Zim's state of the nation potrayed in play

HARARE - Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), together with the Election Resource Centre (ERC) on Thursday held an arts evening event at Theatre in the Park to reflect on the political, social and economic developments in the country.

The evening showcased the State of the Nation play performed by Rooftop Promotions before more than 400 people consisting members of the public, civil society, development partners and the media.

The parody portrayed the infighting in Zanu PF over the succession of President Robert Mugabe, and how the ruling party is still fighting to rule and even win the upcoming elections to be held in 2018 regardless of public concerns about its governance record.             

The current fragmentation in the opposition parties was also depicted through the play.

The play portrayed a situation where political players are not addressing challenges faced by the ordinary people in the country.

After the play, members of the audience discussed what the various political parties and the citizens could offer to deal with the problems of governance and instability besetting the country.

During a plenary session moderated by ZimRights director Okay Machisa, the audience expressed disappointment with the current state of affairs in the country, calling on political leaders to respond to their grievances about worsening economic hardships.

Speaking at the event ERC director, Tawanda Chimhini said citizens have been expecting to hear from the political actors about issues that are happening in the country, but the politicians have not been forthcoming with answers to nagging questions they have.

“As we have been running our programmes in communities, we have seen a lot of these questions that the same people at community level have been asking manifesting themselves at the national level,” said Chimhini.

“And what has been constant is an absence of a response from those in power. If the leaders cannot come and converse with the citizens, why not allow the citizens to depict their impression of the state of the nation?

“All things being equal, we expect a state of the nation address to have been made given what has been happening in the country.”

Machisa added that people must not be afraid of speaking about
issues that affect their lives.

“The presentation which was put in front of you has a lot of things that are pregnant with information and we need to poke into these issues.

“When we created this platform we wanted certain things that are not being talked about to be talked about. Even the police should also start speaking because the teargas they have been throwing is also affecting them, they breathe it,” said Machisa.

Rooftop Promotions producer Dave Guzha said State of the Nation will be a series of bi-monthly performances looking at topical issues in Zimbabwe with the next episode expected to be staged on September 29 at the same venue.

Portraying Mugabe, Mujuru, Tsvangirai, Grace, Jonso, Mnangagwa

State of the Nation cast consisting poet Chirikure Chirikure, actor Chido Kutaga, comedian Doc Vikela, and arts producer, Guzha addressed the “electorate” pitting their 2018 election “manifestos” while ex-raying politicians that included Mugabe (Guzha), Morgan Tsvangirai (Vikela), Grace Mugabe/Joice Mujuru (Kutaga) and Acie Lumumba (Chirikure Chirikure). They shifted characters to portray others like Joice Mujuru, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Tendai Biti, Evans Mawarire, Jonnathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere and Arthur Mutambara.

As the play starts, Mugabe emerges from the back of the theatre, makes his way up the stairs, stumbling.

“Yes, it’s me. I was dead, it’s true, I was dead. But I resurrected like always. Once I get back to my country I am real. I have resurrected more times than Lazarus. There will be no election unless there is an election that I win.”

Enter Acie Lumumba: “I am Lumumbalumumbalumumba. I say f**k you and f**k you and f**k you. Vote for me!”

But it was Kutaga who had the audience in stitches as she played First Lady Grace Mugabe.

“People say I should be worried about the election because I might lose my position. What do they know! We have always won, even when I was pushing the old man in a wheelbarrow. Why shouldn’t we win now. I deserve to win anyway — were any of the rest of you cleaning his nappy and wiping the spit off his chin? Did any of the rest of you sit for hours listening to him talking nonsense? No, I didn’t think so. I deserve this. I worked harder than any of you. And my people!

“…My people love me. I am your Amai Doctor. I am the mother of the nation. You know you love me. Instead of spending time in my beautiful mansion in Singapore, I come to Zimbabwe to see my people and humbly live with them in a little shack in Borrowdale. I come at least once a month. Anytime my people need me I am on that plane from Singapore.

“My people are hungry, so I skip meals for them. My people suffer under the western sanctions. I suffer under the western sanction. Look how I have suffered for you people. You see how much I deserve this position,” said Kutaga.

Mujuru through Kutuga said she had been accused of being a witch and an assassin. “Maybe my witchcraft
finally worked. Two years after I first went to the n’anga with the beetles, the prophecy finally came true — he is dead. You see, my witchcraft worked.

“I hear some people telling me it would have been quicker to just shoot down the helicopter on its way to Zvimba. My people, I am sorry. I am sorry this took so long.

“But, just as you will unconditionally forgive me for my years of corruption in Zanu PF, so I am sure you will forgive me for taking so long to kill the president. Like the mighty baobab survives the long dry season in the lowveld, so I have survived my long dry season as an opposition leader.

“Do you know how hard it is to pay for fuel when you no longer get a special deal with your friend Kasukuwere? Do you know how much fuel you need to fill a Range Rover? These dry years in the opposition have changed me. They have hardened me. You see, I no longer wear the fancy suits from Europe.

“I no longer have those long nails like the Amai Doctor over there. Now I dress for the struggle. I dress for you, my people. You see this bush jacket.

“I am like Zanu PF, but I am not Zanu PF. If you are afraid of change you see ZPF, and you are reminded that we are the same thing. I look forward to your votes! I must say, I am looking forward to being back at  Munhumutapa Building. I am hoping that all of the people who kept breaking into the VP’s office did not spoil my decorating and upholstery.”

Enter Jonathan Moyo: “None of the rest of you could win because I control the media, I am running my campaign from twitter. People imply that I am not to be trusted because I was in and out of Zanu so many times. They dismiss me. What they do not realise is that I, Jonathan Moyo, I am the individual who garners the highest numbers of votes for Zanu PF, I am the master of elections, I am the master of between-elections. Without me Zanu would have sunk like the sad metaphors in the Herald. I am the voice of Zanu. I am the media.”

“Chombo and the old guys think the solution is to ban twitter! Little do they know how much intelligence I get from twitter. Let them twit and witter, I am watching everybody. I know who the regime change agents are. And those old guys are still wandering around in the dark trying to tap landlines for intelligence. Anyway, I will win, because I control the way you think, and I am telling you that I will win. We are going to have the best presidency ever.”

Vikela, as Emmerson Mnangagwa did not understand why we are having the 2018 election at all. “But I was the Vice President. This is my post to inherit. I have been waiting for this position for 30 years. You can’t simply elect it away from me. Besides, everyone supports me — in England they support me, in South Africa they support me. Why should I have to compete with the others?

“Ok, we are having an election, fine.  We are having an election to choose the new leader. As you all know, I am the most powerful person in the country. I am the crocodile. You never fight with the crocodile. You will vote for me, because you do not want to face what might happen if you don’t vote for me. Remember 2008? Remember the 1980s? Mugabe might have had degrees in violence, but I am the professor.”

Enter Morgan Tsvangirai: “My people! You know, as I know, that a change of leadership is needed. People must not be allowed to go on ruling for so many years. When leaders stay in power for such a long time, the people forget about democratic structures.

“Now that Mugabe is dead, may he live in peace, I will think back fondly on our tea-time chats during the GNU. Now that Mugabe is dead, it is time for a new leadership. You are going to elect your new leader, for the first time in 36 years.

“For the first time in 36 years, there will be a free and fair election in Zimbabwe. We call on the security forces to respect the will of the people.

“This time your vote will be respected. This time I will stand up and take my position as the leader of the country. I know I did not last time. Or the time before — that time I left the country. But the real time is now. My people, victory is ours.”

And then Saviour Kasukuwere: “I am called Tyson. Do you know why I am called Tyson? Because there was once this boxer who bit off his friend’s ear. When people heard about that they said, ha! this Tyson person, he reminds us of our friend Saviour. You know, most people, they say, Zanu PF is so violent, meaning, all these comrades of mine are so violent. But you know something, Zanu PF is not violent, not really.

“These people, these Emmersons and Graces and Joices, they are not violent, they sit in their Range Rovers or in their office with the air conditioning and the leather chair and they call the youths or the police and they say ‘that person, the one in the red T-shirt, I want him to suffer’ or ‘that village, they voted the wrong way, make sure they understand’ and then they wait for the photo or the report or the next election.

“Me, I am not like this. I understand violence. I am a man of action. I am a man of the people. I have my iron bar, I have my gun, and I know what to do. I can hit a lot harder than any of these little youths. So this is what I am telling you. You all know who you need to vote for. We have done this before. I still have my iron bar, and I still have all my guns.

Enter Tendai Biti: “I, Tendai Laxton Biti, am a technocrat and a lawyer. Wait, you don’t know who I am? You know me, I was minister of Finance. You know me, I was the MP for Harare East. You know me, I was secretary-general of the student council. Surely you know me? Don’t you know me? Why does everyone always see Morgan?

“You know me! I am here to tell you today that the dilemma that we face in Zimbabwe is the potency and the strength of the regime that has created an autocratic megalomaniacal structure. I, as a democrat, who has faith in the rule of law, am disappointed, nay, aghast, at the level of coercion and corruption in the structures of power in Zimbabwe. I call on everyone, be they lumpen elements on the streets or elite politicians in Range Rovers, to work on delivering transparency and democracy to this, our splendid country.”

And finally Pastor Evan: “I am a little confused, this place doesn’t look like New York. What are you all doing here? Oh the election! My fellow citizens, I am here, Pastor Evan Mawarire, here to tell you that now is the time to vote. We are all going to stand together, all the MDCs, the Tajamukas, the #Thisflag, nemahwindis, vendors, we are all going to stand together and vote. I am here, fellow citizens, to tell you to vote for me. I am a Man of God. This is God’s struggle. God started this and God is here to help us see it through. When you vote for me you vote for God. Victory is certain, Zimbabwe will never be the same again!”

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