Nonetheless, besides the largely cosmetic and superficial changes implemented by the post-independence government – such as, construction of schools and some small health care facilities in previously marginalized areas, as well as the removal of racial segregation and discrimination – in real terms, nothing much improved for the ordinary population, who up to today, remain alienated from the broader economy.
Indeed, most Zimbabweans understandably question why those who fought and led the struggle for this country, have, in the course of four decades, dismally failed to fulfill the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe – on which, the entire war of independence was premised.
Surely, if the country’s people felt pushed and abandoned onto the wayside and fringes of the economy – restricted to a mostly peasant and lower working class subsistence existence, whereby poverty and daily struggles for survival were a daily occurrence – why should this still be the case forty two years after attaining supposed ‘majority rule’?
The answer is as much troubling as it is simple.
Any revolution led by elitists never benefits the ordinary people!
The undeniable fact is that the liberation for Zimbabwe’s independence was predominantly orchestrated, authored and driven by the elite class of the black population.
It was never by the ordinary suffering folk – who were mainly confined to the ‘dirty work’ of doing the actual fighting in the bush, or as mujibhas and chimbwidos (lookouts), and of course, villagers who provided food and other necessaries – whilst, the elitists leaders lived relatively safely in exile (Mozambique, and Zambia), or for those unfortunate enough to be caught, spending a few years in prison.
However, in the whole – those who actually faced the brunt of the war against colonial rule were the already impoverished majority – who, cruelly, after independence, either remained in their poverty or became worse off.
On the other hand, those who led the struggle immediately took over power, filled the shoes of the former colonizers – and, basically, continued, or even intensified, the same system that benefited only a few, against which they fought.
Why is that?
Let us first understand what it means to be an elite.
This is largely understood to be an individual either of high birth or social position.
Those of high social position can be the learned, or holding good well-paying jobs, or entrepreneurs.
As we can see from Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, those in positions of power were relatively educated and with respected occupations as medical doctors, lawyers, religious leaders, teachers, and even nurses.
We can look at individuals as founding father Robert Gabriel Mugabe, current president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, Ndabaningi Sithole, Milton Malianga, Sydney Sekeremayi, Herbert Wiltshire Chitepo, Edison Zvobgo, and so many more.
A friend of mine was kind enough to send me a book by Frantz Fanon, entitled, ‘Black Skin, White Mask’ – which I am finding really intriguing, as it explains a lot about why revolutions, such as ours in Zimbabwe, led by the elite, hardly work out for the good of the man, woman and child on the street.
Frantz Omar Fanon, also known as Ibrahim Frantz Fanon, was a French West Indian psychiatrist, and political philosopher from the French colony of Martinique – whose works have become influential in the fields of post-colonial studies, and critical theory.
In this book, Fanon thought of the former colonized people not as one group – but, there was a certain group of black people that was ‘privileged’ in colonial times – who were able to get an education for example at mission schools or in foreign countries.
Then, there was another group – consisting the vast majority, of mostly the less educated, in poorly paid employment, and those in rural areas.
Fanon believed that the first group were not fully connected with the workers’ struggle, and the struggle of most of the black people – and, in their minds and with their economic position, they felt superior.
Fanon warned that these people would take over power after independence, and keep the old colonial structures of inequality and corruption in place – for their (post-independence leaders) own benefit, at the expense of the less privileged majority – whom they regarded as inferior and looked down upon as not deserving the best the country had to offer.
In other words, this elite group fought colonialism purely out of a desire to replace the former colonial master – and, acquire the life and livelihood that they had admired and envied to have for themselves.
The liberation struggle was never for the ordinary people – but, for the elitist few, who are presently in power – continuing without any shame, discriminatory and segregatory policies that keep the poor shackled in the dungeon of poverty.
It was not to the advantage of the ruling ZANU-PF’s top leaders to decolonize, fairly distribute the national cake, and democratize governance – since, corruption, violence and oppression of the opposition are all in their favour.
From this grim picture, what then can we learn as the people of this country?
As we strive for a new and better Zimbabwe – where all its citizenry fully benefit and enjoy the abundance of its blessings and the fruits of independence – what can we take away from both what Fanon accurately warned, and the sickening injustices we have experienced under an ‘independent Zimbabwe’?
No one can deny that the overburdened and ever-suffering citizenry are ready for another revolutionary – this time around, to rid ourselves of the yoke and albatross around our necks of the ruling ZANU PF subjugation and marginalization.
Nonetheless, we need to be wary of repeating the same mistakes of the 1960s and 70s Second Chimurenga.
As Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” – it is time we learnt from our mistakes.
Any revolution led by elitists never benefits the ordinary people!
Yet today, we find ourselves leaving our freedom and uhuru in the hands of another group of elitists – with lawyers and others taking charge of our destiny – whilst the ordinary suffering peasants and working class sit back, and somehow expect the situation to pan out differently this time around.
Well, I have some very bad news for all those still harboring those distorted views.
As long as the suffering and impoverished themselves do not take charge and directly lead this new revolution against oppression and marginalization – nothing will improve for the majority, even if the current regime is kicked out of power today.
The telltale signs are already there for all those who want to see, to see!
Evidence is abound of the disgraceful shenanigans by opposition officials running our towns and cities working in cahoots with government-appointed management in looting and misappropriating our resources for their own selfish benefit.
Who has gotten over the shock of watching both ruling and opposition legislators in a rare show of unity and oneness of mind – not in formulating laws and policies that would significantly improve the citizenry’s standards of livelihood – but, to share amongst themselves US$14 million of taxpayers’ money, with each of the 350 MPs receiving a staggering US$40,000.
Let us not forget that this astonishing figure does not take into account the US$500,000 and US$350,000 for each minister and their deputies, respectively – meaning that, with a 20-strong cabinet, US$10 million will go to the former, and US$7 million to the latter – which, effectively balloons the total to a shocking US$31 million.
In the process, our hospitals remain without the barest of essentials – such as pain killers, gloves, antiseptic ointment, or sutures and anesthetic drugs for surgeries.
Our children do not have any text and exercise books, and modern science and technology laboratories in their schools – most of which, in rural areas, still without electricity 42 years after independence.
Not to mention that a solar farm installation costs are typically between US$0.89 to US$1.01 per watt – which means that a 1 megawatt (MW) solar farm would cost between US$890,000 and US$1.01 million.
As such, the millions of dollars being given to these MPs and ministers could actually construct a decent solar plant producing perhaps 50 MW of electricity.
What does this show about both our ruling and opposition parties in Zimbabwe – led by an elitist few?
It is time those feeling the brunt of poverty, with each day being an unbearable struggle, made a bold decision to take on the oppressor themselves – as only they can put in place genuine measures that address the plight of the suffering.
Let us not place our destiny in the hands of the privileged and elitist – since doing so will yield the same results as what we witnessed under the torturous 42 years of ZANU PF misrule, corruption and repression.
Let the people of Zimbabwe learn from the wise words of Fanon – as they have already been proven more than accurate.
Let the fight for liberty and uhuru never be orchestrated, authored and driven by those who do not share in and experience our daily struggles.
A revolution led by elitists is only there to serve the interests of the privileged few – as their only motive is to replace those in power with themselves – with absolutely no benefit for the poor ordinary citizenry.
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: [email protected]