As a humble disciple of Jeremiah (a man who often stood in opposition to the prophets with a big media following and official political backing), I said years ago that restoring ZANU to sole power could only lead to a crisis. All I was sure of was that ZANU had no future, though it had enough power to prolong the current agony. Telling what would come after they crash would require a magic crystal ball, and I don’t believe magic crystal balls exist.
A few years ago, we were like travellers in a canoe on the Zambezi near, say, Sesheke with the river in flood. We knew that some way ahead there lay Victoria Falls and after that a series of gorges. We would need to negotiate those and when we did, we had no idea what awaited us in the lake ahead. I’d say we are near the roughest part of the gorge now. We know it will end and we will be somewhere different, but that could be a Lake Kariba full of hungry crocodiles, angry hippos and disease-bearing insects. Whatever we actually find will be different from our present chaos, but it will have its own problems. We hope they will be less than the troubles we’ve been through in 35 years of ZANU misrule, but we can’t be sure.
All we can do now is to try to deal with, or at least survive, today’s problems. As a wise man said â€œWhen you’re up to your arse in crocodiles, you don’t start a debate on how to drain the swamp.â€
We all have days when we want to give up because things are worse than we had imagined, but though we knew there were problems ahead and we might have imagined them, we didn’t feel them. You can only do that when it happens. So all we can do is hold on, as you would if you were halfway down the Zambezi gorge on one of those rafts. Hold on to our vision of where we want to go, avoid disputes among the crew, which we can’t afford when you’re all in the same boat on the same rough water and remember that we all knew it would be difficult.
Where do we want to go? A world in which everyone observed our present constitution would be an improvement, but, like every human plan, it could be improved. We want our God-given human dignity recognised. We all deserve respect and must not be bullied or lied to by government officials, police, army, the mass media or all the other self-appointed little bosses, right down to uniformed â€œsecurity guardsâ€ or the junkies from your local ZANU-PF youth.
We each deserve to have our fair share of the nation’s resources; that does not mean a licence to grab or divert property, but it does mean seeing our tax money spent for our benefit, on schools where our children can learn something useful, hospitals where we actually get treatment (and, even better, good local health workers so that we don’t often need to go to hospital), roads and railways maintained so that we can travel and market what we produce by our own work. That sounds a tall order, but it would be possible if the law courts and the police stopped demanding bribes, if they defended the rights and property of each one of us, not only the rich and powerful. That includes our right to express our opinions, point out inconvenient facts, read and listen to whatever news we want. There is more, but that will do for the moment, and most of it is in the constitution.
But if we are to keep on this course, we must fight together for what we can agree on. Whenever I hear or meet a new aspiring politician, I ask what is his or her vision for where we want to go? If they can only pull down their rivals, they lose me. When we get out of the turbulent waters of the gorge will be the time to think of changes in the crew. Let’s stand together till we have a new democratic and less bloated parliament. If our leaders then break into different parties, that is their right and probably good for us. We never want to see one-party rule again.