Privileged People Don’t Need Politics

By Tanya Charles 

It’s a Friday night, the first one after Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is announced as Zimbabwe’s second democratically elected president. I am in the capital, Harare, where I have come to meet a friend for a late lunch and a strong drink after enduring one of the hardest weeks Zimbabwe has ever lived through.

As afternoon gives way to night, our pub of choice, Jam Tree, gets fuller and noisier. The place is populated by all races of people who are holding loud, animated and, dare I say, jovial discussions. I struggle to understand how people can be in such a celebratory mood when just two days before, soldiers bore down on the city with the force of an army at war.

Were these people trying to erase the shocking images of blood seeping into the streets of the city? The blood of, for example, 52-year-old Sylvia Matambo, who was shot in the back by the very soldiers who freed Zimbabwe from the tyranny of Robert Mugabe’s regime.

Later, as I lay awake in the wee hours of the morning still haunted by the violence and death of election week, a realisation came to me: privileged people don’t need politics to work. For some, it’s actually better if it doesn’t.

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Tanya Charles is a 2018/2019 Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity at the London School of Economics and Political Science’s International Inequalities Institute.