Only change for MDC will be the stench of pit latrine

Richard Hall, a great editor I had the privilege of working under in the 1960s, once described a proposed constitution for what would be Zambia, thus: A pit latrine - the more you dig it, the more it stinks.

Richard Hall, a great editor I had the privilege of working under in the 1960s, once described a proposed constitution for what would be Zambia, thus: A pit latrine - the more you dig it, the more it stinks.

At the height of the unravelling of British imperialism, critics of the snail's pace bestowal of independence to the former colonies used brutal language to scold Whitehall.

A Zambian, Ali Simbule, was furious with the kith-and-kin procrastination over ending Ian Smith's 1965 UDI. He called Harold Wilson's government "a toothless bulldog".

I have recently enjoyed this description of Margaret Thatcher's 1991 proposed poll tax:

"fat-headed, bone-headed, dunder-headed, blunder-headed, mutton-headed".

It translates into "unworkable".

I find it an appropriate description of the power-sharing mish-mash signed by the two MDC formations and Zanu-PF to end the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Thabo Mbeki flew back to the country this week, lugging a large band-aid to cover the gaping wound now crippling the process. Many are inclined to burn Mbeki at the stake as the witch who strung along the MDC leaders, while knowing Zanu-PF was brewing its old tamba wakachenjera subterfuge.

Most people who voted against Mugabe and Zanu-PF on March 29 would have come out into the streets to protest at the delay in setting up a government that would end nearly 30 years of Zanu-PF misery and death.

It has been noted that Zanu-PF's policy seems to entail starving the people into such weaklings, the very thought of demonstrations might give them collective cardiac arrest.

It might shock some to know this, but there are citizens who would not put it past Zanu-PF to starve the people into giving up all protest by denying them the strength to stand up. Always to be remembered is the impunity with which Zanu PF unleashed its retribution campaign. There was, in essence, a campaign of political cleansing in the high-density suburbs, the opposition stronghold.

Once the party apparatchiks recognised how weak physically most people had become as a result of the food and money shortages and the never-ending queues at the banks, they realised how effective it would be in emasculating the opposition.

Since the March elections, there have hardly been any massive demonstrations against Zanu-PF. The trade unions have not mounted any protest marches either.

The government media has routinely reported a rift between the MDC and the unions over the power-sharing deal.

There may be a grain of truth in some of the reports, but most people treat them with a large dose of scepticism.

There have been numerous attempts to sow the seeds of hatred between the unions, which helped father the MDC and the party. There have been reports of a Zanu-PF slush fund to "buy" the loyalty of the unions. In these days, when those without access to billions of dollars available to Zanu-PF are scrounging to make a living, few would laugh such gift cockerels (Zanu PF symbol) in the beak.

The MDC leaders, knowing the capacity for mayhem and murder of the people with whom they have been negotiating a "fat-headed, bone-headed, dunder-headed" power-sharing deal, must know what the real score is.

Zanu-PF will run rings around them until the only change they can confirm will be the stench of a pit latrine. They won't need to dig it to confirm how much crap they have been sold.

l Bill Saidi is deputy editor of The Standard in Zimbabwe.

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