AS we come to the end of 2016 let’s congratulate opposition parties that have made the bold and patriotic decision to unite, including those still consulting, ahead of the 2018 elections.
Next year must see the birth of a united front to finally end Mugabe’s tyranny. We also congratulate the majority in the Mugabe regime; judiciary, security sector and general civil service for embracing change.
We should also thank dear biology for slowly taking care of some business. It’s evident that dictators will not live for ever.
We are encouraged that through initiatives like Cape Town, NERA and CODE people have risen up and, for the first time, their expressions on the streets have not been in vain. Positively almost every opposition party is willing to unite and has laid its conditions for unity.
The commitment to unite is not for the selfish or the professional opposition activist who sees no urgency in ending the people’s suffering. Those on the ground and with a human heart know better. A genuine democrat cannot behold the current suffering and put self-interests ahead of national interests. It can only be Zanu PF who thrive on people’s suffering for as long as their stomachs are taken care of. It’s inconceivable that a true Zimbabwean can give personal and selfish preconditions for ending people’s suffering. Equally evil is to be used by the Mugabe regime to prolong people’s suffering.
The decision to unite was not a sign of weakness but of political maturity. The men and women who put pen to paper set aside personal interests for the good of the country. We have acknowledged that the fight is neither to the strong nor the small but success is through our combined strength.
None of us, big or small as we might be, has so far been individually good enough. What is important is that the coalition is not anti-anybody, is open and excludes no one. There is no room for personalities. Those that are not part of it have chosen not to be part of it for their own reasons.
Unfortunately, coalitions have been discussed mainly from political party view. First, let me say that the nation will gain more from it than individual political parties. The fundamental problem at hand is that while Zanu PF has destroyed the country there has not been a political party strong or good enough to change the status quo. We have been voting since 1985 to no avail. The situation has been made worse by the splintered nature of our opposition. It has thus become necessary that we unite in one corner and isolate Zanu PF in the other corner.Advertisement
The coalition is a strategy more than an accommodation of individuals. It is more about dismantling Zanu PF dictatorship than sharing positions. We cannot share what we don’t have; we must get it first. If we don’t unite we don’t have anything to share. We sacrifice personal interests so that we can achieve national interests. The coalition will unite us and provide a better platform for nation building.
A prosperous, accommodative, respectful nation is better than the current acrimonious state. We have been badly soiled by Zanu PF to the extent that we have believed the unfortunate lie that politics is all about deceit and “tamba wakachenjera”. Politics can be cleaner, honest and motivated by national interest. We might be living in an underdeveloped region but our minds and behaviour don’t have to be.
Those that are in the know are quite aware of the complications surrounding our desire for an effective coalition to dismantle Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s dictatorship. We have many interest groups and stakeholders to contend with in the push for the coalition; we have those trying to make the coalition, those trying to avoid it and those trying to be part of it. The good news is that progress is being made. At ZUNDE we are working very hard to make the coalition work and are also very keen to be part of it.
To reject the coalition on the basis that one is not guaranteed a seat on the high table is selfishness at its highest. Some prefer an elitist coalition of specially and purposely picked individuals. They desire a coalition that dances to their partisan tunes. This is regrettable and I hope these people will soon realise that they are holding the nation to ransom. The people of Zimbabwe cannot continue to suffer until an individual’s personal interests are satisfied.
We also understand that some parties are still consulting on whether to join or not. That should not be a problem. Their seat on the coalition will remain vacant until they are ready to take it. In the meantime, we shall push forward as we have not much time left. We hope that when these still-consulting comrades take their seats they will respect progress made and not seek to restart the whole process.
We also know the individuals who have been planted among us to drag us down. We hope they will notice that we are not obsessed with individuals but national interests. Our cause will benefit every citizen, including the highly-abused security sector. They will soon, if not already, realise that we have nothing against them individually. They will equally enjoy the fruits of success and professionalism that we aspire for. When we are free, they will for once proudly wear the uniform and we will salute them for sure.
The coalition is not about individuals but a strategic tool or construct to create and exert maximum pressure on Zanu PF. In that respect, we are all important as long we are pushing in the same direction. Coalitions are not about equality but more of a partnership. We are all different in size, capacity, capability and content. It’s like in a family; even though the parents are physically bigger and can bring more food, the small child can bring emotional stability, comfort; and can actually be the difference between a standing and breaking family.
All these differences must not stand in the way of an effective coalition. The coalition partnership agreement can take care of that. Unity can be achieved through the different and unequal contributions from partners. Each partner brings in whatever they have and there is no shame in that. We can choose to unite respectfully and equitably than to remain adamant and perish.
In making the coalition work lets be less personal and more respectful of each other. The frequent insults we hurl at each other will never advance the struggle even an inch. Insults are a true reflection of the originator. Zimbabwe is one and we are Zimbabweans first and foremost. If one says he or he cannot work with so and so where will we end; only with a splintered nation.
We should draw lessons from our own experience after the liberation struggle. We had to make a bold decision for the benefit of our country and accept to work with or even under our past Rhodesian Front enemy! In 2009 the opposition was prepared to unite with Zanu PF in the GNU. One wonders what has become so different for the same opposition to work with fellow opposition activists. Some are even talking to Zanu PF despite its Matebeleland and 2008 murderous past but are adamant they cannot work with fellow opposition members. Please we can do much better than this.
I urge anyone interested in the future of this country to do everything possible to unite the people of Zimbabwe. We can make an effective coalition if we want. If we can be patriotic, less selfish and focus on national interests rather than personal or partisan interests, we will succeed in building an effective coalition. If we consider the people of Zimbabwe as first beneficiaries of our activism we will be able to lay aside personal interests, egos and the demon of entitlement. No one is born entitled to lead Zimbabwe but that it is a privilege bestowed on an individual through the free choice of the people.
In my analysis and experience I have concluded that our worst enemy in the quest for unity is personal interest and egos. I don’t know where it comes from but I often see articles that have no other value than personal upliftment and insulting fellow citizens. We don’t become better activists by insulting others; instead we become greater activists by adding value to the common good coming from all of us.
For the coalition to succeed reconciliation must be embraced starting from within our own individual parties. The rate of splitting ais disappointing. Fifty political parties in a small and collapsed country like ours is unbelievable. We cannot split every time we disagree. Those with personal differences must find each other and reconcile. It’s sad that personal differences are our biggest hurdle to a coalition. We agree on everything except on who should be in or out. It must never be like that. We can surely do better. When big brothers or sisters lead by good example, the younger ones will respectfully follow!
Have a wonderful New Year. Let’s meet in the New Year more united and determined. We must not be pre-occupied on who has started what or the mistakes that might have been made. We must focus on progress and national interests. We all must not let no personal interests be given as conditions for unity.
Farai Mbira is President of Zimbabweans United for Democracy (ZUNDE). He is also NERA Convenor and CODE Deputy Chairperson