by Linda Tsungirirai Masarira
In the midst of the political confusion that has gripped our country, many people are wondering if we have come to the end of Zimbabwe.
The answer is simple: the thing called an “end” does not exist, not in relation to a country. Zimbabwe will be there long after Mugabe is gone.
What Mugabe has done is to make us come to the realization that ours is colonization by our own fellow brothers. From the frying pan into the fire.
Towards the end of March, innocent Zimbabwean citizens were illegally evicted from Arnold farm in Mazowe. ZRP acting on the first lady Grace Mugabe’s instructions defied a high court ruling against the evictions at Arnold farm. Houses were demolished and the little property they had was ferried off the farm by police vehicles and they were dumped on the roadside of river farm.
These displaced families are surviving on wild fruits and sleeping in the open for nearly two weeks now. I am trying to understand why a mother and a woman would do that to other women and children? Principalities in Africa manifest in strange ways. This is an abhorrent violation of human rights.
We must all thank Mugabe for revealing our true African character; that the idea of rule of law is not part of who we are, and that constitutionalism is a concept far ahead of us as a people.
How else are we to explain the thousands of people who flock to stadiums to clap hands for a president who has violated their country’s constitution? Such people have no idea of constitutionalism.
Now that we have reclaimed our place as another African country, we must reflect on and come to terms with our real character, and imagine what our future portends.
In a typical African country, ordinary people don’t expect much of politicians, because people get tired of repeated empty promises.
In a typical African country, people have no illusions about the unity of morality and governance. People know that those who have power have it for themselves and their friends and families.
The idea that the state is an instrument for people’s development is a Western concept and has been copied by pockets of Asian countries. Africans and their leaders don’t like to copy from the West. They are happy to remain African, and do things “the African way”.
The African way is rule by kings, chiefs and indunas in a setting of unwritten rules. Is there anyone who has seen a book of African customary laws? The idea that a commoner can raise questions about public money spent on the residence of a king is not African.
Asking a ruler to be accountable is a foreign – Western – idea. In a situation where there is a conflict between a ruler and laws, Africans simply change the laws to protect the ruler. This is why no single white person has called for King Dalindyebo to be released from jail.
The problem with clever blacks is that they think they live in Europe, where ideas of democracy have been refined over centuries. What we need to do is to come back to reality, and accept that ours is a typical African country. Such a return to reality will give us a fairly good idea of what Zimbabwe’s future might look like.
This country will not look like Denmark. It might look like Nigeria, where anti-corruption crusaders are an oddity.
Being an African country, ours will not look like Germany. Zimbabwe looks like Kenya, where tribalism drives politics.
People must not entertain the illusion that a day is coming when Zimbabwe will look like the US. What will become of our future when one ruler is more powerful than the rest of the population. Even if someone else were to become president, it would still be the same, if we do not change our mindsets.
The idea that a president can resign simply because a court of law has delivered an adverse judgment is Western. Only the Prime Minister of Iceland does that; African rulers will never do that. The idea of an African president resigning because he is too ill to rule is for Doug Ferguson former president of Canada.
Analyzed carefully, the notion of Zimbabwe coming to an “end” is an expression of a Western value system – of accountability, political morality, reason, and so on.
Linda Tsungirirai Masarira is the Founder & National Coordinator of ZWIPA