Independence in Zimbabwe was supposed to be the birth of democracy and freedom in Zimbabwe. As a nation we should have taken responsibility to nurture that democracy like a parent does to a baby ensuring that the young democracy is protected. The costs of achieving that democracy had been very high. We entrusted those in leadership positions with responsibility to protect our newly found democracy. Allowing our political leaders to manage and take charge of our newfound democracy was like leaving wolves in charge of sheep. It was not long before our ‘liberators’ began to despise democracy and jump onto any opportunity to strangle and choke it.
The chief protagonist is the president’s office. The highest office on the land is the headquarters of the anti-democracy movement. The presidium will only respect the constitution if the constitution supports the wishes of the presidium. Situations have arisen where the constitution clashes with the president’s intentions and each time, the constitution has been trampled on. Since the 1960s the president indicated again and again that he views democracy and the rule of law with contempt.
The bad signs were always there in the statements from the president, his actions and the types of friends that it hung around with.
In 1962 the president is quoted as saying that ‘It may be necessary to use methods other than constitutional ones’ when he was trying to depose Joshua Nkomo from the leadership of ZAPU. This statement reflects that the president was always willing to disregard the law if the law stood in his way.
In December 2000 at a ZANU PF party conference he is quoted as saying "Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy,". Fear would stalk, not just the ‘white man’, it would become a way of life for every Zimbabwean.
In June 2008, he is again quoted as saying ‘Our votes must go together with our guns. After all, any vote we shall have, shall have been the product of the gun. The gun which produces the vote should remain its security officer – its guarantor. The people's votes and the people's guns are always inseparable twins’. Because the highest office in the land believes that violence and elections go hand in hand, there has been politically motivated violence in each and every election in Zimbabwe since 1980. Each bout of violence has of course been followed by a presidential pardon.
From the moment he went into office, the president’s mission was to weaken the institutions that are supposed to protect our democratic rights. The president’s office behaves like a giant vacuum cleaner sucking sinew of Zimbabwe’s democratic fabric and devouring everything worthwhile leaving the people of Zimbabwe exposed. State security was taken out of reach of parliament into the president’s office. Security forces were sucked into the presidium and transformed from being a civil protecting unit into a coercive weapon. Attempts were made to remove our ability to choose who represents us by railroading in a one party state where people are denied a voice. Parliament has been reduced to a bunch of ‘yes men’ whose job is to endorse the wishes of the presidium, not to scrutinise.
Other than bad laws going through parliament, the judiciary is now full of people who are likely to concur with the presidium.
One way to judge a man’s character is by looking at the friends that he hangs out with. One needs to look at the countries that he tries to court for friendship to have a feel of his disdain for democracy. Sadly, amongst the president’s chosen friends are some of the most repressive and undemocratic countries on earth. Gaddaffi’s Libya, Iran, Cuba and the clumsily named ‘Democratic’ Republic of China do not make good reading. The president calls them friendly nations; the world calls them undemocratic repressive nations.
If the constitution was honoured by all stakeholders, we would not view our security forces with fear. The constitution is what protects all of us. Since those that are entrusted with protecting the constitution are the first ones to trample all over it, we are all in big trouble. Our ‘democracy’ was a false start; we need to start all over again. The constitution needs refreshing, the guardians of the constitution need replacing.Post published in: Opinions & Analysis