NO country that has made it has done so by ignoring the harsh truths before it. If it’s weaknesses, these countries have looked at these and fixed them to be stronger; if it’s disunity, they have addressed this until the people had a sense of identity and oneness. Zimbabwe is no exception, we have a lot of rot in different places, until this is removed and fixed, we will not go far.
The violence in protests
The law, in accordance with section 59 of our Zimbabwean Constitution, guarantees the freedom to peaceful protest, however, this provision clearly states that the protest must be peaceful. Violent protests are not a right, neither are they legal. Recently Zimbabwe’s foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo was involved in a minor, yet still unlawful attack during his visit to the United Kingdom. The perpetrators were some Zimbabweans based in the United Kingdom, and the UK embassy in Harare released a statement that they were in touch with the relevant authorities in the UK and in Zimbabwe relating to this issue. The consequence of such behaviour is, among other things, a possible deportation back to Zimbabwe of the individuals who orchestrated the attack.
Violence has always been the weakness of many protests within Zimbabwe, not negating the fact that the force used by security personnel has not always been proportionate either as they tried to stop the unrests. Some of which has resulted in deaths. To date, this has not been properly dealt with. The Zimbabweans who were demonstrating against the Foreign Affairs Minister could have done so peacefully and there would not have been any problems, however and sadly, they chose to be violent and this obviously cannot be overlooked by authorities from either the United Kingdom or Zimbabwe.
Legislators or opportunists?
Zimbabwe is awash with leaders who get into the different positions of leadership, be it in the private or public sector, for their own benefit more than for the people they are meant to serve. In our public sector, we find that many officials are involved in corruption, nepotism and are contributing to the destruction of the nation and its institutions instead of strengthening these institutions and building the nation. Some chiefs have in recent times proven this to be true by defying court orders telling them not to be partisan as required by the Constitution.
They have, however, defied the courts because they want to clearly show their alignment to the side where their bread is buttered. We have had our war veterans as well making numerous demands on the basis that they “fought for this country”. In all this they have not shown their concern for the nation, but for themselves. Last but, definitely not least, we have a house of legislators who have not been actively engaging in their legislative duties in Parliament, yet they continue to make demands for luxurious things. Norton legislator, Temba Mliswa recently made demands for the following:
- MPs should have Toyota Landcruiser V8
- MPs should have houses in Harare so they can bring their families
- MPs should have staff members, 10 each perhaps
- MPs should have a salary, $13 000.
Such demands, especially from those we consider to be in the opposition remind us of a statement which was made by Alliance for the People’s Agenda president Nkosana Moyo, which he was ridiculed for by some when he said: “…Zimbabweans have not suffered enough yet. Citizens are not fighting the system to change it. They are fighting to be included in the system.” When we have individuals who are supposed to be keeping the government of the day accountable making such demands, it begs the question: “Who are they trying to benefit by this? The nation or themselves?”
Zimbabwe needs three main pillars fixed as a matter of urgency, and this task rests with the President and government. The first pillar, the economy, some strides to fix it have been positively made, however these are constantly undermined by corruption. The reason why many still lack confidence in the new dispensation and their will to fix things is because communication has been one way in terms of how things are being done. The dissemination of Information has been extremely poor from the side of the government, and in the situations the information has been disseminated they have failed to explain this information for all to understand it. This has provided so much room for speculations and misinformation as well. The next thing the incumbent needs to understand is that foreign direct investment (FDI) will not just flow into the country no matter how many trips his team make to different countries until they have demonstrated their ability to respect the rule of law, to guarantee people’s investments, to have a stable economy, to respect property rights and also to effectively deal with corruption. Until these and other fundamentals are met, FDI remains wishful thinking.
The second pillar is political, without engaging and having every Zimbabwean represented well, then every other event termed to be National may fail to achieve its intended purpose. One example is the dialogue of all political parties, which I have noted in the past that unless the MDC is involved it will not achieve much, while at the same time the MDC needs to stop snubbing the talks and actually attend and offer alternative solutions to the different problems we are facing. Politicking should stop and the main opposition should come to terms with the fact that election season is over. It’s time to build the nation, to keep the incumbent in check and accountable, and this can only be achieved by working together and putting aside our political ideologies and placing the country first.
The issue of “illegitimacy”, which has been raised time and time again is now a non-event, especially given that a higher court made a final ruling on this issue.
The last pillar is social. Zimbabweans are demotivated, discouraged and polarised. There are many sensitive issues that have resulted in the broken social fabric we currently have; gender and tribal issues being some of the main ones. A united collective leadership will go a long way in uniting the masses for the benefit of the nation. One of the members of the Presidential Advisory Council, Shingi Munyeza once shared on his Twitter handle that Advocate Nelson Chamisa and President Emmerson Mnangagwa need to just have tea together without any talk on politics. As simple as such a gesture may appear to be, it would have a positive effect on how the people relate to each other regardless of the political party they support and their backgrounds.
Zimbabwe can indeed rise, but first the leadership in place must show the political will needed and make the necessary decisions to remove the rot and promote competency and pure patriotism … otherwise we might be stuck in this situation for a very long time to come.
Thabani Mnyama is an academic with special interests in international, constitutional and human rights law, diplomacy and public policy. He writes in his own capacity on politics, policies and law. He is an analyst, policy advisor, director and co-founder of VIOCAP Trust, a non-governmental organisation aimed at eradicating political violence and the violence of politics. You can reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @advocatemnyama