OUR country is Zimbabwe. Some of us were born in the years preceding our national independence in 1980, and most of us were born in the years after.
In both instances, we are grateful to our ancestors and God for being Zimbabwean, by birth or by naturalisation. We will consistently be conscious of the depth of gratitude we owe to those that fought in the first and second liberation wars for our country to be free from colonialism and minority rule. We also owe a similar amount of gratitude to those that have sought and continue to seek the further democratisation of our society in the thirty years that our country has been sovereign.
It is also the very same thirty years that have brought us to our own maturity and political consciousness. We are now not only aware of the contradictions that face our society and our country but also that the future belongs to us, the next generation and those that will come after us.
We are also aware that it remains our historical task to take up the mantle of the values and principles of the liberation struggle together with the National Working People’s Convention of 1999 under the auspices of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. We have come to the realisation that the former liberation war movements that are now political parties have, after leading the people to freedom, abrogated the same values and principles that founded the vision for a democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe.
Those parties that were and are still being formed in the last thirty years of our country’s independence, while effectively curtailing the establishment of a one party state in the country and challenging Zanu PF hegemony have, in the aftermath of the formation of the inclusive government, demonstrated a regrettable lack of understanding of the enormity of the historical task at hand, a task that requires lack of ambiguity and commitment to principle and purpose.
As it stands, as the country awaits the turn of the year from 2010 to 2011, the narrative of the struggle for a democratic Zimbabwe has become less people-driven and void of democratic principle. The country has been asked by the inclusive government to accept change that takes us back to the past and a change which can best be described as incremental or conservative in form and content.
The majority of the people had the impression that the inclusive government and the three attendant political parties were keen on not only stabilising the national economy, but also taking us on a new path to true democracy and people centered social and economic planning.
Instead, the inclusive government has taken us to the past, undertaking what we know to be the policies that economically and politically disenfranchised the majority with the implementation of structural adjustment policies in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s together with the consolidation of a repressive state.
Two years after its formation, the inclusive government has ignored what can only be described as a chronic crisis in health, education, water provision amongst many other social service deliverables. The fact that a greater number of Zimbabweans are continually unemployed or trying to leave the country legally and illegally points to a state and government that is out of touch with its citizen’s needs and aspirations.
Where the non-governmental sector of the country has sought to intervene, it has done so with solutions and templates that are pre-determined elsewhere and in a manner that seeks to pander to the whim of any of the three political parties in the inclusive government. These non –governmental organisations have sought the easier route in addressing the social and economic problems the country is facing, limiting themselves to meetings with the politicians and not necessarily with the people.
If I sound self righteous, it is only because I seek to depart from the politics of old, a politics we have known to have been characterised by patently false promises to the people, lazy and ineffective solutions to the country’s problems and an inherent lack of principle and purpose.
In the past, we have been part of the progressive democratic forces that have sought to challenge Zanu PF hegemony. We had confidence as we participated directly in the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change based as it was on the principles and points of action enunciated in the National Working Peoples Convention in early 1999.
We were, as we are today, fully committed to the same National Working People’s Convention and its commitment to democracy as well as social and economic justice. In the eleven or so years since the NWPC, and the formation of the MDC, we have also steadfastly maintained that true democratic change can only be arrived at via a people-driven constitution making process.
This we have done so through the National Constitutional Assembly to which we remain committed in flesh and in spirit. That is why we are signatories to the First and Second Peoples Constitutional Conventions facilitated by the NCA in 1999 and 2009 respectively. This is why we categorically rejected the inclusive government’s constitutional reform process as led by the Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) in terms of Article 6 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
And it is why we are firmly committed to campaigning for a ‘NO’ vote in the pending constitutional referendum. Indeed we know that youth movements from the three parties that are in the inclusive government as well as those that are in political parties outside of the same will be shepherded towards towing their party lines regardless of the truth that these positions will be patently undemocratic and without the national interest.
We are different. We make our own decisions consciously and are not whipped into a particular line by any politicians. Instead we are guided by our beliefs and principles. And it is these principles that have persuaded us of the necessity of the no vote. And in this we will be victorious. Once it is achieved, we will once again take up the task of ensuring a people driven constitution. Simultaneously we will call the inclusive government to account on its actions and we will reject any calls for an election within such a repressive environment.
Some of our fellow citizens may seek to argue that we are taking the wrong path. We are persuaded that contrary to these assertions we are on the revolutionary path. We believe it is now time we reclaim the country from the peddlers of false hope and distributors of patronage via the state, international donors and state/party embedded corporate businesses.
We are conscious of the fact that for Zimbabwe to be free from colonialism a lot of lives were lost. We are also conscious of the fact that for the second phase of democratisation to even occur, lives were lost, particularly so between the years 1983-1987; 2000 and the very dark days between March and December 2008. It is our intention to ensure that none of the lives of all of those comrades and friends in either phases of our country’s history were lost in vain.
We too are believers in our country and its people beyond the narrow confines of political partisanship as has been sadly demonstrated by the inclusive government. We are committed to the betterment of the lives of all Zimbabweans and we ask you all to join us, to join the new phase of the struggle for freedom in Zimbabwe, the struggle of the many against the few, the struggle against hunger, deprivation, oppression and elitist politics; the struggle for the full realisation of the ideals of an independent, democratic and people centered Zimbabwe.
The beginning of the third phase of the struggle is now upon us. It is with our generation’s ‘no’ vote campaign that we will fulfill our long held conviction that indeed, it is our country too and that its wealth should serve older generations, younger generations and those that are still to come.
True to country, true to freedom and in pursuit of liberation.
Takura Zhangazha is a supporter of the National Constitutional Assembly