Investigations by the commission of inquiry established to look into the post-election violence on August 1 continued with hearings from various individuals, including senior government officials.
develop me: Tapiwa Gomo
While the composition of the commission raised eyebrows, what matters now is not just the outcome, but the revelations coming out of the presentations by various witnesses.
Whatever the findings will reveal, there is no doubt that the hearings are a characteristic of the polarisation that dominantly permeates our politics.
Our ability to unite as a nation is both vitiated and as far apart as the north and south poles.
That level of polarisation threatens to diminish the validity of the findings, as some of the presentations had a clear position devoid of objectivity.
What is also emerging is how power has institutionalised stratification system by allocating roles. There is one group that holds power.
This group has the authority to control everything else apart from developing the country. It is by its nature self-centred and will do anything to maintain power.
It has been involved in a longstanding battle with another group — which is largely the majority of the masses that is oppressed by power and is trying to liberate itself from that oppression relentlessly and yet unsuccessful. This group will support anything that opposes power.
There is a third group that is similarly starved by power, but works for the same power. It worships and fears the same power.
This is the group that is supposed to stand trial in the court of the commission of inquiry.
The only reason they are standing in the witness box, instead of the dock for the accused, is simply because they take orders from the corridors of power.
Absolute power authors the play, creates the theatre, allocates roles to the cast and determines the course of the story.
What makes this group and its power lose their sense of humanity? Lives were lost and people were injured and yet this catastrophic situation is treated with no sense of remorse.
This is clear evidence that power can corrupt the mind. The level of obedience to power is such that this group has come to view itself as a tool for conducting the wishes of power.
Parochial obedience tends to rob people of their power, transfer it from those following instructions to those giving them.
The danger is that, for a group that is constitutionally established to safeguard the interests of the nation, such absolute obedience reduces the status of the group’s autonomy and neutrality to that of a machine, where instructions are taken at face value without thought or reflection.
When such a relationship of subordination is deeply entrenched, the unquestionable implementation of orders appear to be neutral acts even when lives of the masses are at risk.
Hannah Arendt, a German philosopher and political theorist, is popularly quoted stating that “the sad truth of the matter is that most evil is done by people who never made up their minds to be or do either evil or good.”
Considering that this is happening among the same people, it simply means we have become our own enemy.
The rewards that come about after implementing orders will not precede the wider goal of the national development agenda, which the masses seek.
The worst crimes that have befallen humanity and resulted in the suffering or death of the masses were made possible by similar mechanisms of absolute control that induces total obedience on a mass scale.
What we saw last week playing out in the hearings was nothing, but a diversion by focusing on narrow technical aspects of the case with the goal to debauch the broader consequences of what transpired on August 1.
At the heart of the relationship between authority and the people is the imbalance of power expressed as a division of labour between setting goals and working to bring them about.
Deploying authority to compel is one of the many ways of exerting control. Authority can be channelled towards any goal — development, destruction, dictatorship or democracy.
The state of any nation’s development or lack of is a reflection of its leadership’s priorities.
And what is worrisome in our case is that the current political structure is too self-centered to lead an effective national development agenda.
Deconstructing this matrix of power must be the baseline of the agenda for freedom.
The people must bear in mind that elections may never be the tool to achieve change.
They must be aware that what will make them free is not the power to choose on election day, but the power to turn their choices into expressions of their values, their lives into testament to their visions.
They must be reminded that they can only broaden their freedom when they transform the power to choose into the power to decide and to create, when they establish what matters to them and dedicate their energy towards achieving them.
That is the beginning of freedom and development.
Tapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa