THE other day I watched something I had not encountered before — a CNN panel discussion about the “Chinese Dream”. I have always heard about the American dream — which inevitably did not escape mention during that debate — but I had never heard about the Chinese Dream, not that I thought it didn’t exist. I will spare you the details of what the Chinese dream is all about, save to mention that my encounter with it reminded me that I had never heard Zimbabweans publicly articulating a Zimbabwean dream in a similar way. That got me thinking: What’s the Zimbabwean dream anyway? In fact, is there a Zimbabwean dream in the first place?
Report by Omen Muza
At a time when political parties are busy selling us their dreams as outlined in their election manifestos, it is highly pertinent to ask whether these manifestos have a common unifying thread seeking to bind Zimbabweans together instead of emphasising differences which tear them asunder. When Zanu PF launched its manifesto at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield on July 5, 2013 followed by MDC-T at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera on July 7, 2013 and MDC-N at Siyachilaba Business Centre in Binga on July 20, 2013, what is it that emerged from these documents as rallying points for Zimbabweans?
Or was the emphasis perhaps on how each party is so different from the other — ideologically and otherwise — that their supporters have no choice, but to differ as well? We have to ask whether the manifestos of the main political parties seek to unite Zimbabweans or actually pull them apart for partisan political gain.
Therefore, instead of just focusing on what the political parties promise to do for us — if they ever get round to doing anything — when we interrogate their manifestos, let’s also ask where unifying factors or forces are.
It is not rocket science that in order for the Zimbabwean nation to claim a stake in the progressive political and developmental discourse at regional and international levels, there must be a compelling strategic vision which should be clearly and sufficiently articulated. This begs the question whether there is currently such a national vision which all Zimbabweans can rally behind irrespective of political affiliation, race or tribe, they way they rallied behind the new Constitution in March 2013?
Is it the $100 billion economy envisioned by Kenias Mafukidze and other captains of industry? Is it indigenisation and Economic Empowerment as seen by Saviour Kasukuwere? Is it the rebranding of Zimbabwe that Arthur Mutambara passionately talks about? Is it about taking back the land? Or is it a combination of these and other dreams?
We have abundant natural resources, an educated workforce (which happens to be the most literate in Africa) with a good work ethic and generally good weather. Through their manifestos, political parties should not sell us false hope, but show us the alchemy through which we can synthesise all these variables into a Zimbabwean dream capable of inspiring one and all.
In case such a dream is already there but languishing out there due to lack of a common purpose, is it strong enough to have survived the vagaries of Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, Murambatsvina, electoral violence, Gukurahundi, sanctions, the Government of National Unity (GNU) and other such occurrences in Zimbabwe’s chequered post-independence history? If it doesn’t exist, meaning that we are not bound by a common dream, then what binds us? Is it only our birthright, or is it our common indebtedness to foreign and local creditors under the $10,7 billion debt that marks us as true Zimbabweans?
Beyond the rhetoric of MDC–N’s “Devolution is our new Revolution” MDC-T’s “A New Zimbabwe — The Time is Now!” and Zanu PF’s “Taking Back the Economy: Indigenise, Empower, Develop & Create Employment”, there must be something to re-energise Zimbabweans after enduring “the lost decade” followed closely by a largely dysfunctional GNU.