Both have been notable for being tenacious and resourceful, doing whatever was necessary to stay in power and often employing very similar strategies. Both managed to tear the country apart, setting Zimbabweans against each other.
Each regime had its own strengths and achievements, coupled with its own peculiar flaws and tragic delusions. Because of its strong, well-managed economy and its claim to be a bastion against the spread of Communism, the RF imagined it could survive (by force) as a preserve of white supremacy in the middle of Africa.
Because of its nationalist and liberation war credentials, buttressed by Zimbabwe’s natural resources, Zanu (PF) imagines that it can survive (by force or by rigging) as an island of ruinous economic policies and political oppression in a region of relative democracy, economic stability and growth. From the failed Scientific Socialism of the 80s, we have now stumbled into state-sponsored appropriation by and for the few, in the name of the many, masquerading as national empowerment. At the very least, this is, in many ways, quite opposite to the remarkable model of technology transfer and foreign investment that we have witnessed in China (look East!) over the last three decades.
Zimbabwe survived the RF and she will survive Zanu (PF). But it is difficult to avoid reflecting on what probable effects the experiences of the last 50 years, and in particular the last five years, have had on the national psyche of at least two generations of Zimbabweans. Many in my grandfather’s generation did not believe that white rule would (or according to some, should) ever end. There is now, like it or not, the same sense of resignation and potential collusion in the air.
Unless something seismic happens in the very near future to shake the nation out of its dark cloud of political despondency, cynicism, and the continued retreat into “Me, myself and my family,” I anticipate that it is our grandchildren that will next dream of freedom with any real hope in their hearts, or fire in their bellies. – B. Mhlanga, HararePost published in: Letters to the Editor