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Zimbabwe - Waiting For
The Owl To Pounce

By Cathy Buckle

Dear Family and Friends,

Late season electrical storms have been lighting up our night skies for the past couple of weeks. Sometimes dazzling forks of brilliant white light trace through the darkness and at other times big white sheets of lightning turn night into day for a few seconds at a time.

It was during one of these illuminating light shows that I saw the visitor outside my window one night this week. A large owl was standing as still as statue on the lawn. While the lightning flicked, flashed and streaked through the sky, the owl didn’t flinch, its eyes focussed on something it could see but I couldn’t. Ten minutes passed but the big bird didn’t move and as the sky went dark the owl merged into the blackness. I knew it was still there, watching, waiting, ready to pounce and it felt very much like the state of ominous suspension the country is in right now.

Sales are down, business is slow, money is hardly circulating and with a sense of dread we prepare to head towards polling stations. It’s not the first ballot that scares us so much because both of the main political parties are calling for us to vote YES for the proposed constitution that is being put to a national referendum. Most of the people I’ve met in the last two weeks haven’t even seen the draft constitution, let alone had the time to page through it or had a chance to think about it, so it remains to be seen how many people will go and vote.

The really big question though is not so much whether we say yes or no to what is undoubtedly a politically ‘negotiated’ document but if our leaders will abide by it. How can we forget when we voted NO to the last proposed constitution in 2000 and a few days later the President simply amended the old document. The MDC Constitutional Affairs Minister came closest to the reality of the four year marathon to produce the latest charter a couple of weeks ago when he said: “A new constitution will not guarantee us a free and fair election. What is going to guarantee us a free and fair election is a culture of constitutionalism.”

The elections that are really worrying us and have us on the edge of our chairs are the combined parliamentary and presidential elections that will happen sometime within the next three or four months. When police in riot gear broke up a constitutional campaign meeting in Highfield being held by the Prime Minister this week, the PM said: “It’s clear that the leopard has not changed colours.” His words followed those of the MDC Co- Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone a couple of weeks ago who warned that we were being “catapulted into a rushed election.” Following recent events, Minister Makone said : “It is quite clear that the kind of violence we are going to see this time is probably going to be at an unprecedented scale.”

And her most chilling words, the ones that leave us paralyzed, like the helpless victim waiting for the owl on the lawn at night: “this election is going to be bloodier than 2008. The makings of a horror election are there in front of us for all to see. “

Until next time, thanks for reading,

love cathy

9th March 2013 Copyright  Cathy Buckle.

For information on my new book “IMIRE”, about Norman Travers and Imire Game Park, or my other books about Zimbabwe: “Innocent Victims,” African Tears,” “Beyond Tears;” and “History of the Mukuvisi Woodlands 1910-2010”, or to subscribe/unsubscribe to this letter, please visit my website or contact <





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