By Rejoice Ngwenya
MY wife is adamant that true Christians should not entangle themselves in politics. This damning perspective includes such “earthly things” like office bearing, attending meetings and inev
The catastrophic implication is that she has never, in her life, held political office, attended a political meeting or voted. In civic education lingo, such people would be classified a “bad citizens”.
Being a true liberal democrat myself, I politely agree to disagree with her simply because of two reasons.
Firstly, were it not for those brave, selfless men and women who gave up their comfortable Christian education at mission schools in the 60s and 70s – and my wife was either not born or too young to notice – we black Zimbabweans would still be washing the white man’s bottom for a plate of sadza.
Ironically, most in her generation are now doing just that in Leytonstone, London, excommunicated through the unsightly deeds of these previous freedom fighters-turned-fighters against freedom!
Secondly, many villagers sacrificed their lives for true freedom – and sacrifice is just what every follower of Christ understands most, because the man Jesus himself lost an earthly life to prepare us for another kingdom that is not of this earth.
Perhaps my wife’s point is about the nature of Christians who have contaminated Zimbabwe’s decaying political landscape. They attend mass every Sunday, and spend Monday to Saturday in massive annihilation of our civil liberties.
Yet if my wife had a close-up view of Christian soldiers in the mould of Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King and Pius Ncube, this could at least convert her to that there is nothing wrong with politics per se but everything wrong with the architecture and machinations of Zanu PF politics.
But before you strip wires off my doctrine of positive Christian politics (PCP) that generally exalts freedom of choice and love, you have first to admit that all beings naturally gravitate towards sinfulness. Everyone at one time or another, according to the Holy Book, is a sinner – ie, lies, cheats, steals and commits adultery “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.
In Zimbabwe, ruling party politicians have added a special angle to that category of “all”, because the vindictiveness with which they are oppressing their own kinsman, their lust for power and total insensitivity to the needs of citizens surprises even the originator of sin himself, Lucifer the Serpent.
After cheating their way into office through massive vote rigging last March, they have proceeded to promulgate repugnant constitutional reforms that are only meant to fortify their power, silence critics and further mutilate the residual liberties we were clinging to.
My wife’s point is therefore that if I were to expose myself to such a vicious political environment, my attention would be diverted from issues of spiritual purity – which is the core business of Christian living.
And yet the Bible tells a different story. If you are in search of intrigue, romance, adultery, murder, politics, corruption and deceit, why bother chasing Wilbur Smith, Jackie Collins, Chinua Achebe and Salman Rushdie?
Read the Bible, it’s all in there – written so that we might know.
What my wife accuses politicians of has always been part of human nature since time immemorial – the difference being now there is an added element of applying high technology to perpetuate partisan propaganda. Even then, the Holy Book is loaded with examples of heroes who deserve to assume the mettle of political sainthood.
Zaphenath-Paneah, the 30-year-old Jewish captive known also as Joseph the son of Jacob, was a politician of high esteem, gifted with knowledge, humility and love. He was placed in the pagan royal house of Pharaoh by divine intervention but maintained his faith up to the end, saving two nations from starvation while in the process boasted a record of having rebuffed advances of a lustful queen.
Women leaders have also had their fair say in biblical history – the memorable Abihail’s daughter called Esther, who reigned in the royal court of the obscenely wealthy and powerful King Xerxes and once again saved the injury-prone Jews from destruction.
And yet my wife’s argument is not just about abstinence from politics, but also my tendencies towards defiance. I believe that if God gave us the right to choose, no one, Zanu PF included, has a right to take it away.
Sometimes it is important to defy authority. Moses writes in Exodus: “The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the King of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.”
In other words, when a powerful autocracy stands between you, your principles and freedom, you have the right to defy it. The very reason why we took up arms against the Rhodesian Front was that our fundamental rights to self-determination had been violated, despite the fact that what Ian Smith did was, in Patrick Chinamasa speak, “constitutional”. We defied the devil’s statutes to restore our dignity as a people and became part of the world of civilisation that respects international laws and justice.
The same opportunity has presented itself to us, again because now our leaders – Zanu PF leaders that is – are so intoxicated with power to the point of being spiteful of the very people they claim to have emancipated.
President Robert Mugabe and his technical team have created a video-wall of illusions and prisms to deceive the world that it is good to destroy your own people in order to protect their sovereignty. Substantive, collective, classical hogwash!
Ironically, we assumed our sovereignty in 1980 and anything else becomes a cheap excuse to remain in power. We have the right – divine that is – to resist not by humbly submitting ourselves to such renegade authority, but effectively participating in resistance politics.
Zanu PF has desecrated our dignity, self-esteem and very being. Shall we stand and watch these men trample on rights because “we are not of this world”?
* Rejoice Ngwenya is a Harare-based writer.