Fla­grantly ig­no­rant

Finweek English Edition - - Letters - STEPHEN MANJORO

SIZWEKAZI JEKWA’S COL­UMN (24 July) was fla­grantly ig­no­rant of the facts on the ground. It’s not clear whether Jekwa’s as­ser­tion that Zim­babwe lacked a strong vo­cal civil so­ci­ety is with ref­er­ence to pre- or postin­de­pen­dence Zim­babwe. In pre-in­de­pen­dence Zim­babwe a vi­brant civil so­ci­ety was in place with the for­ma­tion of the City Youth League (CYL) in 1950.

The CYL had lead­ers such as Nd­a­baningi Sit­hole and ad­vo­cated the recog­ni­tion of black peo­ple in colo­nial Rhode­sia sim­i­lar to what the ANC did in the in­fancy of apartheid in the Fifties and Six­ties. From the CYL arose the Zim­bab­wean ANC, Na­tional Demo­cratic rep­utable pub­li­ca­tion.

She also makes the point that at in­de­pen­dence Zim­bab­weans didn’t have a cul­ture of ac­count­abil­ity or trans­parency. Again, she makes as­sump­tions that only mis­lead peo­ple who have no knowl­edge of the strug­gle for African eman­ci­pa­tion. If you could, please high­light which African coun­try had a cul­ture of ac­count­abil­ity or trans­parency at in­de­pen­dence based on our dif­fer­ent strug­gles for eman­ci­pa­tion.

Gov­ern­ments have made de­ci­sions uni­lat­er­ally. Wit­ness the case of SA’s de­ploy­ment of troops in Le­sotho in 1998 with­out ac­count­ing for or be­ing trans­par­ent about Gov­ern­ment’s ac­tions.

Mu­gabe’s dic­ta­tor­ship emerged in our strug­gle for in­de­pen­dence when the Zanu (PF) lead­er­ship was sys­tem­at­i­cally elim­i­nated and an­ni­hi­lated, leav­ing Mu­gabe to as­sume power – which he en­trenched in the pe­riod 1975 to 1980. Over that pe­riod Mu­gabe had al­ready be­gun po­si­tion­ing him­self for a long term of of­fice by plac­ing his yes-men and -women in strate­gic po­si­tions (which they as­sumed at min­is­te­rial level at in­de­pen­dence).

Mu­gabe in post-in­de­pen­dence Zim­babwe was known not to lis­ten to his ad­vis­ers and take uni­lat­eral de­ci­sions, such as sanc­tion­ing the Mata­bele­land mas­sacres in the mid-Eight­ies and the de­ploy­ment of the Zim­babwe army and air force in Mozam­bique be­tween 1983 and 1990. It’s in that light I find Jekwa’s as­ser­tion link­ing the lack of ac­count­abil­ity and a vo­cal civic so­ci­ety as the rea­son for Mu­gabe’s dic­ta­to­rial ten­den­cies mis­chievous.

As much as Zim­bab­weans and other African na­tion­als would want to see a bet­ter day in that coun­try, that day won’t dawn as long as we re­main masters of pes­simism and il­lu­sion. Mu­gabe was not a frozen ac­ci­dent but a wolf in sheep’s cloth­ing. Party (NDP) and con­se­quently PF-Zapu and Zanu (PF). Civic lead­ers such as Ge­orge Silundika, Joshua Nkomo and Leopold Takawira – to men­tion but a few – bore the brunt of the Rhode­sian crack­down on this emer­gent civic on­slaught and, like the apartheid regime in SA, de­nounced and banned those emer­gent voices clam­our­ing for African free­dom.

Post-in­de­pen­dence Zim­babwe al­ways had a vi­brant and vo­cal civic so­ci­ety. If you re­search the ac­tiv­i­ties of the Na­tional Con­sti­tu­tional As­sem­bly (NCA), Women of Zim­babwe Arise ( Woza), Cri­sis Coali­tion, Pub­lic In­for­ma­tion Rights Fo­rum (PIRF), to men­tion but a few, all of which have been spear­head­ing the coun­try’s civic con­cerns. It’s in that light I find her as­sump­tion that Zim­babwe “lacks” a vo­cal civic fra­ter­nity ill ad­vised and mis­lead­ing to read­ers of such a

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