The Herald (Harare)

1 May 2012

Zimbabwe: Nation's Democratic State

opinion

Lonely in Mozambique, in the mass graves of Chimoio, lie the bones of the gallant sons and daughters of this country who passed on in an effort to save Zimbabwe from the jaws of imperialism. Their efforts were not in vain but shared a vision of liberated Zimbabwe and a democratic State, totally emancipated from the whitemen's exploitative burden.

The 1980 elections symbolised the beginning of Zimbabwe's long run towards true African democracy which did not only mean the transfer of political power from white to black hands, but empowerment of black people in all aspects for us to also participate in governance. This would be done through long term aspects such as redistribution of land, indigenisation and education, for blacks to be totally emancipated from the influence of former mother colonies.

Adopting the theme of democracy in Africa, meant it would encompass total independence of black people and respect our cultural values as it indigenises for it to be termed true democracy with the African child at heart. It is surprising that our former colonial masters still want to have a grip on our economic statutes and resources, tell us that we are 100 percent independent and totally emancipated, whilst redefining democracy to us in such a way that suits their context.

Their definition of democracy towards Africa is too parochial and myopic to be adopted as it overlooks on our right to have total control over our economy and resources. It only dances along political lines, a tune they are assured to be useful in sparking conflict for future benefits if need arises.

Abraham Lincoln a former American president once defined democracy as "a government of the people, by the people, for the people". Dear reader, what form of governance would we have participated in if we were not recognised as stake holders in the affairs of our economy? That is why our cousins in South Africa do not have a say in matters concerning their economic life, their part of participation only comes when it's high time to cast the ballot. They shortchanged their economic power for imperial democracy.

It was not a surprise when Zimbabwe got punished for embarking on a land reform programme in 2000. The programme's main objective was not driven by Zanu-PF's hate for the white community, but was a move to further democratise Zimbabwe within the African context.

What democracy does the West hold for African people? If it was genuine democracy, then why would they punish a country for simply giving back land to the original owners?

Democracy which empowers people should be formulated in a local setting. In such a way, some can refer to indigenisation as the highest stage of democracy. The local revolutionary party is currently engaged on an indigenisation programme that is perceived to benefit every citizen of Zimbabwe despite race and ethnicity. The programme is targeted at indigenising the economy so that the general populacy gets at least 51 percent control in all large foreign owned companies.

A country cannot term itself democratic whilst its people are being robbed of their minerals, land . . . and the list is endless. The main reason why the people of Zimbabwe fought the liberation struggle was for them to have access to their resources, thus the absence of indigenisation and land reform would defeat the whole essence of going to war.

It is this further democratisation of Zimbabwe by the revolutionary party which led to the signing of the "Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act" (Zdera) by the former US president George W Bush in 2001 on allegations of human rights abuses.

It was a privilege not a right when the British descendants owned land in this country, thus no one's rights were abused when we simply took back what was rightfully ours. This is explained by a Shona proverb "mombe yekuronzera kama wakaringanzira" of which the British simply failed to understand.

The West regards itself as the beacon of democracy but fails to implement tenets of democracy as it wishes other countries to. Zimbabwe has been accused of failing to meet expected human rights standards, and since it has become a chorus vocal led by the West and its allies, in fact Washington and London has taken human rights as a political instrument to defame other governments and pursue their own strategic interests.

The US is on record of international human rights violations thus it should not be in a position to criticise other countries on human rights issues.

The world has been hijacked by super powers who policy the world whilst overlooking their own domestic problems. In Africa, if violent protests are suppressed by any government, the move is regarded as human rights abuse which needs foreign military intervention to protect "innocent civilians".

It is rather wise for Zimbabwe to appreciate that the international system consists of no permanent friends or enemies but permanent interests.

Land reform and indigenisation are part and parcel of democracy to be enjoyed by the African child. How can we let someone from a different continent define democracy for us, we define our own democracy. After all, it is our own freedom, independence. Let us put the pen to rest before we spoil the paper.

The writers are students of Peace and Governance at Bindura University of Science Education.

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