Ngomakurira – Banned

Eric Worby, writing in Zimbabwe’s Unfinished Business, describes how, on 23 July 2002, President Mugabe opened the third session of the fifth parliament of

1:country-region w:st=”on”>Zimbabwe. ‘Streets leading to the city center were blockaded, cars searched, and demonstrators and suspected supporters of the opposition banned.’

On the same chilly afternoon, he continues, 200 workers on Leopardvlei Farm, in Central Mashonaland, were ordered out of their compound by the new owner, Reward Marufu, the president’s brother-in-law; their houses were burned and they were ordered to leave. Effectively, they were banned.

Back in Harare the opposition walked out of Parliament refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the recently held elections. They were doing their best to ‘ban’ the president. And then, Worby concludes, the US and the EU banned senior Zimbabwe leaders from traveling to their countries.

To ban, exile, displace, ostracize, outlaw or scapegoat are all exercises of different degrees of violence, long practiced in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe. They are tacit admissions of failure to engage, dialogue, include, tolerate or integrate. The discriminatory laws of the 1920s and 1930s, which divided up land, jobs, laws, sport, housing and schools created habits of mind that survived the hoisting of our multi-coloured flag on the 18 April 1980.

To this day we live in a deeply divided land where those on the ‘inside’ enjoy wealth and power to the exclusion of the majority on the ‘outside’ who are effectively banned from living a life of health and dignity. To grow crops, to sell produce, to find school fees, to obtain medicine or just to find somewhere to live – all of these are major energy draining activities. They are the daily life of the banned.

Is it possible that we could just open our eyes and stop banning each other and enter into some kind of dialogue for the good of everyone? Is it possible to leave judgments aside for a while and reach out to one another? We will get absolutely nowhere if we continue with bitterness and division.

‘If you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering.’ (Matthew 5:23)

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