guest column:Learnmore Zuze

THE road was long enough as it stood, but the stretch is getting longer by the passage of every minute. The incontrovertible truth is that Zimbabwe will not be achieving any economic or political stability anytime soon. When the now late former President Robert Mugabe met his degrading exit from power, national hope was astoundingly higher.

At the time his resignation was confirmed, there was pandemonium and virtually every speaker and car radio reverberated with the near-anthem song Kutonga Kwaro in the euphoric anticipation of a new era.

Mugabe had alienated Zimbabwe from the rest of the world. Zimbabwe ceased to be recognised as belonging to the family of nations about two decades earlier. Mugabe would gleefully lampoon other world leaders and made Zimbabwe his personal property as encapsulated by the infamous “so, Blair keep your England and let me keep my Zimbabwe,” rant.

As the clock ticked further and Mugabe continued with his old ways of crushing dissent and ridiculing other world leaders, something happened to Zimbabweans. They had been fed on a perennial ZBC diet that all the anguish being endured in Zimbabwe then, was a culmination of incessant calls by Morgan Tsvangirayi’s MDC for Western powers, particularly Britain and the United States to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe. But, as time marched on, Zimbabweans began to see the true face behind their suffering. From the missing $15 billion diamond revenue to the gigantic malfeasance in parastatals, Zimbabweans steadily began to see through the lie of sanctions causing havoc in Zimbabwe.

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Now, to add to the milking dry of the State coffers by the Mugabe-led government was the heavy handedness of State apparatus against perceived government critics. The culture of abductions went on unbridled. The disappearance of Itai Dzamara will forever remain an egg on the gone Mugabe government. The torture of opposition activists and police brutality that was synonymous with his rule was to further make Zimbabwe an unofficial pariah State.

What was worse was that Mugabe never cared an inch over the repercussions of his continued skirmishes with the European Union and US. The man continued to see and blame sanctions, but could not see how his conduct was a purveyor for sanctions. Everyone else was wrong except himself. It didn’t make things any better; the isolation by the international community became worse. The scorn on Zimbabwe became more pronounced and right up to his dethronement, Mugabe had made Zimbabwe a nation cut off from the rest.

It was for this reason that Mugabe’s departure from power temporarily suspended enmity among political groups. Zimbabwe had found its feet again, or so we thought. The coming into power of his ex-deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa ushered hope for Zimbabwe; here was the man who would build bridges and lead the road to international acceptance, so we thought.

There was no doubt at all that Zimbabwe needed an urgent return to the family of nations after decades of being quarantined by other countries. Among a cocktail of things that had to transform sooner than later was political tolerance. The thing with political tolerance is that, unlike economics, there isn’t much that is required but respect and adherence to constitutionalism.

In particular, respect for freedoms provided for in the Constitution and an appreciation that we can’t all think alike. No one hoped to see the army or the police chasing defenceless citizens armed with rifles. The world never envisaged a situation where abductions and rare crimes like treason would continue in a democratic nation.

But alas, we were all wrong. The road to international acceptance for Zimbabwe just got longer. It crushes hope, it crushes the spirit and it deflates to the core.

The current government is not making things any better. Like I said before, it doesn’t require foreign aid or capital injection for a government to uphold the rule of law. It doesn’t call for millions for a government to tolerate dissent. It is exactly here that the road to recovery is still miles away. The images seen of police brutalising women, elderly citizens and passersby as MDC leader Nelson Chamisa sought to address his supporters is living testament that Zimbabwe won’t be considered a state with respect of the rule of law any time soon. The violence perpetrated upon these unarmed citizens is a classic example of “legal” violence. No person has a right to batter another as we saw, but these were men on a State-sponsored mission of bludgeoning bona fide citizens of a country.

The irony of it all is the continued clamour for re-engagement. The government continues in its efforts to make itself deserving of a seat at the family of nations table. To the contrary, the truth is that no sane country would re-engage a government that unleashes terror on its own citizens. It’s a sheer waste of time and resources. The call of sanctions is quite misplaced.

The sanctions mantra that we continue to be fed on through State media is way off the mark. The real sanctions consist in political repression, corruption and looting of the national fiscus. Zimbabwe desperately needs a new way of looking at things. The path to recovery is still a pipe dream.