A Balancing Act
One of the clear benefits of my job is that I get to visit Zimbabwe every now and then. After my first visit I told my friends that Zimbabwe is a country with great potential. What is sometimes difficult to understand for these friends, especially when they hear about the political environment in Zimbabwe, is that you can actually 'live a good life' in Zimbabwe. If you have money that is...
When you visit some of Harare's hotspots you are likely to see expats who are seemingly not aware of the political developments and enjoy the beauty Zimbabwe has to offer. A recent survey for example, named Zimbabwe as the country with the best climate in the world.
Sitting by Lake Chivero, enjoying a Castle beer and some meat from the 'Braai', I can relate to that group of people. The question is however to what extend you are willing to close your eyes for the continued intimidation and harrassment of MDC and civil society members.
During this last visit in March, the first day of my stay was one with enough developments to close your eyes for; A German NGO employee was taken from her lodge and deported from the country, MDC Minister Elton Mangoma was re-arrested, and CRD director Farai Maguwu was followed by Central Intelligence Officers on his way back to Mutare.
However nice it was, Lake Chivero did not make me close my eyes; the events on my first day and the increasingly tense and unpredictable environment actually led me to look more in the rearview mirror than I did on previous trips.
It is not a common thing for Dutch people to look if someone is following you, and of course it does something to a person. You have to be careful though not to loose yourself in Zimbabwe's 'politics of fear'. Surprisingly though, you can also loose yourself in Zimbabwe's beauty, and it is easy to miss out on certain (political) developments.
The question I asked my self during my first trip in 2010 was 'to what extend can you enjoy Zimbabwe's beauty if you are aware of what is going on?' I guess you should and can not have too much of both; the trick is not to loose yourself, but to find a balance between engagement and enjoyment.
In that sense it is just like Zimbabwe's politics: a continuous balancing act...