Book by Zim academic inspires active citizenry
ZIMBABWE’S former deputy prime minister, Prof Arthur Mutambara, has written an interesting account of his rise from student politics to the corridors of power via the ivory towers of Oxford University in the UK.
Aptly named In Search of the Elusive Zimbabwe Dream: An Autobiography of Thought Leadership, this documentation of thoughts and reflections – apart from detailing the academic journey Mutambara has successfully undertaken – also offers accurate insights into the murky world of politics. But more so the secretive world of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his nearly four-decade grip on power.
The work is structured into three parts. Volume I: The Formative Years and the Big Wide World (1983–2002); Volume II: The Path to Power (2003–2008); Volume III: The Deputy Prime Minister and Beyond (2009–2017).
As a young A Level pupil in 1986, Mutambara wholeheartedly believed in the one-party state mantra and socialist agenda espoused by Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party as the panacea for the ills of colonialism.
However, as a student leader from 1988 to 1990 at the University of Zimbabwe, Mutambara began to see through the façade and party slogans.
The repulsive patronage system, desire to establish a de jure one-party state, and corruption and looting of funds from state institutions, which adversely affected the lives of Zimbabweans, soon pitted students led by Mutambara and his colleagues, against the authorities.
He was violently arrested and injured by armed units of the police and army and locked up in jail without trial.
Although he was intensely involved in student struggles, Mutambara excelled at his studies and graduated with a BSc (Hons) in electrical engineering.
However, the graduation ceremony itself, in July 1991, was an arena of protest and drama as Mutambara, who received a standing ovation for both his academic achievements and student leadership roles, went on to refuse to take part in the tradition of kneeling before Mugabe.
He was protesting the rise in graduate unemployment in
Mugabe’s repulsive patronage system and grip on power
The previous graduation ceremony, in July 1990 while Mutambara was still SRC president, had been the first time Mugabe had come faceto-face with the fiery student leader. While Mugabe had sought polite small talk, he received a volley of harsh invectives against his perverted ambition for a one-party state instead.
Needless to say, the confrontation left Mugabe humiliated after Mutambara gave him a piece of his mind. Fast forward, in February 2009, Mutambara, Mugabe, and then prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai were the three principals of the unity government that brought Zimbabwe back from the brink of total collapse.
During his engineering pupillage programme in 1991 at Wankie Colliery, Mutambara confronted management over the mistreatment of black workers by under-qualified white supervisors.
He didn’t find the elusive Zimbabwean dream at the colliery. Mutambara always knew the elusive Zimbabwean dream needed properly equipped people to make it a reality.
It was not a coincidence that he took a detour away from Zimbabwe’s increasing governance ills and headed to the ivory towers in the UK to acquire more knowledge.
That pursuit led him to the prestigious University of Oxford where he obtained a MSc in computer science and PhD in robotics and mechatronics.
The journey also took him to the US, where he was a research scientist at Nasa, professor at MIT and management consultant at McKinsey.
This is an inspiring story of a man who combines academic excellence and social responsibility, intellectual prowess and revolutionary confrontation… A man who travelled far and wide to develop his thoughts in order to better search for the elusive Zimbabwean dream for a democratic, peaceful and prosperous state characterised by sustained and inclusive economic growth.
If this account fails to inspire you to be a citizen activist, it is unlikely anything will.
Professor Arthur Mutambara has been appointed the new president of the African News Agency (ANA). His new book ‘ Elusive Zimbabwe Dream: An Autobiography of Thought Leadership’ goes on sale in book stores today.