It is puzzling to imagine how a country such as Zimbabwe has plummeted to where it is today. Once a thriving nation, with one of the best economies in Africa, an example of hope and an envy for many and yet it has become a laughing stock in the continent and the world over.
By Tapiwa Gomo
Even when the situation has deteriorated to such deplorable levels, there are still some who still think the current leadership has done well in the midst of perceived international isolation. The level of denial is beyond bewildering.
In this week’s column I will focus on denial as one of our biggest undoing. I was prompted to write about the denialism in our midst after receiving an interesting observation from a friend who had read some of the comments on last Monday’s instalment of this column titled All we want.
In that article, I argued that our opposition politics is a replica of Zanu PF. To back this argument, I highlighted the lack of succession in most political parties and the unwillingness of their leadership to be reshuffled which has so far affected coalition discussions. I concluded that if this baggage is carried over into the post-Zanu PF future, then real change is futile.
Almost similar concerns were raised in the MDC-T official, Obert Gutu’s NewsDay article of October 24 titled: Beyond Zanu PF dictatorship: Wither Zim? He also got a share of criticism for simply highlighting what should be our fears today once Zanu PF leaves power.
Based on views and comments from these two articles, that friend of mine observed that, while our pursuit for democracy and economic growth has become as protracted a battle similar to the autocracy we are fighting against today, it now much safer to criticise Zanu PF than it is to criticise the MDC-T. This is not only a betrayal of democratic ideals, but raises the alarm bells on what is likely to happen if the MDC-T takes over power. The hope and change, which the MDC-T used to represent seems to been gradually withering and replaced by anger and hate for other views.
Again, we go back to the same question: How did we end up where we are today? There are so many answers to this question, but here is one of them. It was somewhere in 1980 when we all voted the man we thought represented the hope of millions of the oppressed black people. We made him the liberator, the messiah of our time and the infallible. We gave unfettered powers to one man. We showered him with uncritical praise and we made him a god, super hero and super human. With all that we gave to him, he made use of everything to amass more power unto to himself and oppressed and denied us space to challenge him.
It has become unorthodox to criticise him. We made him so. And for those reasons, he has stayed in power till this day when it has become almost insurmountable to replace him.
Some MDC-T supporters seem to have adopted the same template, as shown by the anger they express towards those who dare highlight the likely challenges under an MDC-T government. They think they own the opposition space. They forget that they are still outside and they need the support of the people to get into power.
Today, we face a gloomier future than ever before. The Zanu PF candidate for the 2018 Presidential elections will be 94 next year. His party is deeply divided and without a proper succession plan, chances of chaos are high. On the other hand, the MDC-T leader has not been in good health, which has seen growing calls for him to slow down on his leadership role to allow him to recover. But this does not seem likely even when 2018 is beckoning. Denialism tells their party supporters they want them like that in 2018. Whither Zimbabwe?
Due to both fear and denial none of the two main parties is prepared to shuffle their leadership cards. Or no. None of their party members have the guts and power to tell their leaders to step down because doing so would jeopardise their political careers. This is simply because we have nurtured politics of cultism where a leader is like a god and cannot be challenged. Party members do not have the powers to decide on their leadership. Their role is limited to giving more powers to that leadership.
We all want change, but not at the expense of our freedoms. This battle is not a one-man or one-party battle, but a collective one. We are in it because we bred an autocracy beyond our ability to tame it. This is not what we expect after the battle is won. As it stands, no one is entitled to lead the change agenda, so each player must enjoy their right to fight for it and to sell their ideas to the people without fear or favour. That is what democracy is about, if any exists.