There is no argument that war veterans, who sacrificed their lives and livelihoods hoping to achieve our total freedom, deserve our respect and honour. I can imagine that it was not an easy decision to suspend their lives and go into the bush to fight for the freedom of others without any guarantee of survival. That to me remains a rare ultimate sacrifice which very few of us can take. My respect for them is boundless. If only we could have that same spirit now, we would not have allowed things to get where they are.
The sad reality is that the freedom which they all sacrificed for is not yet here. Zimbabweans in general are worse off today than many were during colonial times when it comes to quality of life. This is not by accident at all but is as a result of the lack of visionary and selfless leadership.
In the case of war veterans, it is a really wretched story because many of them today are disillusioned, marginalised and poor. I have had the privilege of meeting some who contributed and sustained the struggle and did so much for this country but were deliberately side-lined at independence because of their principles. Unfortunately the fruits of the struggle were usurped by a clever Â cabal within ZANU(PF) who never really did much yet today they masquerade as our liberators and think that they are entitled to power forever without responsibility.
The reason why Zimbabwe is poor today and owes billions of dollars and cannot account for billions of its mineral resource revenues is not because of sanctions or some sinister plan by the West. It is because of irresponsibility, incompetence and downright greed of a struggle elite. Unless we address that, our country including our war veterans will remain poor, marginalised and hopeless.
I got quite excited for a minute because I thought the request by our war veterans to meet the President was to have an honest and fearless discussion on the state of the nation and the need for leadership renewal, but I have since learnt that the meeting is merely going to be about the welfare of war veterans and not the welfare of Zimbabweans in general. How disappointing. Even if they get the lump sum they want, then what? Soon they will be broke, asking for more. How short sighted.
I have no doubt that after their meeting with Mugabe, there will be handshakes and smiles all over as he manages to once again dupe them with promises of money, cars and benefits and postpone any substantive changes. Itâ€™s merely going to be another PR exercise which will entrench Mugabeâ€™s rule. That is typical but unfortunately it works all the time. Zimbabweans are very simple, give them a bit of money, a car and a cell-phone and they will make you a little god.
I suspect that our war veterans will only represent their short term interests so donâ€™t expect much from the meeting. Unfortunately, this will not change the reality that the struggle for the total emancipation of Zimbabweans must still go on and it will only happen when we have political leadership renewal and new fresh brains in State house,
â€œThe most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the awareness of other possibilities, which makes it seem inconceivable that other ways are viable, which removes the sense that there is an outsideâ€. Allan David BloomÂ (1930 â€“1992)
Our problem is the belief, even among some of our war veterans, that there is no better outside to the current status quo. The belief that Mugabe is the best thing that ever happened to Zimbabwe and that he not only has all the rights to continue to rule but is irreplaceable. Nothing can be further from the truth.
As young progressive Zimbabweans we are rejecting this paradigm. We are saying that Zimbabweâ€™s potential going forward is unimaginable but can only be unlocked by us renewing our leadership and creating a new inclusive narrative which says all Zimbabweans, regardless of race or ethnicity, should freely participate in shaping a better future. It can only be realised when we have an ethical government. There is no other way.
In rejecting this ZANU (PF) limited paradigm, we are not saying we do not appreciate the role played by those who sacrificed their lives nor are we disrespecting them, but rather we are saying that Zimbabwe must open the next chapter of creating an inclusive developmental state.
There is absolutely nothing unpatriotic about that. In fact, some of us love this country more than some of our current leaders who have plundered our resources and watched it regress and under-develop.
Even if our war veterans get their measly lump sum of $18,000, we cannot pretend that our problems will be over. In fact, they are bound to get worse.
The fight for freedom must therefore still go on and we cannot expect these war veterans to do that for us.
Another Zimbabwe is possible.
Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on [email protected]. He is also the Secretary for Finance and Economic Affairs for PDP. He writes in his personal capacity.Post published in: Featured