By Chido Makunike
IF the general consensus of Zimbabweans had been that things were going fairly well in the affairs of their country, the heroes’ holiday and commemorations that have just passed would be of
a very different nature from what they were. Given the costly, painful way we achieved self-governance, the reflections on the great sacrifices that many made for Zimbabwe to come about would be spontaneous and respectful.
Instead, as the way Zimbabwe is run by Robert Mugabe and Co strays ever further away from the kind of country many who made the supreme sacrifice for its birth envisaged, the official celebrations of the heroes holiday have as much of a contrived appearance as so much else attached to the ruling clique. Because their rule is so unheroic, it is now necessary for them to bribe and coerce people to go to their official bashes with entertainment of one kind or another.
The memory and history of the liberation struggle has been hijacked by mercenaries, mafikizolo fifth columnists, thieves and others who exemplify everything that has become so rotten about what seemed a genuine revolution in the beginning.
Because the rulers are so uncertain about how posterity will judge them, they shrilly apportion “heroism” to themselves instead of leaving it to us the ruled, who will be the final judges of their heroism, to do so. The word “revolution” as uttered by many of the likes of Mugabe’s greedy ministers has been so corrupted as to become unrecognisable.
Why is it that whenever it is convenient to use the club of yesteryear’s revolution and heroism to try to make us forget the failures and deprivations of the present, it is the words and actions of the dead that are always dredged up?
Why are there no heroes to talk of in Mugabe’s regime of today? The challenges of today may be of a very different nature from those of 30 years ago, but they are no less daunting and requiring of the kind of heroism Mugabe and Co falsely claim.
The small-minded politician of today has to hide behind the exploits of those who departed many years ago because he often cannot think or act beyond his or her next corrupt deal. Heroism under the sad regime of Mugabe has been reduced to a slogan, a dress with the maximum leader’s visage imprinted on it, or a hate-filled speech.
Under the unheroic dispensation of Mugabe, the law has become almost completely separated from justice. The legal process is now about finding loopholes to get the privileged off the hook than it is a respected way of regulating society, “rule of law” having become nonsensical in Zimbabwe.
It is more “rule by one man decree” than anything else! I don’t think many of the departed nationalists whose names and cause are bastardised and hijacked every heroes holiday by the Mugabe regime could have imagined that things would go so wrong so quickly!
In today’s Zimbabwe, the biggest thieves in the land are not only publicly known, the system openly admits that they occupy high positions within its ranks but gives them one year’s warning or longer for them to hide or dispose of their loot! Then that system tries to pull the wool over the public’s eyes by pretending to institute “crackdowns on corruption”!
Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle inspired support from people of all backgrounds and races the world over. How is it that the overwhelming goodwill of 1980 has been so completely squandered less than 25 years later? If the antipathy to Zimbabwe under Mugabe today is because Westerners are uncomfortable about land reform, how does one explain the evaporation of support (except for self-servingly ego-boosting rhetoric at the summits leaders of countries with little else to show specialise in!) of previous friends and admirers in Africa and Asia?
Why is the number of our friends and supporters dwindling by the day, leaving us more isolated, impoverished and ridiculed? “Zimbabwean” has so lowered in esteem that many citizens of neighbouring countries treat the visiting citizens of this country as if they were vermin!
For me this heroes holiday was a chance to reflect and marvel at how estranged the government of Mugabe that has brought Zimbabwe so low in so many ways has become from the concept of heroism. A government of heroes would not need to be as afraid of the electorate as this government is.
There would be no need to fear for one’s life if you were democratically kicked out of office if you had ruled by the principles of heroism you are so fond of enunciating but not so good at practising. A hero who thought he needed to lead his people in a certain direction would not bludgeon them with threats, fear and repressive laws.
There cannot be anything heroic about a man and a system that seems totally incapable of recognising that they make mistakes that need to be rectified. A heroic leader does not spend all his waking moments hurling insults at someone thousands of kilometres away when there are innumerable challenges to meet in his backyard. A hero does not apportion blame elsewhere for all his failures.
Yes, let us remember and honour our gallant heroes. One way of doing that is to keep the fire of the hope of a much better Zimbabwe than we see in the decline and despair around us burning. Let us not let the present unheroic gangsters lording it over us extinguish the dream of a Great Zimbabwe to rise from the ashes left over by the government of “comrade” Mugabe.
*Chido Makunike is a regular Zimbabwe Independent columnist.