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'Zimbabwe is still working'

James (not his real name) is 30 years old and works as an IT professional in Zimbabwe's second city Bulawayo. He explains why life under President Robert Mugabe is not difficult for everyone and how the Western media often portray the situation within Zimbabwe incorrectly.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe releases balloons during his birthday celebrations
Life is not a struggle to survive for everyone in Zimbabwe

People outside Zimbabwe seem to think that life under Mugabe is all bad.

The Western media portrays complete desperation; that it is a war-like situation here and that the country is ungovernable and unstable.

But it is not.

Isolated incidents occur. There are pockets of people who are trying to rouse the rest but it is not widespread.

Inflation is not affecting everyone. Some people are still living comfortable, very comfortably, and they are not politically connected.

Lack of motivation

Opportunities have arisen away from the traditional economic powerhouses and certain sectors are thriving especially those with connections to the black market.

Business opportunists are reaping the benefits and this is one of the reasons that is stopping change from coming.

Businessmen lack motivation to change the situation.

But people are waking up to realise that the current situation can't go on.

A popular uprising by the masses, although a fine idea, is unlikely because people are too scared, too intimidated. Especially here in Bulawayo.

Twenty years ago, Mugabe's Fifth Brigade army committed huge atrocities here in Matabeleland [Bulawayo is the Matabeleland capital].

It was called Gukurahundi which in [Mr Mugabe's] Shona language means: "The early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains" and it resulted in 20,000 deaths. As had been its intention, it quelled possible future dissent by Zimbabwe's minority, the Ndebeles.

Feeling the pinch

Harare doesn't have that history. People from there are the ones who might begin to rise up.

Zimbabwean police
Desertion is on the rise. Many police are running away to Botswana or South Africa

But if it is going to work it has to be national, and not just isolated to the cities. The rural areas would also have to join in. For them to do so they would have to start feeling the pinch - they have to go against the authorities that feed them, see behind the food, and revolt against that.

The most likely path to change will come from within the ruling party, which is divided into rival camps.

A friend of mine is a policeman. He tells me that dissent is increasing and there is a lot of unhappiness in the lower ranks of the force; and likewise in the army. It stems from the fact that now, it is only the top officials who are remunerated well.

He also tells me that desertion is on the rise. Many police are running away to Botswana or South Africa.


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