SINCE Independence, the policies of Zimbabweâ€™s rulers have been informed more by a burning desire to get recognition and glory as world-renowned statesmen than the will to advance the interests of Zimbabweans.
The worldâ€“acclaimed policy of national reconciliation proclaimed in 1980 was the first sign of the rulersâ€™ priorities. Without doubt, the policy of reconciliation was noble in the circumstances to provide a foundation for nation-building.
However, it was aimed more at getting Zimbabweâ€™s rulers a place in history as statesmen than advancing the cause of Zimbabweans.
In the misguided spirit of reconciliation we neglected to force some of the white racist citizens to abandon their wicked ways against blacks.
As a result black farm labourers continued to live and work in appalling slave-like conditions on the farms, just as before Independence. The political leaders made no effort to get whites to repent from their racist ways or get them to appreciate the need to share land equitably, all in the false spirit of reconciliation.
As a result, race relations in the country did not improve as whites felt no need to repent from and abandon their Rhodesian anti-black outlook.
To show that the policy of reconciliation was more of a publicity stunt than a gesture aimed at nation-building, the triumphant black rulers only extended the olive branch to whites and not to fellow blacks.
As a result, the new black rulers did not find it worth their while to reconcile with their black war-era adversaries like Ndabaningi Sithole, Henry Hamadziripi, Bishop Abel Muzorewa and Dzinashe Machingura.
Sithole and Hamadziripi were not forgiven even in death as they were denied an opportunity to be buried at the hallowed National Heroes Acre.
Having announced their presence on the world stage with the self-serving policy of national reconciliation, Zimbabwean leaders proceeded to put in place the physical infrastructure necessary for them to play out their glory-seeking foreign policy.
They built the Harare Sheraton Hotel, a white elephant in a sea of poverty, to host the Non-Aligned Movement in 1986.
Zimbabwean leaders hosted NAM, in keeping with their desire to enhance their standing in the international community.
The National Sports Stadium was yet another project meant to give the spotlight-crazy Zimbabwe leadership a place to hold national events from which to pontificate to the bemused masses in their impressive English.
The annual Heroes Day commemorations are only a platform for the leaders to get an opportunity to showcase their oratory skills and posture as the worldâ€™s most daring leaders who can fire broadsides at the worldâ€™s white leaders with reckless abandon.
The ruling eliteâ€™s actions since Independence clearly show that genuinely remembering the gallant fallen and living heroes has never been one of its priorities.
Since Independence, they have been obsessed with pursuing a glory-seeking foreign policy to the almost total exclusion of advancing the interest of the liberation war heroes living and departed whose sacrifices brought them to power in the first place.
The leaders are more interested in “dealing a felling blow to that intransigent and incorrigible racism” (in the words of President Mugabe) ahead of improving the lot of their black people.
While the countryâ€™s leadership annually pontificates at the obscenely opulent Heroes Acre on Heroes Day, there are still a lot of fallen war heroes who lie in unmarked graves in and outside the country.
A group of concerned war veterans going by the name, Fallen Heroes: The exhumers, is literally scavenging in the bush using their bare hands in search of the remains of their comrades, with no state support whatsoever.
While the countryâ€™s leaders use the occasion to remember the fallen heroes to fire more broadsides against imperialists, Mai Tapiwa in Mberengwa at Chegato wonders how and when she will ever get to see where her brother Cde Zvandasara lies buried, more than 30 years after he left for the liberation war.
Mbuya Jura in Rusape has given up hope of ever knowing how her beloved son Tendai perished in the war and where his remains lie. Mainini Madube in Mberengwa at Chavengwa has resigned to the fact that her wish to know where the remains of her war veteran brother Abraham lie, will never be granted in her life time.
But the concerns of these peasants must be subordinated to and come second to the selfish leadersâ€™ all-important goal of “dealing another blow to that intransigent and incorrigible racism” and imperialism, even if it means Zimbabweans will be reduced to beggars and economic refugees all over the world as a result.
In the 80s and 90s, Zimbabwean leaders were happy to globe-trot with the self-same white imperialists they denounce today, while the war veterans, the people whose sacrifices brought them into office were wallowing in abject poverty.
It had to take a march on state house in 1997, orchestrated by the fiery war-veteran Chenjerai Hunzvi to get the leaders to remember the suffering war veterans.
It was only concerned black entrepreneurs through the AAG (Affirmative Action Group) and IBDC (Indigenous Business Development Centre) who championed the cause of black businesses in the 90s while government leaders were content to bask in the glory of their role as chief protector of white interests through the policy of reconciliation.
The much-hyped land reform when it finally came was motivated more by the leadersâ€™ desire to vicariously strike a blow against the British through grabbing their white kith and kinâ€™s farms, than a genuine desire to empower blacks.
The leadership committed national resources to turning Zimbabwe into the USA of Africa, policing the African continent while Zimbabweans continued to sink into poverty. I thought charity was supposed to begin at home.
They spent millions of US dollars in the war in far away DRC, spent yet more millions of US dollars fighting Renamo in Mozambique.
All this, while Zimbabweans continued to suffer in poverty just like in the colonial times.
While the Mozambican campaign may be justified considering how the Mozambicans had helped Zimbabweans in their fight for independence, the DRC campaign cannot be explained in any other way except self-aggrandisement.
If it was principled Pan-African solidarity that motivated Zimbabwean leaders to commit more resources to turning Zimbabwe into Africaâ€™s self-appointed continental policeman at the expense of the welfare of Zimbabweans, why did they refuse to give South Africaâ€™s PAC and ANC space to set up bases from which to launch their fight against apartheid?
Could it be a cowardly realisation that Zimbabwe was no match for the apartheid regimeâ€™s mean fighting machine? In contrast to Zimbabweâ€™s cowardly refusal to host ANC and PAC bases, Kaunda in true principled African solidarity through thick and thin, hosted all liberation movements from Southern Africa giving them guerrilla bases, including Zimbabweans, even though Zambia shared a border with the powerful Rhodesians.
While Samora sold out the ANC at Nkomati, Kaunda remained steadfast until all southern African countries gained freedom and independence.
Zimbabweans paid mere lip service to the cause of total African independence from colonialism and apartheid.
So, evidently, Zimbabweâ€™s current leaders cannot be counted among genuine and sincere African heroes who dedicated their lives to improving the lives of the Africans at home and in the diaspora.
These genuine and sincere African freedom fighters are people like Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Sankara, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Martin Luther King Junior, Malcolm X, Oliver Tambo, Dedan Kimathi, Bob Marley, and Marcus Garvey.
Zimbabwean leaders are merely a bunch of shameless power-obsessed, self-important hypocrites who opportunistically use the cloak of Pan-Africanism to camouflage their selfish interests.
They are more interested in caressing their monstrous egos than improving the lot of the citizenry of Zimbabwe.
By Kudakwashe Marazanye: Social and political commentator.