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African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle


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Give me something
May 18, 2013, 10:27 am

 

Dear Family and Friends,

After a few days away, the item on the top of my shopping list was a can of Coke; not because I wanted to buy a tin but because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Flicking through the headlines of things that had happened in Zimbabwe in the last week, one article amongst the same old political squabbling, contradictions and finger pointing caught my eye. Apparently a new range of Coke tins had arrived in Zimbabwe and aside from being on the internationally recognized, red-coloured tins, they came with a new slogan. ‘Crazy for Good,’ is the name of the new Coke promotion aimed at encouraging people to do good deeds. Some of the tins apparently show a waving hand and say ‘share your smile today,’ while others say ‘high five everybody.’ The government controlled Herald newspaper decided that the Coke promotion was actually a covert regime change advert and that Coca-Cola were supporting the MDC whose colour is red and symbol is an open hand.

SW Radio Africa’s Violet Gonda  did what she does so well and invited Zanu PF and the MDC to have an on-air discussion about the Coke advert. The MDC said the accusation against Coca-Cola supporting their political party was paranoia, asking if chickens would be next to be blamed for promoting the MDC because their feet  could well look like the MDC’s open hand symbol too. The Zanu PF spokesman said his party were taking the Coke advert ‘very seriously,’ saying this was a case that was “likely to cause diplomatic problems” between Zimbabwe and South Africa where the tins had been imported from. (Along with over 80% of everything else we eat and drink in Zim.)

Suffice to say that there’s nothing quite like bad publicity to make people want to buy something and of course there wasn’t a tin of Crazy- Good Cokes to be found anywhere in my home town and so I turned my gaze to the voter registration debacle. There were an easy three or four hundred people crowded outside the diamond mesh fence that surrounds the local government offices trying to get in and register to vote. The word that best describes the scene is chaos. For some unknown reason the gate in the fence was locked at 9.00 in the morning, an hour after normal opening time. The frustrated buzz from the hundreds of people clamouring outside the fence increased to an angry roar whenever the guard on the gate unclipped the padlock to let the odd person in. It was obvious to everyone that money or political patronage was enabling entry and desperate Zimbabweans, so long disenfranchised for a host of obscure reasons, stood helplessly by, watching their right to vote slip away in front of their very eyes. 

Accounts of similar situations are coming in from towns and cities everywhere. A new voter in Chitungwiza who needed to get an  ID document  before she could register as a voter, arrived at the registry offices at 2am.  Eleven hours later, at 1pm, she was on the verge of giving up because she still hadn’t even got inside the building to start the process. “Only a few people have been selected to go inside,” she said, adding that the line wasn’t moving at all and new comers were continually being served first.

She was witnessing the same sickening process that every Zimbabwean has had first-hand experience of when it comes to anything connected with our Home Affairs offices. Staff are surly, aggressive and intimidating, serving you when and if they feel like it, or not bothering to serve you if they’re too busy chatting on their mobile phones or playing computer games. It’s the same for registering births and deaths, getting  ID’s, passports and any other official documentation where the unspoken rule is: if you don’t bribe you don’t move.

Seven words spoken by an official at a busy border post last week sum it up best: “Give me something and you can proceed.” We assume that ‘something’ doesn’t include a can of ‘Crazy Good’ Coke that dares to be red and show a waving hand. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.



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