Zimbabwe: ZANU(PF)’s Danse Macabre
The very conditions demanded by the Patriotic Front from Ian Smith, must be the same conditions we insist on today for free and fair elections.
It is incontrovertible that, when leadership ceases to be responsive to the needs and aspirations of its followers, the followers will rebel and choose those leaders whom they believe are most likely to represent their interests. The art of leadership, I think, is the ability to anticipate and understand the shifting trends, opinions and aspirations of its followers and then act in time, to meet those needs, otherwise, the leader will be rendered irrelevant.
Reading about the history Zimbabwe’s armed struggle has educated me, that the demise of leaders such as Chikerema, Sithole and Muzorewa and others, was solely because they failed to understand the needs and aspirations of those that they purported to lead, especially those that were in the frontline fighting the war. It was therefore inevitable, that there fate was sealed, not by their detractors or enemies, but by themselves refusing to accept the new realities on the ground.
The rise of Mugabe was therefore, based on him understanding that those in the bush were the primary actors during the war, and needed leaders who were not only responsive to their needs at that time, but leaders understood the objectives and dynamics of the armed struggle. Mugabe was deployed to Mozambique and rose to the occasion and, as they say, the rest is history.
After independence, by criminalizing open dialogue, criticism, freedom to associate and stifling the potential of the people including black entrepreneurs who were dispossessed and hounded in droves, ZANU (PF) has demonstrated its fear of change and disregard of the needs and aspirations of progressive post struggle Zimbabweans.
It has inadvertently starved itself of new skills, new ideas and the understanding of emerging trends locally and worldwide. These are critical for it to continue to be an effective and respected organization but each day they continue to demonstrate their belief that Zimbabwe is a “village”.
Inevitably, that vacuum left, has then been crammed by informers, spies, opportunists and charlatans, who manufacture and manipulate the information they feed to ZANU (PF)’s leadership, so that they could gain favor and advantage. That has slowly made ZANU (PF) oblivious to reality, arrogant, unresponsive and its leadership too distant from those that it seeks to lead.
The character, nature and aspirations of the Zimbabwean have changed significantly over time and yet, the political leadership has remained in a cocoon of yesterday’s assumptions and accomplishments. Oliver Mutukudzi continues to aptly warn us that: “Kare haagare ari kare, nhasi haarambe ari nhasi. Kungo nyura remangwana rine zvaro” (the past is not static nor is today, as soon as it the sun sets tomorrow has its own troubles)
We Zimbabweans must no longer accept leaders who use violence and intimidation to achieve their selfish objectives. We are tired of the lack of free enterprise because we must first pay homage to politicians to gain favors. We are tired of a leadership which refuses to take responsibility for the circumstances that it has created. We are indeed tired of the brand ZANU (PF) because of what it stands for and its failure to see that the student is now ready.
We now desire a new Zimbabwe based on liberty, and a government that is there to facilitate personal growth and achievement of all Zimbabweans and not a government that prescribes, controls, cheats, connives and steals from us.
You see; this inability by ZANU (PF) to understand who the Zimbabwean has become and what he or she desires, will be the demise of ZANU (PF) and any political party, for that matter, that becomes too comfortable and intoxicated with political power. (Of course this too applies to the MDC).
The myth that Zimbabwe’s history must imprison our future on whom or what we can become must quickly be put in the rubbish bin where it belongs.
As JF Kennedy once remarked;
“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”
The time has now come for fresh thinking and new frontiers of freedom to become a new reality in a new Zimbabwe. From our history, we can see that this is never an easy task, but we all must draw lessons from it. Those that stifle and control their followers, eventually lose those followers.
It is quite ironic, that ZANU (PF) is denying Zimbabweans the very conditions that they insisted on, when they sought to get into power as the Patriotic Front. They refused to participate in elections where Ian Smith controlled the media, the judiciary, the army and the police. They insisted on the UN to control the elections, and demanded the right to freely travel all over the country to campaign and tell their story without restrictions or having to get authority from Smith’s police. They demanded that their political prisoners and leaders be released as a condition for participating in any democratic transition.
We the people of Zimbabwe must therefore demand the very same conditions that the Patriotic Front deemed not negotiable for free and fair elections in the then Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Elections in Zimbabwe can never be free and fair where one side controls the media, the judiciary, the army and the police.
Like Ian Smith, ZANU (PF) is denying the inevitable and doing all they can to stall the process to try and influence outcomes. It is indeed a futile Danse Macabre that they have chosen. It didn’t work then, it will not work now.
The resemblance of what is happening in Zimbabwe today and what happened during the transition to majority rule in the late 70’s is quite intriguing.
In my opinion, the very conditions demanded by the Patriotic Front from Ian Smith, must be the same conditions we insist on today.
As it was, so shall it be.
Vince Musewe is an independent economist in Harare. You cam contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org