When South Africa "fired" Thabo Mbeki as president a few years ago, it showed how much our southern neighbours had had enough of the man famously known on the cntinent for his "I am an African" speech. The South African public had no kind words for him either. He was cndemned the world over for his stance on HIV/AIDS that did not help him either. As for us Zimbabweans, his resignation was a welcome relief to the majority.
This is the man who had been appointed as the mediator by SADC for the Zimbabwean crisis. His close links to the former ruling party ZANU-PF, did not help matters either as he was agonisingly biased and sympathetic towards ZANU-PF. When Zim shops were empty, the majority of people starving, human rights abuses at their peak, inflation in its quadtrillions to name but a few, Mbeki stood firm with his infamous quiet diplomacy policy when Zimbabwe was on the brink of collapse.
Who will forget his infamous statement in April 2008 when election results were being withheld by ZEC when he said that there "is no crisis in Zimbabwe." A statement he made after a meeting wit president Mugabe. I was at university in South Africa then and i remember talking about it with my lecturer and he was of the view that Mbeki might not finish his term. Even though i argued at length how such a thing was almost impossible in Africa, he told me that South Africa was not per say, Africa. He further told me that unlike Zimbos, South Africans are not that tolerant.
True to his word, Mbeki did not finish his term. As Zimbos, we have stood the test of time. We have lived under the worst of times but we continued soldiering on. A good friend of mine told me that as Zimbabweans, our tolerance is our own weakness. What we do is living to see the next day. Hoping that something is going to happen or someone is going to give us deliverance. It is like we did not learn enough from our relationship with Mr Mbeki. No one will come to solve our problems because people like Zuma will only do so much and it is up to us to determine what it is that we want for our country.
We depended on Mbeki so much that all our hopes depended on his mediation. He left without any solution but outstanding issues for the GPA, issues that are still outstanding years after the more outspoken and firmer Zuma took over his role as the mediator. What we have to understand is that Zuma got his own problems as the president of South Africa and he is more likely to concentrate on Zimbabwe when it gets worse. For now, his mediating teams can fly to and fro at will spending our taxpayer money without any clear solution.
I believe that as Zimbabweans we are more about talk. Talk that we do inside the comfort of our homes, far away from the spies of the government. If its not about talk, it is about hosting press conferences week in, week out condemning the regime when people are still disappearing everyday, diamonds being looted, people being denied bail in jail to name but a few.
The risks of going ahead challenging the regime are well documented and you can forgive the people for being tolerant but for how long are we going to allow the junta and their friends in the politburo to take us for a ride. The Egyptian or Arab uprisings are still a pipe-dream in this country. Munyaradzi Gwisai and the socialists are the perfect examples. A revolution or an uprising may be beyond us but we do need one person who will inspire us to fight our tolerance.
In Tunisia one frustrated street trader, Mohamed Bouazizi, protested against his wares being taken by the authorities by setting himself on fire. His self-immolation was the catalyst the Tunisians wanted just to push them to voice their frustration. The whole of the Arab world responded to this and it showed how much they had had enough of the dictatorships in that region.
The Zimbabwean government knows that even though we are the most tolerant, almost the most obedient citizens, they know that we are on the edge. We might be scared of going onto the streets to march today but when the time comes, we shall go. We tried doing it through elections but our efforts were frustrated. Maybe this time the old guard will take heed of the events that happened in Zambia and recently with Wade in Senegal. Elections might be the only catalyst we need to voice our frustrations because the time has come. We cannot be tolerant forever.
Despite all this, how long are we going to wait for that time when tolerance is replaced by rebellion?