I MUST be honest and admit that the recent Zanu PF march ignited more in me than I could have imagined and gave me some thinking points that got further amplification in the MDC Bulawayo march. After interacting with a lot of Zimbabweans, I realised we share more than that which separates us and we share the same ambitions and dreams for our country. Of course, this is not the picture that some in society wish for because they enjoy the status quo and are the source of our problems but for the rest of us normal citizens, the following is my understanding of the Zimbabwe we yearn for — the Zimbabwe we want.
When it comes to the rule of law….
We want a Zimbabwe where rights are not theoretic ideals, but practical realities. We want to be able to count on an uncompromised judicial system that will rightly interpret the law and not erode the rights we have. We want to once again shine as a country with a judicial system that is respected regionally and internationally. We want access to courts to be a lived reality and not an academic concept. We want a Zimbabwe where it is not a crime to write or comment on certain people and their activities.
We want a Zimbabwe where the freedom to think and the freedom to dream exists. We want a Zimbabwe that allows for people to aspire to be in high offices without being thought to be enemies of the State. We want a Zimbabwe that values human life so much so that the disappearance of one individual attracts the attention of the government. We want a Zimbabwe where suspicious deaths and hits on perceived opponents ends. We must reach a point where we agree to disagree and never use violence to resolve political differences (or indeed any other differences).
We want a Zimbabwe where the intelligence service is governed by the law and conducts surveillance on national lines and does not harass the citizenry for thinking differently. We want a Zimbabwe where we can trust our security agents and officials without having the fear of arbitrary arrest, torture, intimidation and disappearances. We want our security system to protect Zimbabweans regardless of their differences and not a party.
We want a Zimbabwe that respects the rule of law and does not have a police force that is a law unto itself. We want a Zimbabwe that does not allow the police to insist on invoking fictional powers to stop certain parties or groups from protesting. It does not make sense that the Constitution affords everyone the right to assemble and the right to protest and yet permission needs to be obtained from the police before exercise this right. That simply is illogical. We want a police force that respects court orders and releases detainees upon instruction and not when it deems it appropriate.
We want a Zimbabwe where everyone is equal before the law and the law is applied without regard to colour, political affiliation or who you are connected to.
When it comes to government …
We want a country where the voice of the people is never ignored but comes first. We want a Zimbabwe where the failure to consult with the people is on its own, ground to have anyone removed from office. We want a Zimbabwe where the curriculum of our schools is not unilaterally decided without having regard to the will of the people. We want a Zimbabwe where our children can look up to government officials as responsible figures in society and not as intolerant and corrupt individuals.
We want a Zimbabwe where thinking differently is acceptable and not treasonous. We want a Zimbabwe where we hold public debates with our leaders and ask tough questions that they should, without hesitation, be able to answer.
We want a Zimbabwe where our leaders attack our ideas and not our characters when we attempt to hold them accountable. We want a Zimbabwe where citizen movements like #ThisFlag are not rubbished as attempts by the West to effect regime change. In fact, we want a Zimbabwe where we stop blaming the West for everything and start to take responsibility for our actions and poor governance.
We want a Zimbabwe where the national broadcaster is exactly that – a national platform not an instrument for disseminating hate speech, propaganda or party ideologies. We want a Zimbabwe where the ZBC airs balanced and unbiased news on every political party in the country. We want a Zimbabwe where supporting a different political party is not a death sentence. We want a Zimbabwe where government realises its mandate is not to enrich itself, but to serve the people of Zimbabwe.
We want a Zimbabwe where when allegations of corruption are levelled, they are independently investigated and appropriate action is taken. We want a Zimbabwe where executives of parastatals who get ridiculous payments while their employees are not paid for months on end, are held accountable and where possible, imprisoned. We want a Zimbabwe where corruption by an ordinary citizen and corruption by a member of government is dealt with without regard to status. We want a Zimbabwe where corruption is exposed and the whistle blower is not victimised for doing so.
We want a Zimbabwe where members of parliament are recalled for constantly missing Parliament and wrecking huge bills without doing remotely constructive project in their constituencies. We want a Zimbabwe where parliamentarians don’t reward themselves with hefty packages at a time when the country is struggling financially.
We want a Zimbabwe that uses sound economic policies and seeks input from all stakeholders and independent experts before implementing policies. We want a Zimbabwe where investors have no reason to lose confidence and where our laws governing the economic sector are well drafted, coherent and investor friendly.
We want a Zimbabwe where business and the financial market in general are allowed to operate freely without interference from government officials. We want a Zimbabwe where ministers are named and shamed for improperly influencing tenders and for demanding kickbacks for businesses to operate.
We want a Zimbabwe where monetary policies and restrictions apply to all Zimbabweans including government itself. We want a Zimbabwe where our minerals are not the preserve of the political elite and their friends but are the collective entitlement of Zimbabweans as a whole.
We want a Zimbabwe where there is efficient service delivery. We want a Zimbabwe where every citizen enjoys clean and safe water constantly. We want a Zimbabwe where we use buckets for laundry and not for water storage. After 36 years of independence, this should not even be a discussion point. We want a Zimbabwe where power cuts are a thing of the past and even where they do take place, these power cuts should be scheduled and apply to everyone. Yes, everyone including ministers maybe then they will realise how frustrating it is to not have power when you need it the most.
We want a Zimbabwe that provides jobs for its graduates and does not turn them into vendors. We want a Zimbabwe that provides food for those that cannot afford it. We want a Zimbabwe where nobody goes to bed hungry and where nobody stays in shacks. We want a Zimbabwe where the government concerns itself with bettering the lives of its people instead of concerning itself with party factionalism and pseudo succession discussions. We want a Zimbabwe where we the people, govern through our elected representatives. We want a Zimbabwe that will be the pride of Africa, a Zimbabwe that we can be proud to talk of.
We want a Zimbabwe that does not force its people into exile or turn them into migrants. We want a Zimbabwe that fulfils the goals of the liberation struggle: a free Zimbabwe. We want a Zimbabwe where the oppressed becomes the oppressor or where the hero becomes the villain.
We want a Zimbabwe where this piece will not activate and attract scorn from the State for the author who is simply stating his views. Instead, we want a Zimbabwe where this piece rekindles the dying flame of hope and ignites a discussion for the collective good of the country.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that all we want is a Zimbabwe that works for everyone and not for a few, a Zimbabwe that does not need indoctrination to instil patriotism and pride. Is that too much to ask?
Paul Kaseke is a legal advisor, commentator, analyst and sessional law lecturer with the Wits Law School. He writes in his personal capacity. You can give him feedback via email: email@example.com or follow him on twitter @paulkasekesnr