By Reason Wafawarova
Since independence our struggle, as is that of all other formerly colonised peoples, is a struggle for emancipation. By necessity all post-colonial people must align themselves only to the principle of social justice, and that starting with us one to another.
We must not succumb to this temptation where we align ourselves to the revisionism that gets stuck in the bright colours of the heroism of the foregone era of decoloniality. Yes we are founded on the iconic achievements of the liberation movement, but on that foundation must be the construction of our present and our future.
We must find in our liberation war heroes the necessity of the ideology founded in social justice, and we must shun the patronising belief that says liberation war credentials are an instrument of entitlement, much as we will never belittle the pivotal role of the war veteran as the founding cog of our nation.
Those vilifying war veterans on the flimsy basis that the freedom fighters have refused to play their bidding in ZANU-PF factional power contests are simply expressing the collective wisdom of individual ignorance, and must not be taken seriously.
We have come to a point where heroism emanating from one’s participation in the liberation struggle is now viewed by some as nothing more than a desperate frisk for legitimacy by a reprobate people so hopeless in character that only the past can endow them with some sense of nobility. While this is true in some cases, it is unfortunate that the brush is being targeted at every single war veteran.
We now have this dissimulating of the war veteran by some parsimonious characters, and it has come to a point where the legacy of our liberation struggle has been adulterated to outright mockery, especially in the eyes of those that never experienced the excruciating reality of the armed struggle itself.
Most of us have scars from the liberation struggle, even if those scars were just the traumas of hiding in caves as Ian Smith’s aerial bombers terrorised our villages, as this writer went through a number of times in 1977 and 1978.
I together with many of my age mates lost two years of education as the majority of schools in the war-tone countryside closed at the peak of the war effort.
These scars are rich in expressing the supreme sacrifice that brought to us national independence, but they are no license to besiege post-war youngsters with mundane demands for respect or submission.
The abuse of war credentials by some who participated in the liberation struggle has undermined the integrity and dignity of the war veteran, much to the delight of reactionaries within ZANU-PF.
Even sadder is the fact that those who have always been opposed to the values of our liberation struggle can now celebrate the vilification of the war veteran.
ZANU-PF is the governing party of a modern day Zimbabwe, and must seize itself more with the post-colonial call of duty. The party cannot be reduced to a museum of the glories of how we fell the colonial empire. Equally the party cannot center its survival on the presumed brilliance of propagandists.
Our liberation legacy is a historical heritage, not an ultimate solution to the unlocking of today’s challenges.
The liberation struggle has three dimensions: the anti-colonial dimension to which some of our heroes have been stuck with a measure of unbridled pride. The pride is understandable, but must not be allowed to create any sense of superiority or entitlement.
The second is the anti-imperialist dimension to which some of us have committed our souls and lives at a significant cost. This is a war we cannot afford to lose, for in its victory lies the ultimate emancipation of our people, and indeed therein lies our destiny as a people.
The liberation struggle also has the class struggle dimension; so much avoided by most of our post-colonial governing leadership – not least the selfish acquisitive revolutionaries among those fronting ZANU-PF leadership today.
The land reform program gave us social justice on one hand and terrestrial kleptomaniacs on the other. No doubt we have a social justice that corrected unjust colonial land occupation by what now seems to be an equally unjust post-colonial land reclamation on the part of those who seem to have amassed immeasurable tracts of colonially stolen land on our collective behalf.
Our struggle against colonialism was a resounding success in its achieving of independence, but that independence has not and cannot become a reality without the winning of the subsequent battles against neocolonialism, imperialism, racism and class exploitation.
This is the struggle that must preoccupy ZANU-PF, not the meaningless factional politicking we see today.
Zimbabwe, like any other country, mirrors the broader image of the world – a place made up two antagonistic camps: the camp of the exploiters and the camp of the exploited. We cannot condone or exalt the black exploiter as a measure of improvement from yesteryear’s white oppressor, and those black wealth accumulators who believe a black camp of exploiters is holier than a white one must be put in their place by public wrath.
In principle every liberation struggle must be a struggle in the interest of the people, and it should form part of the camp of the exploited. But what happens when powerful politicians who have become so addicted to acquisition hijack a national struggle to the extent that they even believe it makes sense to privatize the ownership of the struggle itself? It is a tragedy.
Indeed President Mugabe has on countless occasions called for zero tolerance to corruption. We know we cannot eradicate corruption by simply declaring, “let there be no corruption,” and what we need to see is the strengthening of the democratic institutions that we have constitutionally mandated with the duty of fostering accountability.
The figure $15 billion dollars as money looted from our diamond industry might be hard to sell from the viewpoint of evidence and economic projections, but there is no denying that the industry has been running corruptly, and there is no denial that the country has not meaningfully benefited from the lucrative venture.
Not so long ago we had a grand exposure of egregious corruption in our Parastatals, and literally every single one of them is insolvent at the moment, trading illegally from the strict viewpoint of bankruptcy laws. It is sad that hardly anyone has ever been held accountable for this decline.
We have seen President Zuma held accountable for Nkadhla in South Africa, and important to that development has been the role of institutions of accountability, particularly the courts and the Public Protector’s office.
We would go far in development if we allowed transparent land audits, and we need meritorious supporting of the indigenous entrepreneur. Politicisation of public policy will not meaningfully build a nation.
The struggle against imperialism cannot be waged meaningfully from the bondage we have entangled ourselves in – the self-inflicted slavery at the hands of those who must be our comrades.
This column has a moral duty to bring to its readership the feelings of the poor of post-colonial Africa – the poor of Zimbabwe. It seeks to explain the thinking of all those who in childhood or in mere adult naivety once proclaimed fanatically that the colonial liberation struggle was in itself a force with which colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism, racism and class exploitation could be confronted, and that the land revolution and the indigenisation policy were a rumbling force akin to a volcano that would in no time sent poverty packing from Zimbabwe’s homesteads, that way enriching every patriotic Zimbabwean while condemning to the fires of hell the injustices of an evil world under the grip of imperialism.
It is now almost 36 years after Zimbabwe attained its independence and that good old feeling of certainty, enthusiasm, promise and hopeful satisfaction has been replaced with a feeling of despair, disappointment, failure and utter frustration. We need to confront this reality without any sense of denial.
We had a seething dream for emancipation and it is this dream that led so many of our young people to the battlefields against Ian Smith’s diabolical forces. Today our young people have a smoldering dream for a fully emancipated Zimbabwe, a democratic society in defence of its own liberation legacy, a land of opportunity for its people and for the broader global community.
Like our seething dream for independence led us to the trenches to bring to ruin the fangs of colonialism today’s smoldering dream for an emancipated Zimbabwe will eventually bring a truly prosperous Zimbabwe to the fore – a land of fair opportunity for all its people.
But that will not be without a fight. We have entrenched interests that need to be knocked down for the sake of mass progress. When wanton opulence has become a fact, revolution becomes a right.
The utopia of some of us will mix with the great pragmatism of others to produce beneficial results for our people – but whatever our destiny will become, it cannot be directed by the mere political ambition of those who by either selfishness or rank feeble-mindedness believe they are entitled to succeed President Robert Mugabe at state level by mere political chicanery.
ZANU-PF structures are there to strengthen the party and to make it popular. These structures are not an electoral college designed to determine who will be the country’s head of state.
Anyone who harbours the thought that party structures will one day elect for the nation a head of state has misplaced imaginations. In Zimbabwe we elect the head of state through a national ballot, and not through the leadership structures of any particular political party.
This hullabaloo about ZANU-PF’s factional bickering, (real or imagined) must not be elevated to the station of national presidential elections.
Mugabe the person did not succeed Ian Smith through colonial mentorship, as Abel Muzorewa vainly tried to do. Rather he did so purely on the basis of ideology, and only ideology should tell us who next will take over should President Robert Mugabe ever vacate the leadership of this country.
So far no such ideology is indicating, and that is precisely why mediocrity is reigning supreme.
Ours is a seething dream driven by the anti-corruption fervor upon which we place the very idea of emancipation, and it is our only preference that we are governed properly, and that our vote is regarded with the respect it deserves.
We are not about to surrender our right to elect the head of our state to a handful few who might be smitten by the delusion of failing to outgrow childhood fantasies.
The people of Zimbabwe are not exactly obligated to be aligned to either ZANU-PF or to its rivals in the MDC formations, or to any other political outfit out there.
They are aligned to Zimbabwe and its national interest. Any politician that believes Zimbabweans can be reduced to some grass that fighting elephants trample with impunity must for their own sake think twice.
We need to recover our dignity as Zimbabweans, and to do so the only force our leadership should be made to respect is that of the people.
Is it not a surprise that we want to cry out to Mbuya Nehanda, to Sekuru Kaguvi, to Chairman Chitepo, or to General Tongogara over today’s turmoil?
We want to tell them that the revolution they left us is now littered with mundane characters.
But our solutions cannot be found in the heroics of history, and surely we need to take our distance from messianism and heroism if we are not going to be trapped once again in the bane of ZANU-PF’s politics of today.
To be fair heroism is such an in thing that even some People First supporters seem to believe that their party dwells in Dr Joice Mujuru, not the other way round.
We as a people have been smitten to the core by the culture of hero-worshipping, and without a major paradigm shift in this thinking it is not going to be easy for us to pursue people-oriented goals.
Some of our politicians in ZANU-PF speak highly about our struggle against imperialism, many times deceiving us as to their determination, thus rashly throwing our people at the suffering end of biting economic sanctions, while they cushion themselves in ill-gotten wealth, knowing too well that they are doing next to nothing in building a sustainable economic model for the country.
It is criminal for our politicians to exacerbate for the people a struggle in which they are not participating.
We have a smoldering dream for happiness in Zimbabwe, and we are a proud and very patriotic people.
It is this writer’s agony that among our leadership we have vampires that thrive on sucking the blood of the nation, and we have as a people the inviolable right to protect to the bitter end the values of our revolution.
Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!
- REASON WAFAWAROVA is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.