• October 16th, 2019

Zimbabwe slides back after crossing the Rubicon


Zimbabwe’s political, economic and social situation has remained a conundrum and continues to defy all wisdom with predictions turning unreliable. 

The situation has over time degenerated into a near economic crisis, characterised by mass economic exodus of some top-most professionals and academics of high repute that the nation-state has over the years produced through its relatively competitive education system. As we speak, the situation in Zimbabwe seems to be slipping into chaos.

 I have in the past written about Zimbabwe and in my book published in 2017, there is a chapter with reflections on Zimbabwe. I hold the view that Sadc must support Zimbabwe and do so proactively. And we must resist the urge to insist that we have everything to teach others and nothing to learn from others.

George Houser wrote a book titled “No One Can Stop the Rain”. He recounts a conversation he had with Garfield Todd, latter then a senator in the Zimbabwe [colonial] regime. George asked Todd where Zimbabwe was going and Todd responded, somewhat thoughtfully: “You have to take the long view”. 

After this conversation, George argued in his book that there was indeed a case for the long view. Africa’s liberation struggle was a result of Africa’s marginalisation over centuries and efforts to reverse the tide would have to emerge from Africans themselves, albeit with international solidarity and support. 

And this development may have to take time to unbundle. In time Zimbabwe crossed the Rubicon and moved on that long journey, but seemingly in the words of Kenya’s Onginga Odinga, it is “Not yet Uhuru”.

Once I came across a magazine containing pictures of Zimbabwe’s war veterans carrying placards with multiple messages and two of these caught my attention. One of these read: “Born poor, grew up struggling; will die disappointed”. The other read: Light at the end of the tunnel???? We do not see the tunnel!” 

The messages in question are twenty years old and seemingly these veterans’ observations still prevail with regard to Zimbabwe: The tunnel holding solutions and opportunities remains elusive and many Zimbabweans will die, or are dying, disappointed. 

The situation in Zimbabwe makes one to reflect on two unrelated events from the past. One is a song “Good Old Days” by Jimmy Cliff, a Jamaican Reggae musician whose lyrics say: “When the children lose their way to leaders of confusion, they leave them with a prize to pay, of face a revolution”. 

Brother Malik Shabazz, alias Malcolm X, was much more blunt with the situation in the United States of America when President John F. Kennedy was gunned down. He said that it was a matter of “chickens coming home to roost”. 
His argument was that the very violence that American leaders had allowed to hatch against the country’s black people had come to take one of the country’s top leaders. This brought about a difficult period for Brother Malcolm and he was also gunned down while conducting a public rally of followers of the Nation of Islam.

Zimbabwe is burning in part as a result of the fact that our African leaders who led Zimbabwe since the country’s independence did not prepare the nation’s leadership to continue in equilibrium after their departure. Instead they prepared to perpetuate their stay. 

By the time Jimmy Cliff’s song came to be vindicated, Zimbabwe was not ready for leadership continuation and this degenerated into some kind of revolution that by its design has the potentials to spell the destruction of Zimbabwean society for years to come. 

Many of our African leaders do not serve their nations that well by remaining at best ambivalent on the question of leadership succession.  Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia feature among the rare African breed of leaders on this one. 

When Nelson Mandela was elected President for South Africa, he took friend and foe by surprise. In fact his transformation had started at the door of his prison cell on Robben Island when he said: “As I walked out the door towards the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I did not leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I would still be in prison.”

When he took office as president, Mandela prepared for a one term presidency. He chose Jakes Gerwel for his Director General and assigned Frank Chikane, who was believed to be the stronger of the two, for the office of Deputy President Thabo Mbeki. 

His intentions became clearer to the South Africans when he systematically transferred most of his office work to the office of Mbeki and admitting his intentions openly that he was preparing Thabo Mbeki for succession. 

Namibia’s Pohamba had given notice that he was on his way out and had backed this with action. Evidently Pohamba treaded much more tenderly, more so given the fact that the conditions under which he laboured were much different from Mandela’s and the two leaders have dissimilar personalities. 

Pohamba remained single-minded about his intentions to leave the Office of President at the end of his second term and he openly went around the country bidding farewell to the nation and then went to bid farewell to his fellow African heads of state at the Sadc summit convened at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

The current political situation in Zimbabwe calls for concerted and tender leadership from the Sadc Region and the African Union. There is need for African leaders and elder statesmen to quietly seek dialogue among the contesting political formations that are at each other’s throats in Zimbabwe. 

Otherwise the world will continue to beg the problem for a solution in the mistaken hope that the Zimbabwe in situation will resolve itself.


New Era Reporter
2019-01-23 09:29:40 8 months ago

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