Reason Wafawarova On Thursday
THE impugned twin people-oriented policies of indigenisation and land reform have given Zimbabwe an international image of revolutionarism — easily making the country identifiable as Africa’s hotbed of post-independence emancipation. We have on the one hand the traditional capitalist global players who have a long standing track record of exploiting Africa’s natural resources, often using the continent’s children as their tools and slaves; and those on the other hand who, after realising their weakness and exploitation, have decided to overturn imperial economic hegemony.
Of course the resolve is to liberate the future of the continent, starting with today’s generations. The sad reality in Zimbabwe is that we have a revolution fronted by an ageing leadership whose members are our liberation war heroes.
The active leadership of a contemporary revolution requires contemporary energy, much as the wisdom of the veterans is essential for directing the vision. We have a proud legacy in our wartime leadership, and our liberation war heroes know both the bitterness of struggle and the sweetness of victory.
The future of this country hangs precariously if we are going to make our wartime actors shoulder the struggle for today’s economic empowerment of the black Zimbabwean.
Our revolution continues to take many forms, as does any other revolution. What must never slip away is principle, and the principle is that the revolution is by the people, and for the people. Only the people are the power centre in a true revolution.
This principle cuts across the continent of Africa, and it is the principle that brought down the first colonial pillar in 1956. Kwame Nkrumah and his leadership team knew very well what brought the colonial empire down in Ghana — the power of the people.
It has not been an easy journey for Africa. The West has been asserting its power by means other than colonial, forcefully and clandestinely toppling legitimate but non-pliant governments. Popular leaders have been assassinated in broad daylight, and replaced by pliant puppets.
Joseph Mobutu rose at the expense of Patrice Lumumba in the Congo in the early sixties, and the country has never known real peace ever since.
In Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara was brutally murdered to pave way for France’s favourite, Blaise Compaore in 1987, and in 2011 the world haplessly watched the West murder Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, before the West tacitly supported the overthrowing of the democratically elected Morsi in Egypt two years later.
Today we face the dilemma of the slave in Zimbabwe. We stand politically divided — on one hand stands supporters of the revolutionary gains of independence, and on the other we have a neo-liberal generation that sees no future without the helping hand of the former oppressor.
These are people who unwaveringly believe that our salvation lies in the hands of those that authored and executed slavery and colonialism in Africa.
The ruling Zanu-PF preaches sovereignty, independent nationalism, and patriotism, albeit with remarkable discord these days. The opposition MDC used to advocate neo-liberal democracy solely dependent on membership to “the international community.” That was before the party started sinking into oblivion.
The current factional leadership dramas in Zanu-PF do not augur well with a revolutionary party, let alone one running a country with an ailing economy as ours.
The call to sustain and defend our revolution is no mean feat, and with the infighting bedevilling the party at the moment, one needs to interrogate the capacity of Zanu-PF to guard, consolidate, and advance the revolution of Zimbabwe, which by the way is a national project far bigger than the party itself.
The party’s commitment to patriotism and national duty is not given. If anything that commitment is hardly evident at the moment. The notion that Zanu-PF membership in its own right translates to commitment to patriotism and national duty is delusional at its very best.
The Tanzania African National Union, (now Chama Chama Pinduzi) a sister liberation movement to Zanu-PF, noted in 1972 that “revolutions are quick social changes, changes which wrest from the minority the power they exploited for their own benefit (and that of external exploiters), and put it in the hands of the majority so that they can promote their own well-being.”
These are wise words from a senior liberation movement that has successfully protected the legacy of the revolution left by founding father Julius Nyerere.
The glory of a revolution is in the promotion of the well-being of the majority, not in economic misery, or out of the loud mouths of populist politicians.
Like all the other liberation movements in the region, Zanu-PF excelled in wresting power from colonial minorities, but the party would be dishonest to claim similar credit for handing such power to the majority. The ANC in South Africa is even more culpable.
A counter-revolution is when a country has quick and sudden changes with the effect of wresting power from the majority in order to hand it over to a minority — attaining in the process only the selfish goals of a few. It makes no difference that the skin colour of this minority is identical to that of the marginalised majority, or that the minority has a glorious past in liberation history.
Our revolution is very simple. It aims to liberate the Zimbabwean, and we are aware that this kind of liberation is not sent from heaven. It is hard won — achieved through combating exploitation, corruption, treachery, patronage, and selfish ambition.
Experts do not deliver liberation. It is only the majority that have faced humiliation, exploitation, robbery and oppression who are experts and specialists for their own liberation. There are no messiahs in a revolution.
It is the majority, not the specialists that executed our land reform programme, and so did members of the majority who waged the liberation war effort, not the specialists.
While foreign investment is an essential component of modern day economies; let no one be fooled with the idea that FDI in and of itself has the capacity to liberate Africa.
The duty of liberating ourselves as black Africans lies with us, and the necessary expertise has to always emerge during the course of the struggle itself. The lazy gullibility that says foreign investment will of itself help the continent of Africa move into a central role in world economic affairs would be funny if it was not this tragic.
The net value of Africa’s diamond industry is estimated at US$30 billion, and yet the continent is content to make do with the raw value of unprocessed gems, something like US$8 billion. We are happy to export all our raw diamonds, giving away US$22 billion in the process.
Is this not what we did with the Marange alluvial diamonds? And when the West finally gave in to our admission into the Belgian Antiwerp Diamond Auction Floors, did we not celebrate like a triumphant primary school soccer team, rhapsodising happily about the imminent end to our economic woes?
It boggles the mind how Africa can ever become central to the diamond industry when the continent only controls 14 percent of that industry, regardless of an undisputed monopoly of the resource itself.
We are a people suffering greatly from the weakness inherent in being exploited and humiliated, and that is why we believe the hand of our exploiter is our salvation, the alternative to our woes.
It becomes pointless for us to celebrate the irreversibility of the land reform programme in abject poverty and in the anguish of starvation, or for us to pump ourselves up in the revolutionarism of indigenisation when all there is to it is a scramble for the little that is left of foreign owned industries. Our neighbours in Namibia and Mozambique have significant inflows of FDI, but that has hardly translated to poverty alleviation among the masses. There has to be more to this revolution than foreign investment.
Anyone who thinks foreigners must come with investment so that indigenous Zimbabweans can freely assume a controlling stake in the established industries functions under the influence of delusion.
While shareholding laws must be favourable for the country, the focus of the indigenous person must never be shareholding in and of itself. Control of industry is all about control of production, not shares.
We Zimbabweans want the easy way out, and that is why we are stuck after the running out of alluvial diamonds at Marange.
The African revolution, whose aim is the true liberation of the African, is in conflict with the politics of imperialism, neo-colonisation and capitalist expansionism.
The irony is that Africa seems to know no other formula for running its economies apart from relying on Western capital — the very direct source of most of the woes the continent so much mourns about.
Foreign investment ensures that proceeds from industry benefit mostly the investor, and that is only natural. Foreign investors primarily aim for profits, not the development of host countries.
It is not possible to execute a revolution for justice in the company of kleptomaniacs, and this is why ultimate intolerance must consume all of us against the corrupt and selfish lot in our midst.
Zanu-PF must simply be uninhabitable for thieves, crooks and racketeers, if the revolution is to be unabated. Any system that rewards only a minority is counter-revolutionary, and will inevitably be overthrown.
The majority must commonly own Zanu-PF’s principles as a vanguard party, and no leadership only accountable to itself can ever claim vanguard status to a people’s revolution. We have always heard President Mugabe saying power belongs to the people. We fought and took power from a minority clique of Rhodesians, but that alone does not constitute a revolutionary move, not until such power is successfully handed over to the majority.
We risk creating this telling disconnect between the nobility of our founding values as a nation and the values of our post-independence generations. We cannot endear our children to a history whose benefits are difficult to figure out.
This is why this torturous tenure of economic turmoil must end, and only us Zimbabweans can end it. No sanction imposer will ever end our suffering, and the sooner we understand that the better.
The responsibility of revolutionary parties must be to serve the masses and the various public institutions. There is more to winning elections than politics, and Zanu-PF is old enough a party to figure this out.
Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.