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citizen as a radical activist
Saidi, The Standard
December 02, 2007
AS Christmas approaches
and all Christians, and many non-Christians, prepare to celebrate
the birth of Jesus Christ, there must be a sense of the lugubrious
among most citizens.
In terms of enjoyment,
outside the spiritual edification of remembering The Nativity, this
is not a season to be jolly for Zimbabwe.
There is not enough joy
or money to go around - as naked a truth as the empty supermarket
This may be an exaggeration:
the country is broke.
But picture this: a depositor
goes to a bank to demand the money they left there for safekeeping.
They are told there is none. Do they respond with a polite "Thanks.
I'll come back when you have some."
The consolation, if you
are a super-optimist who faces a firing squad - for stealing a chicken
liver - with a smile, is there is little to buy, if you get the
Some people might think
this citizen is entitled to bash something or someone.
Others might say the
citizen should revise the conventional view that bank managers are
part of the human race, and not three-headed monsters from The Deep.
If the country is not
broke, then where is the money? Who is hiding it? Gideon Gono? He
has identified the culprits, although it's hard to say most of it
is the work of a bunch of under-30s found with Z$1.7 billion in
Gadzema last week.
Is this country in a
mess or is it not? December is not going to have much good cheer.
But who, among the leaders, is worried that real people might not
celebrate this festive season with a festival?
Not Zanu PF, not the
president, who seems put off by any suggestion he might not make
it to the Lisbon conference of the European Union and the African
His most public comment
on the crisis: be patient, give us time.
If, like me, you get
the desperate feeling that we have heard this refrain before, don't
Meanwhile, Zanu PF -
or a section of it, anyway -was worried about The Million Men and
Women march in favour of President Mugabe.
Frankly, if any Million
Men, Women and Children march should be held, it must be in protest
at this "mother of all messes" we are in.
It should be
organised by the Combined
Harare Residents' Association (CHRA) and the Women
of Zimbabwe Arise! (WOZA). Their record is spectacular and filled
with heroism. The women, in particular, have scored so many successes
they ought to be asked by civil society to write The Essential Handbook
these two come immediately to mind as the near-perfect examples
of the citizen as a radical, followed by the National
Constitutional Assembly. Here, we are not counting the political
parties. Their agenda is to replace the government.
You could say it is their
own "regime change" strategy, without the external component.
The perfect citizen is
radical in insisting on obtaining the maximum benefits from those
they entrust with that responsibility, whether it is the city council
or the government. This is a citizen who pays taxes and all the
other bills from the service providers.
But they believe in taxes
being linked, absolutely, to representation. In other words, in
the case of Harare, Mutare and other urban areas now run by the
Ccs - Chombo's commissions - they wouldn't pay anything, in protest.
The commissions don't
represent the voters' wishes.
The radical citizen would
engulf the providers of electricity and water in a permanent bubble
of terror. There would be daily vigils at their offices, until power
and water were supplied without interruption to all households.
They would run daily
advertisements in the newspapers and in the independent radio and
TV stations (wish-wish), calling them money-grubbing charlatans.
They would target the
responsible cabinet ministers for special parodies in all the media.
They would give them no rest, until they begged, on bended knees,
to be let off the hook - by publishing in every newspaper, TV and
radio station a full-page apology to the citizens and pledge to
start earning their salaries by not knocking off until they satisfied
everyone that nobody would be without water or power, unless they
had been delinquent in paying the bills.
That is the radical citizen.
. . ready to get bashed for what they stand for.
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