… What does 20th July citizens’ convention mean for the ordinary Zimbabwean citizen?
For those of us who know there is more, those who know we deserve more accountability from our leaders, this is to us, WE, the Zimbabweans.
2017 was a defining year for us, we closed a very big chapter of our lives and at the same time opened a new one, but as the citizens, we still stand and demand more from our leadership. We deserve better in Zimbabwe for our children and for all our descendants too.
The Zimbabwe we marched for on the 18th of November 2017, the shared vision we had on that revolutionary day when we marched along the streets of Harare is far away from being reached, we are not there yet.
Future generations would never forgive us for being that generation that got too excited because we went to the streets and took selfies with the soldiers and concluded that our freedom had come. The Zimbabwean situation: economic, political, or social has remained very fluid although being declared, “Open for business” on several occasions. What I have come to discover is that Zim had never really been closed for business for someone to come and say it’s now Open for Business. Zim has always been open for business, just that it has been run by a government system that has a closed mindset on Business.
Time has come for us to pen it down and demand that which we want from whoever is/will be in power in the not too distant future. We, the citizens should define with measurable terms what we want. The citizens have to be at the center of the decisions of what development or service delivery should look like to them rather than follow one person’s or one party’s short-term projects without a long-term vision. Problems that Zimbabwe is experiencing as a nation go beyond partisan politics, it has come to a time where we should look beyond just presidential manifestos and sit down and reflect on what we really want as a nation.
We have to go beyond just voting for men/women who just give us free tee-shirts, a few cups of rice and few bottles of cooking oil only for us to remain hungry again for another 5 years, we have to demand more from our leaders. We need to come up with a shared vision. I look forward to a day in Zimbabwe when someone can be freely anti-ZANU without necessarily being pro-MDC or vice versa. Zimbabwe as it is, it is very difficult to have normal discourse without people insulting each other in the process. Should we be this hostile against each other? when we are all sons and daughters of the same soil.
We have also been having problems of gender imbalance. After Mugabe’s disastrous reign, some went on to argue that he was good until some crazy woman came into his life. This idea is very mythical. There has been a lot of sexualization of women in politics in Zimbabwe. Though Grace Mugabe contributed her own fair share to the problems that Zimbabwe is experiencing as a nation it would be very unfair to attribute Mugabe’s failures and cruelty to her. Is this kind of environment we want? What are we teaching to that teenage girl still in high school who is also looking to go into politics?
For a fraction of the populace, the struggle is personal. The struggle for liberation in 1980 was not against Ian Smith or white people it was against a system, in 2017 when Zimbabweans united and went to the streets it was again not a fight against any one particular individual but a system with an “unfortunate” Mugabe being the face of that system. What hasn’t been understood was that when people marched it was not only about the removal of Bob but of everything he stood for. In our quest to unify and reconcile Zimbabweans the New Zimbabwe we were crying for should provide for healing and tolerance for everyone.
We need to constantly remember that dark moment when Zimbabwe officially made it to the list of failed states. November 2008, the annual inflation rate peaked at 89,700,000,000,000,000,000,000%. Every one of us has a responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen again, we owe it to our children, and our children’s children… Not forgetting June of that same year, on the 27th to be particular, the runoff election, perhaps the darkest chapter in Zimbabwe’s history. It was the most brutal and devastating election Zimbabweans had ever experienced. Right now, people may not be dying because of torture like 2008 but they are still dying of hunger or diseases, so is there any difference from 2008.
We are still looking forward to a Zimbabwe that is defined by the people, for the people, where leaders actually listen to the voice of the people. There is increasing hollowing out in Zimbabwe’s political discourse. The speeches of political leaders in Zimbabwe are often imbued with entitlement, threats, self-righteousness, and ignorance, not rational compelling argument, this must change. They will need constant reminders that it is the people that put them there.
Currently, as it stands our situation is not normal, our families have been broken, distances in search of jobs have separated us from being with the love of our lives, we have missed milestones with our siblings, Zimbabwe has become a land of just but broken dreams.
We are hereby giving it to ourselves and to posterity this Citizens manifesto proclaiming our dream Zimbabwe characterized by, but not limited to,
Servant leadership, Disability Rights, Citizens participation, Public Services that Uphold Human Dignity, Zero corruption, Gender justice, Priority Investment in Youth, Labour Justice, Environmental Sustainability, Inclusive and Diverse Society, Devolution of power, Fundamental rights and freedoms, Peace Justice and Reconciliation.
I/We believe in a national plan, a national vision, national goals.
Join the movement, and let’s make sure the leaders hear us on the type of Zimbabwe we want to be part of. Come and define the Zimbabwe you want to see.