Dealing with Zimbabwe's fault lines

Dealing with Zimbabwe's fault lines
Published: 20 November 2017 (165 Views)
Recent army action in Zimbabwe, whatever name one chooses to call it, has no doubt awakened and reinvigorated the nation in a way no other event has in a very long time.

There is no doubt that the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe has not been normal in a very long time. The pseudo democracy in the country has been far from adequate to address the country's dire problems. For many years, the ruling Zanu(PF) party has been too obsessed with vesting power and control in a single individual, much to the detriment of the country. Opposition parties have tried to fight the system over the years, even winning some elections in the process, but there was neither an intention nor a political will for a fair contest from the ruling party. To make matters worse, the so called peer review systems of SADC and the AU have tended to be only ineffective old boys clubs, capable of no punitive or effective actions.

Zimbabwe has been a ticking time bomb for almost two decades and, in that period, SADC actions have merely been a futile exercise of papering over the cracks and several opportunities to address the situation have been missed. South Africa's policy of quiet diplomacy was a disaster of monumental proportions for which South Africa should be ashamed. All this policy did was to extend the political life of a dictator, albeit via a life support system, one wonders what the actual intent and motive for this was?

Much as the military intervention (or coup) in Zimbabwe's political affairs may be commendable to many, coming as some much needed change, some might ask the question, why now?. Could this action be motivated by the national interest or self-interest and preservation? The political and economic crisis has prevailed for so long and yet the army has taken no action, in fact, it has been complicit in maintaining the status quo!

One hopes that the army action will result in democracy, political and economic stability in the shortest possible period and bring to an end the people's suffering, bearing in mind that stability is a critical component of development.
An urgent, all-inclusive national dialogue needs to take place on the way forward. A multi-party interim government needs to be formed for the shortest possible period, a period long enough only to effect electoral reforms, level the playing fields and organize democratic elections.

Once a new dispensation is in place, Zimbabweans need to stay vigilant for generations to come, to ensure that the grave mistakes of the Mugabe era are not repeated. Citizens need to be active rather than passive participants in a democracy in order to jealously guard their constitutionally entrenched freedoms. Never again should such negligence and dereliction of duty be allowed to prevail.

In order to move on, Zimbabwe needs to deal with a few ghosts from the tragic past. Whether people want to admit it or not, there are serious ethnic divisions in Zimbabwe, particularly between the main Ndebele and Shona tribes, dating back to the pre-colonial Munhumutapa and Lobengula kingdoms. These need to be addressed in the interest of nation building. Zimbabwe needs leadership that is genuine, committed, focused, resolute and unwavering in prioritizing national objectives. As a nation, the country needs to undertake some serious introspection about the liberation struggle and decide on the causes of the split in the national liberation movement and whether this was not a missed opportunity at creating and cementing genuine and lasting national unity and identity. The liberation struggle was itself a unique unifying factor and national cause.

An important lesson for Zimbabwe to learn from South Africa in this respect is the way the apartheid system united the various ethnic groups against a common enemy. This unity is demonstrated by the way South Africans are easily multi-lingual across many local languages, yet many Zimbabweans will not even acknowledge a greeting in one or the other of two main languages despite the languages being widely broadcast in national media. This is an indication of a deeply rooted problem compared to the South African miracle of the rainbow nation built from the ashes of racial segregation and spanning eleven official languages. This, of course, is not to suggest that the current South Africa is perfect.
Post-independence Zimbabwe has some very serious challenges to deal with. They include tribalism, political atrocities and economic exclusions, such as Operation Murambatsvina and Gukurahundi before it. These events created deep scars, hatred and divisions which require healing and national reconciliation, much like South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Any attempt to move on without a reconciliation exercise will only be a futile exercise, and yet another missed opportunity. The Zimbabwean nation has some very serious fault lines, which, if not repaired, will only lead to disasters of catastrophic proportions in future generations.

The next and natural developmental objective is the re-weaving of Africa's “Bread Basket” which Zimbabwe was once referred to as. Fortunately the country is endowed with natural resources and basic infrastructure to kick-start the process. All that is required is the political will and determination as well as financial capital. A partnership needs to be forged between Zimbabweans as the heirs of the natural resources, the owners of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as well as investments owned by Zimbabweans in the diaspora in order to create productive capacity that will add value to raw materials, create employment and increase the tax base for the economy. Zimbabwe's wide resource base allows for diversification of the economy in order to reduce the after-shocks of commodity price slumps and economic recessions.

Finally, Zimbabwe's new dispensation will be meaningless unless it creates room for both prosperity and posterity. The new leadership will have failed unless it creates a legacy and heritage for future generations to be proud of. Leadership should be visionary and create long term plans to sustain the economy into the foreseeable future. Never again should any political and economic mistakes of the past be repeated.

With the abovementioned considerations in mind, one can only hope and pray for the recent army action in Zimbabwe to result in profound and life changing lessons for Zimbabweans, Africans in particular and the world in general. Never again should humanity endure such immense suffering, degradation and disenfranchisement under the feeble political guise of non-interference in the sovereign affairs of independent nations!!!

Lawrence Fengu
Independent Business Consultant
Johannesburg, South Africa

- news24

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