The life of a man is three score and ten, a mere 70 years in which he can bestow a multi-generational legacy on the fortunes of a nation. If for good, man is a wonderful asset but if for bad the choice of leader is an extremely important decision to make. The mess that a tyrannical and inept leadership leaves behind affects a country negatively in many devastating ways.
First, there is the pain of being brutalised by one’s own which is far more painful than the suffering endured in fighting a settler regime. There is honour in waging a war for independence and bitter disappointment in seeing your family murdered after the false promise of independence. The legacy of this pain will endure for ages to come beyond generations unless the right leadership comes along to partially heal the deep pain of betrayal.
Then you have the pain of unfulfilled potential. The ineptitude of a predatory and uncaring elite results in a broken society at two levels. The first level is economic meltdown means the masses are unable to collect their due dividend of democracy of a prosperous and peaceful society. This of course inevitably leads to the second level of major disappointment; families torn apart by forced migration. For the avoidance of doubt, there is nothing wrong with individuals moving to lands far from home, either seeking their fortune or simply to try out a different experience, but when one is forced out of their home country by push factors resulting from misrule, you have a tragedy on your hands.
We have seen the inexorable decay of Zimbabwe, once teeming with potential, to a trying field of a daily obstacle course full of pain, misery and despair. It was never meant to be like this. An estimated 40 000 people did not die fighting to liberate the country so that their families’ lives could end up as daily struggles for survival pitting decent people against decent people. We have to accept the situation: it is what it is, but we don’t have to stay here.
How do we get out of it?
“Everything rises and falls on leadership” in our past, current and future case. It is failed leadership that has brought us here and it is with a new leadership that we will pull ourselves out of the quagmire.
There have been brave attempts by many in the opposition but we have seen how they have behaved as party and NGO leaders each time elections have come up in their own organisations and we know, as a result, that they do not represent the kind of leadership we seek. We have also seen the abject failure that was the government of national unity with opposition leaders taking their eye off the ball once in office. We have also seen former sycophants ejected from the ruling party now pretending to have had Damascene moments and suddenly committed to good governance and human rights. Once bitten, twice shy! We need a clean break.
The depths to which we have fallen are shocking to say the least and we have a responsibility and duty to elect a new and fresh leadership who have the country’s best interests at heart. There are Zimbabweans with track records in civil society, business and politics, including those who chose not to fall in to the gravy train and left, who collectively can help restore Zimbabwe to its rightful place as an honoured country among the world’s nations. Patience…
You, too, have a role should you not be interested in politics. Your most important role is to register as a voter and cast your vote when elections come around again. There is nothing to be gained in not voting and a whole lot to be lost. The second item on your duty-to-country list is to speak to family wherever they are but especially in rural areas. Your role, if you accept it, is to show your family that the current situation is not normal, that it is not their lot in life to live at the edge of survival and is in fact an absurdity. It is to say no one in the world deserves to live like this nor to be treated in this manner by the leadership of a country. It is to point out that in many other countries, living in a village does not equate to poverty but rather a more sedentary life, out of choice, with clean running piped water, decent toilets and electricity. It is time to stop behaving like an abused spouse who is trapped in a cycle of violence by and forgiveness towards their oppressor. It is to convince them that it is time to scale the wall of fear that stops us from moving towards the progress that we deserve and reclaim our dignity. Zimbabweans have been humiliated for far too long and only they, by their voting action, can take a firm step towards redemption.
Redemption will come! Certainly not by itself, but Zimbabwean citizens must always be prepared to seize the day when the best moment, in the form of elections, presents itself. The next few months should be about reminding ourselves that we are human too, deserving of the promise and fruit of independence, that we do not deserve to be scattered abroad except by choice, that we are a capable and intelligent people and that by the very act of registration we take the first step towards liberating ourselves of the poverty and trying circumstances that come from being led by a tyrannical regime. We must light a candle, and keep it burning, instead of cursing the darkness of incompetent government and the wilful plunder of our national resources. We simply cannot afford to give up. Keep your lamps filled with oil.