Everytime I travel to and from the US, I have noticed, the flight crew will always ask those who are serving or have served in the military to board first. As they present their boarding passes to the crew, they are thanked for “being of service to our nation”.
There is something about the founding values and principles of that nation. This includes the right to protest. I am alive to the fact that America remains largely racist and there is more that needs to be done to address the plight of mostly African-Americans. Besides, the past days have demonstrated the importance of having a Constitution, founding values and military men and women and police officers willing to do what is right rather than what is expedient.
Former top military men such as Generals Colin Powell, Jim Mattis, John Allen and John Kelly criticised President Donald Trump’s actions against those protesting in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and in demand for justice for the slain George Floyd. Houston police chief, Art Acevedo, “on behalf of all police chiefs in the USA” told Trump to “Please, if you don’t have something constructive to say, keep your mouth shut”.
What is admirable is, despite police brutality against protestors, chiefs of police and military men are standing up against abuse of the Constitution by a narcissistic president whose main worry is winning the November elections and not the predicament of black citizens affected by the double bind of racism and COVID-19. While America has been the centre of attention, Zimbabwe has also been undergoing some painful political processes. But this is not new, nor unexpected. I have been thinking about the founding values of Zimbabwe, if any! I have been thinking about a caring ruling party, if ever Zanu PF has tried to pretend to be one. Zimbabwe lacks military men and women, both serving and former, who can speak truth to power and confront Zanu PF for the socio-moral-political decay currently happening. We do not have the luxury of comparing presidents because what we have been exposed to is mediocre leadership. But is it high time we became honest about the calibre of leadership and the direction the country is taking. The current Zanu PF government has crossed the line of decency and one wonders if ever civil and decent citizenry should respect the ruling party and its governing systems. The military is used in a hostile leadership wrangle of an opposition party building and not even war veterans who fought for the liberation of the country voiced concern.
Former military men and women are silent and so is the President of the country. What makes it more problematic is that in the last few years, the President has used the military for self-serving ends and he is no different from Trump in terms of selfish politics.
But again, President Emmerson Mnangagwa served under the late former President Robert Mugabe’s shadow as his water carrier for very long and was never given an opportunity to lead so much so that his unrefined presidency has been painful to endure. It is shameful and embarrassing to watch him speak and imagine him as your President. Be that as it may, if Zimbabwe has a Constitution and founding principles, surely the people with a much more solid claim to the making of the pith of the nation must stand up.
Most of us lost relatives in the liberation war and their blood cries at what is happening.
Mnangagwa has never bothered to appear to be attempting to unite Zimbabweans. If anything, he does not care. For a very long time the country has been governed on a partisan basis: both ethnic and political. Zimbabwe is probably the only country on the sub-continent where a winning President continues to be in a campaign mode from day one in office until the next elections. Besides, there is a culture of punishing those provinces and cities whose people did not vote for him.
Winning an election means serving and ensuring the safety and comfort of those who did and did not vote for you.
Failure to do this suggests that there is something morally and spiritually wrong with the settings of the country. No Zimbabwean wants to see a President or political leader, whether they voted for them or not, fail. The prosperity of the country comes first because in it everyone thrives. The brain drain affecting the country testifies to selfish lopsided priorities. Some have diagnosed the problem as stemming from a missed opportunity at independence. Soon after the war, Zimbabwe never went through a process of cleansing from the violence the country and people inherited. A few days ago, the secretary for information Ndavaningi Mangwana tweeted about corruption at a certain service station in Gweru. In the tweet, he tells us that there was a kombi at the pump, without number plates and seats, which was filling eight containers with fuel.
“Been waiting forever to get our turn,” he tweeted. “A few of these tanks will dry up before other citizens are served. Corruption is selfish.” I have never regarded Mangwana highly, as he tries to fit into the template of propaganda set around the 2000s where brazen lying and shutting of the brain hallmarked most government communication.
But it is telling for Mangwana to see what is happening in front of him as selfishness and corruption.
Zimbabwe, under Zanu PF, is a kombi without seats. For a very long time, people have had precarious livelihoods to an extent that a man buying fuel in order to sell at a Zanu PF manufactured black market system is seen as corrupt.
For a very long time, Zimbabwe has been this unregistered kombi without identity because it has no values and a constitution that is respected by those charged to do so. The only way that kombi could be with seats, carry passengers, and be registered is to have a selfless operator who is not corrupt, but not the party represented by the man parked behind him crying about selfishness and corruption. Mangwana needs to see beyond his fat cheeks.
But this is just a dream, as the Zanu PF leadership has crossed the line of shame. Morally, politically and ethically they are beyond the threshold where they are capable of realising their shameful acts and return to sanity. Zanu PF has gone too far and it is upon citizens to realise that there is no hope for them. The opposition is being dismantled on our watch.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has issued and defended as moral a statement that they are not in a position to conduct elections due to COVID-19.
Surely, soon we might be delivered into the dream that Mugabe once had for Zimbabwe, a one party state.
Unfortunately, those who fought so hard for this country are either silent, afraid or do not care.
Zimbabweans need to brace themselves for the ultimate duty of freeing themselves from the jaws of a crocodile.
Dr Shepherd Mpofu is a lecturer and media scholar. He writes in his personal capacity.
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