Of crocodilian leaders, passive citizens

In Zimbabwe and most parts of Africa, crocodilian leaders are found across the political divide and the same applies to passive citizens who blindly follow their unscrupulous and hypocritical leaders even when it’s patently clear they are being led towards a political and economic abyss.

guest column: MUTSA MURENJE

In the case of Zimbabwe, this is rather unfortunate because the nation claims to be the most literate in the African region. I am grateful to my family and to God Almighty for the opportunity to have received some education.

Without this, I wouldn’t be as vocal on paper as I am now. I would be reticent and taciturn. Education brings with it some boldness that is absent in most people who lack it. Education remains the premise of progress in every family and every society.

As John F. Kennedy observed, “Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”

Al Jazeera is currently running a campaign that seeks the protection of journalists. Worldwide, journalists are operating in extremely dangerous circumstances. Sometimes they are kidnapped and at other times they are murdered whilst carrying out their duties to inform and educate the public on topical issues. Just last week, two NewsDay journalists were reportedly arrested for reporting that President Robert Mugabe’s recent trip to Singapore for a medical review had caused a health scare.

Mugabe is 93 years old and is too old to be governing Zimbabwe. We surely don’t expect miracles from a man who has presided over the destruction of our beautiful country in the last three decades or so. It is an injustice that Mugabe continues to preside over affairs of our nation. We all know that Mugabe’s mandate is largely on paper. The reality is different. The majority of our people are sick and tired of the poverty and unemployment blamed on Mugabe’s oppressive and evil regime.

We are living in an undemocratic society where substantial and clear instances of injustice exist. As citizens, we should never lose sight of the fact that it is our natural duty to oppose injustice. Indeed, our democratic struggles are meant to overturn an unjust and evil political system. We don’t seek personal glory.

We are doing this for moral reasons as opposed to self-interest. Perhaps we need to redirect our focus. Our focus might have been on selfish interests rather than our collective interests. Those who fought for our independence looked far beyond their immediate comfort. They were selfless and had concern for our welfare, even at a risk or cost to themselves.

Today, we are being led by hypocrites who claim to have liberated us from colonial rule and oppression. The truth, however, is they only managed to liberate and free themselves from such rule and oppression.

For most of us, nothing has changed since the fall of the Rhodesian regime. If anything, the Zimbabwean dictator is far worse than the late Rhodesian dictator that Prime Minister Ian Smith was.

Although it is largely believed that human beings are selfish, recent research suggests otherwise: That people’s first impulse is to co-operate rather than compete; that toddlers spontaneously help people in need out of a genuine concern for their welfare; and that even non-human primates display altruism.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that we need to move towards helping and co-operation because these promote the survival of our species. Although I disagree with Charles Darwin on his theory of evolution, I, however, concur with him that benevolence or sympathy is “an essential part of the social instincts”.

Lest we forget, “Being a great citizen is about showing up, standing up, and speaking up when change needs to happen” (Sandy B). We are passive citizens. Our leaders are taking advantage of our apathy. Ours are hypocritical and insincere leaders, we need to challenge them.

Zimbabwe has recently experienced floods owing to Tropical Cyclone Dineo that reportedly killed 246 people and destroyed homes while displacing thousands. Dineo also killed seven people in Mozambique and injured dozens.

Thousands of people were also displaced.

Climate change is real and we are either experiencing drought or emigration from poor areas to those with fertile soils; or floods are causing untold suffering on our people. What worries me more is how unprepared we are as nations in mitigating the damage associated with problems of this magnitude. Our financial resources are misdirected.

There is absolutely no justification for Mugabe or any other Zimbabwean to seek medical attention outside the country. We have enough resources to make our health services work for us. The millions spent by a single man (Mugabe) on foreign trips could be saved to fund areas that are lacking in our country. The best we can do is to find Mugabe a place in an old people’s home. That’s where he belongs instead of depriving us of the future we badly need.

Xenophobic violence is on the rise in South Africa. Instead of ending, it keeps going up and there seems to be no immediate solution in sight. Some of these challenges are avoidable if only we could be committed to consolidating democratic practices in our countries. There wouldn’t be need to leave one’s country in the first place.

It is hard to be a foreigner in a country where you are blamed for every bad thing even if you had nothing to do with it. There is nothing, however, that suggests that migration is coming to an end. It remains intrinsic to human nature and an integral part of our experience. I haven’t heard a single word from Zimbabwean authorities regarding recent xenophobic violence in South Africa. We have no government at home and abroad.

The Mugabe regime abuses State resources and international aid. Food is distributed on a partisan basis. Opposition parties need to be more visible and have a felt presence nationwide. We need to stay abreast on key issues affecting us. The role of the media on this cannot be overstated. Both the traditional and the social media have key roles to play in consolidating democracy.

Our people need to know that even though they may owe something to their benefactors, they do not incur the duty to obey them, and benefactors do not acquire the right to command beneficiaries.

In conclusion, the Mugabe regime is renowned for its illegitimate use of force. It employs the coercive apparatus of the state to oppress us. We have a right to resist such. Therefore, “I’m asking you to believe. Not in my ability to make change, but in yours” (Barack Obama).

May God bless Zimbabwe! The struggle continues unabated!

Mutsa Murenje is a social activist

1 Comment

  1. The people of Zimbabwe are docile and have been disempowered to such an extent that they have accepted the status quo. Rather than confront the underlying causes of their economic and social issues directly, they seek options such as vending, emigrating to other functioning countries, prostitution etc. This is not a people who can grasp and wrestle their future from an incompetent and mismanaging Zanu PF regime.

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