But citizens cannot have it both ways. You cannot want to live in a democracy but at the same time do nothing about rooting out any signs of anti-democratic behaviour by the government.
And that is exactly what Zimbabweans are trying to do: have their cake and eat it. They write articles, talk on radio and TV, pontificate from pulpits, pray, have endless discussions in so-called campaign groups, appeal to SADC or the AU, and even call on the international community to help (as if they could care less!). And what does all this talk centre around? What Mugabe and ZANU PF are doing wrong. How evil they are. How they are destroying Zimbabwe.
But that is not taking personal responsibility! That is not defending democracy! Talk is just complaining and moaning. Taking personal responsibility means taking ACTION.
Mugabe and ZANU PF are not the problem. They are simply behaving in the way human beings behave when they know they can exploit their fellow human beings and get away with it. Domestic abusers only abuse their spouses or children because they know they can get away with it. In the UK now, we even have children abusing their parents because they know they can get away with it. Bosses abuse and exploit their staff and workers because they know they can get away with it.
And governments do the same. That’s how dictatorships start. That’s how Mugabe and ZANU PF started, and that is why they now have their heels firmly on the necks of Zimbabwean citizens. Because they know that you Zimbabweans will let them get away with it.
There is a simple rule in life: “If we don’t stand up for ourselves, other people will stand on us”.
That is exactly what has happened to Zimbabweans ever since the end of colonialism.
It’s not Mugabe and ZANU PF’s fault that they are there, it is YOURS.
Mugabe hasn’t run Zimbabwe into the ground. YOU HAVE.
And he will continue to do so until you, collectively, do something about it beyond talking and grumbling. Dictators are not frightened of talk. In fact, they give quite a degree of latitude to criticism, as you will see in Zimbabwe’s media. Because they are excellent psychologists of group behaviour. They know that if you ban all criticism, the pressure will build up underground until, like a volcano, it will burst with explosive force. And they obviously don’t want that.
But if you let people have a little moan, you are giving them a pressure valve. They walk away patting themselves on the back because they think they are doing something constructive. No they aren’t! All that happens is that their readers or listeners walk off into yet another moan about how bad Mugabe or ZANU PF are. And so the pressure gets diffused.
There is only one thing dictators fear, and that is a mass movement of citizens taking action and making it very clear that they simply will not tolerate any more exploitation or abuse. That they simply will not tolerate staying in extreme poverty for any longer than is absolutely necessary.
But African citizens don’t do that. They have never done anywhere in Africa since the end of colonialism. They point at Arab Spring as a success. No it wasn’t because one corrupt, repressive regime was merely replaced by another corrupt, repressive regime.
They point at the Black opposition to Apartheid being a success. No it wasn’t. First of all, ANC would have been blown apart by internal divisions BEFORE Apartheid was abolished, had it not been for the international help that intervened to save it. And it has done a lousy job since of ensuring that the majority of Black citizens would rapidly advance to affluence. In real terms, most of them are little better off than under Apartheid. And SA still has a tiny White minority (plus Gupta) holding the real, hidden reins of power behind a corrupt Black government.
Why is it that, with very few exceptions, the citizens of White nations live in, not perfect, but at least workable democracies? Whereas virtually no Black African does? Why do White citizens enjoy good standards of living and an average US$113 a day, whereas 91% of Africans earn under $5 a day, and 43% less than $1.90 a day?
It’s not because they had more caring, properly democratic governments. They didn’t. When colonialism started, the vast majority of ordinary Western citizens were in as much poverty as you are in Zimbabwe today. They were ill-educated and their governments were as bad as any in Africa – in fact, many of them didn’t even have the vote whereas Zimbabweans and all Africans do. People say the Western lifestyle was built on colonialism. It wasn’t. To begin with, all the wealth from the colonies went to a tiny elite, just as Zimbabwe’s diamonds have gone to Mugabe’s cronies.
So what changed things? The citizens realised their governments (supported by tiny ruling elites) weren’t going to change anything. They weren’t going to share their wealth with the common people, and they certainly were not interested in eradicating poverty.
Until, finally, the citizens had had enough. They finally realised that a people gets the government it deserves. And they realised that if they really wanted to have a government that worked for its citizens, and not for its own self-interest, if they really wanted to escape poverty, they must take matters into their own hands. They must each take personal responsibility for creating the type of government they wanted.
They accepted that “If we don’t stand up for ourselves, other people will stand on us”. So they stood together, and with one voice made it clear to their governments that they would no longer tolerate being abused and exploited. They would no longer tolerate poverty.
When Zimbabweans do the same with Mugabe and ZANU PF through ACTION and not talk, this dictatorship will disappear virtually overnight. But then they need to do the same with MDC-T when it takes over. Because if they don’t, they will fail just as Arab Spring or the Black opposition in SA did.
There is no secret about why Westerners have excellent lifestyles while Africans don’t. Western governments know their citizens will not tolerate anything else. But African governments know their citizens will tolerate being abused, exploited and kept in extreme poverty.Post published in: Featured