Zim yearns for progressive governance

President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

GOOD day, President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Your Excellency, contrary to some statements oftentimes made in jest, it is my solemn conviction that Zimbabwe yearns for progressive governance.

As I see it, the introduction of the Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) portended an eerie sense of deja vu on citizenry. Verily, only a person of dull apprehensions would be expected to embrace ZiG without further ado.

Granted, the propensity for collapse of local currencies is a perennial source of anxiety among citizenry. Consequently, the incertitude of ZiG. Essentially, the precedence of collapse of the inflation-prone local currencies, under different names, is clearly self-evident.

It conjures memories of financial losses, depredation and hardship. A sizeable number of people were stressed to death. They could not be reconciled to losses on investments like company shares, insurance and houses due to the collapse of the currency.

Your Excellency, even if ZiG were to be named after me, my confidence and trust would not at all abide in it. My passionate disapproval pleas against the said gold backed ZiG evidences my apprehensions for it.

Zimbabwe truly yearns for progressive governance.

Amid the intensity of the ZiG discourse, I took great exception to the assault on the freedom of speech by a certain government minister. He referred to citizenry who expressed misgivings on ZiG as terrorists. Methinks he ought to be reminded to mind his manners.

Your Excellency, I subscribe to the democratic tenet which holds dearly the conviction that freedom of speech is universal. It cannot be granted to some and denied to others. Even if one is a fool, they must not be denied the right to be heard on the basis of them being foolish.

His haughty deportment amounted to the denial of the freedom of speech on those who think otherwise about ZiG. His dismissive use of the derogatory word, terrorist, watered my eyes. He should mind his manners.

Methinks he invited mouthfuls of scorn and ridicule on government by his arrogance and pride. His response was indeed contemptuous. He ought to have been cognisant of his manners. Verily, Zimbabwe yearns for progressive governance.

Your Excellency, it was notably ungentlemanly, if not uncouth, for him to ride roughshod over disputants with his word usage. It was beneath the dignity of a Presidential appointee and the high public office he holds, for him to use such an inauspicious word as terrorist.

His utterances brought disrepute to government. It was unbecoming for one who is responsible for information and broadcasting to indulge in hateful speech. Given his ministerial portfolio, he ought to be jealously defending freedoms of speech and pluralism.

What stirred me about the word terrorist is the irreconcilable enmity it conjures. I reckon you know as well as I do that it is an adjective that was frequently used by the settler regime to underscore its hatred for the freedom fighters.

My expectations were that in view of his privileged standing in society, coupled with his education, he ought to have been seasoned enough to mind his manners. He has the obligation to uphold the rights of citizenry to express their views on public affairs, thereby enabling democracy to prevail.

Your Excellency, I reckon the hallmark of a functional democracy is the freedom of competing schools of thought on public affairs to be heard openly and fairly. A veritable sociologist, John Stewart Mills was plausible about pluralism.

His statement: "There is always hope when citizenry is compelled to listen to all sides of the debate.  It is when they attend only to one that errors harden into prejudices," is an apt reminder that Zimbabwe is yearning for progressive governance.

Your Excellency, democracy was described as a government by debate. It functions best when national challenges are debated without the fear of being branded terrorists. Ideally, societal challenges are not settled by coercion, but by discussion.

A law professor was once booed by a hostile audience. He fatherly retorted: "Freedom of speech is indivisible. You cannot deny it to one man and save it for others. The price of liberty, to speak the truth as each one sees it, is permitting others the same freedom to speak."

Methinks freedom of speech culminates in the attainment of the security of shared values. Yet, the haughty deportment of the minister infringed on the coexistence which is attainable by permitting others the same freedom to speak, as advocated by Mills.

Your Excellency, apparently, the use of uncivil responses goes beyond the minister. Oftentimes the Presidency is caught in a web of statements that are devoid of the civility, dignity and maturity, ordinarily unthinkable of occupants of the highest office on the land. Your threat of unleashing ruthless consequences on party rebels was subjugative.

I reckon the discourteous statement of the minister was as offish as the response you gave when you were asked if you had confidence in the performance of Kirsty Coventry after you reappointed her to Cabinet.

Even the spirit of Mbuya Nehanda, whom you erected a monument for in Harare, must have frozen on hearing your threat to cut short the lives of leaders of a secessionist party. Yet, democracy is ruled by debate, not by subjugation.

It is providential that the farewell message by the Commonwealth Assistant secretary-general, Luis Franceshi, who was head of a week-long assessment mission in November 2022 abounds with rectitude.

He implored citizenry to move together, to find each other and to close the gap of fallen friendships that divides citizenry. Verily, the country is crying out for release from the grip of what Mills described as the power of the elite.

Your Excellency, your claims of a new dispensation do not resonate with the new dawn declared by scripture: "Behold! All things are become new." Verily, Zimbabwe is yearning for progressive governance.

  • Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public-speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist.

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