Imperative for Zim to turn a new page

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BY Cyprian M Ndawana
DEAR President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Your Excellency, one leader who had the moral authority to call his government a new dispensation was Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia. He apologised to the Aborigins for maltreatment.

His predecessor, John Howard, had reservations about apologising. Activists claimed that the consequences of the placement of Aboriginal children in institutions had adverse effects on the children concerned, and their families.

He was nervy that a plea would open floodgates for litigation, resulting in compensation. Also, he believed that the current generation was not obligated to account for the actions of departed generations.

Consequently, Howard did not apologise throughout his tenure. Conversely, Rudd held that it was imperative for the nation  to close the chapter of the first century of settled history for it to open a new one.

Despite the dread of his predecessor, Rudd resolved to bring to closure the dark chapter he referred to as the “unfinished business of the nation”. Rightly so, he took a swipe at past administrations for their deafening silence over the maltreatment.

He apologised immediately after taking oath. “For the pain, suffering and hurt, we say sorry … for the indignity and degradation,  we say sorry.”

Methinks Gukurahundi is unfinished business for Zimbabwe. Apparently, the late former President Robert Mugabe displayed  a stony, stubborn and deafening silence over the atrocities when he refused to release the commission of enquiry report on the mass murders.

It would have been heartening had he emulated Rudd whose candour resonated worldwide. His apology was instantly put to good use in Canada. Sadly, the closure of Gukurahundi is still moons away due to fear of the unknown.

Hence, it is my earnest submission that it did not take long for citizenry to rue paying cursory attention to political events of November 2017. It was a month during which herd instinct prevailed over rationality.

As the events played out, strangely, even the intelligent could not exercise their mind amid the desire to be part of the process viewed as history in the making.

The prospect of seeing the strongman, Mugabe, deposed had intoxicating effects, like Christmas having come unexpectedly. It had a distinct duende like the chalice. King and commoner watched with bountiful festivity.

Although his deposal was not effected in strict observance of democratic principles, it was nonetheless welcomed as a relief. His marathon rule had come to an abrupt end, much to the relief of all shades of political fabric.

The military-aided dethronement of Mugabe was cause for celebration. It wrought the spirit of oneness, similar to that at the Day of Pentecost. It was too spellbinding for anyone to step back and pose for thought.

It was not time for serious thought about the effect of the artillery that was paraded in the heart of Harare. Even ones who relish rumination went with the tide.

A convergence of political, ethical and religious persuasions spontaneously thronged the Harare central business district. Many stood side-by-side with the men in uniform.  Many more smiled, shook hands with them and took selfies posing as they leaned against heavy ordnance.

It was a mission with a difference for the men in boots. Never before had they been affable out on the streets, mixing and mingling with citizenry. It was a departure from the norm where they only came out to quell demonstrations, especially those involving the opposition.

Notable in the crowd was the late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the doyen of opposition. He was in the company of members of his inner circle. Also, some civil society stalwarts came in their numbers. Yet, none was sufficiently intuitive to fathom the role of the military.

Your Excellency, if anyone had discerned that the Mugabe deposal was akin to slouching, they could have been called names. Because, a reptile discards its old skin, not its essence. Little wonder, with him gone, it did not take long for the noose to be tightened around the neck of the opposition.

This event was a culmination of the intra-party rivalry that was rocking the ruling Zanu PF party. The tempestuous Mugabe had recently fired all, but one party provincial godfather. Fast forward to November 6, he had winnowed you  out of the party and government, accusing you of lack of probity.

Your Excellency, it speaks clearly of the tumultuous politics in Zanu PF that you took a hasty flight to safety in the neighbouring country.

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  • Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public speaking coach and motivational speaker