One thing that Zimbabwe has failed to do is to inculcate the spirit of true nationalism and patriotism among its people and the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of our political leaders.
The spirit of nationalism we talk of here is that which is displayed when the national soccer team is playing and everybody — whether they are at the soccer stadium or watching the match from home — is giving their hearts to the team. We are talking of the spirit of oneness where the nation stands together to celebrate or cry as one people.
It goes without saying that every nation has different religions, cultures, politics et cetera, but there are events that call for the setting-aside of such differences when citizens of a country do a convergence of the minds as a nation and stand together as one.
This is one issue that we have failed to do as a nation. Our political leaders have over the years continued to divide the people for selfish political reasons.
It is only because Zimbabweans are, by nature, a peaceful people that such divisions have not translated into dangerous hatred.
There is absolutely no reason why our political leaders should consciously and deliberately take decisions to turn national events such as the National Heroes’ Day or the Defence Forces Day into political rallies. For what and whose benefit is that really?
The issue becomes even sadder when, especially as they are still basking in the glory of a major political victory, our leaders choose to throw out an opportunity to bring the nation together by acting like national and not political leaders.
Monday and Tuesday’s events were really not events to celebrate political victory, but annual events where Zimbabweans come together to remember and honour their fallen and living heroes and to recognise the special role that our defence forces play in defending our territorial integrity and safeguarding the lives and peace of all of us.
Turning such important national events into political party rallies trivialises them and takes away the dignity and integrity that such days seek to serve. Again, after the recent electoral victory by Zanu PF, there was really no need for such abuse of national events — there was no political mileage that the party could have needed to gain. There was no need to bring party regalia to the events.
If anything, what the party and its leaders needed to have done was to bring the vanquished and aggrieved to the events so that they continue to understand and realise they are still part of this great country — not to kick them away, rub salt into their defeat wounds by calling them names through partisan speech and song.
And then after this shameful display of pettiness, you have senior party officials denigrating members of other political parties and their leaders for allegedly snubbing national events. Would any sensible mind expect Morgan Tsvangirai, his party leadership and their followers — or politically neutral citizens — to happily attend the Zanu PF rallies that the Monday and Tuesday national events were turned into?