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Opinion / Columnist

Legacy is about ideas, not power

22 Aug 2016 at 01:20hrs | Views
Our political culture in Africa can be dangerous for democracy in its Aristotelian sense. We somehow believe politics to be an art based on the invincibility of political leaders, and this expectation among our people has given us egoistic and power hungry individuals who are often dangerously

obsessed with the urge of unbridled selfish ambition.

Our egocentric political leaders are, to a worrying extent, a product of a collective ubiquitous character that blindly hails individual heroism above the greatness of good ideas.

There is nothing particularly unique about the succession politics of Zimbabwe. The real or perceived invincibility of the founder leader has been indisputably prominent in post-colonial politics across the continent. Founder leaders of opposition political parties have not really separated themselves from the cultic culture of founder invincibility.

You cannot freely throw around the idea of succession of the incumbent leader without enticing serious trouble. It is a suicidal utterance that has been known to end blooming political careers in the most unceremonious of ways, and this no preserve of any one political party.

Those who have braved it to publicly call for the succession of Morgan Tsvangirai are no longer part of the MDC-T, and would-be emulators are aware of the cost of questioning the sinlessness of the heroic founder leader. Even mighty Roy Bennett fell by the wayside after preaching succession in the MDC-T. Tendai Biti too, together with Elton Mangoma.

Blind loyalty to the founder leader can easily create a hero stature that blatantly obfuscates a man's profound weaknesses. Heroism in itself is of course an honourable phenomenon, but it can easily be abused to grant the leader immunity from any form of blame. This has in some cases resulted in some leaders banking on their perceived hero status to commit unabated sins.

It does not matter our political affiliations, beliefs or values, we must understand that for our own good and for the good of the nation, we should be hailing ideas more than we glorify the personalities of our heroes, real or made up.

The messiahship behind any successful revolution belongs to the people of that revolution, and fundamentally the good ideas behind a successful revolution must always be placed well above individual ambition or aspiration.

If there are any ideas that made Nelson Mandela the great hero he lived to be, it is those ideas that must be pursued in future politics, not a mythical heroic status based merely on the Mandela personality itself.

Generally, the Mugabe ideas are kind of widely known, and that is across the divide, between the man's admirers and his detractors. He emerged on the global political scene as a Marxist freedom fighter in the seventies, before embracing a measure of neo-liberal capitalist policies after the collapse of the USSR.

His contemporary ideas revolve around the empowerment of the indigenous African, and this is what has given Zimbabwe the land reclamation program, as well as the economic indigenisation policy.

ZANU-PF has allowed succession politics to be premised on the age and health of the incumbent leader, and frankly that is most unfortunate. Succession must be based on the ideas of the man to be succeeded, and what we have seen lately are dramatic manoeuvres by factions seemingly determined to exterminate each other. Obviously the easiest way to stop factionalism is to stop participating in it.

The only reason ZANU-PF now has frequent restructuring remedies to many of its leadership crises is very simple. The party has simply departed from electing allies of the people, and is now largely electing allies of powerful senior leaders in the party's upper echelons of power. The culture of hunting for little heroes with no known ideological ideas is what has alienated the party leadership from the generality of the party membership.

There is only one ZANU-PF, and anyone that wishes to occupy any leadership position in the party must come as an individual of great ideas to the people, not as a front of some cartel run by some don harbouring inglorious ambitions.

As a writer I have an obligation to be a moral agent, and my duty is to bring the truth about matters of human significance to an audience that can do something about them. I write to incite revolutionaries to stand in defence of the people's revolution.

Aware of the power and privilege that comes with being a columnist, I desire never to underestimate the temptation of abuse that comes with this envied privilege. Equally privileged and tempted are political leaders, and indeed all other leaders in society.

I have no business doing commissariat work for those in politics. I am a writer, not a political activist. I cannot abandon my responsibility of bringing the truth about matters I deem so important to the readers, not for the vacuous intent of rubbing right the ego of selfish politicians.

The power bestowed upon me as a columnist cannot be mistaken for personal brilliance or character exceptionalism. It is simply a duty to use acceptable analytical tools to help inform political debate about the affairs of our country.

Being a political writer is not exactly an honourable vocation. It entails speaking truth to power, and power is notorious for its impervious nature when it comes to matters of truth. Power also ruthlessly fights back.

As a Pan Africanist writer I have for 10 years written extensively on the evil danger of imperialism, and my hope is that the people of Africa will continue to rise and stand up to the imperial bullies of this world. We have a destiny to protect as a continent, and every other nation must just accept that inalienable right.

Zimbabweans voted for good ideas in 2013, but good ideas that do not result in good ending can only end up becoming bad ideas. That is the direction in which we are heading post 2013, if we do not speedily transform our economy.

I have personally stood with President Robert Mugabe and his ideas, not exactly because he is infallible, or invincible as a person, but because the ideas for which he stands are worthy supporting from the viewpoint of African progression and emancipation. Of course I have paid a heavy price for the perceived support of Mugabe the person, not Mugabe the ideologist.

There is a Zim-PF woman resident here in Australia who considers it the ultimate punishment to have me deported for "showing solidarity with Mugabe". I have not met the lady in person, but I can obviously sense the small mind — and I hope she has a matching small head. As a political writer you get used to some of this trivia, and you get to realise that there are people who are all tip and no iceberg.

As a writer I refuse to be a subject of power, be it imperial or state power. I cannot possibly be an accomplice in the betrayal of the masses, and I cannot write in support of the audacity to steal national happiness. No moral agent worth the name can ever do that.

ZANU-PF has a primary duty to be serious with its own internal affairs, if at all the party wishes to be trusted with serious administration of national affairs. The clownish factional theatrics we have been seeing lately do not speak well of a party with serious intentions to govern a country in distress.

The revolution does not belong to the party or to its leadership. It is a people's revolution, and only the people of Zimbabwe will judge on matters of the revolution.

It is futile leadership to expect the people to ratify unjust decisions from the party leadership. When injustice becomes law, people will instinctively rebel, and that is why it has become so hard for the party to fully control its provincial structures. The Politburo has never been more powerful than the people it leads, and will never be. Instead of imposing its inexplicable opinion on all others, the Politburo must of necessity seek the people's opinion while it still can be found.

The ideas we preserve in this revolution are founded in slain bodies, and we cannot afford to betray the departed heroes of our revolution.

We cannot thwart the barbarous imperial regime-change agenda, only to allow ourselves to be partakers in a cause of great national betrayal — to be victims of a treacherous few, that in skewed opinions believe they own the revolution on the nation's collective behalf.

Our people are tired of this feeling of hopelessness, and soon they will simply refuse to ratify the mischief of a privileged few.

In a revolution we need not set up people as models or heroes. Rather we need to set up actions, thoughts and principles.

There is no person on this planet with one single model person after whom they derive every single aspect of life. Even Jesus preached Trinity.

We just want the Zimbabwe revolution to be preserved, and to achieve this we need to get rid of the unrevolutionary spirit within our political leadership.

This revolution has to outlive its current membership, war veterans and President Mugabe included. But it takes a revolutionary membership and leadership for that to happen.

We would be foolhardy to imagine for once that we lack detractors within this revolution, even lethally dangerous ones.

We cannot allow the rise of an imperialist stooge after the Mugabe era, the way Blaise Compaore rose after the demise of Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso in 1987.

There are people seemingly determined to eliminate true revolutionaries within ZANU-PF, and there is no second-guessing these people principally frown upon the majority of the revolution's values. They do not even respect the origin of the revolution. They frown upon the entire liberation legacy, and they do so with spectacular lack of remorse.

ZANU-PF must understand that it has a sizeable number of MDC-minded people in its midst, a whole legion of secret admirers of the neo-liberal agenda.

ZANU-PF stands more endangered by the danger within its own ranks than the one it faces from external forces, and there is no sign the internal danger is declining.

The danger seems to have put up a youth wing even, to ensure energy and continuity.

The greatest challenge with this undeclared internal opposition is that it purports to be behind the revolution, to be its engine even.

It is a silent opposition that, alongside other Western-backed opposition parties, hopes fervently for an era free of liberation ideas.

This is an opposition comprising deadly strategists with the potential to create and to assassinate kings.

These people smile and answer to slogans wherever and whenever revolutionary speeches are delivered; especially by President Robert Mugabe. However, they will never be found giving any revolutionary talk against neo-liberalism all by themselves.

We just heard Joice Mujuru recently confessing how she played along the revolutionary speeches of President Robert Mugabe while she was in fact an avowed opponent, donning the cloak of the revolutionary's own deputy — for 10 long years.

We need a people with a capacity to enforce accountability and this is why this revolution must be placed right back in the hands of the masses.

The internal opponents within ZANU-PF know that the key was lost on the other side of the street, but they keep pointing everyone under the lamppost because that is where the light is.

The key to the success of this revolution is in the successful implementation of the land reform, and in economic empowerment policies, and no other panacea is good enough.

Empowerment is not the simple exercise of parcelling out land or goodies to desperate young people. That is vote mobilisation, and it does not empower anyone.

We cannot fool our own people all the time, much as we may succeed in doing so some of the time, but only with some of the people.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!

    REASON WAFAWAROVA is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.

Source - the herald
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