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Calling for talks from burning anthills

21 Jan 2019 at 08:13hrs | Views
There is so much talk about a Government of National Unity (GNU); talk which seems to be gaining traction, especially so with the coming on board of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), and the demonstrations that rocked our nation last week, setting our economy back $300 million, but talk nonetheless that remains as desperate, and frantic as the voice of one calling in the wilderness.

The clandestine innuendoes issuing from some quarters, of the possibility of a GNU, real or imagined, well-intentioned or otherwise, call for scrutiny at quite a number of levels, that is, at the levels of unity, constitutionalism, church and politics; and well in reference to the presumed Holy Grail to our prosperity —Nelson Chamisa.

As a nation, we are going through lean times, to such an extent that any fruit that appears low hanging in our vision is worth extending a hand to. However, this heightened talk of a GNU requires closer analysis, for conflicting streams cannot easily be brought to a confluence. Citizens are wiser in that regard, as they are conscious to the delimiting nature of complacency.

Therefore, any talk of unity should project a shared vision, even among our proxies, either in the governing party, or the opposition. The reality of our land is that we are polarised, and believe that our solution lies somewhere else. We are struggling, it is true, we are desperate, yes; we are frustrated, that also is true, but as Cabral (1973) puts it: "Struggle is a normal condition of all living creatures in the world.

All are in struggle . . . We advance towards the struggle secure in the reality of our land (with our feet planted on the ground)." Notably, the cultural, political, social and economic reality of our land, as Cabral puts it, has "positive aspects and negative aspects, has strengths and weaknesses".

We derive our strengths from our weaknesses, and it is through positivity that we deride the negative aspects of the reality of our land. However, this can only come to pass if as a people we are unity driven from within, and aim for collective gain, by beaming to the world our story, not as outsiders but as participants, for after all, it remains our story; the story of our struggle.

It will not help us much to scald our feet, when the ultimate goal is to tread on to our preferred destination, burn our houses when our aspiration is to create homes, and gouge out our eyes in an attempt to inspire ideological vision. Running away from our reality cannot take us to the Zimbabwe we dream of. It is imperative that we bring to a cirque what obtained on the ground to bring us to the situation that we are in today.

When citizens are burdened, the temptation to fall for miraculous shift of fortunes forever beckons, thus, charlatans feed on that, and promise them quick win solutions. Celebrating a stillbirth. It has to be recalled that President Mnangagwa has always extended his hand to the opposition even before the harmonised elections of July 30, 2018. He could never tire of preaching peace, unity and harmony, even in the face of brickbats from opposition quarters, who construed everything as political grandstanding.

Opposition parties, especially the MDC-Alliance fronted by Nelson Chamisa, insisted that anything short of victory on their part could only be read as rigging, culminating in them spurning any calls for dialogue. In anticipation of delivery, they were already celebrating the bouncy baby, even before conception. Such is the nature of faith, and one has to have it by the bucketful in these trying times.

By the time of conception the tom-toms were deafeningly booming from the vales and mountains yonder the hedges in the western coast. The celebratory mood persisted till the morning of the expected delivery, with Chamisa proclaiming the sex of the baby in the fashion of the wise midwife of yore. But then such pronouncements should be kept in check, unless one speaks tongue in cheek, for midwifery is not a guessing spin.

The "expectant father", arrogantly chided at any calls for joint celebrations, believing that it was his party to book. Time will always come, as it does with all expectations, that pies are delivered to the garrulous, to humble them.

The celebrations were cut short when the midwife announced the delivery of the baby; the delivery least expected, but delivery nonetheless of, alas, a stillborn baby. The ancestors have spoken, the people have spoken, the midwife declared. But the expectant father, losing the voice of reason, as is expected in such cases, went haywire, finding foe with the midwife, ancestors and the people, for taking the festive torch to the neighbouring village. Funny how politicians make dullards of us all, we the presumed docile and gullible — the citizens, who ironically are the source of their power.

Citizens neither belong to politicians, nor to political parties. They belong to each other, they belong to the nation. Because the people own the struggle, they remain an important cog in whatever decisions are made on their behalf. In matters of unity and struggle, there is a valid question that Cabral raises, as is illustrated: "You have already clearly understood what the people are.

The question we now pose is the following: against whom are our people struggling?" If the people overwhelmingly articulated their voice through the harmonised elections of July 30, 2018, by giving President Mnangagwa and his party ZANU-PF a five-year mandate to lead them, a fact that was upheld by the Constitutional Court, should they keep on struggling; for whom and against whom?

Are the people now being turned against themselves, by the same individuals who in the first place do not respect their constitutional rights? Refusing to accept the outcome of the July 30, 2018 elections, Chamisa declared that it was a "coup against the people's will". Which people now? Even after losing a Constitutional Court challenge against the electoral result, he remained adamant that he had won, which makes any calls for dialogue problematic. Speaking at a Press conference after ZEC's announcement of the presidential elections results on August 2, 2018, President Mnangagwa said that Chamisa would have "a crucial role to play in Zimbabwe's present and its unfolding future".

Promising that people's liberties would be protected, the President called on the opposition leader to join him in calling for peace and unity for the good of our nation, but Chamisa scoffed at such overtures, preferring instead to throw spanners in the works. The Church and politics On August 6, 2018, Father Frederick Chiromba, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference, told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview from Harare that: "We have offered to mediate any election disputes as well as broader concerns."

And the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) said in its New Year statement that it was ready to provide the framework for dialogue between President Mnangagwa and MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa. It is laudable that the Church is eager to foster dialogue, but there should be a clear line to follow in such a dialogue. The Church should not be seen to be siding with one party.

As the prophetic voice of truth, the church should preach the politics of love — forgiveness and reconciliation. Love is the politics of peace, for the Bible is awash with politics, the politics of nations. Human government is not independent of the influence of the Church, which is why most universal laws have a religious foundation. However, as Castaneda and Vizcarrondo (2016) write in "Truth and Christianity": "The Church must not meddle in partisan politics. The Church must not tell people whom or what party to vote for, unless the party in question has an intrinsically evil ideology . . . The Church may neither support a particular candidate nor a party."

The Church should not impose its "own ecclesiastical laws on the rest of society . . ." Castaneda and Vizcarrondo contend that the church "does have the authority to teach about its moral dimension". That moral dimension is present in all important aspects of human life, including politics.

This is due to the fact that morality refers to the respect and the promotion of human rights and values, the attainment of which is guided by principles, laws and norms of conduct. It stands to reason that theChurch and the State are separate and distinct, therefore, any dialogue or talk of dialogue should consider the universal truth and not party truth. It is in this vein that the Church should outline the constitutional rights of the electorate, vis-à-vis the common good.

It is mind-boggling that even before the election results were announced, and the Concourt was still to make a ruling on Chamisa's petition, the Church was ready to mediate dialogue, as Father Chiromba said, "there is still a lack of trust between the people and Government" and that churches have "a big role to play in restoring that trust". Who is to be trusted, the one constitutionally declared the winner, and the one who uses hearsay to claim victory? Chamisa is touted as the Holy Grail that our nation needs to move forward, but one wonders if indeed he has that capacity alone.

What exactly is that sentiment premised on? At this point in time it is only unity of purpose that can help us navigate out of the slime we are enmeshed in, and not tall talk or political grandstanding.

Losers cannot claim legitimacy through intimidation, or questioning the legitimacy of others, and the Church should be enlightened on that. Promotion of peace should begin with all of us accepting the reality that gouging out each other's eyes only makes us all blind. If there is a time we needed each other more, it is now and the Church should be shining a proper light!

Source - the herald
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