‘A promise is a credit’, so they say. Just what type of credit it is hasn’t been defined satisfactorily.
All the Chimurenga Wars had one common denominator: the promise of a better Zimbabwe.
Not only better in socio-economic terms but even better in political terms and the prevalence of democracy.
A Zimbabwe in particular, in which Zimbabwean people would be walking proud! A Zimbabwe which would know no want or hunger.
These were the promises made by those who had been enlightened enough to see the social ills our parents and grandparents were being subjected to by the successive colonial regimes.
Not only were they enlightened, but they were also infuriated by the situation obtaining then.
Promises were made, promises were fulfilled, some wholly, many partially, and most never.
We are in 2022, forty-two years into Zimbabwe. Forty-two years after the Exodus journey from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. What is the situation obtaining?
We have had successive plebiscites since the one that ushered in the new Nation in 1980…and it goes without saying that they have been gradually losing credibility with every passing edition.
Standing at the threshold of yet another general election in 2023, one is assailed with the same questions – what promises and manifestos are we going to be harangued with this time?
Most of the ‘natural’ disasters we are experiencing in Zimbabwe are man-made:- Forex and cash problems, black marketing; drugs which are filtering into the country eating away at the very human and social fabric of our country, violence almost everywhere, especially in mining towns; political intolerance, the list goes on.
Who, at 42, does not remember the years when we all wished to relocate from Chirumanzu to some urban area?
The pull factors were numerous. Electricity, running water, a reliable transport system, better schools; employment opportunities for those of age.
That Zimbabwe is now of the past, when promises were being religiously kept, when there was system and infrastructural consolidation of that which we had as a legacy, albeit painfully, from the colonialists.
Today, we are in a different dispensation with an ever-growing abundance of push factors now-not back to our roots but beyond the borders of this teapot-shaped country.
This also creates an electoral predicament if you come to think of it. With hordes of young people leaving the country, with no diaspora vote in place, ideally, they are forfeiting their right to vote.
A dispensation which is difficult to take pride in, yet another plebiscite is on the cards.
There have been tales of an unsavoury pre-by-election voter ‘persuasion,’ through intense politically motivated violence, a case recently evidenced in Insiza, Matobo and Chirumanzu in the run-up to the just-ended by-elections.
We have been through a patch where results were withheld – or were being verified – for months while there was state-sponsored violence on the electorate before a runoff.
The citizens have witnessed deaths of demonstrators in the past election, just citizens who were demanding transparency and proactive disclosure of results.
In fact, these acts have been a golden thread throughout the years. This has harmed the voters’ desire to even participate in democratic elections.
There is in Shona folklore, a story of a man who carried a crocodile into the village and despite warnings from fellow villagers about the croc’s undeniable character to turn against him later, he insisted. Need we say more in our context?
Zimbabwe has not yet demonstrated that it has established a tolerant, democratic culture that enables the conduct of elections in which parties are treated equitably and citizens can cast their votes freely.
How we continue to lion and ululate for a villain who is ‘raping our folk’ is beyond comprehension.
Our hurt memory seems so short that we continue to applaud our tormentors.
Some Liberians, once had a chant, “He killed my aunt, he killed my father, but l still love him!” – when Charles Taylor was campaigning for a democratic election after his murderous reign of terror.
Probably it was from real and unimaginable fear that the despot had ‘won’ a ‘democratic’ (read demonic) election.
Could the same be on the cards for Zimbabwe come 2023? The overt and subtle threats and a repeat of the beatings and forced votes?
We seem unaware of the Bramble bush we almost always obliviously run to at election time.
Whether this happens by nature or by design is another whole story for another day – but the collective Zimbabwean subconscious should come to the fore and behold what is happening.
As Carl Jung once piqued, ‘Until you make the subconscious conscious, you will go through life thinking that its fate.’
The promises around election time are now well-known mirages and pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.
When, O Zimbabwean, shall you know some respite?