HomeOpinion & AnalysisCan govt be challenged using religious, moral methods?

Can govt be challenged using religious, moral methods?

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By Brian Sedze

The degeneration of Zimbabwe is often caused by lack of heroic acts by society to protect our institutions.

Our democracy and Constitution were made within the realm of moral and religious people. It, therefore, follows that the two are inadequate for a government which may decide to be neither moral nor religious.

The question is, in such an occurrence, can the government be challenged or its systems amended using religious and moral methods?

It is possibly the same question that confronted our liberators in the 1960s on how they could cause a change when the then government had no moral and religious fibre.

Alexis des Tocqueville opined that: “Every nation that has ended in tyranny has done that by way of good order.

“It certainly does not follow from this that peoples should scorn public peace, neither should they be satisfied with that and nothing more.

“A nation that asks nothing of government, but the maintenance of order is already a slave in the depths of its heart; it is a slave of its wellbeing, ready for the man who will put it in chains.”

I speak about this because it is important to critically evaluate how we confront what fails to work in our country.

Do we use the same script and rule book to demand that correct paths be followed?

Is it not that we should evaluate alternative strategic options to remedy those that have failed since 1965?

Who is responsible for such evaluation of strategies?

What is it we can do to galvanise the nation and avoid general complacency?

I am just getting around to reading Naill Ferguson’s 2013 book The Great Degeneration, a book I bought a few years ago and packed it away among the others.

I usually read these books that are stacked on my shelf when I have time. So I finished the 180-page e-book in four-and-a-half hours.

The book is worth a morning or afternoon’s waste away. It gave me a lot of pointers to what is causing degeneration of the Zimbabwean social, economic and political fabric.

I add that it’s not everything that is degenerating in the country, but there is quite a lot that is regressing to a feudal system, a system that was fully stocked with personal privileges.

As the book was written in 2013, it is interesting to compare Ferguson’s observation of the history up to that point and then compare it to the history that has occurred in the interim, because one of the tests is how well those thoughts hold up to the passage of time.

The observations and conclusions have aged well — very well, in fact. I can find the exact time, ways and events that are causing our Zimbabwean society to degenerate in many of its aspects.

So, what causes countries to lose their way?

“In Zimbabwe it is manifesting in the anti-social behaviour like increased drug use, marriage as a financial contract, social decadence like openly-traded sex, increased inequality among tribes and political party members, growth not commensurate with 40 years of continuous economic slide, crushing debts caused by countless borrowings and assumption of debts, unemployment level that keep escalating, disenchantment with democratic and constitutional systems, unfocused youths, and many other aspects,” he writes.

I concur with Ferguson’s general belief that it’s because of these institutions that make the intricate frameworks within a society flourish or fail.

It must stick in our minds that prior to the emergence of nations based on democratic principles, societal and economic control more or less were the personal privileges of the ruling class — things they were free to do and experience were not subject to law and were largely denied the general public.

The great shift in civilisation was the shift of law and economics from a personal privilege to public rights that people had a say in how they were governed, and the conflicts were adjudicated by institutions that followed foundational principles of justice and fairness.

I thought about that for a while, and if you pay attention to what our current situation entails, it certainly seems there is a shift from public rights back to personal privilege of an elite cabal and their minions.

It is without doubt under the leadership of the late former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, government basically favoured a network of individuals within the ruling party.

Its land reform and economic empowerment forays benefited the same. Unfortunately, it also had a huge tilt to favour a sub-section of the Shona main tribe — the Zezurus: getting appointed to boards, commissions and senior management, which seemed to be all from the network.

Nothing much has changed under the second republic. It is still just a network, albeit a new one.

Our all-weather friends from the East have conveniently joined the mix with increased verve, with little or no respect for tribes, environment, labour laws, bank use and promotion of local consumption and export regulations.

This degeneration is the perpetuation of pre-democratic Zimbabwe which was based on personal privilege of just one class of citizens.

Nothing much has changed in terms of respect of people’s ancestral land, crony capitalism, and information asymmetry. The new crop is now monopolising tenders, concessions, government projects, board appointments and possibly control of the Judiciary.

I think that is often reflected in the legal system as a bifurcated system, where some animals are more equal under the law than others.

The failures we are experiencing are not so much social, cultural or economic, they are due to the failure of the institutions that were designed to prevent and/or avoid the creation of the very environment their destruction has led to.

We are living in an era of negligence and complacency, where no one in charge really wants to know what the real problems are, or even arrest the degeneration of civilisation.

Progress will take heroic civic action, bold leadership and radical reform.

Unfortunately, political leaders across the divide, civic society movers and academics have failed to find alternative strategies because they only speak a language which only their peers understand.

he degeneration of Zimbabwe is often caused by lack of heroic acts by society to protect our institutions.

Our democracy and Constitution were made within the realm of moral and religious people. It, therefore, follows that the two are inadequate for a government which may decide to be neither moral nor religious.

The question is, in such an occurrence, can the government be challenged or its systems amended using religious and moral methods?

It is possibly the same question that confronted our liberators in the 1960s on how they could cause a change when the then government had no moral and religious fibre.

Alexis des Tocqueville opined that: “Every nation that has ended in tyranny has done that by way of good order.

“It certainly does not follow from this that peoples should scorn public peace, neither should they be satisfied with that and nothing more.

“A nation that asks nothing of government, but the maintenance of order is already a slave in the depths of its heart; it is a slave of its wellbeing, ready for the man who will put it in chains.”

I speak about this because it is important to critically evaluate how we confront what fails to work in our country.

Do we use the same script and rule book to demand that correct paths be followed?

Is it not that we should evaluate alternative strategic options to remedy those that have failed since 1965?

Who is responsible for such evaluation of strategies?

What is it we can do to galvanise the nation and avoid general complacency?

I am just getting around to reading Naill Ferguson’s 2013 book The Great Degeneration, a book I bought a few years ago and packed it away among the others.

I usually read these books that are stacked on my shelf when I have time. So I finished the 180-page e-book in four-and-a-half hours.

The book is worth a morning or afternoon’s waste away. It gave me a lot of pointers to what is causing degeneration of the Zimbabwean social, economic and political fabric.

I add that it’s not everything that is degenerating in the country, but there is quite a lot that is regressing to a feudal system, a system that was fully stocked with personal privileges.

As the book was written in 2013, it is interesting to compare Ferguson’s observation of the history up to that point and then compare it to the history that has occurred in the interim, because one of the tests is how well those thoughts hold up to the passage of time.

The observations and conclusions have aged well — very well, in fact. I can find the exact time, ways and events that are causing our Zimbabwean society to degenerate in many of its aspects.

So, what causes countries to lose their way?

“In Zimbabwe it is manifesting in the anti-social behaviour like increased drug use, marriage as a financial contract, social decadence like openly-traded sex, increased inequality among tribes and political party members, growth not commensurate with 40 years of continuous economic slide, crushing debts caused by countless borrowings and assumption of debts, unemployment level that keep escalating, disenchantment with democratic and constitutional systems, unfocused youths, and many other aspects,” he writes.

I concur with Ferguson’s general belief that it’s because of these institutions that make the intricate frameworks within a society flourish or fail.

It must stick in our minds that prior to the emergence of nations based on democratic principles, societal and economic control more or less were the personal privileges of the ruling class — things they were free to do and experience were not subject to law and were largely denied the general public.

The great shift in civilisation was the shift of law and economics from a personal privilege to public rights that people had a say in how they were governed, and the conflicts were adjudicated by institutions that followed foundational principles of justice and fairness.

I thought about that for a while, and if you pay attention to what our current situation entails, it certainly seems there is a shift from public rights back to personal privilege of an elite cabal and their minions.

It is without doubt under the leadership of the late former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, government basically favoured a network of individuals within the ruling party.

Its land reform and economic empowerment forays benefited the same. Unfortunately, it also had a huge tilt to favour a sub-section of the Shona main tribe — the Zezurus: getting appointed to boards, commissions and senior management, which seemed to be all from the network.

Nothing much has changed under the second republic. It is still just a network, albeit a new one.

Our all-weather friends from the East have conveniently joined the mix with increased verve, with little or no respect for tribes, environment, labour laws, bank use and promotion of local consumption and export regulations.

This degeneration is the perpetuation of pre-democratic Zimbabwe which was based on personal privilege of just one class of citizens.

Nothing much has changed in terms of respect of people’s ancestral land, crony capitalism, and information asymmetry. The new crop is now monopolising tenders, concessions, government projects, board appointments and possibly control of the Judiciary.

I think that is often reflected in the legal system as a bifurcated system, where some animals are more equal under the law than others.

The failures we are experiencing are not so much social, cultural or economic, they are due to the failure of the institutions that were designed to prevent and/or avoid the creation of the very environment their destruction has led to.

We are living in an era of negligence and complacency, where no one in charge really wants to know what the real problems are, or even arrest the degeneration of civilisation.

Progress will take heroic civic action, bold leadership and radical reform.

Unfortunately, political leaders across the divide, civic society movers and academics have failed to find alternative strategies because they only speak a language which only their peers understand.

The common man is alien to leaders’ concepts, ideas and language. Progress can only take place when everyone is involved in concerted efforts to do the right thing through the promotion of robust institutions.

  • Brian Sedze is a strategy consultant and acting president of Free Enterprise Initiative, an advocacy initiative in public policy. He can be contacted on brian.sedze@gmail.com

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