'Zim better off with anyone but Mugabe'

HARARE - Respected author and expatriate lawyer Petina Gappah — whose latest book titled Rotten Row gives a gripping rendition of everyday life in crisis-torn Zimbabwe — has said the southern African country is on the verge of change.

In a recent interview with the BBC, the award-winning writer, whose short story anthology has received rave reviews, says Zimbabwe is at a point where for the first time every citizen agrees the country is better off with “anyone but (President Robert) Mugabe”.

“I think we are at a wonderful point in our history. It does not seem like it but we are in a moment of great transition,” Gappah said in the interview.

“For the first time in 36 years, we can all agree that the time for change has come.

“We just don’t know which form that change will come, that’s the only frightening thing,” she said.

“But it’s not too frightening. I can assure you that never again will Zimbabwe have a president for 36 years. It won’t happen and it can’t happen,” she said.

Rotten Row — a collection of short stories that illuminate various aspects of Zimbabwean life — has captured the world’s attention.

Once the beacon of the African continent, Zimbabwe is facing its worst financial crisis punctuated by a shrinking economy, rising unemployment and the country is battling to contain a crippling cash shortage.

A wave of anti-Mugabe protests as well as political tension and infighting within the ruling Zanu PF have all left the country on the brink of collapse.

It is little wonder why Gappah believes that long-suffering Zimbabweans are so frustrated by Mugabe’s misrule that they are prepared to accept any candidate, regardless of background, to take over from the nonagenarian leader.

“I am happy to trade in Mugabe for (vice president) Emmerson Mnangangwa . . . (MDC leader) Morgan Tsvangirai, (Zimbabwe People First leader) Joice Mujuru . . . or any of the candidates signing up to be president,” Gappah said.

“I really feel that any person is better than what we have.”

Gappah, who until recently was working for the Geneva-based Advisory Centre on WTO Law, spoke of her imminent year-long writing fellowship in Berlin, Germany and her arduous journey as a writer.

Apart from Rotten Row, Gappah’s first book An Elegy for Easterly won the Guardian first book award in 2009.

In between the two, she penned a novel titled The Book of Memory.

“I was tired of the story of Zimbabwe being told by western journalists and white Zimbabwean authors,” she said.

“There was a point when the only books coming out of Zimbabwe were about land invasion, and the authors coming out of Zimbabwe were white Zimbabweans writing about their farms.

“But what about the people on the farms? Outside the farms?  What about lawyers and dreamers, and thinkers?  So that was what propelled me to write my first book (An Elegy for Easterly).

Gappah, who goes by the moniker Chandagwinyira, has a law degree from the University of Zimbabwe, a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge and a doctorate in international trade law from the University of Graz.

Comments (5)

I've always been saying this all along. Thanks Petina. Mugabe is the worst thing ever to happen to Zimbabwe. He's cunning, insensitive, and narcissistic. How can any 92yr old think they alone are the best candidate out of 15m? Really? Especially with a proven record of 36yrs of pure unadulterated failure.

Moe Syslack - 3 January 2017

The other major obstacle is in the shape of those who put him forward as candidate for 2018. One just wonders what goes on in these people's minds. Will they accept change?

Dunlop Munjanja - 3 January 2017

I think the youth those who endosed his candidature do not have brains they need a physcologist to study their brains how can u have faith in a old granny like bob i think he shud be doing nganos kumusha not failing the country

JAX - 3 January 2017

Zanu PF already has a psychologist called Mazivisa or such s$#t.

Ngororombe - 4 January 2017

These youths are not mad or crazy for that matter. They want him there so that they can continue to loot and benefit from the Muagabe admin's corruption. What they don't get is sometimes 10% of an elephant is better than 100% of a rat. They want to own all of a dysfunctional economy rather than a bit of a very functional economy where you don't live looking over your back fearing dissatisfied citizens,

Bomba - 4 January 2017

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