The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Power, Intellectual Responsibility

opinion

The Nigerian Igbo proverb that says "Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter," applies so well to what intellectuals do to their communities today.

Each time there is something of national importance, the media tells the rest of us to listen to the opinion of so-called analysts or experts, and it is naturally expected that our opinions must entirely be shaped by the thinking of these intellectuals.

We had countless such analysts telling us how lawless our land reform programme was in 2000.

The history of intellectuals is written by intellectuals and as such we cannot be surprised when tradition has this tendency of portraying intellectuals as defenders of right and justice.

We are made to believe without any form of doubt that our intellectuals uphold the highest values in our society, and that they stand up to power and evil with all nobility and integrity.

Portrayals and images can be immensely deceiving.

Before we had the inclusive Government in place in 2009, the process leading to this arrangement was left in the hands of intellectuals from Zimbabwe's political community, the likes of Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube and Patrick Chinamasa.

They continually caught up with their counterparts from South Africa as they negotiated the way forward for all of us, and the entirety of us all was reduced to eager spectatorship of our own destiny as it precariously lay in the hands of six individuals.

It became a matter of "whatever the six shall bind in South Africa, it shall also be bound for everyone in Zimbabwe."

Today our people wait eagerly once again for a constitutional referendum on a draft Constitution so brutally adulterated by members of our intellectual community, the likes of Douglas Mwonzora, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana and a whole cast of showy figures that littered the Constitution-making process.

Through jargon like "qualitative analysis," or "quantitative analysis", the intellectuals simply decided to sidestep the views of the people contained in the national report that captured people's answers on questionnaires, yet again drafted by our esteemed members of the intellectual community.

What the people said was intellectually defined as quantitative and the specialist role to make it qualitative was of course reserved for our highly knowledgeable intellectuals.

We now have a draft that contains more the thoughts and feelings of our intellectuals than those of our masses, and not surprisingly the entire process has now been reduced to a political battle between Zanu-PF and MDC-T.

All that has happened is that our intellectuals have added their own political values to a matter that was supposed to be treated as of national interest.

When we talk about intellectual responsibility, we often are caught up in the confusion of what intellectuals ought to do and what they actually do.

Given the prominence and high esteem of intellectualism, the responsibility of intellectuals must be greater than that of any other decent human being.

The privilege we give to our intellectuals confers on them opportunity, and opportunity demands moral responsibility.

Intellectuals perceived to be aligned to Zanu-PF have taken the flak from many quarters for their "conformist subservience to those in power," if one was to borrow one statement from the founder of international relations theory, Hans Morgenthau.

The attack on these intellectuals has not been entirely without basis, much as most of it is just bitter propaganda from the revolutionary party's detractors.

In fact "conformist subservience" is the major problem with intellectual responsibility.

In the book "Interventions" Noam Chomsky writes about conformist subservience as dating back to the earliest recorded history.

He wrote that it was the man "who corrupted the youth of Athens" with "false gods" who drank the hemlock, not those who worshipped the true gods of the doctrinal system.

When one looks at the Bible, there is a glaringly huge chunk of the Old Testament devoted entirely to people who condemned the excesses and crimes of the state and its immoral practices, the likes of Samuel, Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and quite prominently the prophet Amos, the prophet of justice.

These were prophets who confronted injustice and even lost lives for it, not the phoney show prophets of today who thrive on flattering desperate people by "prophesying" to them supposedly secret aspects of their lives, like mobile phone numbers, car registration numbers or home addresses.

The magician-like showmen are just a total disgrace and it is a shame Zimbabwe has a few prominent ones.

One egregiously pompous Zimbabwean such prophet was recently in Sydney, Australia, telling a small crowd of 200 people that "we are the pioneers of prophetic preaching."

No statement can be stupider than this, and perhaps no amount of credulity can ever beat that of the small crowd that cheered the evidently directionless young church founder.

Prophecy is more than 5 000 years old; and for a village boy from Zimbabwe to wake up "pioneering" it is just absurd.

The overly proud young preacher even had the temerity to declare "I am the most academically educated pastor in Zimbabwe. I taught Finance in Manchester."

This writer will not dwell too much on some of the most outrageous claims made by this clownish cheat masquerading as a prophet, like saying he had the previous week miraculously filled the pockets of Tswanas with hard cash in a fully packed sports stadium in Gaborone.

Talk of a fraud with reckless abandon.

Preachers of the word of God and other religious leaders, together with politicians and intellectuals take so much advantage of the credulity of trusting followers, as do media to viewers, listeners and readers.

Pastors must have a high level of responsibility as is expected of our politicians, intellectuals and our journalists. That is the natural expectation of followers to any leadership.

The prophets of the Old Testament did not buy Lamborghinis or amass wealth as is the aspiration of today's selfish clowns so sworn to the abuse of God's name.

Instead, they faced tremendous persecution and even death, and they were treated like today's "dissident intellectuals," always treated miserably - the norm for all dissidents.

Old time prophets were more of revolutionaries than they were celebrities. They led a life of basics and their merit was more in their quest for justice and uprightness than in the testimony of amassing material gain.

Even in this dispensation of radical Old Testament prophets there were greatly respected intellectuals who were quite famous in their role as flatterers at the court.

One outstanding example is Prophet Hananiah of Jeremiah Chapter 28.

Jesus Christ's Gospels warn sternly of "false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits ye shall know them."

Today's intellectuals are no different to the dogmatic false prophets that prey on the credulity of desperate masses, deceiving so many with lucrative prophetic promises on prosperity.

Every dogma that upholds the glory of state power today is founded on the nobility of intellectualism.

US President John Adams once said of power: "Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak."

This aptly summarises the behaviour of Douglas Mwonzora when he is explaining the supremacy of Copac in the Constitution-making process, or when he is telling us that sitting MDC-T MPs do not need to be put to the test of primary elections for candidacy in the coming 2013 elections.

He treats all of us like we are incapable of comprehending the complex world him and his political colleagues live in.

His counterparts from Zanu-PF, namely Paul Mangwana, and to an extend Patrick Chinamasa are not any different, just like the commissars think they are appointed to think on behalf of the electorate.

Listen to Nelson Chamisa and Webster Shamhu talking about structuring their respective parties and you will be forgiven for thinking they are responsible for the country's Sunday school.

This writer is among a host of many authors who have written extensively on the deep root of the savagery and self-righteousness that infects the imperial mentality, and surely there cannot be any apologies on this noble call. However, it must be noted that the savagery and self-anointed uprightness of imperialism is committedly shared by almost every other structure of authority and domination, be it in religion, socialist states, in communist states, or even in industry.

There is a fervent reverence for power's "great soul" by intellectual elites, and intellectuals generally believe that they are entitled to sharing the levers of control with political elites, and in this highly noble scheme of things the role of the generality of masses is of course to be good spectators, when they are not required to ratify the choices of political and intellectual elites through the vote.

This writer has had his name scrapped last minute from booked radio and TV interviews, has had events where he was scheduled to speak cancelled, has had his name scrapped from the guest lists of some public forums, and all this because he is classified among the so-called "value-oriented intellectuals," a notoriously sinister group of radicals who pose a great threat to democracy.

According to a 1975 study by the Trilateral Commission of the US, value-oriented intellectuals "devote themselves to the derogation of leadership, the challenging of authority, and the unmasking of established institutions."

There is this other most honourable category of intellectuals: the "technocratic and policy-oriented intellectuals." This is the group that conform subserviently to the great soul of power.

The group is pro-establishment, pliant to diktats of power, regarded highly progressive, and it makes up the employable lot in the highly paying NGO sector, in the United Nations, in the public service, in the corporate sector; and members of this group always make it when it comes to the numerous international awards on offer.

The honour of descriptions like sober, responsible, or constructive is specifically reserved for this revered group of intellectuals. Some of us are "opinionated, radical and regressive." Zimbabwe today is facing what the Trilateral Commission called the "crisis of democracy," by which they meant that the proper functioning of the state was now being threatened by "excessive democracy," or too much involvement of the masses.

The Zimbabwean Constitution making process faced this "excessive democracy," until Mwonzora, Mangwana and their intellectual cohorts managed to restore the masses to their proper function as passive observers, so that the "technocratic and policy-oriented intellectuals" can do their constructive work.

So we are governed in a country where our democratic choices are defined by those privileged with intellectualism, just like our national interest is represented by the corporate sector, be it the imperial one or the one we are establishing under the economic indigenisation programme. That is the order of domestic affairs across the countries worldwide.

We have people driven by selfish economic interests posturing as revolutionary drivers of our collective aspirations. Self-aggrandisement has been sugar-coated with nobilities of revolutionarism and we have a clique that has anointed itself custodian to our collective empowerment, even to the extent of enjoying the benefits on our collective behalf.

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

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