CONVERSATIONS WITH MAWERE
"Invest in the change you want to see"
- Mutumwa Mawere -
Africa 2012 – When minds meet – Who governs, who rules?
Posted on January 17th 2012
Having read Manheru's article entitled "Who governs, who rules?" published by the Herald newspaper on 13 January 2012, it occurred to me that the shrinking conversation space on what matters in shaping and defining the character of not only Zimbabwe but Africa may very well explain the post-colonial African quagmire.
Manheru correctly observes that no real assessment of the Right Honourable Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai's book ("MT") has been done by a Zimbabwean and concludes by saying that this is partly a self-sought ruin, partly a tragedy of contemporary Zimbabwe.
My focus is not on MT's book and its alleged shortcomings but on the need to invest in the correct knowledge about the African story.
Many of us are afraid to add our voices and faces to the story choosing to be observers of the unfolding drama that typically takes place in our continent.
The central message that comes from Manheru's instalment is that ZANU-PF is in charge and MDC representatives in government are of no consequence but more significantly are intellectual midgets whose actions and choices are not origin and patriotic.
The fact that the post-colonial government of Zimbabwe has been presided by one face is not in doubt but the question of governance and the genesis of the ideas that have influenced the direction of the economy require careful examination.
In the battle of ideas that seek to dominate the thinking on what kind of Zimbabwe the future should hold, the people in power have a tendency to believe that they alone have the historic mission to impose their ideas on others instead of negotiating with others on the kind of political and economic morality that is required to deliver the promise.
The Zimbabwean narrative will suggest that the rulers are the only thinkers sufficiently concerned about the condition of the people when in truth and fact the squandered opportunities of the post-colonial era may have been directly produced by the crowding out effect of few minds that see no evil or harm emanating from power that is not shared or a vision that is monopolised.
It is clear from Manheru's perspective that MT is not fit to govern. Equally, it is self evident from the ideas that he subscribes to that only his boss has what it takes to govern.
In the battle of ideas, we are compelled to ask whether an electoral system is capable of producing smart or intelligent outcomes. If this is the case, people normally get leaders they deserve. What is more important is for citizens to be vigilant and participate actively in the battle of ideas because propaganda can be used to distort and mask the real issues.
To Manheru it would appear that the rulers are always right and any credit for human progress in post-colonial Zimbabwe must be given to ZANU-PF. However, we must accept that ZANU-PF and its actors are no angels.
I have no doubt that the narrative of post-colonial Zimbabwe from the perspectives of people like the late Nyagumbo, Tekere, and others may be different from Manheru's although no one can deny that they played a part in the liberation struggle.
If I were to ask Mr. Enos Nkala, for instance, about the Zimbabwean idea I have no doubt that he will have a lot to say about what has gone wrong not in MDC but in ZANU-PF.
Recently, Mr. Makamba lost his daughter in a car accident but unfortunately could not visit Zimbabwe because of the existence of a warrant of arrest notwithstanding the fact that he was acquitted on the charges that saw him languish in prison on remand for seven months.
I have no doubt that he has a lot to say about the rulers of Zimbabwe and the great idea that would condemn him to prison on a crime he did not commit.
Mr. Chiyangwa who has never received a government salary in his life must be wondering what idea Manheru is talking about when he was arrested on espionage notwithstanding the fact that he was not a state actor.
Today, Chiyangwa is being told by a party of liberation that he is not free to add his name and face to the contestants for provincial party posts because he is guilty as charged. No court of law has convicted him and yet the party that Manheru credits with wisdom has already condemned him.
Surely the struggle for freedom, justice and democracy was meant to allow people like Chiyangwa to contest for any office without let and hindrance.
Only the voters must decide and yet it would appear to Manheru that we should rather focus on MT's alleged character flaws or disputed facts in his book to decide on what kind of Zimbabwe we should have.
The starting point must surely be an assessment of the actions and choices that have been made over the last 32 years.
The focus should not be what MT's shortcomings are because even according to Manheru's version he has yet to test real power but we should focus on the ideas of ZANU-PF to understand why so many would find refuge and economic progress in foreign states and more importantly why people would be afraid to engage in the battle of ideas when they know better given what has happened to many who have chosen to see the world differently from the rulers.
As I look back on my own journey, I am also compelled to add my voice on the unacceptable political morality that would suggest that the end justifies the means.
In examining the preamble of the Reconstruction Act, a law that was used by the rulers to assume the control and management of SMM Holdings Private Limited ("SMM"), I thought that it would be beneficial to share the text so that people can begin to understand why MT would find no better title than "In the deep end" because the rulers can and have been ruthless in executing not the mandate of the people but the desire to remain in power.
The preamble reads as follows: "The Act shall apply to all State-Indebted companies, including those formed or incorporated before the date of commencement of the Act and regardless of when they became indebted to the State".
In the battle of ideas, I have no doubt that Manheru would find justification for a law that applies retrospectively. If this is what independence was meant to produce, then we must begin to debate the real question on whether the rulers are fit to govern.
It is true that for any idea to be converted into law the consent of the President is required.
In this case, the Act was passed when ZANU-PF dominated all the organs of the state and, therefore, it is legitimate to ask Manheru in his next instalment to provide a sound explanation on whether a regime that is capable of producing a law that applies retrospectively is what the liberation struggle was meant to produce and to what legitimate national interest.