HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsZim not white man’s burden

Zim not white man’s burden


We are on the edge of an epoch in Zimbabwe.


The nation could experience a new normal, so to speak, as the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) has only a matter of days to validate President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa’s win, as announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission following the just-held harmonised elections; or declare his MDC Alliance opponent Nelson Chamisa the winner; or order a rerun of the presidential poll altogether.

But like astute legal counsel, their lawyers are not playing all their cards on the table. It would be foolish to do so. That is why they have been feigning and feinting. They are trying to make the other side look thoroughly stupid and inept whereas that is far from the case. But some party zealots who are swallowing this in gulps will have no one to blame, but themselves when the outcome proves to be more nuanced, more refined, more balanced, much more accommodative than the total victory they have been made to believe is certain. In court cases, both sides stand a chance, but, as was seen during these harmonised elections, a section of supporters tend to get ahead of themselves taking victory for granted by taking each and every word spoken by their leaders as the gospel truth.

As I see it, without delving into the strengths and weaknesses of either side’s case, the ConCourt will make a decision that does not make a bad situation worse because courts themselves, while not a component of the government, are very much part of the nation State − that is, a sovereign State in which citizens are united by factors which define a nation, such as language, culture and common descent. The judges, in their conscious and subconscious minds, will take into consideration that there is only one Zimbabwe. In that vein, outsiders should not be allowed to have undue influence on the way forward. Let’s be clear that, without denying that we need a new political culture, the former colonisers should not be allowed to re-impose themselves on Africa by assigning themselves the role of the white man’s burden − the supposed duty of the white race to bring democracy to the non-white inhabitants of their former colonies. Wrote Tawanda Majoni: “For instance, Kate Hoey, the loud-mouthed British MP, who tends to mourn louder than the grieving Africans, has set her own conditions for Zimbabwe. Key among them is the removal of Constantino Chiwenga from government because she thinks he is the face of the army that is causing havoc here. She may be wrong about Chiwenga because, so far, there is no hard evidence to link him to the perceived military shenanigans, but perceptions are a reality in their own way.”

This is not to say there are no serious issues in the country. For one, the role of the military in some aspects of civilian rule needs to be reduced, but taking into consideration that this will take time because of the legacy of militarisation of the State left by former President Robert Mugabe. And it should be mentioned that Olusegun Obasanjo, a coupist, took off his military uniform to don civilian democracy attire. Of course, the journey was not straight and easy, but Nigeria got there.

Yes, we have our issues, but it is not the bounden and divine duty of Hoey types to dictate to us. We should not merely serve to affirm their assumptions about Africans, but interrogate the validity of that. Wrote Retlaw Matatu Matorwa: “It may appear quite attractive to criticise the status quo, but I refuse to do it without exercising reason. I commit to reason and express my viewpoint without prejudice.” Yes, we Africans have become our own worst enemy in stereotyping ourselves, making the job much easier for white racists.

We need to be slow and deliberate in our approach; we need to be cautious and calculated; we need to be sober and composed at this most delicate of times; we need to be measured in tone. Wrote Brighton Musonza: “The more the opposition lays siege on the military and force them into a defensive position, the more the military continues to pitch up defensive parapets on the political scene. The more you call them junta, the more you create an atmosphere of an unhealthy strained relationship. In the post-military intervention conflict, you cannot wish the military away without dialogue.” Indeed, this is not the time for wishing-away games whatever the ConCourt verdict.

We have also heard some Zimbabweans celebrating the extension of sanctions by the United States, justifying this on the grounds that they are targeted. Well, the following appeared in the June 15, 2018 issue of the Wall Street Journal, a US business-focused, English-language international daily newspaper based in New York: “After more than a decade and a half of BROAD SANCTIONS (my emphasis), Mnangagwa has pledged to stem a crippling economic crisis by inviting foreign investors and restarting aid talks with international financial institutions.”

Indeed, the sanctions are broad, not targeted, and the results are there to see for all those with open eyes, notwithstanding the rampant corruption. In fact, the sanctions, as happens everywhere, have generated an entire industry of corruption and, as usual, it is the ordinary person who bears the brunt. Shortages of everything becomes the order of the day. When demand outstrips supply to that extent, it provides fertile ground for corruption. Thus, sanctions are part of the problem, not the solution.

This has prompted Ken Kudakwashe Nyoka to observe: “In this vein, I am terribly encouraged by some great Zimbabweans who have come out to condemn the extension of sanctions on Zimbabwe by the US recently.”

Indeed, Zimbabwe is not the white man’s burden and, hopefully, the ConCourt verdict will reflect that.

lConway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: nkumbuzo@gmail.com

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  1. Perhaps we need to know why the sanctions were effected in the first place. If that is not addressed, we may waste precious time and energy waffling. Issues of human rights violations against opposition parties, including murder were cited in part under lawlessness or restoration of law & order. Lack of a comprehensive economic package – guaranteed security of private property was also cited. With no demonstrable government plan to solve the two broad issues it’s hardly surprising that the sanctions were renewed. Reading through the latest amendment of this Zidera, one is amazed at what we, Zimbabweans can do for ourselves (contained therein) to improve the quality of citizens’ lives without any other country having to tell us so. Why does the “state” media act as if they are an appendage of Zanu PF? Why do Zimbabweans have to tune in to foreign broadcasts to get opinions which the “state” media denies us. What is stopping alignment of the electoral act to the recent constitution. I find it funny that Zanu PF appears to be scared of Zimbabweans being free when in fact it claims to have fought for the same freedom. Looks like their freedom and the one demanded by civilians are different? Why? One is forced to conclude that those that lead Zanu PF are happy for Zimbabweans to remain poor (for political leverage) and oppressed. This is why most urban dwellers see no value and future in a Zanu PF government, the voting patterns prove this.

    • Sagitarr, at least you haven’t disputed that the sanctions are not targeted as claimed by the opposition, but broad, which is Tutani’s point and he has illustrated that. The private media also acts as if it is an appendage of the MDC. Zanu PF can stop or delay the alignment of the Electoral Act to the Constitution because it has a tw-thirds majority in Parliament, which two-thirds majority it derived from the majority of voters. Many urban youths are anarchic and parasitic musombodhiya-drinking lumpen elements whose directionlessness is being exploited by the MDC while their rural counterparts are making decent income from tobacco-growing etc.

  2. Sanctions or no sanctions the military regime will never resurrect any economy in Zimbabwe esp brains like Chiwenga.

  3. The past two decades have crystal-clearly revealed that sanctions do not hurt the intended targets but the collateral damage is the ordinary person. Of course, the long term intention of the sanctions is to cause civil unrest, anarchy and lawlessness which would provide a fertile ground for foreign sponsored banditry and insurgency which would culminate in regime change and the subsequent imposition of pro-Western regime that will be pandering to the caprices and whims of the Western paramour!

  4. We would rather like the west who see the killing of innocent people as a murder than ED and company who view killing innocent people as a game of chess. To be honest, Tutani you were bought and you are a ZANU PF PERSON. So far even before the court, ZEC has already admitted a “clerical error” in favour of ED to the tune of 12 000 votes. What about in court when the rigging will be exposed? The balance verdict you are writing about is nonsensical. If Chamisa proves that he got more than (50% + 1) more than ED, then he will a winner. Its about numbers nothing else period

    • CEEE, you have warped logic. Does anyone you disagree with have to be necessarily bought? And,anyway, what’s wrong with being a Zanu PF person that is not wrong with being an MDC person?

      • so you think Zanu PF is viable? Same players, same team, same own goals. To read these comments makes one understand some people are sheep. So Zanu PF retains the presidency and has 2/3 in parliament and has s USD 2.5 billion budget deficit. Sanctions or not where is this going? Nowhere fast with a government and party that has ruled for almost 40 years that is clueless in implementation of the most basic tasks

    • The same west is happy with the killing and segregation of the Palestinians by the Jews. Trump, an American declared Jerusalem the capital city of Israel who are butchering the palestinians day in day out. That shows that the ZIDERA has nothing to do with Human Rights of blacks but of whites, ie, land taken in 2000. MDC had promised to reverse that hence they still pin their hope on MDC victory which is eluding them. They think nhamo ichaita kuti vanhu vavhotere MDC zvino zviri kuramba.


    • Please provide an example of a Black run country that is successful and to which white and middle eastern people take risky boat trips to go to. A Black run country that gives instead of receive aid?

  6. The likes of Kate Hoey has their own agenda. By the way she is a labour in the UK and at some point her constituency gave her a vote of no confidence. She should help
    Jeremy Corbyn who is in trouble at the moment than poking her nose into former colony .Who is she to tell a sovereign nation who to put in gvt. Zimbabwe’s problems should be solved by Zimbabwean. Remember what they both did in 2003 labour and conservatives.Voted for the Iraq war, trying to dictate who should rule. Look now Iraq is in ruins. Don’t listen to her.

  7. Human rights abuses, militarization of government (coup), rigged elections, ConCourt defense… all these are different manifestations of the same problem: disastrous economic policies that have lead to a nation wanting to be done with the ruling party. The wise (and democratic) course would be to accept this and spend a term or two as an opposition party, while genuinely renewing (not re-painting) its leadership and policies.

    But ZANU PF being what it is, it will continue to deny reality while enveloping the nation in a familiar fog of propaganda, obfuscation and terror tactics. The only problem is that under the Mugabes’ final years of rule, they used up all their elbow room, all their room for maneuver. ZANU PF’s plane is now flying on fumes, not fuel. It is merely a matter of time…

  8. “The nine-member Constitutional Court is, they say, beholden to Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF. Records suggest that only one or two judges of the court can be relied on to deliver on the law.”

    That is the main issue. There is no Justice.

    No nation likes foreign interference but its a fact of life. Eg Russian interference in the US elections and UK Brexit vote.

    The emotive reference to the White Mans burden is simply designed to provoke prejudice and distract from the key issue at the moment which is the lack of Justice. MDC will not get a fair hearing. The electorate will have been robbed again.

    To counter this prejudice between white and black this is a quote from a US senator opposing the proposed administration of the Philipines 189 look up wikipedia on white mans burden for the detail…

    “Why are we bent on forcing upon them a civilization not suited to them, and which only means, in their view, degradation and a loss of self-respect, which is worse than the loss of life itself?”

    I think many can readily identify with such a sentement.

    • KIBRUTO, you overlook the “small matter” that the majority of Zimbabweans, who voted for Zanu PF, do not agree with you, so, if you claim to be for democracy, you should respect the voice of the majority.

  9. Bobo, the majority of voters did not necessarily vote for Zanu PF. There are 700,000 contentious votes and other irregularities to be decided by the Constitutional Court of 9 judges of which from there record only 1 might be impartial. A white wash, to excuse the pun, in favour of Zanu PF is NOT democracy. I agree one should respect the voice of the Majority which might well be MDC.
    In the UK it took 250 years before the population was fully franchised and everybody over the age of 18 was able to vote. Elsewhere it has been a much shorter period from the onset of Independence. Eg the Kenya Colony was in existence for around 40 years before Independence during which time a modern functioning state was created which the pioneer settlers were rightly proud of. My point and it was also Ian Smith’s point was that one had to attain a certain standard before qualifying to vote ie franchised electorates. Jumping straight in with one man one vote essentially ment that majority simply voted for whoever they were told to vote for by Chiefs or Political parties. Thats not democracy. Rhodesia thrived under sanctions becoming virtually self sufficient under a fully functioning and highly effective Government where the majority of urbanites were employed things which were taken for granted but no longer exist. The ANC and Zanu and many others are sustained by the traditional rural vote who largely do what they are told by the ruling party. Things are gradually changing and with a forecast doubling of the Africa population to 2 bn souls and urbanusation rising from 30% to 60% urban population explosions will more effectively hold politicians and Governments to Account…
    The following research paper from the UK parliament site is on the voting franchise I mentioned earlier.

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