Cornerstone of Zimbabwe’s Deferred Progress

President Mnangagwa and Vice-President Chiwenga
President Mnangagwa and Vice-President Chiwenga

By Sydicks Muradzikwa and George Mapope

HOSEA’s biblical parody advises us that whenever there is lack of vision, the people perish. People perish not because deficit of a vision is an end in itself; but because those with visionary distortions walk in the valleys of ignorance.

While there is a political misconception between visionary leaders and leaders with a vision, it is clear that the absence of such simple syllogism yields a culture of hero worshipping leaders. Political philosophy has been applied dishonestly to sustain and sugar-coat visionary delusions.

The deficiency of a shared, clearly crafted, comprehensive and immortalised national vision in Zimbabwe has annihilated every avenue of progress. As a direct consequence, visionary deformations have sustained a kleptocratic political system which rewards individuals on the grounds of nepotism, association, tribalism and regionalism; not on the basis of merit, talent, hard work and innovation.

Zimbabwe’s current socio-economic decay is largely a debacle by configuration; worsened by particular intellectual illusions and political fantasies that political parties’ visions are by and large, a national vision.

It is essential to understand the key defining characteristics of what an ideal national vision is.

To begin with, a national vision must be inclusively and endogenously derived and widely shared by the citizens; it should be collectively owned regardless of age, racial, tribal and political belonging. A unanimously accepted national vision should be progressive, forward looking, sensible and practical; it should be open to redefinition from time to time.

A shared national vision is informed by national interests and should strike a balance to reflect the ideological differences between citizens. Meanwhile, the African Union has come up with the Agenda 2063, which is a continental vision that must apply to all the member states. In addition, the whole continent subscribes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is a global Vision for the year 2030.

While this is so, planning and resourcing at government level in Zimbabwe is divergent from those subscriptions and virtually all African nations missed MDG targets and using current growth trajectories, most will certainly miss both the SDGs and Agenda 2063.

Zimbabwe’s development commitments  as witnessed by its resource mobilisation and deployment priorities, have widely diverged from what it subscribes to. As a result, Zimbabwe, like many other African nations, basically envisioned something that they do not believe in. Zimbabwean political scientists, academics and technocrats have tackled the subject of Zimbabwe’s national vision with highly polarised thinking and as such, the idea of a national question and a Zimbabwean dream remains futile; if not under siege since 1980.

The absence of a shared national vision can be traced back to the day Zimbabwe got its political independence and the effects became graphic in the politics of the third millennium. Precisely, progress on what the national question is and what its answers are, was instantaneously deferred on 18 April 1980.

The young Zimbabwean nation was still basking under the euphoria of independence and the sympathy obtained from the international community.

The post-independence narratives show that ZanuPf found itself in the reality that implementing and running a sound economy was very different from the Marxist-Leninist manoeuvres that worked for them during the liberation struggle. Consequently, they had to find some balance between socialist-communist oriented policies and the capitalist economy which was left in good shape by the Rhodesian administration.

During the liberation struggle, freedom fighters envisioned a socialist Zimbabwe which was pinned on Marxist-Lenninist ideologies. Zanu PF as a party that first formed a government in Zimbabwe failed to initiate a national dialogue that was a prerequisite for society to ask the right questions for the refinement of a shared national vision. At independence, Zimbabwe did not set the right foundation for the development of a national vision  and what Mugabe presented on the eve of independence in 1980 at a packed Rufaro Stadium was not a national vision for Zimbabwe. Rather, it was a well-articulated Zanu-PF vision which they wanted to sell to excited Zimbabweans. That Zanu-PF vision did not withstand the test of time. Tribalism and regionalism, as well as the obtaining material conditions of the people sparked conflict as early as 1982.

The Zanu PF founded vision got popular support as it was well received by a large section of citizens until it was interrupted by the Gukurahundi disturbances in Matebeleland and the Midlands. However, it should be acknowledged that it faced a considerable internal rebellion from senior ideological political figures in the likes of Edgar Tekere, who, unsurprisingly became a first and famous critic of the then Zanu PF’s perceived answers to the national question. Unfortunately, due to the lack of a sufficient media coverage then, Tekere did not fully express what his alternative ideal Zimbabwe was all about, despite forming his own political party; the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM).

Distorted narratives of the liberation struggle impeded inclusion, tolerance, democracy, equality, innovation, excellence and Ubuntu and that on its own brought about ideological ramifications to the national question. A homogeneous sense of nationalism and genuine national political consciousness would have thought provoked a formidable trajectory towards solving the national question.

In light of the above, the merging of the two warring parties was not tantamount to the derivation of the national vision, since there were many people who were members of neither Zanu-PF nor PF-Zapu, yet their views were equally important in the derivation of a shared national vision.

In addition, other elements within PF-Zapu ranks, were in agreement with the idea of a Unity Accord_ but there was graphic discord within. Evidently, even today, Dumiso Dabengwa broke up with Zanu-PF and tried to revive Zapu, indeed a living testimony of uttermost dissonance in the national attempts for political and ideological coexistence. The foregoing are indications that despite the Unity Accord, there was permanent disagreement within Zapu on whether merging within Zanu-PF was a good idea, which could translate into a shared vision between them.

Reasonably, when political parties sell their party visions as a national vision, they virtually become national delusions, which either defy or defer progress.

The Zanu-PF visionary delusion is that whatever comes from the Politburo is national in character, since theirs is a revolutionary party that brought about political independence. The visionary distortions in Zimbabwe emanate directly from failures by political parties to initiate an inclusive and endogenous process of deriving a national vision. A shared national vision requires agreed political, social and economic values across the nation. Party visions mostly lack a sufficient political buy-in and may not be sufficiently shared to be collectively owned by the citizens. The MDCs accuse Zanu-PF of deriving and implementing policies that represent leftist piece meals to the achievement of the unknown, while Zanu-PF interprets MDC shadow policies as pro-Western capitalist development ideologies that can potentially reverse the gains of the liberation struggle.

Consequently, there is no compromise between political parties and the general citizenry.

The MDCs, being labours based political parties, are formations which advocate for regulated capitalism, with a strong social face and hence belong to the centre, while Zanu PF is grounded in leftist ideologies.

Nevertheless, neither the MDCs’ social democracy policies nor Zanu-PF’s modified Marxist-Leninist populist policies are inclusive enough to derive and answer the national question. The highly polarised political landscape in Zimbabwe has impinged on any attempts; real or imaginary, at championing the visioning process. Quite recently, there was an abortive attempt by the church to come up with a national vision in a document “The Zimbabwe we want” and its perception was unavoidably risky, because it lacked political clarity and was not widely shared. The idea of the church became a stillbirth with diversionary explanations and justifications, and it was met with noticeable arrogance and prejudice.

One of its public critics, Professor Author Mutambara, unearthed major fault lines in the church’s attempt of deriving a national vision. His general recommendation was that; “Zimbabwe should put aside political differences and initiate a sovereign process of interpreting the dream for Zimbabweans.” The process ought to be democratically initiated, inclusively approved and endogenously driven and spearheaded by an independent institution which perhaps can be a think tank institution that is comprised of Zimbabweans from all walks life including captains of industry, academics, civil organisations, churches, farmers and politicians.

Commissions should be excluded from the processes, because history has that they have tendencies of being captured and influenced by state elements. When a national vision has been generated thenceforth, political parties should get into the political market, selling ideas that best fulfill the national vision.

Zimbabwe needs to conceptualize a process of initiating an in-built everyday pledge that accurately captures the important role of the will to belong. A national vision should thus, be immortalized into a national symbol and written in the hearts of Zimbabweans. As long as the national question remains unanswered, Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni’s critical question “Do Zimbabweans exist?” in his book “Do ‘Zimbabweans’ Exist?: Trajectories of Nationalism, National Identity Formation and Crisis in a Postcolonial State” also remains unanswered. As it stands, Zimbabweans do not exist but there are people paradoxically living in Zimbabwe.

For people are not always citizens since citizens are characteristically people who stand for their national vision and identity? Therefore, visionary distortions have done considerable harm and impinged on Zimbabwe’s political and socio-economic progress and Zimbabwe’s enormous entrepreneurial, innovation and human resource talent remains largely untapped into. The implementation of public policies from 1980-2018 without an accompanying national vision is synonymous to driving to the undefined; and still hoping to arrive.

Sydicks Takudzwa Muradzikwa is a social and political analyst based in Harare, Zimbabwe.

George Mapope, an independent development economist based in Harare and can be reached on +263 773 127 525. Copyright © , 2018 All Rights Reserved. The Solutions Tower Article may not be published or reproduced in any form without prior written permission