Searching for the future in the past

by Sunday News Online | Sunday, Feb 18, 2018 | 548 views
 Dr Mundawarara shakes hands with Dr Joshua Nkomo while Cde Robert Mugabe looks on after signing of the Lancaster House Agreement on 21 December 1979 in London

Dr Mundawarara shakes hands with Dr Joshua Nkomo while Cde Robert Mugabe looks on after signing of the Lancaster House Agreement on 21 December 1979 in London

Richard Runyararo Mahomva

The locomotive conveying the ontological pace for the dismembered “third-world” has seen the continued peripheral isolation of this wretched part of the globe.

The supremacy of the West and its capture of knowledge power has falsely made the third-world a zone of no reason. This is why our aspirations for economic development are judged through borrowed terms which undermine home-grown perspectives to economic growth.

This explicitly expresses how the prejudice of coloniality has been conserved through various bodies of mainstream knowledge which undermines other knowledge(s).

We continue to live within the false attributes of marginalised discourses of Africa as a “Heart of Darkness” (Conrad 1902). As such, we give nods to the myth of the West as a factory of all ideas which shape all aspects of human-science, economics and politics in Africa.

The long gone seemingly physical crush of the empire has not relieved the continent from the institutional operations of imperialism. While we talk of the physical crush of colonial power in Africa, we need to be cognisant of how other parts of the continent are still under colonial physical bondage.

The means of production are still under imperial captivity in South-Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi and many other African countries. However, it is an established fact that Zimbabwe through the high pan-African pedigree of the ruling Zanu-PF has successfully attempted to effusively disentangle the physical colonial clout.

Zimbabwe has reclaimed land as the birth right of her people. Unlike other African republics we have gone beyond being satisfied about flag independence.

Zimbabwe has stood firm in reclaiming her political-economy. This is because one cannot claim political power without a dignified economic high ground.

This is the reason why the colonially-set negotiations for freedom were more politically centred than they commandeered economic freedom of the African. Why was the thrust of the Lancaster Agreement on gradual land loss compensation?

Why was there cosmic emphasis on reconciliation other than addressing the founding grievance of land loss of the African lot?

The forerunner attempts by some war-veterans to forcefully treat their land hunger rendered them “squatters” by the colonialists who claimed to be the rightful owners of the invaded farms.

They had the binding terms of our negotiated independence as the source of rationale to continue the oppression of the majority.

All this happened in the interest of promoting the “idea of Zimbabwe”. It’s quite obvious that the idea of Zimbabwe was illusive, it was meant to serve temporary transitional interests.

During that period literature was more nationalist celebratory than it was critical of the gaps of negotiated independence. There was more emphasis on celebrating the newly found political power.

As we would all remember, this was the time perspectives of liberation history were told from a perspective of absolute triumph of nationalism.

The warning by Frantz Fanon (1961) about watching against “pitfalls of national consciousness” became a lesser priority. I guess it was quite normal for “the people” to be more immersed in celebrating because this country was blood-earned. This is even captured in our music with Thomas Mapfumo’s song titled Pemberai.

The song summons Zimbabweans to endlessly celebrate the creation of Zimbabwe. The song even invites generations to come to continue celebrating the birth of Zimbabwe.

Celebrating the birth of Zimbabwe became a pertinent aspect of the immediate nation-building mantra.

This hype was accelerated by the country’s historical literature which had a homogenising effect on belonging.

For instance, Ranger (1970) posits that Zimbabwe is a product of a homogeneous liberation trajectory and decolonisation project.

However, Ranger’s submission attracts critical examination as it presents the Chimurenga as a “revolt”.

Contrary to the accepted national narrative, a revolt in colonial Zimbabwe’s context would imply going against an acceptable maxim. The term offers an apologetic emphasis on colonialism as an accepted form of governance which was met with rebellion by its African subjects.

The reader is made to believe that by then Africans were going against a legitimate form of governance. This largely emanates from the central thesis of Ranger’s research which places great emphasis on the relevance of a common African religion which catalysed the mobilisation process of forces of resistance in ousting colonial domination prior to these pre-1965 “wars.”

Ranger asserts that African cultism unified the Ndebele and the Shona in their resistance to colonialism. This points out how much literature was notably used to achieve a celebratory imagination of the idea of Zimbabwe.

Works of other historians like David Beach, Stan Mudenge and Prof Ngwabi Bhebe remained at the centre of building a memory of the country and in some spaces such literature was used to perpetuate the idea of Zimbabwe.

In economic terms, neo-liberalism has been mainly engaged as developmental than it is an expression of the West’s attempt to spread out the uniformity of its principles of governance at the expense of the experiences of those it targets as its students.

This is the same neo-liberalism which mutilated African economies to structural adjustments in the early 1990s.

In some spheres, the rationale of neo-liberalism has been problematised for promoting a one-sided course of the democracy debate in Africa.

It is not also disputable that neo-liberalism has aided the growth of opposition politics to safeguard colonial property ownership in Africa.

In Zimbabwe’s case, neo-liberalism played a crucial role in raising a selective awareness on human rights and democracy following the people-driven

Land Reform Programme. In turn, this prompted the need for reviving nationalism which was emphatic of Zimbabwe’s delink from the West in the early 2000s.

Nationalism became an emotive liberation-anchored perspective for reasserting Zimbabwe’s interaction with the West. Today, nationalism should be a resource for constructively defining Zimbabwe’s policy leaning with regards to improving the livelihoods of the citizenry.

Nationalism must be the defining mark of Zanu-PF’s entry into this dispensation. Nationalism is a key resource to grounding the legitimacy of the new administration in its economic development aspirations.

Taking a nationalist turn

Nationalist pronouncements on this engagement envisaged by the ruling must go beyond the narrative of employment-creation. This is because job-creation mainly sustains the economic power base of the multi-national company and the hegemony of its mother country.

The proposition of employment-creation must also cascade to enhancing the supply of skills to the mushrooming “informal sectors”. Likewise, the notion of employment-creation must add value to the absence of skills with direct impact on crucial sectors like our extractive industry.

There is also need for emphasis on promoting indigenous specialisation in the production of high-value commodities for export markets to compete with the imports consumer culture catalysed by neo-liberalism.

Our engagement with the international community must facilitate a lucid re-organisation of capital through mutual benefit of our local businesses and their foreign counterparts.

In the same vein, regional trade should be strengthened so that Sadc and Africa as a whole also benefit from Zimbabwe’s openness to business.

This will enable the country to become a relevant contributor to Africa’s growth, particularly in terms of restoring her legacy as the breadbasket of Africa.

Through this approach, it may also be easy for Zimbabwe to set the pace for fostering collective dialogue in trade negotiations regarding goods and services which the continent has to offer.

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