...After Mugabe, Zimbabweans will never tolerate a dictator

Will Emmerson Mnangagwa take us to Canaan? picture credit. Chronicle 

WE are at a very interesting political juncture in Zimbabwe right now. The army has made the move and “captured “the apparatus of the state, and the long-surviving President of Zimbabwe, Mugabe is under house arrest. This would have been unthinkable a few weeks ago, when the Youth interface rallies were taking place, and Grace would call anyone names as she wishes.
We understand the President Robert Mugabe is refusing to step down, and in fact making demands that have arrested the entire nation in suspense. He suddenly realises the country has a constitution and is waving it to all and sundry, that the move has been unconstitutional. The nation awaits with bated breath, that this impasse witll be resolved soon. One thing Iam sure everyone in the nation agrees to, is that Mugabe must go, and some new dispensation must be ushered into the country.
But what kind of dispensation must that be? What are the leadership qualities that the new leaders must possess? Our hopes are understandably mixed with a sense of trepidation.
Of Moses and the road to Canaan
Zimbabweans will recall the euphoria that gripped them in 1980, and the expectations that they had finally been delivered from bondage into the land of milk and honey. Mubage was their Moses, and he had delivered them from slavery in Egypt to Canaan. He wrestled the mantle of leadership from the British Colonialists and would usher in prosperity, freedom and democracy. But instead of being the saviour of the people he led from bondage, Mugabe went on the heap more misery and bondage than the one they had endured under the British colonialists. He went on to suppress the people more than the colonialists did and now the challenge for this new dispensation is to prove that this era is now behind us.
Zimbabweans and cautious optimism
It is this background that tampers the enthusiasm of the people at this very hour when a new dispensation is about to be ushered in the country. The concerns are born of the experiences of the past 37 years and are heightened by the fact that those likely to assume the reins of power are the same erstwhile comrades of dictator Mugabe for all these years. The frontrunner to take over power, is Emmerson Mnangagwa, a longtime ally of Mugabe who has been part of Mugabe’s government since independence in 1980. It falls on Mnangagwa’s shoulders to prove to the people that he can deliver them to the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. There is an opportunity for Mnangagwa to prove that the ills that people suffered over the years were not systemic, but resident in the nature and character of Mugabe himself; that it is possible to create a prosperous nation where the dividends of development are enjoyed by all its citizens and freedoms are not a privilege but a right.He has to prove that he is his own man and that the stigma that accompanies him by association is either unfounded or at best can be changed. He needs to understand that under the circumstances, people’s doubts are understandable. The opportunity is his to turn a negative into a huge positive.
This article looks at what the new leadership should bring to the people in order to gain their confidence.
Mugabe's Legacy
In 1980, When Mugabe and other nationalists including Mnangagwa got into government, most Zimbabweans believed that the bad days of the war, racial, discrimination and poverty were behind them and good days were ahead of them. They did not know that in a few years to come those who held divergent views from him in Midlands and Matabeleland would be massacred in a government operation which was destroying the activities of the so-called dissidents in an operation led by the Korean trained 5th Brigade which became known as Gukurahundi. An estimated 20 000 people died during this period.
When some citizens were interviewed by the media soon after independence, they voiced their hopes of finally owning their own homes and securing jobs but little did they know that the few available ones were going to be given to Mugabe's inner circle and family members. The houses that were available were equally grabbed by members of the nonagenarian leader's cabal. The ones who managed to secure stands and build their homes had them razed to the ground under Mugabe's watch in a government clean-up exercise codenamed 'Operation Murambatsvina ' or clean up the filth which according to the UN Tibijuka report saw more than 20 000 families lose their homes and livelihoods.
At Independence the people literally hung onto Mugabe's sermons on how he would usher in the much-needed peace prosperity and healing that the people badly needed after a protracted armed liberation struggle against the colonial regime but with the passage of time there was the clear recognition that we had jumped from the frying pan straight into the fire.
One of Mugabe's legacies is that of inheriting a flourishing economy that was the envy of many in Africa. President Julius Nyerere called it a jewel and reminded Mugabe not to destroy it. Standards of living particularly for the privileged whites, matched those in the First world. Mugabe went on to completely destroy this flourishing economy. Once a breadbasket of the continent, Mugabe turned Zimbabwe into the basket case that it is today owing to poor policies and governance. Today Zimbabwe is the only country in the world which does not have its own currency, and as if that is not enough, it does not even know which currency to use. During his 37-year-old rule, Mugabe managed to reverse all the dividends of the liberation struggle.

Where do we go from here
At the moment Zimbabweans are willing to accept anyone who will not be Mugabe but the challenge for the new dispensation is to usher in a leadership that will resonate with the needs of the people of Zimbabwe, an accommodative leadership which is inclusive and is concerned with nation-building.

The economy which is in comatose will no doubt be the albatross around the new dispensations neck and how they handle this will determine how they will be accepted by the people. Improving the economy while necessary, is in itself not sufficient to bring change unless it is reflected in the improvement in the lives of the suffering majority. The new dispensation will be expected to improve the economy , raise the people's standards of living, create jobs, get industry to work again, attract foreign investment, create an investor friendly environment, join the global economic village.
The new dispensation will endear itself to the people if it is able to open up democratic spaces, allow divergent views to be aired and reach out to opposition parties and encourage a seperation of powers. These are some of the things Mugabe's administration failed to do. They must also encourage independence of State Institutions to allow for checks and balances .
There is also need for the creation of equal opportunities for all in a new Zimbabwe and a system to weed out corruption which has torn the moral and economic fabric of the nation. I for one would want a situation where there will no longer be “jobs for the boys” with every thing being based on merit and not nepotism. I'm sure this will no doubt do a world of good in Zimbabwe. Another issue to tackle would be the issue of devolution and reduce the powers of central government.

Walking the Talk
Whatever this dispensation intends to do it must be careful to walk the talk because by now we all know that talk is cheap. The new leadership needs to live by the; “It is not what you do that matters but is what you must be seen to be doing,” gospel.
They need to desist from the Mugabe way of doing things which saw the old leader purchasing mansions around the world and buying expensive toys for his children at a time when 2 million people in the country relied on food aid in the country. Mugabe saw it fit to travel to the Far East for seemingly uncomplicated issues like eye check-ups. This probably explains why the country's health delivery systems are on its knees. It's because leaders like Mugabe were so divorced from the plight of the ordinary citizens because of the amount of wealth they controlled. I suppose they couldn't care less about how there is no water and painkillers at Harare Hospital because they never use those facilities anyway. If one of them fell ill, they would just fly out of the country and seek treatment in health facilities which are well equipped and managed. Imagine just how much difference the cost of a Presidential flight and entourage to Singapore would make towards equipping a hospital like Parirenyatwa which would benefit the generality of the population.Now, this is something Mnangagwa and his team need to take heed of lest they repeat the same mistakes, and end up being disliked by the people.
Qualities of a good leadership
A true leader should be able to feel what the people feel. If the people feel hungry, he/she should, in turn, feel the hunger pangs too. We do not expect the leader of a new Zimbabwe to be purchasing a diamond ring worth millions of dollars at a time when the majority is failing to feed and access medical services let alone send their children to school. A good leader should no be one who takes the only available aeroplane in the country and takes his family on holiday. He should take care not to go the Mugabe globe trotting way as, In a new Zimbabwe, the leader will also be judged by how he treats those around him and what he allows them to do. Gone are the days when Zimbabwe tolerated a leadership which would loot the country's resources for the purposes of enriching themselves.
A good leader is always judged by how he conducts himself and humility is key. I find honour in what President John Magufuli is doing for Tanzania. He has declared that no civil servant shall fly first class thereby drastically cutting down the travel bill in the country. This singular action freed funds which were then channelled towards strengthening health delivery services. I should hasten to say that we need, as Professor Patrick Lumumba of Kenya would put it, 'a Magufulification of Zimbabwe' at this point in time. Nicknamed the bulldozer for the project he embarked on to repair the country's roads, Zimbabwe needs one such bulldozer to spearhead the repair of roads and infrastructure to make the country great again.
After Mugabe, Zimbabwe does not need a leadership which thinks so highly of itself that it is above the law. This new dispensation needs to take a firm stand on issues like corruption that have eaten away at the economy and the social fabric of the country. No longer will Zimbabweans tolerate a slack leadership which does not pay for its mistakes like in the Mugabe era where we had ministers missing parliamentary sessions deliberately. Zimbabweans will no longer accept ministers like Jonathan Moyo and Ignatius Chombo who are fingered in corrupt activities and go scot free. This new dispensation should realise that we are on the brink of a new era where the responsibility for failure or success of the leadership lies with the entire leadership including the president himself.
Magufuli also won the hearts of his people when he cancelled lavish independence No celebrations to free the funds for other important matters which had to do with the development of the nation. We do not need a country where there is a national movement around the birthday of the President sincerely hope that in this new dispensation we will begin to see less lavish independence and birthday celebrations where poor teachers are forced to contribute from their meagre salaries as what happened in the Mugabe era. After all the bible says humble yourself before the Lord and he will lift you up.

National Cohesion
A nation is not defined by the racial complexion of its citizens, notwithstanding the history of colonisation. The new dispensation should embrace all Zimbabweans from across the racial divide and not judge people by the colour of their skin as Mugabe did. This will no doubt help push the nation forward in the direction of progress. One needs only look at countries like Singapore where the economy is flourishing. The nation state is an all-inclusive country with people from different racial backgrounds of Chinese, Malays, and Indians, all who are all proud to be Singaporeans. The new dispensation in Zimbabwe should heed the fact that some of these white people that Mugabe so hated were actually born in Zimbabwe and are therefore Zimbabwean. Most of them are in fact proud to be Zimbabwens.Going forward, it will be helpful if the leadership were to deal with racists when they are seen to be so, not simply because they are white.
A good leader is measured on their words and this was one of Mugabe's biggest problems. The man simply became excitable when he was handed a microphone in the presence of a crowd. He just spewed vitriol from his mouth without a care of where this was happening. One of his favourite places were the funerals. Mugabe would go on about his perceived enemies or defectors without a care about the grieving families.
He also failed to utilise political rallies to unveil his manifesto, instead, he used rallies to embarrass his enemies. How does a whole president denigrate his Vice President at a rally? How does a President threaten to sack a VP at a rally? That is not a democracy. Surely if he wanted to discipline his deputy he could have summoned him properly and dismissed him. After all the Vice President serves at the pleasure of the president.
I think this new dispensation should completely do away with sloganeering pasi na nhingi pamberi na nhingi and instead focus their energies on issues at hand. Going forward we would want to see an election based on real issues and not based on personalities as is the case in countries like America. Yes, I understand that we are a young democracy compared to countries like America but I believe if there is political will on the part of this new dispensation it can be achieved. As Zimbabweans we would like an election where one can say today I will vote for Democrats because they are addressing issues I believe in and tomorrow I will vote for the Republicans and vice versa.

If Mnangagwa is to succeed where Mugabe has failed, he should realise that he is not only responsible for a political portfolio of his party but for the national portfolio. He must, therefore, work hard to unite the people who were divided by Mugabe along political lines. We saw this in how food and agricultural inputs were distributed along political lines. If one were not Zanu PF, they could not access these benefits. This is something that Mnangagwa and his team need to take special note of as it will help with the national healing process. He will also need to work overtime to deal with the issue of gukurahundi which his predecessor dismissed as a moment of madness. I'm not too sure how he'll be able to deal with this sticky matter as he is also fingered in the genocide. However, he needs to establish some sort of truth and reconciliation commission to deal with the matter and heal the rift among the people.

And By the way
On the Game of chess
Someone must have taught Kudzayi Chipanga the basics of the game of chess. The pawn is the piece that you give away in order to protect the King and the Queen. The Queen is free to roam around as she pleases, while the King can only move one step at a time. The game is up when the King cannot move at all. This is called Checkmate. The game can be up even while the Queen is still on the chess board. Chipanga gave a Press statement in which he denigrated the security forces, and quickly regrets he did. He fell victim. The king (Mugabe) is under house arrest and is now check-mated. The Queen (Grace) seems to be roaming around the chess board somewhere.
So much for Chess 101.
And our clueless opposition:
I am not flattered by the responses of our opposition to the Army takeover of the reins of Government. Mugabe is the one man every person in Zimbabwe wants out of the political stage. The opposition have failed to dislodge him, precisely because he has denied them their rights and stolen their vote time and time again, and shrunk democratic space over the past 37 years. In other words, he has denied them their constitutional rights for so long. Now, instead of the opposition coming out strongly and supporting the Army to show the nation that even though this is not bringing uhuru in the first instance, it is the right first step, they are part of the group pontificating about the constitutionalism of the action by the Army. Talk of missed chances.
The opposition should be in the forefront of mobilizing people to the streets in support of the Army move, and put pressure on SADC to stop suddenly reading the constitution on us today. Did SADC act with as much enthusiasm when we were beaten and butchered in 2008? Where were they when our election was stolen in 2013?Right now Mugabe should not be seen to be dictating the terms of his departure under the guise of a constitution whose existence and relevance he is only recognizing now. We are becoming prisoners of civility.
Talk of the dearth in strategic thinking in our opposition!! At this moment we should not care what the Army move is called; it has delivered the result we want, a result we failed to obtain on our own. As the Chinese saying goes, “It does not matter whether the cat is black or white, so long it catches mice.”


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