Dear Realise Mwase
Allow me to thank you for taking your time to write a letter to me expressing your views. I am humbled by that. Being a proponent of dialogue and cross-pollination I am more than happy to proffer a response.
Not only that, your depth and prowess in articulating issues is certainly beyond what I expected from a person your age. I am challenged and this actually cements my hope regarding the future of our great nation. With gifted and duty inclined youths like yourself I have no reason whatsoever why I must not hope that the future of Zimbabwe is too bright. I am hopeful that we shall come face to face with a new and better Zimbabwe in our lifetime.
Let me now get to the crux of the matter. I picked three main points from your letter, which are;
1. Itai Dzamara
2. The status quo
3. The way forward
I thank you for acknowledging the efforts of my brother, Itai Dzamara, who is still missing, two years down the line.
Of course, as encapsulated in your letter, during a period of appalling silence and political rigmarole, Itai Dzamara chose to rise up and take a bold stand against the failure of the government to administer it’s duties. For blazing such a trail, the regime’s response was sordid and morbid. In a knee-jerk fashion they abducted Itai Dzamara with the hope of nipping the idea and process in the bud.
Unfortunately for them, there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time would have come. An idea can never be arrested or abducted. When they abducted one Itai Dzamara, they created many Itai Dzamaras and I am one of those. I dare you and every Zimbabwean to be inspired towards action by Itai’s story. Together with many Zimbabweans who are fighting against Mugabe’s failure, I was forced to fight and that leads me to the second issue.
2. THE STATUS QUO
Ever since the advent of Zimbabwe as a modern state in 1890, it has never been this weak. Everything in Zimbabwe is pointing towards the fact that the center can no-longer hold.
The unprecedented rise of the citizens/social movement in Zimbabwe gave the citizens a loud and bold voice.
After the disbanding of the GNU and the 2013 elections, Itai Dzamara was one of the first notable citizen to boldly stand up, speak out and act against ZANU PF’s failure to run the affairs of the country. He started Occupy Africa Unity Square which was ushered in by his petition to Mr. Mugabe, calling on him to step down.
That marked the beginning of the current wave of the citizens/social movement. Eventually, Itai was abducted as a result of his resolute stance against ZANU PF’s leadership failure and misrule.
Along the way other citizens/social campaigns such as #Tajamuka, #ThisGown and #ThisFlag were birthed. What was and is still critical to note is the fact that the war is still far from being won. Cognisant of the fact that for the first time in ‘Independent Zimbabwe’, ordinary citizens were inspired to speak up and that it’s a good step in the right direction, it’s equally imperative to establish that speaking is not the alpha and omega of our panacea from the plethora of challenges we are grappling with.
I have boldly and constantly stated that without commensurate offline processes (action on the ground) underpinning the online process (complaining, blaming and criticising) we will never reach the projected endgame zone.
In an article, which was published on Nehanda Radio on the 21st of May, 2016 (http://nehandaradio.com/2016/05/21/patson-dzamara-endorses-thisflag-campaign/), I wrote,
“ThisFlag is not the Alpha and Omega in so far as the panacea thread to our multi-faceted and deeply entrenched problems is concerned but it’s a good and major step towards the solution.”
“A hybrid of challenges we face certainly calls for a multi-pronged approach and response. Watering a dead log won’t bring it to life neither does flogging a dead horse culminate in its ressurection.”
Simultaneously, developments in the political dimension cannot be ignored. After all, Zimbabwe’s problems are political, as such the solutions are political. I will offer a panoramic overview of the political dimension.
Firstly, the ruling party, ZANU PF finds itself on the verge of an internal implosion. Factional wars have taken their toll on the establishment. Not only that, ZANU PF’s strongman, Robert Mugabe is in the sunset of his political career. He is nolonger as proficient and able because of old age.
Despite the fact that it still has a massive grassroots base, ZANU PF is fragile than ever before and that is an opportunity for change.
Secondly, ZANU PF’s mismanagement and profligacy has landed Zimbabwe in economic doldrums. All economic indicators point towards a state that is on a life support system.
After introducing a useless pseudo currency in November last year Mugabe’s mafia government has virtually failed to contain the economic catastrophe they created. Cash shortages remain prevalent. The state spends 97% of its income on wages. Unemployment is over 90%. The industrial utilisation capacity is bellow 15%.
Poverty levels in Zimbabwe are alarming. 96% of villagers across the country live on less than one dollar a day. 72% of the population live below the nation’s poverty line. Zimbabwe imports 80% of its food needs because of a hapharzard land reform programme which was presided over by Mugabe. About 5 million Zimbabweans are in need of food aid. It is estimated that over a million of kids go to school hungry. Zimbabwe’s life expectancy, 46 for men and 45 for women, is one of the lowest in the world.
Thirdly, the opposition movement in Zimbabwe can never be underestimated. The opposition is essentially the alternative government.
After many years of disintegrating and engaging in petty fights, the opposition movement of Zimbabwe seems to have finally grasped the fact that their common enemy is just but one, ZANU PF. Most opposition parties have shown significant overtures towards regrouping with the intention of fighting from the same corner.
Yesterday, the Leaders of the two main opposition parties, MDC-T and NPP signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a pre-election alliance enroute to the establishment of an extrapolated coalition government. Today, MDC-T and MDC has started the process of reuniting. These are positive first steps towards establishing a broad alliance.
3. WAY FORWARD
Our current status quo inspires hope and points towards a realistic chance for a transition.
Three areas which need to be attended to
1. Grand opposition alliance
2. Electoral reforms
3. Programme (blue print) for the reconstruction and rebirth of Zimbabwe.
I am glad that there seems to be some noticeable movement regarding the three areas I have mentioned.
Having said all this, I therefore need to address my personal way forward.
Going forward, there is certainly going to be a noticeable shift in my leadership approach and role. The bottom line is that I cannot complain all my life, I want to be a part of the solution and more details shall be availed soon. Interesting and time punching times are ahead.
I dare you and everyone else to play your part. A new and better Zimbabwe is possible in our lifetime.
Namaste – the greatness in me salutes the greatness in you.
- Patson Dzamara is a political activist, human rights defender, and politician from Zimbabwe