Zim bigger than all of us

Zimbabweans no longer have a common understanding as to what can develop Zimbabwe because of political polarisation that is just toxic.

ZIMBABWE, as a State, is bigger than all of us.

By definition a State is characterised by four things: A permanent population, defined territory, sovereignty and government. These traits of a State give it legitimacy in terms of the international law. The State is bigger than the government because a government comes and goes through electoral cycles. The population of a State gives it an identity through common values, norms, beliefs, practices, ideas, ideals, aspirations and goals. The sovereignty of the State is the political independence of a State as inspired by the Westphalian thinking of 1648.

What makes a State standout is the singleness of purpose and fixity of focus on cherished success goals by its citizens (population). This writer thinks that the singleness of purpose and fixity of focus by Zimbabweans in building Zimbabwe are blurred because of pernicious polarisation between and among personalities, State managers, oppositional forces, religious groups, civil society groups, trade unions, organisations of people with disabilities, institutions and businesses, among others. The bigger picture of building Zimbabwe has been lost to the consciousness of the population of Zimbabwe. This opinion piece intends to talk about how Zimbabweans have lost the bigger picture.

Zimbabwe at the moment is like Alice in Wonderland. When Alice was in Wonderland she could not distinguish left from right, down from up, west from east and south from north. Alice experienced cognitive dissonance; she could not tell when and where the rains had beat her.

Zimbabwe has been torn apart by a gamut of factors, ranging from structural constraints to hedonism as demonstrated by the conspicuous consumption that is flaunted by a handful of people who can manipulate the structural constraints to their advantage. There is a sharp division in the media institutions; there are also divisions along political parties and these divisions have spilled into churches, organisations of people with disabilities, trade unions, student unions, security sectors, commissions, churches and businesses.

Zimbabweans no longer have a common understanding as to what can develop Zimbabwe because of political polarisation that is just toxic. When Zimbabweans engage, their individualities fail to resonate with common sense; common sense for the majority of Zimbabweans has become as scarce as the teeth of a hen because they have lost the bigger picture of rallying around their flag, rather they rally behind personalities associated with political parties.

The danger of identifying with personalities at the cost of value systems and principles that can take Zimbabwe to Vision 2030 is that personalities come and go, but Zimbabwe will always be there. Zimbabweans should understand that political, social and economic circumstances change and that State managers come and go but what remains for continuity purposes are value systems and principles that should be identified with by all citizens for the growth and development of the State.

Values of transparency, team work, horizontal and vertical communication, respect, equality, social justice, tolerance of diversity, accountability and humanity will build Zimbabwe, not personalities. Zimbabweans have lost the spirit of engaging in good faith because of polarisation, any alternative thinking is defined and labelled as either identifying with the ruling party or with oppositional politics.

The polarisation has become so infectious to the extent of affecting institutions like the justice system, commissions, churches, media houses, organisations of people with disabilities and businesses. No one at the moment in Zimbabwe is himself or herself, everyone is either a spirit medium of the ruling party, triple C, the West, the East or G40.

Zimbabwe will be very hard to develop when we approach national issues from a binary perspective, the binary perspective complicates interaction, takes away confidence of the potential donor, builds both horizontal and vertical trust deficits, antagonises citizens, creates opportunities for our opportunists to take advantage of our lacunae and retards development.

No one is bigger than Zimbabwe, to believe that there are personalities that are bigger than Zimbabwe is akin to the donkey that led Jesus into Jerusalem that erroneously held that the joyousness of those waiting for Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was linked to it. It is human tendency to run fast when lost, Zimbabweans should sit back and reflect on the bigger picture, which is Zimbabwe, not personalities.

Zimbabweans should engage with positive reciprocity and should not lose sight of the fact that while citizens are responsible for developing their own country (Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo), they can also destroy their own country when they defocus by seeing personalities as being bigger than Zimbabwe. Politicians from either political divide should stop dividing citizens by hate speech, selective application of the law and discrimination of citizens by religion, region and ethnicity.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe is clear on the fact that institutions which have been put in place are there to promote democracy, as such the police, the Judiciary system and the commissions (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Zimbabwe Gender Commission, National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, Zimbabwe Media Commission, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, among others) and civil society groups should carry themselves responsibly and as such should resemble bathroom scales when they discharge their duties.

Zimbabwe is beautiful and belongs to all of us, let us, therefore, guard it jealously by ensuring that we promote co-creation, co-production and co-decision-making.

  • Nicholas Aribino writes here in his own capacity

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