Thirteen thousand seven hundred and thirty-two (13,732) – Those are the number of days you exercised your draconian rule over us (give or take- you can never be accurate over such a long time) and had us rue our heritage as Zimbabwean. Former President, it is apt to say you were the PHAROAH of our time! To quote your own words, you are now our enemy because you really have behaved as an enemy of the Zimbabwean people. We are full of anger. Our entire provinces are angry and that is why we joined our military in solidarity against your prolonged tyranny. We cannot help but feel shortchanged by your administration and rightfully so. First you stole our liberation dream that fateful day in April 1980. You were a sadistic and rationally calculative warmonger, who took advantage of our then naïve people’s faith in you. You alienated our faith and ignited our anger when you schemed to consolidate power for yourself by successfully overseeing barbaric acts of opponent intimidation and elimination. Away from the public gaze of the then little developed world, you conducted massacres against your own people – with many killed and raped – God bless their souls while many more were beaten by your militaristic apparatus.
As the age of globalization dawned, you again calculatedly divorced us from the outside world. Planning several moves ahead, you made us a recluse and isolated people. To this we say shame shame shame on you. You pulled us out of the interstate system driven by ideals of collective human will as you were bent on seeing us suffer and psychologically confine us from the world yet the best cultures and countries in the world survive on a give and take basis. As a result, Zimbabwe had remained stagnant for large chunks of your rule. Year on year your ailing figure embarrassed us at international conferences were your trademark became the occasional slumber – you ought to copyright that. If it was not your naps when you were senile that embarrassed us, it was your craving to always be the cleverest man in the room at International meets that become our scourge – my word you were arrogant.
Admittedly, some of your reforms at home single handedly improved our standing as individual people. Your health and education policies stand to be commended as through them the nation dined on the literacy table for decades – which endures still. In some respects, it was fitting and somewhat appropriate that in your last public act as President, apart from your botched resignation of course; was the capping off of graduates. However, former president you introduced to us a truly bizarre system in which the exponential increase in education does not correspond to equitable levels of employment. Countless graduates have, for decades past been produced from higher education institutions. In many ways, your model former President was idiosyncratic as the will to educate was opposed to the will to invest that human capital knowledge to develop the country. Even your legacy in education then takes a major hit as you successfully presided over the bastardization of the entire education system during your tenure.
GO WELL OUR JUDGE, JURY AND EXECUTIONER…THE PHAROAH OF OUR TIME!!!
TO FELLOW ZIMBABWEANS…
If events of the last week or so have taught us anything, it is that what bind us is greater than that which divides us. Our rallying cry on Saturday the 18th of November will go down as a watershed in the history of our continued search of our liberal rights. As Malcom X says, our lives begin to end the day we begin to be silent about the things that matter to us. Going forward, freedom of expression should become a mainstay of our lived realities and not reduced to the modicum we came to know. In many ways, we also have to acknowledge how we were complicit in our own subjugation without ever considering how the power dynamics lie at the behest of us as people. But like any great enterprise, canvassing for our liberties will need sacrifices and this is something we must be cognizant of – we cannot have our cake and eat it as well, all while those who seek to deny us our fundamental rights look on. The full extent of those sacrifices will remain to be seen with the furlong our new administration hands us.
Essentially however, one lesson to take away from all this remains that it is us the people who lobby for our freedom – our outpouring can no longer be done in an ad hoc capacity- it is not a switch we switch ‘on’ and ‘off’ but should be conspicuously present in our way of life be it in our communities, the workplace, the public space- it must exist and be ingrained in not just some of us, but in all of us. As Obama reminds us:
“I agree with George W. Bush when in his second inaugural address he proclaimed a universal desire to be free. But there are few examples in history in which the freedom men and women crave is delivered through outside intervention. In almost every successful social movement of the last century, from Gandhi’s campaign against British rule to the Solidarity movement in Poland to the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, democracy was the result of a local awakening”.
However, one essential elements going forward is the sacrifice of our apathy in search of something greater. Let us blend together values of togetherness, banding together and pulling in the same direction in spite of our political convictions, levels of education, gender and religious or cultural persuasions. Saturday revived all our hope, all our patriotism and our sense of belonging. We thronged on the streets in our hundreds of thousands in all towns, cities and provinces, with an objective purpose and unity not seen since the Chimurenga wars and which had been systematically denied since. As Independence goes, the 18th of November will live on as the day we found ourselves, the day we found our age long muted voice; a quintessential freedom of expression- that is the reality we created for ourselves, and one that we must always live up to. Lets face it, it cannot get any worse than we had it and if anything, the beauty of life s not in ever falling but in rising everytime we fall. Fellow Zimbabweans, we have the land, we have the requisite education, we have the tolerance, the endurance and the will to succeed; and after years on a sojourn, we are now ripe to spread our wings and sore towards greater foreseeable heights.
TO OUR LEADERS…
Pursuant to Vladmir Illich Lenin, “there are decades where nothing happens; and there are days when decades happen”. It is ironic that Robert Gabriel Mugabe, a self prophessed Lenin-Marxist, failed to see how his decades of tyranny would infact catch up with him, or atleast ignored it; again an example of how much oversight comes with too much power when it is confered upon one person. To our army, we woke up to the manful face of Major General S.B Moyo, telling us that the situation in our country had ‘risen to another level’ but urged us to exercise calmness. Even as military songs came on screen being repeated every hour, the routinely and monotonously boring State Television became even more eyesore but this did not matter to us as it dawned that our military was finally sorting out things for us. Our patriotism was rekindled as we hummed in sync with the military songs that took each of us on a jog down memory lane and really served as a contactanation of our heritage and creed as Zimbabweans.
To our saviour, General Constatino Guveya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga; words cannot begin to describe our warmth and affection towards you. November 21 of 2017 which came about because of your decisiveness and command makes the dire 37 years we have been subjected to somewhat worth it. You gave us more liberty in one day that we have had in 4 decades; then gave us more joy than can be found in any one place on the 21st. We are forever indebted to you our general. Through your decisive action, you managed to redeem our faith in our security elements and ultimately in our leadership. As far as our leaders go, your resolute military intervention showed us that should our leaders at all levels of governments and in institutions and industries really want to exert and apply themselves, they can stop the rot as anything is possible in this motherland of ours and Godwilling, we can reach dizzy heights seldom thought of before.
All we want is a sound and effervescent domestic policy that caters for every Zimbabwean, those of us without a seat at the high table. At the time of writing this, the latest Corruption Perception Index ranks Zimbabwe as the 154th least corrupt nation out of 168 nations. In other words, on a scale on which the rate of corruption increases the further a country is down the list, Zimbabwe is tied 14th for corruption in the world and is the 2nd most corrupt nation in the Southern African bloc only to Angola. To put this into perspective, while the statistics and media do not highlight it or may be dismissed as unrepresentative, the situation on the ground wreaks remnants of a country embroiled in civil war; one in which a burgeoning informal sector and corruption are akin. These are gory statistics which tell their own story as to how we can go about in our re-building process.
We also require a basic societal and economic structure that is predictable and dependable in order to finally give us the security and assurances we crave. With a backdrop disillusioned due to the countless emigrations our country has witnessed, we also require our administration to be the guarantors of our citizenship in order to lessen the impact of seclusion and displacements. Internationally, any gains we make will be gainful as we had been secluded from the rest of the world. More acutely however, we demand an honorable peace abroad as our signpost for all nations of the world. We look forward to you repairing relations with other great nations of the world in order to rubber-stamp our return to the global community. After 37 years in the proverbial wilderness, you can understand when we say we do not have the luxury, as citizens, communities, industries, and various sectors to undergo the same abusive and toxic administration of the past regime. True to your own words Mr President, you have to “hit the ground running” and with the new lease of life in our people and hopefully in you, we except you to ‘hit the ground running’ with us citizens firmly behind you. Certainly if your speech was anything to read along, you are quite in-touch with reality. Your ability to appreciate that in today’s global world ‘there is no isolation that is splendid’ highlights this awareness. Indeed, for many Zimbabweans we share these sentiments, as any ‘splendor’ which isolation held for Zimbabwe was becoming less and less visible. As a people, as a nation, we have not known a leader we have loved and cherished for generations; so we have so much love to give and are itching to exhibit all our love for our new administration.
TO THE CONTINENT AND THE WORLD BEYOND OUR BORDERS…
Zimbabwe is a small land locked country in Southern Africa whose climate is predominantly savanna. Yet, in all its physical and most recently, ideological barriers that serve as an impeding force in its engagement with the outside world, it is ironic that Zimbabwean’s are spread everywhere on the planet. Today, more than ever, no individual can fail to identify Zimbabwe on a map. There is no country in the world that can claim to be bereft of a Zimbabwean and this has made our fate intrinsically tied to all nations of the world. This is testament to the will of our people to engage in the world, and their unebbing curiosity of the world around them and their place within it. To the world over, we thank you! In our hour of need, you welcomed us in our throngs- you sustained us under the blanket of your protection though with no legal obligation to. South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, USA, United Kingdom, China, Canada, Australia, France –all countries some further to home and others far more distant. Many countries were also formed during our slumber from the international domain. Millennial countries like Montenegro (2006), Serbia (2006), South Sudan (2011), Kosovo (2008) and Timo-Leste (2002), accept our belated welcome to your appearance on the International stage.
It would perhaps be presumptuous to suggest that our experiences are transferable to any other country. We are afterall unique in our history, culture, geography and driving conflicts. Yet however, Zimbabwe serves as a useful metaphor for the world beyond our borders- a world that never meets anyone halfway, a world were children have zero possibilities the minute they are born; a world in which there is undying consternation and a nostalgic relationship with our colonial past; one in which there are binary assumptions between the existence of order and tranquility in ushering in a protracted rebirth as opposed to a real praxis driven, often frenzied engagement in achieving the same. We represent the hope of newly found nationhood and the extinguishing flame that brings despair begging the question of ‘where did it go wrong’? One in which increasing aloofness sought for supposed security and whose rationality in arguing for this takes a different form between eras- in avoidance of neo-colonialism they said, to shore up our borders, they said; to fortify our economy they said- all rationalizations devoid of a kernel of truth. A world which invests so much in man- man who is mystified and given demi-god status, placing man on a pedestal yet failing to appreciate the contradiction implicit in perfection in any system build by man. And finally, within regions and continents, the story of Zimbabwe is an all too familiar case of history repeating itself – as the world changes, so we must change with it.
To our relatives, friends and family, spread across oceans and continents, you went over and above in propping us economically and socially. Your remittances were the lifeblood that kept us afloat and ticking over. To most abroad, you sacrificed amassing wealth and properties for yourself in order to sustain us and that is a mark of our indelible true Zimbabwean way of togetherness – “ubunthu”. We are eternally grateful! We are forever indebted to your tireless efforts in single-handedly sustaining individuals, families, communities and even the larger societal structures.
It is significant that the inauguration of the new President saw foreigners flocking in from all walks of life. If anything, this is symbolic of our new, though always present desire, to engage in the world. We spread our arms welcoming all great and emerging nations of the world to this great country of ours, which for too long has been stuck in the doldrums. I was there when we welcomed dozens of foreigners for the inauguration. In a cruel twist of irony, we anticipate that nations people’s will be trickling in from the newly named Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport- developments surely enough to make the former president turn in his grave- if such a time ever arrives.
As a nation, we are at crossroads for the first time in 37 years. This is the most significant episode not only in our experiences as Zimbabwean’s but also of overarching resonance in modern Africa as we know it. At such a juncture then, we will do well as a nation to learn from our former mistakes. However, while we hold half an eye on progress, at least 3 things should remain relevant if we are to truly chart a successful blueprint for our great nation.
First, is religion, which has been important in structuring individual and collective wills. The general consensus is that religion has had a key role to play in Zimbabwe and this has coincided with the country’s economic and social malaise. In particular and more tellingly, when it comes to the Pentecostal persuasion, Zimbabwe is home to the largest number of followers in Southern Africa. Karl Marx thought of religion as the opium of the suppressed masses – a quick fix that was meant to temporarily serve as a reprieve for them given their objective condition of suffering. It is evident therefore that the burgeoning growth and strong institutional presence of Pentecostalism and religious belief as a whole, tallies with the dire economic and social climate we had been subjected to since people seek an interpretation of their place within their social world. Going forward given the anticipated national revival at all levels (political, economic, social and scientific) it is crucial that links with religious leaders at institutional levels as well as a general civil religiosity is maintained since religion has played a defining role in our strife. To abandon both would be to lose our driving propensity and sense of orientation as a people.
Secondly, any murmur of progressiveness would be incomplete unless we various diaspora activists, leaders and captains of industry are brought into the whole rebuilding phase. In a sense, the country is still afloat because of the diaspora’s efforts in sustaining families and communities as already alluded. Hence, going forward, they should be given their space as they are stakeholders in the transition process. Linked to the above, the nation’s youth need to be incorporated in the rebuilding phase also. Our nation is blessed with industrial and learned youth segments, who are progressive in their thinking and if anything else, they should be incorporated to chart and redesign a new path to prosperity because the future, which most genuinely dreaded, belongs…to them!