Two wrongs don’t make a right

IN 1948 Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, speaking to villagers who were to be displaced by the giant Hirakud Dam, said: “If you are to suffer, you should suffer in the interest of the country.”

Villagers in the dry Indian region naturally did not want to lose their homes and farmland but their resistance faltered as their homes were flooded to form one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. A plus was a guarantee of a permanent water source for the region.

The government of India managed to convince its people that its actions were for the common good. Governments should generally work in the interest of their people to achieve a common good. At least that is the reason they are elected into office.

The concept of working for the common good of a nation can however be abused by rogue states to achieve nefarious ends. Zimbabwe today stands out as a prime example of a state whose government has come up with obtuse policies which have been defended as being done for the good of the people.

The decision by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to introduce new notes and to launch a blitz that has made the possession of large sums of money illegal falls in the class of imperceptive policies that we must all believe are being done for the benefit of ordinary Zimbabweans, even if they do not support the initiative.

We see the so-called Project Sunrise as a policy coming out of the same mould as the land reform programme of 2000 which government said would empower the indigenous people.

Said President Mugabe of the land reform: “Zimbabwe’s much-vilified land reform programme is our response to the challenge of empowering more of our people and therefore creating a wider base of farmers in the country.

“In our fight for freedom and independence, one of the pillars of the struggle was land grievance — land, land, land, which means food, food, food to the people.”

Which food Mr President when the country has been forced to import food since 2000? The rag-tag deception is further exposed when the country’s human development indices continue to plummet in the face of immense poverty and depravation of both rural and urban communities.

Hundreds of thousands of rural people in Murerwa, Mutoko and Mudzi continue to eke out a living on poor soils still waiting to be resettled seven years into the progamme, while those who were allocated farms have only succeeded in chopping down trees and poaching game.

In 2004 the central bank said the closure of financial institutions was being done in the spirit of fighting economic saboteurs and protecting the rights of depositors. We have not yet seen the spin-off from the strong arm tactics of the governor after the elimination of the saboteurs.

The theory continued with the execution of the evil Operation Murambatsvina last year in which government administered terror on its people by destroying unplanned backyard residential structures and informal traders’ vending points. The government said the internationally condemned operation was meant to “provide residential and business accommodation to deserving people”.

Today victims of the operation are still destitute while the few structures that have been built under the subsequent Operation Garikai have been grabbed by ruling party mandarins and parcelled out to their relatives.

Project Sunrise is couched in the same spirit. When the dust has settled, we will soon be counting the cost of the latest state-sponsored folly. Banks which are crucial in making the plan work are already hurting, travellers have been hugely inconvenienced, tourists will not come to a country where they are frisked like criminals and our image as an investment destination has plummeted to new depths. The age-old saying that two wrongs don’t make a right applies here. This is correct for three, four or five wrongs, they cannot make a right.

But the virus of justifying evil is now embedded deep in the soul of government. It is this foul spirit which has seen government justifying the enactment of draconian laws like Aippa and Posa in the interest of the nation.

Can the Interception of Communication Bill and the Suppression of Foreign Terrorism Bill be justified as laws people have been clamouring for? Of course not, so is Project Sunrise.

This is what happens when repression replaces consensus as a mode of governance. We are suffering for the interest of a few!

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