Reflections on the liberation legacy

Reason Wafawarova on Thursday
ZANU-PF was founded not as an opposition party to the Rhodesian Front, the ruling white minority party of the time, but as a revolutionary party set to execute the liberation of Zimbabweans from the jaws of minority rule, alongside twin efforts from PF-ZAPU. When we talk of the liberation legacy of Zimbabwe we are talking about a history that makes the nation of Zimbabwe – a history made by the sacrifices of tens of thousands of young people who made the ultimate sacrifice to go and pick up arms to conquer and subdue the yoke of white supremacy. The role played by these people will remain supreme in the history and foundation of our nation, and must never be trivialised, especially by politicking individuals.

Indeed, every person that supported the war effort in action and in principle took part in the war for liberation itself, and was part of the history makers that gave us this great revolution, and that includes some of us who lost a few years of education as rural schools closed to allow unmitigated waging of the war effort.

There is no historical reality that is not human. There is no history without humankind, and there is no history for human beings. History is of humanity itself – made by the people and in turn it makes the people.

Our liberation legacy is the history that makes the 35-year old Zimbabwe, and that history was made by all of us as a nation, and no one has a right to stop the making of this history, or to make it on behalf of all others.

From independence itself we advanced into mass education and infrastructural development in the 1980s; we then had the hardships of neo-liberalism in the ‘90s, including the ruinous IMF-prescribed ESAP, and we moved on to the land reclamation revolution in the first decade of this century. Now we are consolidating the gains of that agrarian reform regime, and also pushing towards economic emancipation for the indigenous Zimbabwean. This is the tedious and imperfect journey of the revolution, but solutions to a happy ending must be found.

There has been so much talk about the relevance and worth of war veterans lately, emanating from the factional politicking bedevilling ZANU-PF today. Those who have argued or implied that war veterans have no special place in our political dispensation are as myopic as the war veterans who are reported to be wielding war credentials as tools to win supremacy in today’s political battles, or simply to silence those they find themselves at loggerheads with.

Our war veterans remain the vanguard of the liberation legacy, and by extension of the revolution itself. They made the history of the liberation legacy, just as that same history made them.

No sane politician aspiring to make it in a revolutionary party like ZANU-PF can afford to pretend that the role of war veterans is immaterial. The sanctity and sacredness of our liberation legacy is enshrined in the war effort itself, in the rivers of blood shed for the emancipation of Zimbabweans. Individual war veterans may falter or fail, but that will never taint the sacredness of the liberation legacy itself.

Equally no war veteran has monopoly over the direction of our liberation history as we continue to make it. No one has the right to deny the majority the right to participate in history without dominating and alienating the same majority. The objective of any true revolution requires that the people act, as well as reflect, upon the reality to be transformed.

Of course, we need a lot more than just reflecting on our suffering. We need to have a collective expectation to end our agony as a people.

This is what Fidel Castro said after the death of Che Guevara: “While we might obtain some benefit from doubt, lies, fear of the truth, complicity with false illusions, and complicity with lies have never been weapons of the revolution.”

This is the message ZANU-PF politicians must get. The infighting we have seen since 2014 has exposed the party – making party business appear like a long unending night orgy of brazen charlatans.

ZANU-PF is a revolutionary party, and that means by definition it is a party of the oppressed and the un-free, those people whose emancipation is still in the making. The leaders of ZANU-PF must by necessity comprehend well the essence of revolutionary action. They must understand that the leaders and the oppressed in any revolution are equally the subjects of revolutionary action, and that reality serves as the medium for the collective transforming action of both groups.

This means the people and ZANU-PF’s leadership hierarchy must be equal subjects in the operations of the party, and indeed in the revolutionary cause itself. The party leadership and the masses of Zimbabwe are actors in intercommunication, or at least they must be, if we choose to call ZANU-PF a revolutionary party, as indeed is the case.

What we are seeing right now is some kind of dichotomy, division and rupture of the revolutionary forces. Party leader President Robert Mugabe confirmed this sad predicament at the just ended annual national conference. There are factional alliances, infighting, vilification, victimisation, mudslinging, and slander, to the point where it is almost wrecking the leadership structures.

Once we come to this point where we have leaders on one side and the people on the other, we can no longer talk of a revolution. That is just a replica of the relations of oppression, where leadership avoids dialogue with the people under the pretext of organising them, of strengthening revolutionary power, of strengthening the party itself, or even of ensuring a united front.

People who do this are the kind of leaders who are smitten by the fear of freedom – leaders who lack faith in the people. I am writing here about leaders who cannot lead a free people, leaders who can only lead by subjugation. It is a sad indictment that a renowned liberation movement like ZANU-PF finds itself having to deal with such characters in its leadership.

If the people cannot be trusted, there is essentially no reason for liberation, and in fact there was no point going to war in the name of fighting for the people’s self-determination.

If the people are not trusted, then the revolution is not even carried out for the people. Rather it is carried by the people for the leaders, and this is a complete self-negation.

It is important for everyone in ZANU-PF leadership to understand that the revolution is made neither by the leaders for the people, nor by the people for the leaders, but by both acting in unsinkable solidarity.

The party can only have this kind of solidarity when its leadership comes to the people in a humble, loving and courageous way.

Not every appointed or elected leader has the courage to encounter the people, and as a result some in leadership avoid this kind of encounter.

When this happens, we often end up with a leadership that treats the people as mere objects. Instead of nurturing life in the party they kill life, instead of searching for direction into the future, they stall progress, or even take the people backwards. Of course these are oppressor characteristics that should never be found in a revolution.

There are some who have dismissed the idea of a revolution in Zimbabwe as naively and subjectively idealistic, and not without some measure of sense in their assertion. This is purely because the cohesion and dialogue between the revolutionary leadership and the people is frankly questionable at the moment.

However there is nothing more concrete than people-people relations, or humans relating with other humans, either in solidarity or in oppression. What is needed is for an authentic revolution to transform the reality that has given us the dehumanising state of affairs in the country.

Our challenges are many, including the fact that we have in the leadership those whose interests are served by our devastating predicament, and naturally these are the kind of leaders who cannot carry out the transformation we are after. Such transformation is a threat to their inherent interests.

This is a transformation that can only be achieved by the smitten, the tyrannised, the isolated, and the sanctioned; together with their leaders.

Well, this truth must become radically consequential for the leadership. Those in Government must incarnate this reality, by engaging the people through Zim-Asset, otherwise the blueprint will remain an election-winning document, as Nathaniel Manheru recently asserted.

In a revolution both the leadership and the people must grow together. The leaders cannot be self-appointed, but installed and authenticated by the people they lead.

We are all as individuals conditioned to the concrete situations in our lives, and that in turn determines our attitudes and our ways of dealing with the realities around us.

Some among us have chosen to accept as normal egregious acts of corruption, while others with no access to power, privileges and resources remain focused on the hope that the revolution will one day bring back a happy Zimbabwe for all its citizens.

We have others who have chosen to instill in our youths some kind of false consciousness, a false reality where our young people cannot see their own role towards their own liberation – just hoping for benevolent intervention from an overbearing leadership.

Revolutions do not operate that way, and the sooner we realise that no leadership can ever be capable of carrying out a revolution for the people the better for the direction of our great nation.

If ZANU-PF is going to establish a think tank as reported by the media after its national conference, the think tank’s role must be to foster a good sense of communion between the country’s leadership and the people.

Without this dialogue accountability, competence and commitment are all compromised.

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

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia

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