Dear President Robert Mugabe,
Sir, I am tempted to address you as 'Your Excellency' but I don't want to lie.
I love you, though.
And I'm sure you have never doubted that, have you?
Enough of that!
I still have those pictures I took of you in the late 70s when you visited us students in the United States. You came looking for money but now you are printing it in your backyard.
You spoke about freedom - One man, one vote, self-determination and all that nonsense. Oh, you looked just right: rugged, weather-beaten and tired as if you were a real freedom fighter.
The yokels in the US actually thought you were in the forefront of the fight, dodging Ian Smith's gunfire with as much ease as you kill your citizens today.
When you became Prime Minister, those same yokels, in unexplained euphoria, put your name forward for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Oh, Bob, you are better than a chameleon.
We wish we didn't know now what we didn't know then. I still have memories of my visits to State House, remember? Once, a diminutive female operative in your security detail tried to stop me from chatting with you although I was there by invitation.
She was very protective of you, sir. Her name was Margaret and you did not promote her. Might as well not have because she soon discovered you were no good and left your employment.
She formed her own political party and harassed your stooges in parliament. Remember pocket-sized Margaret Dongo?
Surely, you remember Bob; she is the one that Solomon Mujuru wanted to demolish in Parliament after she publicly voiced that all male ZANU PF parliamentarians were your wives.
Even today, Bob, they remain as spineless as chocolate éclairs. Dear old Solomon is retired now and is busy counting the bundles you allowed him to make.
Ironically, Solomon is now using your money to see that his wife Joice replaces you. To my knowledge, you and Joice are the only ones who have never been out of the cabinet since Independence Day in 1980.
You at least achieved disaster but Joice has never achieved anything. And she wants to lead who?
Anyway, as I was saying, I still have memories of my visits to State House. The tea and the biscuits were out of this world, literally.
Your wife was such a gracious hostess. I mean your real wife.
I enjoyed the late Sally Mugabe as a news subject and as a mother. She almost tolerated democracy better than you, Sir.
She hid her bitterness well after the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) saved her from imminent defeat when my late sister, Julia Zvobgo, challenged her for the leadership of the Women's League at that scandalous congress.
Sally was always nice to us since we always brought those old Thompson television cameras with us. Well, a gracious hostess she was although she rapped me on the knuckles once
That's when I found out that Sally didn't like us editing her speeches or paraphrasing them. I also recall your visits to the television studios at Pockets Hill, a place you made sure was staffed by most who knew less.
Professionals were shoved aside in favour of those kids who you were with during the war. And I see one of those kids now represents you here in Botswana. He is now called 'His Excellency.'
And I have a nuisance of a relative who prides himself with a photograph of you and me shaking hands and mumbling something to each other in 2004 when you came to pay your respects at my sister's funeral.
I welcomed you well, didn't I?
But only a few months later did your CIO goons pick me up in Masvingo, accusing me of defilement because I had written that the late Edison Zvobgo was better than you in every respect.
Your goons intercepted the article twice but I still managed to get it to my editor (Zimbabwe Independent, September 10, 2004). They detained me in your name for four hours, Bob.
They didn't give me tea but they told me that it is illegal to compare you to anyone. They also warned me to stop writing about your wife Grace.
And do you recall when ZTV suspended me after I took a bit too long to remove my cap as you stood right behind me in the Harare International Conference Centre during the Non-Aligned Movement meeting of 1986?
It was sneaky of you to materialise behind me in the auditorium as I was bent over assisting the crew with the television cables.
The bumpkins in the gallery reacted to your sudden appearance and started singing the national anthem catching me off-side. I tried to deny the charges but, with you as witness, I had no chance.
Television footage strangled any further arguments. It was two weeks without pay. That was serious. You should have tapped me on the shoulder, Bob.
And, years later, why was I "asked to resign" from the broadcasting service, Bob?
At that time, there were certain political realities that made it rather difficult for them to fire me without your knowledge, especially since, earlier on, you had personally directed that I be part of the trinity sent to China.
(The trip and stay in China were superb; thanks).
Or should I just ask 'His Excellency' at the embassy here in Botswana? He is a former workmate and, given his ties to you, might give me the scoop. Ah, well, forget about that.
Let's talk about you for a change. For the first time in a long while, I see pictures of you with genuine smiles. I thought maybe you were just happy to see people suffering because of your ill-advised decree on prices.
Then I thought maybe you and the young lass are expecting another unnecessary one.
Then someone told me you are smiling to yourself all the time because your nemesis, Archbishop Pius Ncube, is reported to have been caught with his cassock up around his waist.
And you offered to pray for the Archbishop. You are only crying over Pius Ncube's wounds because you are trying to get some salt into the wounds, aren't you?
You are throwing a drowning man both ends of a rope, Bob. But you need to be a little careful though. When it comes to infidelities and people's wives, don't you think you should keep clear?
It sounds so much like a president the world has heard about. This president, we are told, had an affair with someone's wife as his own wife lay dying. He then went on to marry the woman and seduced a Catholic Archbishop to solemnise the marriage.
The Catholic Church, of which I am a member, latent as I may be, disappointed me and millions of others by assisting this president in wrecking someone's marriage.
No wonder the Vatican is paying millions to men and women abused by priests in California. But why do they have to abuse anyone, Bob? Can't they negotiate like you did?
Well, even if the reports about Pius Ncube are true, it does not make you any better. Commenting on Ncube's alleged transgression is drawing attention to the origins of your own marriage.
I am your man on the doorstep, Bob, and am advising you to keep mum on Ncube's alleged transgression because you are reported to have done worse.
Anyway, keep in mind that Pius Ncube is not Zimbabwe and the people's attention is not going to be diverted from removing you. You, Bob, are the grim problem, not Ncube's escapades.
Don't read too much into Ncube's misdemeanour, Bob. Ncube is human, just like you and me. He is only one of millions disgusted by your rabid behaviour and if he faltered, it does not mean you are any better.
Unlike you, Ncube is not accused of murder and human rights violations or crimes against humanity. Nevertheless, which is better: Ncube's skeletons in the wardrobe or skeletons in your mineshafts, Bob?
Now let me whisper in your ear: You are squatting in the vegetable garden, Bob; manure is not applied that way!
In our Karanga folklore, we have a proverb that says that only old people are afraid of the sound of sticks breaking, for they fear it might be any of their fragile old bones giving in.
The meaning behind it is that 'only the guilty are afraid.' I note you now hear twigs breaking all the time, Bob. I am sorry but the sound you hear is not folklore.
Your time is up, Bob, and the world, not Pius Ncube, is out to get you. I am, Your man on the doorstep.
*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Zimbabwean writer based in Botswana.
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(Picture is of Bemba and his battered wife!) LINK FOR ARTICLE!
THE cellular phone, a modern innovation continues to change in size and shape: the smaller it is getting, the bigger the problems this thing is bringing.
In Africa and Zambia to be specific, this piece of technology continues to transform communication.
Some spouses have sworn that this gadget is nothing but a conduit of infidelity and deals.
Aside its potential health impacts, its so amazing that a palm size innovation could wreck so much havoc in homes, force governments to alter laws to accommodate it and make marriages almost disposable when marriages were meant to last, according to the Bible.
Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) executive director Katembu Kaumba says cell phones have brought problems in most homes.
"There was a woman who was complaining that her husband goes with the phone in the bathroom because he doesn't want her to answer the phone. And at times she would answer the phone but he would react violently," she says.
Kaumba says it cannot be denied that cell phones have brought a lot of problems.
Quiet all right, it has simplified many people's lives but others argue that the cell phone has brought more problems socially than solutions.
Other women say most men have become prisoners to their own phones.
When at home, they either change Sim Cards to avoid the wife discovering their extramarital affairs.
Some do not leave the cell phone unattended to.
"My husband sleeps with it. In the night he sends SMS while covering himself in the beddings. He removes the tones so that I do not hear him sending. He tells me he is playing games but I wonder what games," says one woman who declines to be identified.
This theory is called Read and Delete or put simply, R and D.
It means the receiver of the text messages deletes them immediately after reading so that their spouse does not have access to them.
In 2005 a woman had a mobile mouthful.
In the United States a spouse driven to the breaking point had no other choice than to swallow the husband's cell phone.
The woman was a victim of cell phone rage.
According to The Kansas City Star, the woman swallowed her boyfriend's mobile in mid-argument because "she didn't want the boyfriend to have it."
The phone became lodged in the lady's throat, and she was rushed to the emergency room.
"Police responded to a call about a non-breathing person about 4:50 a.m. in the 3000 block of Southwest US 40," the paper reported. "Police arrived and found that the 24-year-old woman was having trouble breathing. Her identity was not released."
The poor woman still had the phone wedged in her throat when she got to the hospital.
Later police started pursuing another line of argument, which was that the cell phone might have been shoved under the woman's throat.
Whatever the case, cell phones have been used by people to lie over their whereabouts to their spouses or even business partners in cases where they owe that person money.
Most marriages are fraught with problems conceived by the cellular phone.
Brenda Milimo, 40 from Kabwata and has been married for 12 years says cell phones have brought a lot of problems in marriages.
Milimo said a man wants to check the woman's cell phone when he can't allow her to check his and that creates suspicion and problems.
Milimo says she does not mind her husband checking her phone but he gets offended if she gets his.
She says the feeling of security in a marriage should be two sided but its usually one sided in marriages.
Milimo says men are usually insecure in marriage.
"If he wants to check my phone, I should be able to check his because if he refuses then there is something wrong and this brings problems of suspicion and it happens," says Milimo.
The question is why is such a small gadget awash with problems?
Some spouses have earned themselves assaults from their husbands for failure to disclose their cellular phone's pin numbers.
Recently, a 34-year-old married woman from Lusaka's Kabwata Estates Musonda Manda was severely battered by her husband for refusing to give him her pin number for her phone.
Later the husband brought a chain of text messages from the woman to the hubby and what started a case of battery is slowly having its own twists.
Manda argues that a husband or wife should not have access to either's phone because a cell phone is a private thing.
She says she knows that when two people are married they become one but every body is entitled to some form of privacy at one time.
"There are certain things I want to talk about with my girlfriends and I don't want my husband to know about so he should respect that just as I have to respect that there are certain things that he would want to discuss with his friends," she says.
Some people will agree with Manda that a person is entitled to some privacy as stipulated in the constitution but this will raise some argument for other people.
Is it fine for a husband to answer his wife's phone or read her messages? Is it wrong for a wife to answer or read his husband's messages?
Some men argue that if he buys a phone for his wife, then he has the right to access it at any given time.
Others will argue that if he buys it for her, then it means it is hers; he should not have anything to do with it. Maybe the only thing he should do is service it: feeding it with talk-time whenever it runs out.
Kabwe Chewe, 40, from Chilenje, says he is entitled to a woman's cellular phone but not a woman checking his.
Kabwe has been married for the last 12 years and says normally a man's cell phone should be secretive but he must have access to his wife's phone.
Chewe says the issue of gender is spoiling a lot of things.
"I am entitled to her cell phone but she is not entitled to mine because women over react over simple things. I can receive a message or a call from a woman over work, she won't understand and might over react. This gender thing is spoiling a lot of things" he says.
However, Brasio Kasaila, 31, from Chilenje says in marriage there should be no privacy because when they get married they become one body. It depends on how a couple takes it.
Kasaila says communication is important in a relationship.
"If you think it's not okay then that's up to you but with me, my wife is free to read my messages and I am free to read hers, the cardinal point is trust," he says.
Wanawito Silwimba, 29 from Chelston has been married for five years and says both a man and woman have the right to answer or read each other's messages.
Silwimba says if a person wants privacy then he or she should have a private line.
"If you want to hide things, have another line that you will only use for those things because I believe if she doesn't want me to go through her phone then there is a problem. I don't check my wife's phone but she checks mine, unless people are primitive, this shouldn't create any problems. When you marry someone there should be some form of trust, it's a matter of trust. In the five years that I have been married, I have never beaten my wife over anything," he says.
Benjamin from Kabwata says his phone is his wife's phone and vice versa.
He says he answers her phone and she does the same.
Benjamin says he has never attempted to read his wife's messages because it is not necessary.
"This is our 17th year in marriage and I don't read her messages because its her personal thing, if she is bathing and the phone is ringing I can answer it but if she is near I shout for her and I don't care if it's her male mate. She is a workingwoman and we all come from different backgrounds, she doesn't work with women alone. Like with me, I have many sisters so most people I know are women so a phone should not bring problems," he says.
Daisy Zulu, 52 from Kabwata has been married for 32 years and says she has had no problems with the phone.
But Zulu says a woman should have some form of privacy.
"We are one but you know how men are, he can't allow you to check his phone but he would want to check yours which is not fair. I don't check his and he doesn't check mine," she says.
She says men are selfish and even when a woman wants to use their phones, they don't give.
"We believe in sharing but we should also respect each other's rights," says Zulu.
Malcom Lubasi says only the guilty should be afraid
"My wife does answer my phone and she does read my SMS messages. All you need to do if you have a 'girlfriend' is give your 'girlfriend' conditions under which they may call you or send you a message. If they do send you one at work, make sure you delete it immediately (remember RD theory). Besides, when you are married, you must always let wakumbalis know you are married and that they respect your spouse. Anything short of that may be your nemesis," he says.
Obby Masamu, 38 from Kabwata says traditionally a woman is supposed to be submissive and a husband is supposed to tell a woman what to do.
"When you are getting married, you know what you are getting yourself into and its for their (women) own protection," he says.
Masamu says a husband is entitled to the wife's cell phone while the woman is not.
Bradford Phiri, 30 says if he buys a phone for his wife or girlfriend then he has to have access to it.
"I mean I bought that phone for her because I want to be communicating with her and she should not use it to call other people especially if I am the one who buys the talk time because women have got that tendency of paging you even when you buy her talk time so you wonder who she calls with my talk time. This is why men get upset because I used my money and she should respect and understand that. If she wants to be calling other people let her buy herself another phone but that will still give me the right to check in her phone," he says.
"You know with men, things are different and there are so many things that we discuss as men that are not for women's consumption and because men are more equal than women and it is always going to be like that no matter how much women fight for their rights so women will always have to do what a man says."
Brebnar Changala, 46, from Kabwata has been married for the past 13 years. He says the issue of cell phones is a very difficult gesture because it borders on privacy.
He says going through someone's cell phones is an intrusion in one's privacy but it goes without saying that biblically in marriage, people are one and when one questions the other then it means that they are two.
Changala says criminals, businessmen, youths and adults use the cell phone and it carries a lot of positive and negative things.
"There are a lot of things that wives do that they do want their husbands to know about and a man should not use his masculine power to invade the privacy of the wife while women don't have the same privilege. We should respect each other's phone for the sake of peace and I don't interfere with my wife's phone," he says.
However, Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) executive director Katembu Kaumba says for what she feels, there is a right to privacy and every individual has a right to privacy.
Kaumba says each individual has that right that should be respected.
She says there should be open communication.
"What lacks I think, is lack of communication. The spouse would want to know what the other spouse is doing but they don't communicate and this comes from the way we are socialised, women are told not to question their husbands," she says.
Kaumba says women are taught to believe that whatever is theirs is their husbands' and that is how women are brought up.
She says men want to know and read what their wives are doing.
"Why not ask her. Don't go looking for something that will hurt you. You will find a message that says 'Thanks for last night', you will think that it was sex but it might have been dinner and it was coded, for you, you will not understand and that is why I say communication is important in a relationship," she says.
"We offer couple counselling, there are couples that come here where maybe the husband is complaining that the wife is always going to kitchen parties and when he ask her, you will hear that the husband has no time for her and she may want to go out but the husband never takes her so communicate."
Kaumba says cell phones are breaking a lot of homes.
"There was a woman who was complaining that her husband goes with the phone in the bathroom because he doesn't want her to answer the phone and at times where she would answer the phone, he would react violently," she says.
She says it cannot be denied that cell phones have brought a lot of problems.
Well, the issue of cell phones is something that will remain debatable for a long time and whether it is okay for a husband and wife to read each other's messages or answer one another phone is something, which will receive different views.
If you are married for instance, at what point does answering your spouse's phone becomes invasion of privacy? Or what constitutes invasion of privacy in a marriage when spouses are even known to share a bath?
Generally the mobile phone has simplified life and made communication much easier and faster than before.
Welcomed as an advancement in technology, this small gadget is shaping lives and along the way living many casualties.
Marriages continue to struggle to accommodate the cell phone and government has had to change laws such as the traffic offence which forbids driving while talking on a phone or using a mobile phone in a bank.
The cell phone is here to stay, and so are the problems associated to its use, what are your views?
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