AMH voices: Democracy on trial

There can be no doubt whatsoever that any discussion of democracy in politics naturally produces discursive tensions. This is probably attributable to the absence of a clear consensus on what constitutes democracy.

Mutsa Murenje

In the past few weeks, we have witnessed the overzealous, outlandish and nightmarish manner in which the partisan police force responds to unemployed, hungry, poor and unarmed citizens who are simply trying to liberate themselves from the chains of tyranny.
In the past few weeks, we have witnessed the overzealous, outlandish and nightmarish manner in which the partisan police force responds to unemployed, hungry, poor and unarmed citizens who are simply trying to liberate themselves from the chains of tyranny.

Nonetheless, I am of the fervent conviction that there exists some generally agreed guidelines that inform us how leaders and the governed are to conduct themselves in any given polity.

Democracy is, by its nature, a product of cultural evolution and a well-known by-product of modernity. It embodies ideas, ideals and orientations and has developed a sense of propriety through conventional practice, and historical consensus. Departure from such guidelines or the rules of democracy in Zimbabwe has inevitably put democracy on trial. The critical question to answer is whether democracy is going to emerge victorious at the end of this trial.

I refuse to be a bystander, an onlooker when our country is burning. This is a sense of responsibility which I cannot seem to escape from. Like everyone else, I desire to live in repose. This, however, isn’t possible given the circumstances of our nation.

If what we are going through was caused by natural events, we would definitely know that we had limited control over that. But, our condition is human-made and human solutions are requisite to reverse current conditions and trends.

Poverty, social injustice and flagrant violations of fundamental human rights are a daily reality in Zimbabwe. In the past few weeks, we have witnessed the overzealous, outlandish and nightmarish manner in which the partisan police force responds to unemployed, hungry, poor and unarmed citizens who are simply trying to liberate themselves from the chains of tyranny.

Police brutality has no place in this modern world. It is even unjustifiable in a nation that claims to have fought a protracted war of liberation to free its citizens. It isn’t right that we continue to live in fear in the current atmosphere of intolerance and repression.

For the avoidance of doubt, colonised or oppressed people have the right to free themselves from the bonds of domination by resorting to any means recognised by the international community.

We are entitled to basic rights and opportunities of Zimbabwean citizens: the right to earn a living at work for which we are fitted by training and ability; equal opportunities in education, health and the right to vote and equality before the law.

However, the vulnerable and critical character of our circumstances persist and our wellbeing and security continue to be a constant concern not only to us, but to members of the international community. Where is the democracy that we fought for?

We continue, without any slightest hesitation, to call for free and fair elections, free speech and respect for fundamental human rights. Our situation is such that the gap between the rich and the poor continues to expand with cruel regularity.

Corruption is on the increase and remains an assault on our inherent dignity. We believe that corruption is a betrayal of one’s responsibility to others. Zimbabwe is in a political and economic mess in which only a connected, corrupt few live an opulent, sybaritic and limousine lifestyle at the expense of millions of citizens.

Many bright and talented Zimbabweans have emigrated, while others have resorted to misdemeanour to meet the basic necessities of life. Although some individuals may be predisposed to crime, dictatorship has clearly turned many otherwise law-abiding citizens into hard-core criminals.

In our quest for a free, just and democratic Zimbabwe, we have seen our country becoming a perfect example of patient endurance under suffering. We keep refusing to kowtow to the evil regime’s wishes, but we are continuously being relegated to the status of things.

One wonders if ever human beings are objects which can be used and discarded at will, or human beings have inviolable dignity which stands at the centre of everything we do. For democracy to be realised, we need to begin to reclaim our dignity as individuals living for and within the truth.

President Robert Mugabe is flibbertigibbet and dwells on pernickety. Zimbabweans don’t benefit anything from knowing the number of men that former Vice-President Joice Mujuru slept with. For over 30 years, we have been fed with the information that Mujuru downed a helicopter in 1973. What has changed for us to be told that it was in fact a Chipembere, who did that following his intimacy with Mujuru? Why couldn’t this be said the whole time that Mujuru was a Zanu PF member? The implication here is obvious.

There are multiple lies that we have been told and this recent revelation could be yet another desperate lie. Whatever the case might be, this doesn’t help matters. Our democracy requires more than such attempts to besmirch the reputation of a political opponent.

It is incandescently clear that we have had enough of Mugabe’s blindness, obtuseness and rigidity. We remain consistently courageous and resolute. Our struggle for democracy is built on the life and death of many earlier freedom fighters.

This is a struggle that we hope to win. It is important that we remind our oppressors that constant poverty and prolonged oppression drive people into aggression. Indeed, the majority of the modern world’s social conflicts have their roots in the sense of frustration, injustice and desperation that more and more people feel.

Itai Dzamara remains missing ever since his disappearance in March 2015. Linda Masarira is still incarcerated. When will all this brutality end? When will democracy become real in Zimbabwe? Zimbabwe belongs to all of us. We share a common mission and responsibility for the future of our country.

Although currently on trial, democracy will only be victorious if there is awakening of consciousness on the part of each individual member of our society. We have a common mission that we must fulfil.

Democracy will be realised when every Zimbabwean becomes aware of this common mission — when we all join together for our common purpose. There is nothing that a people united cannot do. United, our faith becomes faith that moves mountains. As Abraham Maslow rightly noted: “We are not in a position in which we have nothing to work with. We already have capacities, talents, direction, missions, and callings.”

It is significant that “… we guard against undue severity toward the wrongdoer, but we must also be careful not to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin.

There is need of showing Christ-like patience and love for the erring one, but there is also a danger of showing so great toleration for his error that he will look upon himself as undeserving of reproof, and will reject it as uncalled for and unjust” (Ellen G. White). Those with ears to hear let them hear.

May God bless Zimbabwe! The struggle continues unabated!

lMutsa Murenje is a social and political writer based in South Africa

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