True Leadership for Zimbabwe

Teenage girl praying outdoors at twilight. Shallow DOF.I have a moral obligation to support anti-oppressive and empowering policies and practices, and to assist individuals, families, groups and communities in the pursuit and achievement of equitable access to social, economic and political resources and in attaining self-fulfillment, self-management and social well-being. For this reason, I am empowered to point out the social injustices of my day with severity.

It would be an idle exercise of the imagination, therefore, to expect one to be silent when wealthy merchants, lusting for economic power, ruthlessly trample on the heads of the poor and defenseless; when public leaders (the ruling elite) revel in luxury and are corrupted by indulgence; when law courts are used to serve the vested interests of the elite and finally, when religion has no word of protest against the inhumanities that are being perpetrated in our society.

Before independence in 1980, the majority of Zimbabwe’s population suffered appalling discrimination, humiliation, and dispossession, with the colonialist settler regime constantly and consistently violating every human rights standard. This compelled ‘Sons and Daughters of the Soil’ to forcefully seek freedom, equality, individual liberties and democracy. To realise these, they had to sacrifice their lives, families, education, livelihoods, et cetera. And yet, it is tragically true that human rights are frequently and flagrantly violated in Zimbabwe, albeit, 33 years after independence! Since independence, there have been setbacks, with innumerable legal limitations imposed on our rights. Robert Mugabe, the octogenarian tyrant, has really made life miserable for the people of Zimbabwe.

Prominent nationalists like Chitepo, Mangena, Takawira and Sithole were people of faith, of integrity, of perseverance – the difficulties they faced were legion, and one might have thought, insurmountable. But they persisted, ever faithful to the cause for a free, just and democratic Zimbabwe, and Zimbabwe was established. But they hoped to establish and regulate a free Zimbabwe in which the young would be educated, the sick would be treated, and the hungry-would be fed.

Today finds Zimbabwe faces additional problems – dictatorship, oppression, corruption, poverty, unemployment, AIDS, and a myriad of others common to the modern world. Will those working here today have the faith, the integrity, and the perseverance to overcome as those earlier nationalists did? We pray to God that they, and those who follow to carry on the work, will not be found wanting.

Mugabe betrayed the struggle for independence. His behaviour is a complete negation and betrayal of what the liberation struggle was all about. We were removed from a hard world only to be dumped into a far worse one. Don’t be fooled that Mugabe is defending the ‘gains’ of the struggle by embarking on the land reform programme and pursuing such useless policies as the indigenisation policy. He wants to safeguard the narrow interests of the ruling elite, their ill-gotten wealth at the expense of the whole nation!

Why is Mugabe doing all this? The answer is simple. Mugabe has become godless as a result of the merciless onslaught of materialism. He has not only become a real danger to society but also to himself. Mugabe is a threatening menace to our peace, security, progress and development.

But we all know, don’t we, that oppression remains oppression no matter the skin color or ethnicity of the oppressor. It doesn’t become more palatable simply because one recognises their tongue or skin in the dictator. One, therefore, must either be with the struggling people or with the oppressing government. There are no other choices. I have chosen to be with the struggling people rather than the oppressing government.

Serious cases of unlawful assault and killing, kidnapping, torture, destruction of property and the like are key features of the Mugabe regime. Threats, degradation, torture, violence, and savage cruelty are largely a result of Mugabe’s insatiable desire for power. And yet we, as citizens, have a right to participate freely in politics and make decisions about how we are governed, without being threatened or intimidated. Our political rights include the right to vote, to think freely, to express our opinions in the newspaper, over radio and TV, on the phone, and by letters and e-mails, without hindrances or harassment. Linked to this is the right to privacy; we don’t want our personal communication to be intercepted. When we think that something is wrong, we want to exercise our right to hold peaceful demonstrations, without being tear-gassed, beaten up, arrested or shot. We need to be protected from the illegal regime of Robert Mugabe whose power needs to be controlled.

Mugabe has to be humbled by the fact that leadership is but a privilege we get from the people we lead and not a natural right from God. Leadership is not a title, but rather it is action. It means responsibility and accountability. Leaders make the world a better place to live and they are champions because they fight for others. In contrast, Mugabe has made Zimbabwe a dangerous place to live. He has dismally failed to inspire in us the desire to contribute to the common good. I wonder about the kind of future he wants to bequeath to future generations!

We are not afraid of Mugabe and neither should we be afraid of his trusty henchmen, those with the so-called ‘war credentials’ because they are human beings and not God. We can only be afraid of God, the Cosmic King, Yahweh of hosts (i.e. of heavenly armies; cf Judges 5:20) because as his people, we are ultimately dependent upon him. God is King par excellence, upon whose sovereignty the destinies of all peoples depend. I am talking here about “God and not a human being” (Hosea 11:9). Yes, the God who completely transcends the human world and is therefore beyond all human analogies and categories. Although active within the human world, God cannot be domesticated within it or manipulated and controlled according to human purposes. He is the One who is God absolutely, before whom all beings stand in judgement and upon whom everything that exists is dependent. In His presence, nothing unclean, nothing unrighteous, nothing idolatrous can survive.

What we want is a New Zimbabwe in which it will no longer be necessary to have political instruction services (National Youth Service in particular) which will appeal for “the knowledge of our country’s history,” for the whole community will “know” our history, in the trust and tryst of a loyalty that cannot be broken. Ours is a time of deep distress and yet out of it the people will be happy. Mugabe lacks the proper credentials to speak for the people. His is a stubborn and rebellious heart. He cannot be trusted, especially when considering the fact that oppression is heaped upon us like a pyramid. He has shown no concern for the defenseless victims of society and because of this, Zimbabwe is too dear to be left to Mugabe alone.

So what’s the way forward? A God-relating, God-seeking, God-worshipping and God-conscious leadership is of inestimable value in the process of bewildering change and uncertainty. We see this sort of leadership in Morgan Tsvangirai and it is there for all to see. Mutambara is Mugabe’s ally! In conclusion, pragmatism is more appropriate, or safer in the circumstances of our country. I rest my case.

By: Mutsa Murenje, a WYA member from Johannesburg, South Africa