A stitch in time saves nine
With no adult survivors, the boys create their own nascent society.
One of the boys, Ralph, is elected chief, and organises shelter and fire while Jack, who was head of the choir takes his boys hunting for wild pigs.
A bitter rivalry develops between Jack and Ralph as both vie to be in charge of the new society.
The boys try to establish order through an empty sea shell that they find on the island which they called a conch.
They agree that only the boy holding the conch may speak at meetings to prevent arguments and chaos, and that the conch should be passed around to those who wish to speak.
The conch thus symbolises democracy, civility and order within the group.
Jack rebels and declares disrespect for the conch as the nascent society fractures into two rival groups.
Jack’s group the ‘hunters’ become primal, under his leadership, while Ralph tries to keep his group civilised by upholding the supremacy of the conch.
And when matters come to a head between the groups, the conch is smashed to pieces signaling the end of order and the onset of chaos that culminates in death and destruction on the once idyllic island.
While for Ralph and his group the conch and the traditions associated with it are the link to their orderly past life and their protection against the anarchy that Jack increasingly represents, to Jack the conch becomes a constraint to his plans and ambitions, which is why he shouts when one of the boys, Piggy, tries to bring him to order using the conch.
“Conch! Conch!,’’ shouts Jack, “We don’t need the conch any more. We know who ought to say things. What good did Simon do speaking, or Bill, or Walter? It’s time some people knew they’ve got to keep quiet and leave the deciding of things to the rest of us.”
I was reminded of this motley crew of pre-pubescent boys and their attempt at establishing social order and how that broke down when some among them willfully disregarded the established order for selfish gains.
The constitution on which our society was founded at independence in 1980 is the conch that has enabled us to establish a just and democratic society that has been the envy of many in the region.
Forget the local sponsored and western media’s frenzied bashing of our country, it all has to do with giving a dog a bad name inorder to hang it as they have tried to do since our stand-off with London flared in 1997.
We have always stuck to the provisions of the Constitution, even where it disadvantaged us as with the 10-year moratorium on land reforms.
Where necessary we made the requisite amendments to align the Constitution with the wishes of the majority for the greater good. At no point did we trash the document.
It thus comes as a surprise that there are some among us who like the bashful Jack, want us to smash OUR founding document for selfish gains.
These people believe the majority should keep quiet and leave decisions to them.
They would rather extend their stay in Government even without a mandate from the people.
It does not even matter to them that some of the people who entrusted them with leadership at the last elections have been without representation for the better part of the life of the inclusive Government due either to the death or expulsion of their elected representatives.
Now we would be setting a dangerous precedent where people stay in office without a mandate from the electorate.
We have never done it, and should not condone it lest we introduce an alien culture reminiscent of dictatorships.
It is President Mugabe’s duty to safeguard the constitution since he is the only member of the executive sworn in by the Chief Justice.
Let those who want to follow the route of unconstiutionalism and anarchy do so, but they should not expect the rest of the country to follow them
We have seen them tinker with their party constituents, willfully refuse to be bound by the provisions of their own party constitutions culminating in the MDC split of October 2005.
To them, it seems, a constitution is a piece of paper, an inconvenience to be trashed if it goes against their aspirations.
No more than two close allies of MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai have attested to his dictatorial tendencies.
NCA chairman Professor Lovemore Madhuku equated the MDC-T’s drive to extend the life of the executive beyond the tenure of the legislature as a dictatorial mindset while MDC-99 leader Job Sikhala is on record saying if Tsvangirai lays his hands on instruments of the state, political opponents would have their heads chopped off and stuffed in refrigerators.
Infact highly placed sources at Harvest House say the MDC-T Copac team’s obsession with whittling down presidential powers in the envisaged new constitution stemmed from deep dread that they would create a monster out of Tsvangirai should he land the presidency.
Let the man — who openly expressed admiration for Idi Amin — in one of his election adverts practise his tin-pot dictatorship at Harvest House, he should not dream of taking it outside his party offices.
As Chenjerai Hove put it, fire once teased snarls all the way to ash.
A stitch in time saves nine.