Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Local

Zimbabwe's Muppet Show

03 Nov 2023 at 05:44hrs | Views
A couple of days after the first storm, I headed out just before sunrise when it was cool and overcast. The dust had gone, the ground was soft underfoot, and everything looked fresh, clean and green.

THE first rain in seven months came from a dark black sky with strong wind and hail pinging off the windows, rattling on the roof, and bouncing on the dusty ground.

In 20 minutes, it had come and gone, leaving a carpet of white hailstones, tree branches strewn on the ground, and the promise of hope and renewal in the air.

A couple of days after the first storm, I headed out just before sunrise when it was cool and overcast. The dust had gone, the ground was soft underfoot, and everything looked fresh, clean and green.

It was quiet as I walked, and I carried only a bottle of water. My pockets were empty, ready to hold a few fruits that I knew I would be picking up along the way.

The Mahobohobo trees are groaning with fruit this year, and everyone's feasting. People call this tree by all sorts of names: the wild loquat, sugar plum, muzhanje and mushuku, but mine is easy; it's just: YUM!

As I write, women are selling the fruit in bowls on the roadsides, on pavements and along the highways. In the bush, the animals are easy to find; just look for the Mahobohobo trees, and you'll find them.

Squeezing the first soft orange fruit I found out of its hard shell, I popped it into my mouth, pips and all, and carried on walking.

I tried hard not to think about the ridiculousness that our lives have gone back to in Zimbabwe, but it's not possible, not for long.

Hot air in a balloon

Two months and two days after disputed election results, which the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) said it did not accept, nothing happened.

Like hot air in a balloon, its words just drifted off into the blue October sky. The criticisms and reports from regional and international election observer missions were pointless and made no difference whatsoever.

The ridiculous "fake" letter presented to the Speaker of the National Assembly by a man falsely claiming to be the secretary-general of the opposition CCC was upheld. It resulted in 15 elected CCC MPs being expelled from Parliament.

The CCC's response of "disengaging" from Parliament and local authorities was pointless. That, too, became hot air; its words made absolutely no difference.

And then the absurdity got even worse.

The same "fake" man who had succeeded in getting 15 elected CCC MPs expelled from Parliament has now claimed in writing that he will be in charge of screening and endorsing candidates for the by-elections to be held for the vacancies left by the expelled legislators. The CCC says it "won't accept" this "embarrassing tomfoolery" and announced that it will boycott the elections, calling them a "Muppet Show".

I took a break from thinking about the mess we're in.

I sat on a rock eating mahobohobos with a troop of baboons rummaging around in the deep leaf litter in front of me and thought about some of the things I'd seen in Zimbabwe this week. The one abiding image that has lingered in my mind says it all for our lives in Zimbabwe two months and two days after the elections.

On a trip to the capital city the morning after the first rain, there had been a big storm overnight, and the storm drain down the centre of the dual carriageway approaching Harare had overflowed and flooded the road.

It's a shocking section of highway at the best of times, where you can expect to take 20 minutes to crawl the last two kilometres down a hill and into a roundabout that feeds into Harare.

‘Obstacle', a relative term

The traffic was very slow; there was some obstacle ahead, and then I saw it. There, sitting in the middle of the highway, was a man who was literally on his hands and knees trying to rescue his life.

A fruit and vegetable vendor, he leaves his red plastic crates of tomatoes and cabbages in the storm drain at night. When the rain came down, all his precious goods rose and were washed away, the remnants squashed and strewn all over the highway. Very little looked salvageable, and I could only imagine his anguish.

That was probably a day's worth of sales gone; a meal that he wouldn't be able to give his family.

Hand to mouth, that's what people's lives have become, and there is no comfort at all in words like "disengage", "tomfoolery", "fake imposters" and "Muppet Shows".


Every day we look for hope. I found mine in a little baboon sitting high up in a Mahobohobo tree.

He ducked and weaved as he watched me watching him, eyebrows raised, standing on tiptoes, threatening me. Every now and again, he uttered a little selection of angry chitter-chatter at me, choice swear words, no doubt.

Making himself look bigger and fiercer, the little primate did a couple of arm presses on the branch, dislodging a handful of golden fruit in the process, which rained like manna from heaven onto the troop below.

Oh, Zimbabwe, when it comes to the wild side, you've just gotta love it. And there is hope; there is always hope. But sometimes, it needs a big hand to help sustain it.

Cathy Buckle writes her blog, Letters from Zimbabwe, not as an academic, an expert or an historian, but as an ordinary woman living in a small town in Zimbabwe. Her letters are first published on

Source -
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.