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Zimbabwe not white man's burden

17 Aug 2018 at 06:21hrs | Views
We are on the edge of an epoch in Zimbabwe.

The nation could experience a new normal, so to speak, as the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) has only a matter of days to validate President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa's win, as announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission following the just-held harmonised elections; or declare his MDC Alliance opponent Nelson Chamisa the winner; or order a rerun of the presidential poll altogether.

But like astute legal counsel, their lawyers are not playing all their cards on the table. It would be foolish to do so. That is why they have been feigning and feinting. They are trying to make the other side look thoroughly stupid and inept whereas that is far from the case. But some party zealots who are swallowing this in gulps will have no one to blame, but themselves when the outcome proves to be more nuanced, more refined, more balanced, much more accommodative than the total victory they have been made to believe is certain. In court cases, both sides stand a chance, but, as was seen during these harmonised elections, a section of supporters tend to get ahead of themselves taking victory for granted by taking each and every word spoken by their leaders as the gospel truth.

As I see it, without delving into the strengths and weaknesses of either side's case, the ConCourt will make a decision that does not make a bad situation worse because courts themselves, while not a component of the government, are very much part of the nation State − that is, a sovereign State in which citizens are united by factors which define a nation, such as language, culture and common descent. The judges, in their conscious and subconscious minds, will take into consideration that there is only one Zimbabwe. In that vein, outsiders should not be allowed to have undue influence on the way forward. Let's be clear that, without denying that we need a new political culture, the former colonisers should not be allowed to re-impose themselves on Africa by assigning themselves the role of the white man's burden − the supposed duty of the white race to bring democracy to the non-white inhabitants of their former colonies. Wrote Tawanda Majoni: "For instance, Kate Hoey, the loud-mouthed British MP, who tends to mourn louder than the grieving Africans, has set her own conditions for Zimbabwe. Key among them is the removal of Constantino Chiwenga from government because she thinks he is the face of the army that is causing havoc here. She may be wrong about Chiwenga because, so far, there is no hard evidence to link him to the perceived military shenanigans, but perceptions are a reality in their own way."

This is not to say there are no serious issues in the country. For one, the role of the military in some aspects of civilian rule needs to be reduced, but taking into consideration that this will take time because of the legacy of militarisation of the State left by former President Robert Mugabe. And it should be mentioned that Olusegun Obasanjo, a coupist, took off his military uniform to don civilian democracy attire. Of course, the journey was not straight and easy, but Nigeria got there.

Yes, we have our issues, but it is not the bounden and divine duty of Hoey types to dictate to us. We should not merely serve to affirm their assumptions about Africans, but interrogate the validity of that. Wrote Retlaw Matatu Matorwa: "It may appear quite attractive to criticise the status quo, but I refuse to do it without exercising reason. I commit to reason and express my viewpoint without prejudice." Yes, we Africans have become our own worst enemy in stereotyping ourselves, making the job much easier for white racists.

We need to be slow and deliberate in our approach; we need to be cautious and calculated; we need to be sober and composed at this most delicate of times; we need to be measured in tone. Wrote Brighton Musonza: "The more the opposition lays siege on the military and force them into a defensive position, the more the military continues to pitch up defensive parapets on the political scene. The more you call them junta, the more you create an atmosphere of an unhealthy strained relationship. In the post-military intervention conflict, you cannot wish the military away without dialogue." Indeed, this is not the time for wishing-away games whatever the ConCourt verdict.

We have also heard some Zimbabweans celebrating the extension of sanctions by the United States, justifying this on the grounds that they are targeted. Well, the following appeared in the June 15, 2018 issue of the Wall Street Journal, a US business-focused, English-language international daily newspaper based in New York: "After more than a decade and a half of BROAD SANCTIONS (my emphasis), Mnangagwa has pledged to stem a crippling economic crisis by inviting foreign investors and restarting aid talks with international financial institutions."

Indeed, the sanctions are broad, not targeted, and the results are there to see for all those with open eyes, notwithstanding the rampant corruption. In fact, the sanctions, as happens everywhere, have generated an entire industry of corruption and, as usual, it is the ordinary person who bears the brunt. Shortages of everything becomes the order of the day. When demand outstrips supply to that extent, it provides fertile ground for corruption. Thus, sanctions are part of the problem, not the solution.

This has prompted Ken Kudakwashe Nyoka to observe: "In this vein, I am terribly encouraged by some great Zimbabweans who have come out to condemn the extension of sanctions on Zimbabwe by the US recently."

Indeed, Zimbabwe is not the white man's burden and, hopefully, the ConCourt verdict will reflect that.

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Conway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: nkumbuzo@gmail.com

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