The focus on leadership as the panacea to the challenge of a better life for all produces absurd outcomes.
Such outcomes include the approach like the one at play in People First to reserve the presidential position for you, a decision that must have been taken by a few wise people and not the people that are purported to come first in your party’s founding values, if any.
We simply need more conversations before recreating new monsters when the old one is still alive.
I AM writing this letter to you following your recent statement in your capacity as the presumed leader of People First, announcing that since your last statement of early June 2015, you had been hard at work developing your vision for a better Zimbabwe through what you described as a proposed Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage for Development (BUILD), a prescription for which you and your colleagues believe to be the correct and appropriate medicine for what Zimbabweans needs to cure the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
There can be no doubt that you will agree that the concept of consumer sovereignty is a fundamental tenet of the business eco-system as should citizen sovereignty be in the political eco-system. If there was any useful lesson you would have learned during your 34 year tenure in the post-colonial administration headed by President Mugabe, it is that independence promised to secure rights conferred equally on all human beings through a government instituted among the citizens and deriving its just powers from the consent, acquiescence or silence of the governed.
The choice of the name People First to represent the idea that your party stands for exposes what many may describe as the hypocrisy and dishonesty of your conceptual and analytical worldview of the Zimbabwean challenge. You will no doubt agree that prior to what has been described as the December putsch by your colleagues who were also unceremoniously dismissed from Zanu PF; there was no inclination that you objected to the modus operandi of Zanu PF that has seen President Mugabe being entrenched as the first son of the party and government.
The transformation of Robert Mugabe, the mortal man, into the anointed know-it-all genius, took place in your eyes and with you active participation. It seems the name of People First for your party is inspired by a rejection of the idea of Mugabe First. You will have read the interview of Hon. VP Mnangagwa in the New African in which he echoed the idea that President Mugabe won the trophy because he was different according to Ian Smith who is no longer alive to give his own version.
If Mugabe is First then the proper name of Zanu PF should be Mugabe First. Indeed, it is not clear from the kind of introspection that visited you between December 2014 and September 2015 whether, in your personal DNA, it is correct to elevate the standing of any individual including President Mugabe to a higher political pedestal.
The fact that President Mugabe has acted as the alter ego of the struggle for independence and subsequent post-colonial administration is not contestable but your role in delivering the absurdity has to be questioned in the interests of progress and not resurrecting the ghosts of yesterday.
What is evident from the utterances of your colleagues who have been raising the flag of the People First project is that your primary injury as a collective stems from the allegation that the party in which President Mugabe is the undisputed leader has been hijacked by the so-called Mafikizolos. It cannot be argued that your decision to venture into alternative politics appears to have been informed by the manner in which you were handled by your competitors in your former political home.
Had the unfortunate events not unfolded, it is clear that you would still be comfortable in your position as the Vice President of a party in which the President is more equal than his deputies and other members. I should like to believe that you will agree that the transformation of Zimbabwe into Mugabe’s land in which his character and personality has crowded out others was not accidental but a consequence of the choices and actions of many people including you.
I am also convinced that even President Mugabe may not share your construction that he has failed to discharge the duties contemplated in both the party and state’s constitutions in so far as allowing the people of Zimbabwe to own him and his administration. President Mugabe may not be alone in arguing that, at no stage did he seek to steal the power of the people but, on the contrary, his hegemony over the state has been made possible by the people through regular and free elections.
President Mugabe was re-elected as the First Secretary of Zanu PF at the last congress and even if you were not relieved of your duties, there is no suggestion that the outcome would not have been the same. In fact, your own statements since dismissal confirm that you would not have challenged President Mugabe as the First Secretary of Zanu PF and you were comfortable being a distant and inconsequential number 2.
In total, four VPs have expired in office and must have been all content to be in the position of Number 2. Indeed, no VP has been known to have any foreign thoughts or ideas. The shenanigans surrounding your dismissal confirm that all it took was to throw mud on you so that your standing in the eyes of the First Man would be stained but no ideological differences between you and your former principal seem to have been at play.
You will also agree that, in the world of President Mugabe, the people should always come first and your elevation to the position of VP was a consequence of a contaminated process in which President Mugabe’s presumed and not expressed choice is what always obtained. President Mugabe was accused of forcing you on the party and the people of Zimbabwe, for it has been argued that no one would rise in the party without the knowledge and consent of the leader.
During your tenure, you were aware that President Mugabe was more equal than other actors in Zanu PF not least because he directed so, but because even rational and competent people deferred to him for guidance and direction unnecessarily but also because of the culture in the party to look to the leader for salvation.
You will also agree that the characterisation of post-colonial Zimbabwe as the period in which the country has been Zanu-fied is apt and, more significantly, the elevation of President Mugabe to a super-political actor; exposes the fault lines of African democracies. Your decision now to enter into the overcrowded Zimbabwean political market is consistent with the distorted understanding of democracy. Your most ardent followers believe that you and you alone have what it takes to move Zimbabwe forward.
Supporters of President Mugabe, Tsvangirai, Biti and others also hold the same view that no one else can do the job. The focus on leadership as the panacea to the challenge of a better life for all produces absurd outcomes. Such outcomes include the approach like the one at play in People First to reserve the presidential position for you, a decision that must have been taken by a few wise people and not the people that are purported to come first in your party’s founding values, if any.
Indeed, one would have expected any democrat to refuse to be used by what may be self-centred actors but, alas, it is now confirmed that what was predicted has come to pass that you were to become the leader of this new project. The fact that it took you more than 10 months to announce the inevitable is irrelevant as it is abundantly clear that you knew what the general public did not know and decided to keep it a secret yet the wishes of the people must come first.
The people of Zimbabwe need a genuine fresh start and a break from the past. There is no evidence that even under BUILD; the interests of the people will drive the change agenda. I am sure that you will agree that the history of post-colonial political formations has shown that it is impossible to eliminate the EGO factor. Today, it is Tsvangirai’s MDC, tomorrow the same democratic endeavours can mutate into many formations, each with its own leader looming large.
The automatic assumption that you possess certain leadership traits simply because you were President Mugabe’s deputy is wrong and must be rejected. One should like to believe that when you joined the liberation struggle, the skills required to discharge the job were completely different from the skills, if any, that are required in order to give hope to the people of Zimbabwe to be independent and self-determining.
Successful countries have shown that economic justice and prosperity is best won by free men through a market system and not through BUILD, let alone Zim-Asset other ideas located in power-seeking individuals. You will not doubt appreciate the power of the human spirit and the importance of allowing the individual to create his or her own personal economies.
It cannot be disputed that, between June 2 and your latest statement, you have spent time negotiating with like-minded persons about the kind of Zimbabwe you want to see. The effort, while commendable, undermines the individual independence and self-determination principles that independence promised.
The struggle for civil rights that has been manipulated by a few to remain in power was simply an attempt to bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice and prosperity for all. It was never meant to generate permanent careers for the practitioners yet the experience of independence has seen men and women refuse to compete for scarce career opportunities simply because of the alleged role they played during the battles of yesterday.
You will agree that the promise of independence allowed the individual to dream big but after 35 years of abuse, people have stopped dreaming and the few that seek higher political offices have taken it upon themselves to dream on behalf of sovereign people. You will also agree that the choices and decisions of state actors will not bring food to the table of the millions hoping for a better and brighter day but the effort of the individuals who seek to experience a happier life.
The mere fact that you have found it in you to believe in the idea of big government programs exposes that nothing will change even if you were to be President of Zimbabwe today. The people who should be first in your ideal world also have their minds and dreams that are separate from yours and your colleagues, yet they have no place in your chosen party to express themselves. If you believe in the people as you believe in your children to be what they want to be, then your starting point ought to have been to listen to the whispers of tomorrow and not the ghosts of yesterday.
As your former teacher, I think it is not out of place for me to share ideas, insights and experiences that you may choose to consider or ignore. I have learned in my short experience of life that the human mind is the most complex and stubborn asset ever unleashed on earth. If one were to unlock the Zimbabwean minds individually, what would one find? It is difficult to imagine, but I ask you to take time to think about the people that you purport to think they need your ideas to advance their lives. You may find that their ideas can never be aggregated as each individual is sovereign, as you are, and capable of lifting themselves up without the assistance or benevolence of state actors.
I urge you to look back honestly at your years in government to locate a specific moment in time where you successfully thought and acted on behalf of another living human being. No one can deny that you were in government for 34 years but the impact of your choices and actions on ordinary people is something that needs interrogation. You will agree with me that no government can operate independent of the governed and that the governed cannot hope to win the struggles for economic justice and prosperity by using the income from others as their claim to fame.
I was expecting you to use the journey from December 2014 to September 2015 to think deeply about the human spirit and locate the ideas that speak to the aspirations of the human mind. One of the ideas has to necessarily start with your worldview regarding the role of the state and its actors in delivering the promise of a just, equitable, inclusive, cohesive, prosperous and progressive society.
As a religious person, you will no doubt agree that it is convenient to start at the beginning of time when all creations were given life including human beings. Could it have been the intention of the creator to create unequal human beings? The answer cannot be in the affirmative. We are all created equal. If this is the case, then there should be implications. You rose in the ranks of a culture that placed one individual, Robert Mugabe, as more equal than others. You now find yourself as more equal than your chief protagonists who have chosen to be your cheerleaders for reasons best known to themselves.
It cannot be in the interests of Zimbabwe to move from a so-called anointed Mugabe to an anointed Mujuru. You are human after all. The more time you allocate to understanding yourself rather than the people you wish to govern, the better. The people of Zimbabwe have endured a lot of suffering under the watch of clever men and women. They have heard all the good speeches and slogans too but regrettably this has failed to alter their economic standing.
Human life can only have meaning and purpose when honesty is involved. You must be honest with the people you wish to represent about what you can and cannot do. Please do not over-promise and take your time to play GOD with their future. Zimbabwe needs a leader who can make people to start believing in themselves again. Thirty five years of going nowhere slowly must come to an end. The people need to own their present and future. I urge you to seriously consider your capacity to give hope where despair has entrenched.
Tell the people honestly about your beliefs, values and principles and why it took you so long to know what we knew to be self-evident truths that all men are created equal and that we are all endowed, including President Mugabe, by the creator and not People First with certain unalienable rights which include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Finally, I thought the video on this link may assist in the quietness of your time in reflecting on what kind of society we want to see https://youtu.be/M4icli1BA4A . We simply need more conversations before recreating new monsters when the old one is still alive.