My sincere and earnest hope is that this piece finds you all in good health and perfect peace. As some of you may already be aware, God pushes me forward. I desire to live in quiet, but I find myself being constantly thrown into the midst of tumults and revolutions. I am wondering if this has to do with my love for democracy and my overriding loyalty to the Republic of Zimbabwe. Whatever the case may be, I shall forever strive for a Zimbabwe in which we all feel that we have an effective voice in shaping our country.
It is public knowledge that human knowledge is partial and imperfect. Even Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special talents; I am only passionately curious”. I cannot therefore singly possess all the knowledge required to move our nation forward. I cannot, however, ignore the fact that I was educated from childhood to endure difficulty and to think and act for myself, taught to bear responsibilities, to be guarded in speech, and to understand the wisdom of silence. This article has resulted directly from an intense ruminative process. I have an obligation and a responsibility to do something for my community, my country and our world.
There are a number of people whose lives have inspired, motivated and encouraged me to do what I am doing. Some are dead and some are living. I have been inspired by the likes of John Bunyan, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Jr., Herbert Wiltshire Chitepo, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, and Nelson Chamisa and so on and so forth. Because of their influence, you will hear me saying like the prophet Amos did, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream”. Like Martin Luther the reformer, I will also say: “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise, so help me God”. I won’t end there. I will behave like John Bunyan and say: “I will stay in jail until the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience”.
United States President Barack Obama (my living hero) called the late Nelson Mandela “the great liberator of the twentieth century”. Mandela never viewed politics as a youthful diversion; instead, politics was to Mandela his lifework, an essential and fundamental part of his being. I have found myself repeating his famous words: “There was no particular day on which I said; henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people; instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise”.
Zimbabwe is a polarized nation and the need has arisen for us to attempt, in earnest, to heal the wounds of the divided nation. We mustn’t blind ourselves to the fact that, as Cindy Croft said, “We are people first, before anything else. Our shared humanity is more important than the impressions we give to each other by how we look, how we learn, or how we act”. For this reason, I agree with Confucius that: “Sometimes in order to go forward one must take a step backwards.” It is significant that we retrace our steps to where we went astray and resume our journey from there.
Why have we become even more brutal than our previous oppressor? There can be no doubt whatsoever that our lives are circumscribed by draconian pieces of legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act (which is by far more evil than the Rhodesian Law and Order Maintenance Act), Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Interception of Communications Act, Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, and Broadcasting Services Act among others. These laws harm a democratic society because of their violations on our fundamental freedoms and human rights. They cripple our growth, dim our potential, and stunt our lives.
The problems of poverty, urban life, unemployment, education, housing, medical care, and flexible foreign policy are dependent on positive and forthright action from the government. But so long as ZANU PF governs exclusively, the entire progress of our nation is in as grave danger as the election of Robert Mugabe might have produced. The battle is far from being won. It has only begun. The main burden of a free, just and democratic nation is still upon each and every one of us.
I have heard repeated calls for Morgan Tsvangirai to step down from some of his lieutenants. And, Elton Mangoma, the MDC deputy treasurer, is the latest to have widely circulated his criticism of Tsvangirai which was of course in bad taste. I have seen the sudden ascendancy of some figures in the MDC with a condescending and arrogant attitude. They have university degrees and believe they alone hold the key to the creation of a free, fair, just and democratic Zimbabwe. They forget one thing: “A degree isn’t itself a guarantee of leadership and it means nothing unless one goes out into the community to prove oneself” (Nelson Mandela). Like Obama rightly observed, “In a democracy, the most important office is that of the citizen”. Why can’t the people decide on who they want to lead them in the MDC?
Lest we forget, the MDC remains the repository of our hopes and aspirations. To Morgan Tsvangirai I say: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy” (Martin Luther King, Jr).
In conclusion, I admire the non-violent activism of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr as well as his successful protest against racial discrimination. Dr. King started his career as a leader in his community and went on to be one of America’s and the world’s most influential figures of the 20th century. He said thus: “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined non-conformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific and religious freedom have always been non-conformists. In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the non-conformist”. I put my faith in Morgan Tsvangirai! The struggle continues unabated!
By Mutsa Murenje, a WYA member from South Africa