In times of turmoil and uncertainty, there’s a need to lighten up.
Not necessarily with beer. But Derek Watts, an old friend who died last week, sums it up in this commercial for southern Africa’s Castle Lite brand of lager. A founder of the investigative and malfeasance-exposing Carte Blanche TV programme, he always viewed life with an infectious regard for its positives and its blessings – family, friendship, kindness, humour, love and fun – outside the depressing helter-skelter of social and political upheaval.
(Did you notice the blind beggar recognising Derek in the street outside the bar?)
Derek was born Down South in the then-cosmopolitan now crime-ridden Joburg district of Hillbrow 74 years ago and moved with his family to Bulawayo at the age of five. He cut his journalistic teeth, so to speak, on The Rhodesia Herald in the 1970s with contemporaries me and Jan Raath, who also just left for The Great Newsroom in the Sky.
A guiding light on South African TV, Derek was known as ‘Papa D’ by the staff at Carte Blanche. Jan was a guiding light in the print media in Zimbabwe and abroad with beliefs and values like Derek’s.
Our dear departed friends will no doubt be looking down on the aftermath of Zimbabwe’s elections where the opposition has made significant gains – but not enough, according to the official results which are being disputed.
The winners are inviting the losers to take their grievances to court, a futile exercise if ever there was one. The courts are anything but impartial in matters of electoral intimidation and vote tampering.
Election observers’ criticism of the election process has been deemed unacceptable by the governing party Justice Minister Kazembe Kazembe. So what’s the point of inviting election observers in the first place?
Reports are already coming in of corrupt ruling party candidates who lost parliamentary seats trucking away water tanks and locking down boreholes they had put in to woo voters. What is clear from new opposition gains is that change is in the air, not today, not tomorrow but not too far away.
For heaven’s sake, lighten up!
The old guard, the gerontocracy – rule by old people – can’t last. And for the moment please stop persecuting journalists and anyone who disagrees with you.