
his near demise.
Before his capture
the rat remembered to remind him of his prophecy: the trap was ill-fated,
riva rine ngozi/isifu silengozi! It was too late for the cockerel.
For lunch the
family elders demanded that the goat be slaughtered to feed the
mourners. As the goat was being led away to be slaughtered, the
rat dutifully reminded him that the trap was damned.
day a big crowd gathered for the funeral and to feed the mourners
the elders ordered the slaughter of the giant ox. Like before, the
rat reminded the big animal that despite its size, it was condemned
to die by the trap that was damned.
Things are not
what they seem, riva rine ngozi/isifu silengozi! Over the past years,
laws have been passed in this country that seemed innocent but later
turned monstrous at implementation.
now sitting to discuss inter-alia the Non-Governmental Organisation
(NGO) - sounds more like "NGOzi"! - and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) Bills as well as amendments to the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).
the Bills look, to the common person, holy and innocent. Indeed
many are unfazed and try not to see the threat to their livelihoods
and indeed their lives.
When Aippa was
fast-tracked through parliament, it was perceived as meant to deal
with the independent media like the Daily News and errant journalists
from the same independent stable. When the perceptive late legislator
Eddison Zvobgo advised that Aippa was the most calculated assault
on citizens' political and civil liberties, the majority of the
members in the House felt they were too big to be caught by the
now appreciates that isifu silengozi, as everybody has become a
victim. Complaints by senior members of the governing Zanu PF and
government have - like the opposition, civil society and other independent
and dissenting voices - been shut out of the public media. Riva
NGO and ZEC Bills are not what they seem. They are going to affect
everybody and every sector. Critics look at the NGO Bill and reduce
its effects to a mere loss of 10 000 jobs. Others even question
what they think are high salaries in the sector and the use of 4x4
vehicles with long aerials (mota dzemireza).
When the trap
falls, foreign currency inflows will be greatly reduced - isn't
it that 85% of bids at the RBZ auction were turned down only recently
and yet the wood is still green? - the hotel industry whose 60%
of business is now coming from the NGOs, the ailing banking sector
and so on will suffer.
The lack of
forex has a ripple effect on the oil sector, agriculture - threatening
the gains of the successful land reform programme, that is the "Third
Chimurenga" - and food importation etc. Unfortunately many in these
sectors seem to think that they are safe!
No one is safe
including the sponsors and drafters of the same laws.
ZEC Bill cuts across the grain of the Southern Africa Development
Community principles on free and fair elections and thus puts regional
solidarity and the country's political and social stability at risk!
members of parliament consider and deliberate on these Bills they
ought to be guided by wise counsel, riva rine ngozi/isifu silengozi!
Mbofana is director of Civic Education Network Trust.
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