Who cannot be a patriot?
There is a beautiful summary that is a key extract from the preamble of Zimbabwe’s Constitution (Amendment No. 20), which over 90 percent of eligible Zimbabweans endorsed in 2013, which speaks and conceptualises what the citizens collectively agreed to and want their country to be.
The wording of this preamble highlights the people’s historical journey, their present successes and future aspirations as informed by the values and principles that resist colonialism, neo-colonialism and advancing the neo-imperial agenda on behalf of active colonial Western states.
In short, Zimbabweans in 2013 agreed to the formation of the basis of nationhood and national identity informed by homegrown participation through protecting and “cherishing freedom, equality, peace, justice, tolerance, prosperity and patriotism in search of new frontiers under a common destiny” in our diversity as stated in the preamble.
In Chapter 3(1)(i) of Zimbabwe’s supreme law, among the founding values and principles that make Zimbabweans who they are, the citizenry swore allegiance to the “recognition of and respect for the liberation struggle.”
While there are many elements that speak to Zimbabwe’s national identity, there is need to be mindful through recalling that this preamble speaks of “cherishing patriotism” and that among Zimbabwe’s founding values and principles, there is a call for “respect for the liberation struggle.”
This identity did not start in 2013, but has been in existence even in the pre-independence era.
There exists an unbreakable link and attachment between “patriotism” with its association to the values of the “liberation struggle” in the formulation and formation of Zimbabwe’s national identity.
It, therefore, becomes difficult for one to want to raise the patriotic banner while undermining the values that instil the patriotic sense as informed by the liberation struggle.
On many occasions, adherents of the law have advocated for the punishment of people who breach and violate constitutional and legal provisions found in Zimbabwe’s statutes.
Simultaneously, this applies that there has to be a place for those who also violate the details of the Constitution either through undermining Zimbabwe’s interests, sovereignty, disrupting the country’s founding values and also eroding the patriotic calls found in the sacred document.
If one undermines the contents in the preamble, for instance, it counts that he or she cannot be a law-abiding citizen, either as a national leader or as a private resident.
By knowing the birth of Zimbabwe and the genesis of the existence of its statehood, patriotic citizens are obliged to express thankfulness and respect to the country’s liberators.
Some ungrateful expressions have been seen in the opposition political parties and their appendages in which they have undermined the role of Zimbabwe’s liberators, collaborators and ex-detainees in attaining the country’s independence, that alone is contrary to constitutional expectations.
Why not criminalise treachery?
Upon a qualitative assessment of the current political developments, this writer has a conclusion that the conscious masses of Zimbabwe will deny CCC leader Mr Nelson Chamisa the presidency by widely re-electing the incumbent, President Mnangagwa.
It is a thought that is both difficult to imagine and frightening to entertain that Mr Chamisa can win the reins of the country.
He makes the state and everything that Zimbabwe stands for vulnerable.
Mr Chamisa and his cohort have been bragging about going to Europe and urging foreign governments to continue tightening (sunga-one-sunga-dozen) the noose on Zimbabwe as part of their strategy to spoil state interests (kudira jecha).
Who remembers one Paddington Japajapa in 2018 pledging anarchy that Zimbabwe would be “ungovernable” if Mr Chamisa did not win the presidential vote?
It was also Mr Chamisa’s deputy, Mr Tenda Biti, who in December 2017 addressed the US Senate undermining Zimbabwe’s interests under the Second Republic while in the formative stages of re-engagement.
Hypothetically, how safe is Zimbabwe if Government folds hands when in the public domain lies information that those who want to be Zimbabwe’s next leaders are the comprador servicemen of the foreigners?
It is impossible for the state to turn a blind eye to these issues.
Two weeks ago, Government announced the adoption of the principles for the approval of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill on matters relating to the country’s sovereignty through the criminalisation of conduct that undermines Zimbabwe’s dignity, independence and national interests, among others.
It is possible to make the mind elastic and conclude that this good move is coming through to protect and preserve Zimbabwe’s values, principles and interests from statements and acts as ones that are empirically evident to have been exhibited by either Mr Chamisa or Mr Biti.
This list of such threatening acts is endless.
Zimbabwe’s national, regional and global status is an envy of many states who have resorted to using both state and non-state actors to undermine the sovereignty and dignity of the nation.
The adoption of the principles criminalising conduct that undermines Zimbabwe’s interests is being misread and misconstrued within the opposition political ranks as the formulation of what they term the “Patriotic Bill”.
The goal of the opposition and other non-state actors in driving this narrative is to mislead the world that the Zimbabwean Government wants to “legislate patriotism”.
Government is not legislating patriotism, but instituting measures to protect the country’s core interests, short-term and long-term objectives.
It is a form of treachery to the national conscience for Zimbabweans to have participated in the constitution-making-process of 2013, endorse the outcome and then speak contrary to the spirit of togetherness that has been the goal of the state since 1980.
Where treachery abounds, measures should be taken that maintain order and stability within the borders. Campaigning against Zimbabwe’s interests is as bad and wrong as any transgression of the national laws.
Not against criticism
There is evidence that Government, while working towards the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill, it is not shutting out space for dialogue and criticism. On many occasions Zimbabweans have criticised Government policies until in other instances there have been policy changes.
When criticism is directed towards the Government, it does not mean it should be presented in a way that impairs the standing of policy makers, by-passing the affectionate bonds of our unity in diversity and respect among national citizens.
The principles of “vox populi, vox dei” and that of having a “listening President” still inform the quest of the Second Republic to have plural ideas that foster national togetherness in our diversity through constructive criticism.
Who cannot be a patriot?
When a child acts contrary to family values and traditions he was born into, parents usually try all means to redirect their offspring into the family fold.
The parent’s anticipation is that each child, despite having different character traits, has to cultivate an idea that takes the family memory into the future with greatness. It is through these expectations that children are said to be “of one’s father”, that is, a patriot.
Similarly, the same can be said of citizens at the national level.
The word patriot is derived from a Greek word, patrios, which means “of one’s father”. Having been born and living in Zimbabwe, each individual is bound to be conventionally loyal to the national values, ethos and principles that inform Zimbabwe’s founding.
Speaking and acting contrary to these values and advocating for the undermining of Zimbabwe’s interests in foreign nations, or locally, means one is in contradiction with the commitment they made in 2013 at the inception of the current homegrown Constitution.
Remember, in the US when Edward Snowden went to Russia after putting “confidential” information into the public domain, Western media was angry at him on behalf of their government and labelling him a “traitor and sell-out”.
Even so, Bradley Chelsea Manning was also labelled a “traitor and sell-out” for giving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange information on the atrocities on civilians by US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
When the peculiarities of a nation, those that constitute its indispensable condition for the progress of humanity are damaged, those doing the bidding of the foreigner groan.
However, Zimbabwe’s patriotic citizens should hold forte and strive for the retention of the nation’s peculiarities as a patriotic duty that is a good and useful sentiment.
There is need for Zimbabweans to value all that we have, defend the national flag and remain loyal to the nation’s values, for that is the duty of all conscious citizens.
Even with our differences in opinion, nothing is more important than for us to find a common ground without doing the bidding of the foreigner.
Zimbabweans, remember we are one.
This is homeland!