By Denford Magora
THERE are few things in this world as painful as watching an entire nation in the process of shortchanging itself. That is why, for my part, I refuse to be swept along in the wave of medioc
rity currently sweeping through this nation. I have raised my eyes and seen what Zimbabwe can be and I refuse to accept anything less.
Fellow Zimbabweans, it seems, insist on living as though they were on a death row. Nothing matters for them except for today. Like some primitive civilisation, Zimbabwe insists on believing that the world begins and ends with the present moment. Like children, they want immediate relief regardless of the consequences.
Yes, I do believe that Morgan Tsvangirai is the wrong man for president if we want progress beyond restoration. Tsvangirai’s entire brief rests on restoring Zimbabwe to its “former glory”.
This approach assumes that there ever was a time when the country was satisfied with itself. It assumes that, at some point since Independence, we achieved a political and economic nirvana, the return to which would also restore our pride and national dignity.
I reject this assumption. There is no time since independence when I was satisfied with this country. Whereas Tsvangirai wants to take us back to his imagined 1990s nirvana I demand nothing less than a leadership that is willing to bring the year 2050 into Zimbabwe today.
I want to see a leadership committed to zero unemployment, with realistic policies on how to achieve this. I want a president who will give all our citizens first-class transport solutions. I want a president committed to a smaller and more efficient government.
I want a president who is committed to as little interference by the government in people’s lives as possible. I also want a president who does not view the working public as a cash-cow, depending on income tax to fund extravagancies.
In short, therefore, I want a president whose ambition and vision is bigger than Zimbabwe. Bigger than the Zimbabwe of 1990 and bigger than the Zimbabwe of today.
This nation, with all its resources and all its intellectual capital, deserves nothing less than a leadership and a party in power committed to an immutable and material transformation of the lives of the people of Zimbabwe.
Instead, when it looked like Tsvangirai may just take over as president, he angered those of us who think big by watering down our expectations, telling us that to undo the damage done by Mugabe, he and his party would need years and years. To me this was an excuse. It was a statement issued in anticipation of failure to govern by Tsvangirai.
I refuse to accept this and I demand that anyone wanting to lead this nation must be more optimistic than its people. I demand that those seeking to lead me and my compatriots show that they think and plan big, not that they plan to fail.
Zimbabweans, if there is ever to be any hope for a renaissance of this country, must also demand nothing less. Instead of basing our plans on desperation, we should take the time to demand a leadership that is capable of showing Zimbabwe the giant it can be.
But I find that this nation keeps insisting on a voodoo existence. Tomorrow, they say, will take care of itself. My countrymen prefer to beg, borrow and steal than to work the gold mine that they are sitting on. They insist on looking back to the past, forgetting that he who looks to the past turns his back to the future.
It is painful that even parents today seem not to care about their children’s future quality of life. By insisting on living for today, refusing to even think beyond Tsvangirai’s and Robert Mugabe’s crude definition of progress and civilisation, they are effectively condemning their children to darkness.
Do we understand the concept of progress? Development? Definitely not.
Every Zimbabwean should say to hell with a government that digs wells for rural folks and calls that progress. We should say to hell with those who rush to build beer halls in Matabeleland in the name of progress, at the same time shunning the Zambezi water project that would transform the region.
As long as we insist on living and thinking like chickens, this country is doomed. We will elect a long line of mediocre leaders who will fail to meet even the infantile expectation of the cowed and visionless people of this country. We will continue to accept that we are a “third world country”, as though we as a nation have been ordained by God to be mediocre for all eternity.
It still remains true that a people get a leadership they deserve. I believe that we deserve better than Tsvangirai and Mugabe. I believe we deserve better than a leadership that is not driven to take Zimbabwe into the first world in as short a time as possible.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) insults me every time it opens its mouth because it believes that my hopes do not extend beyond changing the leadership of Mugabe and replacing it with that of Tsvangirai. My hopes are bigger than that and I will haunt those who want to shortchange me until the day I die.
Only by aiming at the stars can we hope to even strike the moon. But right now, we are being asked to aim for the top of the shortest tree around. Zimbabwe should refuse to be insulted so.
Pay no heed to those who have special interests to protect, who vilify those who want more than the MDC and Zanu PF are offering. Pay no heed to those who want to create another personality cult around Tsvangirai or those who insist that we should deposit all our hopes into one of the two parties that are plainly shortchanging us and intend to shortchange our children and generations to come.
By the time the first term of the next president of Zimbabwe comes to an end, this nation should have an excess of housing. We should also have a reliable light rail network linking every suburb to the city centres of this country and to each other.
We should be ranking second if not first in Africa in terms of our gross domestic product and the quality of life of our citizens. We should reject any leader who says this is daydreaming, for he wants us to believe that there is something superior about the nations that have achieved this. We are not.
We are just as good and we need a president and party in power that can dream this reality and work for it to be realised. Without this, I, for one, will not shut up, but will hound the mediocre men and women who are currently seeking to lead me into mediocrity.
*Denford Magora is a Harare-based advertising executive.