The Herald (Harare)

19 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Democracy Without Foundation

opinion

There are dire consequences when a people lives on borrowed values and reasoning, and this is precisely why Africa has not made the expected progress after the fall of colonial empires almost 60 years ago.

The biggest problem we had as a continent is the superiority of the history of our former colonial masters. Eurocentric values and history are the main influence in shaping our world perception, and we are even proud of it.

The sad thing is that Eurocentric values have motivated us to forget about whom we are and what we are capable of achieving, and we have failed to assert our own values in the context of how we govern ourselves. Our post-independence repression is largely maintained by our amazing amnesia, far less than it is perpetuated by the marauding claws of imperialism.

We today clamour for freedoms and liberties dictated to us by Western forces not because we have guns pointed to our heads, but purely because we find it fashionable to forget our own history since we are under the impression that it causes us shame and anxiety. Some of us even fear the fact that we are Africans, and we have a terrible sense of guilty when we begin to think about our Africanness. We have people among us who feel they need to escape Africanness, people who are convinced that the effects of Africanness will harm their future.

In Zimbabwe when one looks at the MDC-T's JUICE blueprint in contrast to Zanu-PF's economic empowerment policy of indigenisation it can easily be seen that Eurocentric values and history have a phenomenal grip on the thinking of our politicians, just like it has on most of us.

The MDC-T has this perception of being "part of the international community," by which they precisely mean being part of the family influenced by Eurocentric values, especially those from the West. In this context the idea of Jobs, Upliftment, Capital Investment and Environment (JUICE) has been conceived. There is no illusion that Tendai Biti is convinced that the only plausible idea of a job is a job created by Western investors, and he has made this point very clear whenever he talks about the need for us not to "scare investors."

Upliftment in the eyes of the MDC-T leadership is nothing other than the imitation of Western values and style of living, and in this context we have this nefarious idea of democracy. To the common MDC-T leader democracy is all about election results and fancy freedoms like freedom of expression, association and so on. These are essential freedoms whose essence cannot be realised without first achieving primary rights like the right to food, right to shelter, right to education, right to sovereignty of nations, and right to clean drinking water.

It appears most of us demand freedom of expression to make up for what we are scared of most -- freedom of thought.

Most of the people who make the loudest noise about freedom of expression simply avoid the hard task of carrying out the freedom to think. Precisely that is why we have next to nothing by way of innovation in Africa.

We want to express ourselves so loudly on what Europeans have thought out already -- on what Eurocentric history has taught us, and we believe we are fighting for our own emancipation when all we are doing is perpetuating our inferiority. We want to create a continent of mimicking democracy.

If one looks at the MDC-T's idea of capital investment, it becomes apparent that at the centre of it all lies Western capital, and anything outside that box is derided and vilified, be it Chinese capital, local capital, or investment from the BRICS. Capital is Western by definition according to this thinking.

We have people who are somehow convinced that Chinese investment is inherently more evil intended than European slavery and colonisation put together, and all you get after asking why are answers like "I just feel it," or "I just don't trust those little people with slanted eyes."

Essentially what we trust about Western investment is based on the motivation we get from Eurocentric history, itself the epicentre of the destruction of our own civilisation and sense of identity. The only jobs we have known are jobs created by Western capital and we so think a job created by Chinese capital is less of a job because we "just feel so".

It is like how some of us feel that jobs at Gushungo Estates are somehow less jobs than those Garfield Todd created at his Midlands farm, or those created by Ian Smith at his Shurugwi farm. It is inherent in us to exalt everything European and to trivialise everything uneuropean, especially that which is African.

We must remember that the traumatic experiences visited upon us by the history of slavery and colonisation still control our behaviour to a very huge extent. The fact that we choose to forget a traumatic event or that we choose not to remember a history that makes us feel ashamed does not mean that we escape the effects of that history on our lives.

We cannot simply dismiss colonisation as an irrelevant event that happened over a hundred years ago. For Zimbabwe it was a ninety-year long haul of immense subjugation of a people, total exploitation, and brutal oppression -- and for anyone to think that the effects of this episode could simply be scrapped by the dint of political independence would be highly credulous.

Those among us who think that the war of liberation happened more than 32 years ago and as such it has nothing to do with us today are simply scared of thinking, and they have this easy escape route of pretending to know today.

Democracy is more about people governing themselves than it is about how they carry out elections. It is about people having full control of their natural resources and fully participating in the production line of their economies. There is no democracy without right to land, and precisely that is why Zimbabwe's independence was glaringly hollow before the land reclamation of 2000.

We cannot talk of democracy when our economy is controlled by foreigners; like a handful of French investors today control 25 percent of Cote d'Ivoire economy.

It is the same way 4 000 white commercial farmers used to control 75 percent of arable land in Zimbabwe. Such economic structures are an insult to the idea of democracy.

Those among us who have a genuine desire for democracy must talk more about economic empowerment of the indigenous Zimbabwean than they talk about free speech or right to views, or about this overemphasised hoopla about free and fair elections, or "level playing field," as the euphemism normally runs.

No mistake these are strong indicator points in any democracy. However these lofty ideals are absolutely meaningless in the context of a foreign controlled economy. How does anyone cherish the idea of free speech in abject poverty without being insane? We cannot have free and fair elections that will produce puppet leaders who will give our imperial oppressors free reign over our resources. We cannot possibly elevate the freeness and fairness of the voting process above the essence of what we are voting to achieve.

We vote to be who we are, to lead ourselves in a sovereign manner, and to ensure our full involvement in what is called Zimbabwe -- our economy, our resources, our values, and our collective aspiration as a people.

Zanu-PF may be partisan in the implementation of its policies, as indeed is the case in many instances, but one cannot take away the importance of these policies. Zanu-PF policies speak true democracy, they carry more democracy than the name "Movement for Democratic Change," and they define democracy way more than any election observer can ever endorse the validity of a democratic process, especially an election.

The land reform policy is democratic by definition. When the masses forcefully occupy minority held farmlands for their own benefit in their own country then you have the genuine prevailing of democracy, and we saw this in 2000. When local people get an opportunity to have the majority stake in the business affairs of their own country then you have democracy by definition, and we hear Kasukuwere preaching sermons on this in our day. Hopefully the sermons will lead to the democratisation of our economy.

It is when a few corrupt political leaders occupy vast tracts of land on the collective behalf of all others that democracy is undermined, and Zanu-PF cannot deny that such instances do exist without lying.

It is when the same few privileged politicians grab for themselves majority shares in business on the collective behalf of our indigenous people that democracy is thwarted. Again there are such corrupt and ill-intended people within Zanu-PF's leadership, and all they do is demean the efforts to genuinely democratise our economy, apart from tarnishing the revolutionary legacy of the party.

There is no amount of propaganda or rhetoric that can ever take away the egregious ruin caused by the corrupt, as observed and acknowledged by Zanu-PF delegates in Gweru recently. The ruin simply has to be reversed by stripping the corrupt of their ill-gotten privileges, and publicly giving back these to the robbed masses, otherwise the scourge will persist.

Losing a position in Parliament or Cabinet cannot in itself be considered punishment for the egregious sin of corruption -- jail and expropriation is!

Zanu-PF's policies resonate excellently with the people's aspirations and there is very little debate to be done about that. What does not resonate with the people's aspiration is spectator democracy where a few privileged players tend to enjoy the fruits of the people-centred policies on the collective behalf of all others.

The MDC-T is a scandalous organisation that should ordinarily never be taken seriously by any electorate, and as a matter of fact no sane Zimbabwean takes the MDC-T seriously. What the people of Zimbabwe have taken seriously about the MDC-T is the party's positioning as a protest option against the excesses of Zanu-PF, especially the intransigence of the revolutionary party's leadership.

The foundation of our democracy must be grounded on the aspiration of our people, never on the glitter of values and freedoms enjoyed somewhere in the West. A democracy based solely on the borrowed ideas of what happens elsewhere is a democracy without foundation. It is a democracy whose essence is to perpetuate our inferior position in world affairs.

We cannot elevate the manner and way we carry out elections to levels of defining democracy. We need to ensure that we vote for what is in our control. It is an insult for Zimbabweans to be expected to vote for a political leadership that takes instructions from Western capitals.

White supremacy will rule unchallenged if we choose to forget the past -- itself a past of white dominance. If we conveniently forget the episodes of our historical subjugation by Eurocentric forces then the same forces will continue to rule us unchallenged.

What are you doing in the West if you hate these forces so much, I can hear someone asking. Challenging the forces right from within the belly of the beast is the answer dear reader. Just to prove a point.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!!

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.

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