On the eve of Zimbabwe’s independence, President Robert Mugabe said: “Only a few hours from now, Zimbabwe will have become a free, independent and sovereign State, free to choose its own flight path and chart its own course to its chosen destiny.
Mutumwa on Tuesday with Mutumwa Mawere
Its people have made a democratic choice of those who as their legitimate government, they wish to govern them and take policy decisions as to their future.”
Indeed, Zimbabwe attained independence on April 18, 1980 and the promise of a free, independent and sovereign State has yet to be delivered as promised.
In life, it is easy to define a person by who he or she has been, not by what one plans to be.
It is also easy to blame one person for past failures as it is to pin salvation on speculative future successes.
Mugabe is just a single individual and yet he has acquired the persona of a super human being.
Like all human beings, he has a wagon of life to carry, but regrettably as is always the case, power has the tendency of attracting good and bad parasites.
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Mugabe’s wagon is not an exception as empirical evidence exists to support the proposition that his reign has indeed been of benefit to a few who can be described as “Friends of Bob” and such persons have seen a benefit in creating a lucrative career by being passengers in the President’s wagon.
In any normal functioning society, each individual must of necessity pull their own wagons and yet a feeling of entitlement is so entrenched as to allow a few well-connected individuals to escape the obligation that life imposes on human beings to make a plan for their lives.
What is ironic is that powerful people like Mugabe may not actually know what the people riding in their wagons are actually doing and, more importantly, how such people help to undermine his reputation and image.
With respect to the promise of prosperity that independence offered, it is correct to conclude that the President’s circle has been prosperous against a backdrop of unemployment, inequality and poverty for the majority.
The President, whose financial standing at independence was well known and established, now finds himself being a donor of goodies at rallies and a regular vacation tourist in foreign destinations as well as being able to adequately provide for his family, has no explanation for the source of his wealth than the fact that such wealth could only have been linked to his relationship with the State.
The fact that the State has been good to Mugabe is fairly obvious. It has enabled him to enjoy a life that would have been unthinkable had he been alienated from the State.
When he spoke of Zimbabwe being independent in 1980 and, therefore, free to choose its own flight path, there is no doubt that he was not aware that for millions of Zimbabweans, the flight path chosen for them was not in their interest.
Mugabe as a wagon puller has been pulling the wagon in a direction that has been of benefit to his circle obviously ignorant of the adverse impact of the direction chosen on the majority of the population.
There are many of his close associates who have been permanent features in his wagon throughout the post-colonial journey. Some have been Cabinet ministers for the entire journey, while others have been in the State bureaucracy for the same period.
The quality of life of Mugabe’s circle exposes the bankruptcy of the propaganda that speaks of equality, inclusivity and fairness. Over the years, the Presidential wagon has been attracting new passengers and now even the born-frees are now also part of the equation for they know better that it is beneficial to sing for one’s supper.
The President’s worldview has and continues to be shaped and defined by a cabal of praise singers who have no interests that extend beyond what is personally beneficial.
Normally, in a Republic, the expectation that the State’s true role is to serve the interests of the governed is betrayed by the manner in which power has been managed and used by State actors.
Election campaigns are merely events like concerts that allow voters and fans, respectively, to interact with their role models.
After voting, the show is over and the beneficiaries of the process normally retreat to their comfort zones by proceeding to do what is in their personal interests forgetting that without the complicity of the governed such comfort would not be obtainable in the ordinary course of business.
It may very well be the case that Zimbabwe finds itself at a point in the post-colonial journey that the majority did not intend it to be, but to the few that are close to power, independence has delivered the promise of a better quality of life.
The relationship between the State and empowerment has to be interrogated as the term empowerment has been so abused as to create the impression that without the State, human beings are not complete.
The power that State actors have derives from the governed and, therefore, instead of expecting the state to deliver salvation, State actors ought to tell it as it is that the real power vests with the governed who must pull their wagons to a chosen destiny and that the destination of the nation must reflect the totality of the chosen destinations.
When Mugabe spoke of independence allowing Zimbabweans to chart their own course, it would appear that in truth and fact, he understood that to mean that the obligation to define and chart a course was vested in State actors and not the people.
There is no doubt that no rational person could have voluntarily chosen a path that is characterised by poverty, unemployment and inequality.
It is very easy to blame the colonial order for the predicament that Zimbabweans find themselves in but in truth when regard is had to the composition of the heavy cargo that the President has been carrying on the back of State resources, it is clear that a substantial part of the blame ought to be directed at not only the wagon puller, but the people who have made careers out of a parasitic relationship with the State.
At the individual level, hope has largely dissipated that a brighter and prosperous future is possible if the status quo ante is retained.
However, for the few that have found their way into the Chief Magistrate’s wagon, the future is bright not because it will be so from hard work, but from robbing only the successful in the name of indigenisation and economic empowerment.
In 1980, the people of Zimbabwe made a democratic choice of those they wished to be the face of government and take policy decisions as to their desired future, but even those entrusted to lead the charge against the ills of the colonial system have failed to steer the wagon towards prosperity and citizen empowerment.