The Herald (Harare)

29 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Meeting of Minds On Gen Tongo Welcome

editorial

We welcome the meeting of minds over the re-naming of KGVI Barracks after the late national hero Cde Josiah Magama Tongogara, the Zanla Chief of Defence, who perished in a horrific car accident on December 26, 1979 just as the Rhodesian regime had been brought to its knees.

It was refreshing to hear voices across the political divide hailing the proposal made by Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Constantine Chiwenga, to name the barracks hitherto dedicated to King George VI of Britain after General Tongo.

We hope the consensus reached on Cde Tongogara signifies a new national ethos among the MDCs that values the liberation struggle, its raison d'être and venerates its heroes, living and dead.

It is not difficult to identify what defines Zimbabwe as a nation -- the fierce determination to chart our own destiny. This aspiration is immortalised in the national symbols, namely the Coat of Arms, National Flag and National Anthem that are all replete with the legacy of the revolutionary struggle and a burning determination to ensure that the gains of the revolution are safeguarded for posterity.

It is this meeting of minds that has been lacking in the ongoing constitution-making process where the MDCs sought to decimate the foundation of what Cde Tongogara fought for which is the very foundation of the Zimbabwean state. To this end we call on the MDC formations to respect Cde Tongo in word and deed by valuing what he laid down his life for.

Let us safeguard it by enshrining it in the supreme law of the land so that it will be inviolable in perpetuity. The envisaged new constitution should be a crystallisation of our aspirations as indigenous Zimbabweans. It must define our aspirations, ethos, rights and their derogation or otherwise and how we would like to choose and be governed by our elected representatives.

It is part of nation building and we should never lose sight of the fact that the nation building process begins with the articulation of the national interest that should be captured in the preamble and run through every chapter.

The constitution should, thus, define the national vision and map the various strategies that will help attain the vision. The problems encountered in the ongoing constitution-making process, manifest in the attempt to smuggle alien concepts and decimate the foundation of the State can be traced to the involvement of alien forces whether directly or by proxy.

The question we should have asked, is what is the interest of outsiders in an intimately national process? The answer is obvious, they will be in it to try to safeguard their interests or ensure loopholes that can be legally exploited at some later date.

This was evident in the first draft that sparked outrage with legal experts equating it to an orchestrated attack on our country's moral, cultural and revolutionary pillars.

We hope the MDCs will walk the talk they showed on General Tongogara.

To this end we urge Government to move to rename other institutions that bear colonial names, if not to honour our living and fallen heroes, then to capture the national memory for posterity.

What better way to start than with the street by the Zanu-PF national headquarters, which is named after Colonel Pennefather, the leader of the Pioneer Column that spearheaded the colonisation of our country.

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