You can’t arrest change

“An evil remains an evil whether practiced by white against black or by black against white. Our majority rule could easily turn into inhuman rule if we oppressed, persecuted or harassed those who do not look or think like the majority of us. Democracy is never mob-rule. It is and should remain disciplined rule requiring compliance with the law and social rules. Our independence must thus not be construed as an instrument vesting individuals or groups with the right to harass and intimidate others into acting against their will. It is not the right to negate the freedom of others to think and act, as they desire”. President Robert Mugabe 1980.

By Vince Musewe

If this man had kept his word, surely our country would be somewhere else by now?

Zimbabweans are tired. They are tired of Zanu PF and its leadership; they are tired of non-delivery, the arrogance, the economic meltdown and the continuous non-productive political bickering within Zanu PF that is wasting our time.

On the lips of all I have met is the question — when will this end and when will Zanu PF go so that we can create a new political and social order in Zimbabwe?

Yes, we need a new political order in Zimbabwe but let us not be naïve and expect this to be a smooth transition.

The most dangerous assumption we can make is that Zanu PF is ready to let common sense and popular sentiment rule.

Theirs is an incomprehensible insensitivity and a clear lack of moral obligation to the suffering people of Zimbabwe caused by their misguided policies over the last thirty six years.

“The Zanu PF government has not and will not engage any opposition party to solicit assistance in transforming Zimbabwe’s economy,” George Charamba (aka Manheru) said.

“The Zanu PF government will not reform itself out of power.” These are the words of Jonathan Moyo.

These are the words of a government that has created a failed state. This is the vitriol of a government that has failed dismally to unlock the potential of this country and continues to bungle from one calamity after another. This is the arrogance of a government that lacks imagination and any reasonable means to extricate our country from the continuing decline in the quality of life of Zimbabweans. These are the words of people who fear any organised effort by free citizens to change the circumstances which we now face. These are the desperate words of a government which thinks that it can arrest change by incarcerating activists.

My message to President Mugabe et al is that youths, who make up in excess of 60% of our population, have had enough, they want change now. Not tomorrow, not next year, but today. They don’t want running battles with the police, they don’t want to sell airtime for a living, they don’t want to stay at home with their parents because they can’t afford a flat, they don’t want to be poor, unemployed and hopeless. Surely, there is nothing wrong with that because their success is the country’s success?

The sanctions excuses will not work anymore. Blaming imaginary detractors will not work anymore. The claim that the West is driving change in Zimbabwe is a fallacy, a myth, a persistent and unrealistic lie which has become so boring and vacuous. Rather, it is our youths’ unmet expectations, shattered dreams and hopes which are fuelling the fight for change and the freedom we must now demand. There is no going back and, the sooner Zanu PF realises this, the better. You can crush dissent but you cannot crush an idea whose time has come. Zimbabweans have woken up to the reality that it is only them who can change things.

We now need to create a new narrative and this narrative can only be driven by ourselves. First and foremost, any new narrative has to be based on the principle that Zimbabwe belongs to all who live in it and those who were born in it. Up to now, our politics have been unnecessarily racist and exclusive. This has marginalised the majority of our people from meaningfully contributing in building a better future. Unless we create an inclusive society, we will continue to operate at less than our full potential as a country. In any country where a significant sector of the population is excluded and marginalised, as has been the case with our women and our youth, that country will never live up to its full potential.

Our skills and talents can never be fully realised until we develop a sense of collective responsibility that is inclusive in nature and we dare to imagine a better future for all. Unfortunately, most of us have accepted the narrative of control, intimidation and selfishness by those who are in power as normal.

Secondly, we must learn to be proud of who we are once again. Zimbabweans have faced so much violence and emotional abuse and the result is that we no longer believe in ourselves. We are no longer a proud nation but, instead, we have low self-esteem and apathy. Until we get our pride back, we will continue to accept abuse by the security and the police. That needs to change.

In his book titled Crossing the Threshold of Hope, his holiness Pope John Paul the II admonishes us not to be afraid of men. “For man is always the same” he wrote. “The systems he creates are always imperfect, and the more imperfect they are, the more he is sure of himself. This comes from our hearts because our hearts are always anxious.”

It is only when we destroy the throne that we have created in our hearts for other men that we can begin to live to our full potential and gain the self-confidence necessary for us to create the Zimbabwe we truly want.

In our new narrative, we want Zimbabweans to be creative, innovative and wealthy without fear of expropriation of their wealth or assets by the state. In other words, the government must have nothing to do with allocating economic resources or assets to citizens but must merely create an environment for success. The continued allocation of stands, for example, by Zanu PF to their youths only is divisive and unacceptable in an inclusive democracy and and will be reversed.

We want Zimbabweans to speak their mind and explore who or what they can become under a government that respects the dignity of its people and the right to pursue their personal ambition unhindered.
Fear has arrested our potential in the past but it now seems that we are slowly realising that this will get us nowhere as a society. We need to be courageous and always challenge the status quo. That way, we will become better and be able to create the Zimbabwe we truly want; it will not emerge through mere hope or inaction.

In addition to being fearless, Zimbabwe must see the emergence of legitimate and selfless leaders who put the country first. This requires all of us to have the courage to speak truth to power. The future we desire can only be created through sacrifice and vision.

“While there are manuals on how to put the most complex structures, there is no toolbox on how to rebuild a destroyed nation. People have to look to their culture, their history, the nature of the crisis they face and come up with their own solutions.”

These were the words of the president of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, with regards to Rwanda.

As Zimbabweans, we need to appreciate that nobody but ourselves is going to rebuild Zimbabwe and we must stop expecting others to do it for us. We are the masters of our own destiny. The future we desire has to be significantly different from the past.

Musewe is an economist and author. These New Perspectives articles are co-ordinated by Lovemore Kadenge, president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society. E-mail: kadenge.zes@gmail.com and cell no +263 772 382 852.

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