Reason Wafawarova on Thursday
CRITICISM comes naturally with any form of writing, and it comes a lot more with political writing, and you expect worse of it if you are a writer hailing from a country necessitous like Zimbabwe.
The polarity bedevilling our political spectrum does not make it any better for a political columnist like myself.
The comfort of it is that when you write and you get flak from all the dunces making a confederacy against you purely on the basis that they feel offended because you have no sugarcoats for their political affiliation or beliefs, then you are rest assured you are a genius.
I have lately attracted affection from longstanding avowed enemies of this column, including Iden Witherell, sorry Muckraker of the Zimbabwe Independent, who in early 2014 suggested that something of biblical proportions had happened to my person, and that I had met my “Damascene” moment.
The overriding opinion in the opposition’s political spectrum seems to be that one cannot be a columnist or correspondent for The Herald and be objective or independent enough to criticise any policy position of Zanu-PF.
I have of late written scathing attacks on corruption, divisions, impunity, hypocrisy, ineptness, laziness, ignorance, dogmatism and other ills as I see them affecting the ruling party, and every time I have made these criticisms I have always done it in defence of the principles of the national revolution that Zanu-PF declares itself to be the custodian.
From the last quarter of 2013, I have had numerous warnings and predictions that my days as a columnist for The Herald “are numbered,” and I must say even some pro-Zanu-PF readers of mine have privately concurred.
If such backlash were to be real, this writer would not be surprised at all, because such reaction is quite predictable in any circumstance where policy is challenged publicly. There has been real and terrible backlash in the past for this writer’s support for the pro-people Zanu-PF policies like land reforms and indigenisation, and also for this writer’s Pan Africanist stance against the patronising Western domination in international affairs. It would be interesting if Zanu-PF would take its turn against one who has gone through the gates of hell on allegations of propping the party’s “unsound policies,” as they say in the West.
Those whose political strategy once revolved around the purse strings of Western funders naturally chose to become angry on behalf of their insulted funders, and that explains well the tribulations I have encountered in relation to deportation efforts from Australia, diligently orchestrated and spearheaded by miffed fellow countrymen. Well, the tide has been dealt with, and it’s always heartening to hear the confessions of those that once plotted against you. It is just politics, they argue.
I have not taken kindly to the tendency by some Zanu-PF politicians to over-rely on the excuse of the ruin of the Western-imposed illegal economic sanctions in justifying or explaining failure to deliver, especially on declared election promises.
I have argued in the past that this behaviour is mothered from the same womb that gave us the MDC-T’s obsession with the sanctions themselves, including numerous calls for their intensification.
To me there is not much difference between a Zanu-PF politician justifying failure to deliver on the basis of the ruin of sanctions and an MDC politician calling for regime change through the intensification of the same sanctions. Both politicians are essentially smitten by the welfare mentality — totally in agreement that without Western benevolence Zimbabwe has no chance of survival as an independent country.
I do not agree with the simplistic approach that says Western aid and Bretton Woods loans are our only viable lifeline as a country, or the empty opposition rhetoric that says the absence of Western aid and loans will naturally spiral into mass protests by starving masses, because without Western aid all doors are locked.
Unless we learn how to shed away this paralysing welfare mentality we cannot have a bona-fide revolutionary party on one end, or a bona-fide home-grown opposition on the other.
Had we not been colonised by Britain at the end of the 19th century we would not have particular relations with the West to begin with, and hardly would there ever be any possibility for us to think we had the right to expect something from Britain.
In the name of internationalism, we have dangerously preserved and cherished the colonial legacy to our own detriment, and we are determined not to be corrected, we are adamant colonialism is dead and buried, and we tell ourselves only those bigots incapable of outgrowing the fantasies of history can obsess themselves with the long-gone and forgotten concept.
We have allowed ourselves to become polished accomplices in our own afflictions.
Zanu-PF formulates the best sounding of policies always, often very appealing to our ears and very threatening to the imperial status quo.
It is sad that there are some politicians within Zanu-PF who seem to believe that threatening the imperial Western power corridors is in itself a grand political achievement. Frankly, it is not.
Lately some of these rabble-rousing characters have been publicly criminalising engagement with lenders associated with the West. That too is cheap.
There is nothing criminal about the act of repaying accumulated loans, even loans from the IMF and the World Bank, or arranging new borrowing facilities with the same institutions. Zimbabwe needs bridging finances for its ailing economy, and there is no escaping from that reality.
The balance we need as a country is getting to that point where we can borrow without enslavement, repay without perpetual dependency, and negotiate without subjugation.
We have come a long way in our struggle for independent nationalism, and our adversaries have budged to the fact that they have to abandon the regime change agenda for the sake of progress in pursuing their vested interests in our country. This is the time for our politicians from the ruling party to negotiate from a position of strength. Instead of strategising on these premises we have seen gross lack of cohesion in government policy.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry is conspicuously absent from the scene, while treasury has had to put up with heckling from some line Ministries and individual Cabinet Ministers.
Zanu-PF has survived a phenomenal Western onslaught that spanned over a decade, and with the Western backed opposition in tatters, Zanu-PF should be focusing on how best to place the country in international affairs, not creating imaginary opposition forces within itself as seems to be the case at the moment.
My position is that opposition forces must not be the guide in Zanu-PF. The party has a revolution to complete, a national agenda to fulfil, a pride to redeem, and a national future to build.
Zimbabwe does not have the perpetual fighting mood that some of our politicians are so fond of displaying.
Those who cannot visualise the absence of war will never turn their swords into ploughshares, and it appears like this is the underlying problem we have in the country at the moment. We need developmental minds in our Cabinet, not the bullish fighters and the reticent do-nothings that are in charge of some of our Ministries.
We face a traditional capitalist system where storm-troopers create wonderful investment opportunities for their kith and kin, using IMF proposals and guidelines to do so. We are talking about people who know best how to create the need for capital elsewhere and use that capital to make super-profits at the expense of whoever may be caught in the crossfire.
We are fighting the system of externalised value-addition, and the colonial mentality that says purchasing Western brands can make us fit among the most powerful people on earth. We are fighting a system that teaches us that a good politician is the one with the best begging skills. We are fighting against a system that says our voters can be baited by mere benevolence.
Zanu-PF must remember that the Zimbabwean revolution to which it attaches some of its policies is not a revolution directed against other countries or peoples.
Rather, this revolution is aimed at restoring the dignity of Zimbabwean people. We want for ourselves the same independence and sovereignty we wish all other nations to enjoy.
Our people must be the starting point for anyone that wishes to know who we are and what our expectations entail. We cannot entertain any politician who considers it wisdom to sugarcoat the suffering of our people.
We must come to a point where we make informed analysis of how we place ourselves in international affairs. We cannot dismiss every form of criticism in the name of fighting the regime change agenda.
The international civic groups within Zimbabwe have both a good and bad side. After all they are just a manifestation of the failure of state-to-state relations in our day.
When our relations with other states block interaction people are obliged to find other channels for contact and dialogue, and we have to accept that, for better or for worse.
We would be irrefutable fools if we disbelieved the reality that there are non-governmental organisations that serve as spy agencies for imperialism, or that are motivated by the political preferences of politicians from the countries they hail.
However, it is naïve to believe this is the case with every Western NGO. Many are organisations run by men and women who think that this is the ideal way for them to express themselves and to make a contribution to global challenges affecting humanity.
We know that some NGOs are preoccupied with producing impressive press clippings to circulate back in Europe, and they forget to meaningfully engage with the locals for sustainable solutions.
We expect the Government to come up with a workable strategy that allows genuine humanitarians in the NGO sector to fulfil the noble goal of helping the needy.
We cannot expect to build a prosperous Zimbabwe while we in every way act as accomplices to what smites us as a nation. Perpetrators of violence cannot be advocates for peace, just like kleptocrats cannot be champions in the fight against corruption.
Self-centred autocrats within our political spectrum cannot preach democracy, and this is what led to the demise of the opposition in the country.
We know our people are desperate in this ailing economy. This is the time we need eminent people in leadership, not prominent rhetoricians.
It is a time for leaders who will choose to give to our people a lecture on hard work, integrity and morality instead of a dollar or a handout.
In an economically ailing society merit will not serve you so much as money or materials will, and some of our politicians are aware of this.
We must understand the huge difference between building a political career and building a nation.
Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death.
Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.