Change is coming

We are clearly heading for some kind of change. The present situation cannot last, but the longer it does, the more damage will be done, so we know that things will get worse before they get better.

We may perhaps speed the transition if we keep our eyes on the ball; what change is most important? Zanu (PF) is in its death throes, but they may be prolonged. When it does collapse or split, the most important question is not which party or faction succeeds it; whether MDC or a “lesser evil” from within the ranks of ZANU or the security apparatus, or something unpredictable like MKD. The question is not “Who should lead?” but “what faults or abuses must we all work together to correct first?”

I can’t answer that straight away, but ensuring that the officers of the law and the guardians of the state learn to respect the laws and constitution we have might help to ensure that those officials respect us all as equal citizens. One image of where I would like to see us be fairly soon is this: a police officer wants to board a kombi, but the driver points to the sign that most have somewhere near his head and says “I’m sorry, but I’ve already got 15 passengers. If I took you, I’d be overloaded and you don’t want that, do you?”

Their “zeal for the law” inconveniences us all, but they seem to forget it when forgetting is more convenient for them. If they were prepared to accept the very small inconvenience of waiting for the next kombi that is not already overloaded, then we might all see more easily that some of these rules are meant to help us all.

Until then, I accept that their excessive zeal is the reason why I must be squeezed in between a fat lady with two small children and a big basket of chickens on her lap and two men who are both either much stouter or taller than me, which doesn’t leave much room for any of us to breathe. And the journey takes twice as long as it should because police harassment means we have signed on for the 50-cent mystery tour. That usually delivers us within 200m of where we wanted to be, but by a route thaat nobody, least of all the driver, could have predicted when we boarded.

A second image:

A big man in a big car turns the forbidden way out of the wrong lane and makes minor contact with a kombi. (That is a rare enough occurrence because kombi drivers deserve certificates for “aggressive driving”, which balances all the skills of “defensive driving” with the minimum of aggression needed to attempt some of their more imaginative manoeuvres.)

Anyway, when the cops arrive, they ask as many witnesses as they can what exactly happened and give the guilty driver a ticket, which still gives him the option of paying a fine or fighting the case in court.

Is that too far from the real world in which the cops ignore witnesses, take the kombi driver away and use some not-so-gentle persuasion until he’ll sign anything they want him to? It may be beyond our imagination, but isn’t that somewhere along the road we would hope to travel? So why not stretch your imagination a bit?

As I said, I can’t map out how we get there, but these are a couple of examples of where we would like to be. If we all agree on that, we can probably find steps we can take to reach these desirable goals.

One thing the police could do to help create a better atmosphere would be to all wear their Force numbers. Does anyone remember those? One thing we all might do is stuff those police suggestion boxes with requests for them to stop taking bribes.

Does all this sound far-fetched? Some people probably said the same of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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