RECENTLY I bumped into a conversation by two teenagers. They discussed whether they know where they are. Of course, the first part of the response was to give age and geographical location until one of them pushed the question further. He elaborated that the question checks progress against set goals, expectations and preparedness to face current challenges.
Looking at the current situation in Zimbabwe, this question becomes even more relevant. Do we really know where we are? We are a 36-year-old country but where are we now or where are we headed to? For the two teenagers, at least they told each other that one was in Grade Seven while the other was in Form Three. But Zimbabwe has become an example of a clueless country that has found itself directionless and yet we are forced to be proud of who and where we are. Our President is 92 years old and there is no succession plan.
Nationally, we love to think of ourselves as being traditional and cultural. Our culture, even though it is not defined, is undeniably our moral reference and yet we have embraced colonial religions much deeper than those who brought it upon us to steal and dehumanise us. Embracing such religions is seen as the epitome of a new form of civilisation. Reconciling these two positions is the quagmire of our generation. Can one claim to follow Zimbabwean culture, while their lives are defined by a foreign religion? Take for example, people pay lobola not only because of just traditional obligation, but also the fear of the traditional ‘unknowns’. Where are we?
The ailing economy has been the bane of our time. Our 20-year-olds do not know how beautiful our country used to be and they don’t know anything better than what they have seen. Our teenagers have never seen the real Zimbabwe dollar. The discourse on the economy is characterised by a serious indecisiveness largely centred on who should do what instead of must be done. The opposition is of the view that foreigners are needed to stimulate the economy, while the Zanu PF is for indigenisation and local ownership of an almost none-existent economy. It is who should do what that has divided us and shaped our policies than what must be done. We are like that proverbial family that fights among themselves and suffers hunger because they can’t agree on who should make the meal.
These irrelevant different positions have divided us and created a hiatus, which has allowed corruption to thrive and prosper. It cannot be disputed that the indigenisation policy has legitimised corruption, xenophobia and segregation leading to a massive plunder of our national resources as those in power gave themselves the legal backing to dip into the national resources. Even foreign investors have learnt fast and adjusted. Investment is no longer long term. It is now about ‘extract and go’. Historically mines under colonial administration built towns and cities, but today mines leave holes and scars on our land. Those are the indicators of current leadership. The sense of shame has been swallowed by the love for money.
In all situations the country and our children, including of those in power in today are the biggest losers because our resources are leaving the country to create a better future for the children of the destination countries of our resources. Yes, our resources are building a brighter future for Chinese children at the expensive of the future of our children simply because we don’t know who we are and where we are. Beneficiaries of the indigenisation policies save most of their looted money outside the country and use the little they keep in the country to build houses and buy new fancy cars. Our resources are not producing for us or feeding us. On the other hand the foreign investors are part of their national external policies to prop up their economies. They take every cent they make in Zimbabwe back to their countries where the money creates employment opportunities for their children. Don’t blame them but ourselves. Where are we?
Our politics has been our biggest undoing and yet that sector is the most reproductively fertile. We are specialists in forming political parties than uniting each other to address current problems. Every minor difference is an excuse to split and form a party before coalitions. Opposition parties are formed to oppose other opposition parties. Activists of democracy will argue that that is a sign of democracy. But this democracy has not solved any of our problems, but rather plays a part in deepening them. One united opposition party is what is needed to un-sit Zanu PF party, the author of our problems.
Morgan Tsvangirai has the crowd, but currently has nothing new to offer. Tendai Biti and his group lack the political clout, but their time in government showed that they have ideas, the spine and the direction. Pastor Mawarire has the flag and we know who has Twitter.
Simba Makoni has been the envy of many, but as a technocrat and civil servant not a politician. His Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn project is the biggest taint on his impressive resume. From 2002 presidential elections until the 2013 elections, the challenge has not been winning more votes than Zanu PF but the transfer of power. The system had declared that they would not accept victory of a non-war veteran. Joice Mujuru’s entry into opposition politics certainly changes this dynamic and unsettles this position. We are where we are today because we lack the unity of purpose. May be 2018 is the time.