By Mxolisi Ncube
Zimbabwe is drowning in a multi-faceted crisis. That’s despite her being endowed with vast natural resources, skilled manpower, a hard-working, honest people and a patient populace. Absurd!
The country’s politics is toxic and hate-driven; the economy has collapsed; family and social fabrics are torn to almost beyond repair and an estimated third of the population lives a life devoid of both dignity and hope – in unfriendly foreign lands, hounded out of their home country by either the niggling economic crisis or political persecution in hands of an intransigent regime. Some among the millions of Zimbabwean children born out of the country are stateless due to lack of proper documentation.
The multitudes remaining at home are nowhere near any better, as they grapple with an intractable regime, unending power cuts, persistent water rationing, poor working conditions, an ever-rising cost of living, a worsening liquidity crunch, hyper-inflation and an unprecedented collapse of social services, among an overabundance of ills.
There can be no gainsaying the fact that our problems are a direct result of the failed leadership of Zanu (PF), which has turned the one-time “Jewel of Africa” into a basket case through its quasi-fiscal and populist policies of economic mismanagement, political patronage, wanton looting, political intolerance, corruption and impunity.
With its divide-and-rule tactics, the Zanu (PF) Kakistocracy has used racism, tribalism, despotic laws, intimidation and brutality to maintain its stranglehold on power, while committing pillaged national resources into bribing the electorate. The state machinery has been abused to spy on political opponents, monitor the civil society and crush dissent. Resultantly, Zimbabwe’s political and to a large extent – economic space, have become a bastion of militarization and authoritarianism.
The advent of the Movement for Democratic Change as the country’s biggest opposition party since the fall of Zapu in 1987, has not helped matters either.
Although it has managed to win the support of disgruntled urban voters, the MDC has been laden with flaws of its own, including failure to read the differences in the economic and political needs of the urban and rural constituents, thereby failing to appeal to Zimbabwean peasants and coming short in capturing the dominant rural vote, which Zanu (PF) has maintained through populism, propaganda and political violence.
The MDC’s careless statements, its parroted promises of conditional Western aid, its apparent support for sanctions and its initial disrespect for the SADC and the African Union, have further played into the hands of Zanu (PF), which has ably packaged the main opposition party as a façade created to “reverse the gains of the liberation struggle” and push a Western agenda, especially to conniving African leaders.
The MDC has also done very little, if anything, to address the nagging ills of racism and tribalism, as certain actions have led the Matabeleland people into now believing that the party’s top leadership positions are – just like those of Zanu (PF), both a preserve for the Shona and a prescribed non-core arena for the Ndebele.
The main opposition party’s own ideological shortcomings and leadership failures have borne more than three splits, including the two biggest ones of 2005 and 2014. Its response to each of the splits has been to slowly but inexorably convert the party into being the personal property of its President, as all power has resultantly been centralized in the President’s office, thereby creating a dictatorship that is an exact replica of Zanu (PF), if not worse.
The MDC has also exuded its own traits of political intolerance by claiming exclusive rights to opposition politics with its big brother attitude, putting paid to chances of the Zimbabwean opposition forming a united front against Zanu (PF). The MDC seemingly believes it has an absolute right to lead any form of coalition, past negotiations of which have been elitist and concentrated on the allocation of positions and sharing of seats, leaving out the need to shape a new political trajectory based on the wishes of the ordinary Zimbabwean and thereby, further alienating the party from especially rural voters.
The MDC’s apparent loss of both its moral and ideological campuses – as shown by the party’s decision to side with weaker Zanu (PF) factions (including praising former dictator Robert Mugabe at his death and incorporating fallen Zanu-PF leaders with a history of political violence within its ranks), represent Zanu (PF) leaders arrested for corruption and sticking allegations that the party is working with Zanu (PF)’s defeated G40 faction and former First Lady Grace Mugabe, has further compromised and weakened the main opposition party.
Resultantly, Zimbabweans have been left with no feasible alternative. Between a rock and a hard surface!
It is therefore, clear that Zimbabwe now needs a viable alternative – a third force, the proverbial third dog that will take the bone away from the two fighting antagonists.
The time is nigh for Zimbabweans to form a party that will redefine the Zimbabwean nation, reshape the Zimbabwean struggle and unite Zimbabweans and help create a truly multiracial society that already exists at grassroots level despite concerted efforts by the ruling elite to suppress and destroy it for political gain.
Far from political influence, Zimbabweans are naturally a peace-loving people blind to race and or religion. It is clear that when presented with an opportunity, they are able and willing to recreate the country’s cosmopolitan outlook of the past for a more successful nation.
Despite their differences in race, culture and ethnicity, Zimbabweans share some experiences, have similar grievances and are itching to find a party that unites them towards a good cause – a viable and progressive party, rather than a reactionary one.
Zimbabweans want to build a nation that will not be influenced by historical truths and fallacies of Zimbabwean historiography, a nation led by a God-fearing leadership; a nation that will not be bound by the failures and or mistakes of King Lobengula, Mbuya Nehanda or Ian Smith; a nation whose populace has equal claim to citizenship regardless of ancestral origin, race or creed; a nation that will not be bound by the triumphs, failures and wounds of the liberation struggle; a nation that will spend more time building the future with unity and hope than looking backwards in anger and regret.
That nation can only be built by a party whose strategies will not be reactions to the actions of the current ruling elite and or other opposition parties, but has a clearly laid-down vision and strategy to achieve multiracial unity, an equal share of resources, servant leadership, shared responsibility and shared roles in the political, economic and social spheres of the country.
Zimbabwean Blacks, Whites, Asians, Coloureds, Christians, Moslems, Traditionalists, Men, Women, Children and all, have an equal claim to Zimbabwean nationality. They each and all have a right to participate – and equally so, in the country’s political, economic and political discourse, no matter how robust it may be, without having to be apologetic about the past and their participation shall not be at the discretion of anybody but themselves. It is clear that division along lines of race and tribe has failed and that Zimbabweans are hungrier now more than ever for unity of purpose.
What is also clear is that no current party has shown the will to answer the national question. Zimbabweans now need a party that is willing enough to work with the people, to create a nation where people are judged by their actions, not by their race or tribe; where nationality is earned by birth, descent and naturalization, not skin colour; where race, tribe, religion and sexual orientation cannot be a source of ridicule and stigmatization; where national leadership is not the preserve of a certain ethnic grouping; where resources are in the hands that can ably utilize them for the benefit of the whole country; where leaders know that they are servants of the people and not their masters; where politicians are driven by their love for the country, not selfish desires; where leaders are accountable to the population and where progress and productivity are the end-goal for all those charged with governance. It has been there before and it is still possible for present-day Zimbabweans to recreate such a society – for progressive unity that will turn Zimbabwe into a democratic developmental state.
Progress can only be possible under a government that supports healthy political, economic and social dialogue and public participation among Zimbabweans and initiates a sense of belonging and cohesion in the psyche of Zimbabwean nationals, to create a strong bond between our diverse people.
We need to end the conflicts and confusion created by certain innuendos and narratives that have for decades dictated our economic and political footsteps. People from across all our racial and ethnic groupings must be allowed to participate in dialogue that seeks to find common solutions to our common problems and to be part of the decision-making and policy formulation machinery for an advanced Zimbabwe.
Mxolisi Ncube is Editor of African Voice Global. He wrote this article in his personal capacity and the views he expressed here are his personal views, not those of African Voice Global, its staff and or its management.