The Sunday News
Richard Runyararo Mahomva, Pivot
President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa concluded his 2021 Heroes Celebrations speech by uttering the slogan “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo” which simply means ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi/a nation is built by its owners. Such a proposition depoliticises the national question and rescues our nationhood from the binary of the partisan. As a policy declaration, this is an invitation to all Zimbabweans to take full ownership of the nation –its history, future aspirations, successes and failures.
This is a clarion call to all of us to decide the future we want as Zimbabwean nation-building stakeholders. The call to take full ownership of our nation evokes a level high sense of patriotic consciousness. In so doing, we soberly confront the deficits of our partisan persuasions which have kept us estranged from one another.
In other words, the President has cast the dice by inviting all Zimbabwean citizens across the political divide towards a common national assignment of re-building Zimbabwe.
Such a proposition also disengages the President from his obvious instinctive loyalty to ZANU PF –his own party. In other words, he re-acknowledges his place as a citizen than a national political patriarchy and of course as ZANU PF’s First Secretary. Taking this position further dispels the reactionary misgiving used to discredit the incumbent mandate of ZANU PF as having a total monopoly over Zimbabwe.
As a nation, we have been caught up in a trivial neoliberal existent reality that ZANU PF is Zimbabwe and that Zimbabwe is ZANU PF. It is on this basis that the conviction to be patriotic is dismissed for loyalty to ZANU PF.
This misguided view has justified neoliberal scholars and Non-Governmental Organisations’ (NGOs) irrationality of linking all problems faced by Zimbabwe to ZANU PF.
At the same time, this group has disconnected itself from all the problems confronting our nation including the tragedy of the West’s neo-colonial penetration into our politics.
Guided by the penchant for selective amnesia and its polarising output, our political discourse has attributed all our national problems to ZANU PF’s ‘long stay’ in power. Those popularising such narratives never see themselves as part of the much emphasised Zimbabwean problem. We have emphasised a linear dimension to the so-called
‘Zimbabwean crisis’ and yet neo-liberal thought leaders have failed to introspect and locate their share of mistakes that have contributed to Zimbabwe’s current problems.
In the process, we have normalised the idea of leaving the ZANU PF-led government to deal with all national development errands. We have been narrowly misled to believe the mandate to develop the nation solely rests on ZANU PF. Ironically, we have only used the civil society space to push for the fall of ZANU PF and not finding real development solutions for our nation.
As citizens, we don’t find any value in holding ourselves accountable for advancing the goal of nation-building. It even becomes worse when the opposition in full control of local governance jurisdiction especially in urban areas blames the central government for its poor service delivery. Instead of producing unifying national discourses, we have an oppositional culture which only supports the fall of a constitutionally elected government and has no tangible policy products for Zimbabwe.
This blame-game politicking is contrary to the political value system which culminated in the birth of our independence which was a product of nationalist movements’ collaboration. Driven by the oppressive circumstances of the time, our people were mobilised to fight against the colonial regime. Then PF-ZAPU and ZANU leaders affirmatively and mutually guided the will of the masses in the fight against colonialism.
It was in that spirit that the party enunciated itself as an entity directed by the common aspirations of the people to drive the liberation agenda. This way the party was the people and in the process, the people became the party. The people and the liberation movement became intertwined existential entities. Whilst the party mobilised the people towards unity of purpose, the national question remained categorically emphasised.
It was from this perspective that the ZAPU split which made way for the birth of ZANU in 1963 was later buttressed by the common dictum: “We are our own liberators”.
This policy turn to the liberation struggle entailed that the attainment of freedom was to be achieved through nothing else except an armed struggle (which later assumed a protracted turn).
This resolution marked a defining departure and a break away from peaceful negotiation for the independence of Zimbabwe. The road map to the attainment of our liberation from colonialism was through an approach of taking full ownership of the decolonisation process. By declaring that “We are our own liberators”, the nationalist movement defined the parameters of its revolutionary disengagement from negotiation with the settler regime.
All constitutional remedies to the Rhodesian crisis had failed in the same way, contemporary efforts to engage the coloniality of power never seem to be yielding any Afrocentric affirmative results. Africa continues to be in the fringes and periphery of globalisation.
In asserting the same premise of disengaging the colonial yardsticks to economic development, Zimbabweans need to own the struggle for economic self-definition. After owning the national development struggle, all of us must contribute to building the type of Zimbabwe we want.
We all have a responsibility to deal with our national challenges in as much as we have all contributed in one way or another in the making of some of our national problems.The delayed process of national healing can only be fast-tracked by our willingness to be a united people.
As we strip ourselves out of political essentialism, citizen participation will be realised and inclusive democratic participation to nation-building will be a lived experience in our lifetime.
We need to grow out of imported essentialism which is only influenced by colonial forces’ manipulation of our partisan divides. As such, we need to castrate the ignominy of being political animals before we are citizens of Zimbabwe. We (the people of Zimbabwe) must be foot soldiers of our nation’s economic development.
To this end, as Zimbabwean citizens must expect no one to come from somewhere to build this place we call home. We are the owners of this great land. It is the citizens’ responsibility to make Zimbabwe a better country than it is now.
The betterment of our nation does not only fall on the shoulders of our politicians. Political effort must be complemented by the apolitical will for development and renewed commitments to promote national unity. As citizens, we owe due diligence to the task of growing the economy, fighting corruption and fighting all socio-political enablers of poverty in Zimbabwe.
Foreign engagement must be heightened to promote the exchange of development ideas. Our commitment to international trade must create viability of innovation exchange for values which enhance robust economic beneficiation.
We must be cognisant of the fact that other members of the international community need us in as much as we also need them. In navigating our in-roads to engagement and re-engagement we must always remember that national interest must triumph over everything.
We must never surrender our legitimate and sovereign right to dictate the development path we want for our country. Without doubt, “We are our own liberators” and in no unequivocal terms, it must be emphasised to all that, “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi”. As citizens, we owe it to ourselves to build ourcountry.
Richard Runyararo Mahomva (BSc-MSU, MSc-AU, MSc-UZ) is a Political-Scientist with an avid interest in political theory, liberation memory and architecture of governance in Africa. He is also a creative literature aficionado. Feedback: Twitter: @VaMahomva & Email [email protected]