Published on July 26th, 2016 | by admin0
ONCE AGAIN, ZIMBABWE’S WARNINGS FOR NAMIBIA
THERE ARE ECHOES OF SIMILARITY BETWEEN THE PATHS TRODDEN BY THE TWO COUNTRIES, SO NAMIBIANS WOULD DO WELL TO HEED WHAT IS UNFOLDING IN ZIMBABWE
At independence in 1980, Zimbabwe had all the world rooting for it. And for a while there it seemed as if all the promise and potential that freedom and independence had bestowed on the new nation and state would have it on a permanent trajectory of socio-economic and political advancement. Sadly, the promise and potential of Zimbabwe has been stunted by the destructive hubristic tendencies of a liberation-era elite. Today, one can credibly say (and many reports and books have already said) that Zimbabwe appears worse off in many respects after 36 years of independence than what it was at independence. This is a sad indictment of the achievements of a once celebrated anti-colonial political force. Zimbabwean expat and publisher of South Africa’s Mail&Guardian weekly newspaper, Trevor Ncube, articulated the situation as follows in a recent article, tinged equally with hope and despair: “One cannot downplay the immense role Mugabe’s generation played in the fight against the brutal, racist, settler regime led by Ian Smith. But, once in office, Mugabe and company squandered their liberation goodwill. They made it clear that their liberation-war credentials gave them the right to do as they pleased.”
This sounds familiar, does it not? Ncube continues: “Zimbabweans seem to be in agreement about what has happened. Economic mismanagement, greed, corruption and the absolute breakdown of law and order have brought us to this point. Mugabe has run Zimbabwe like a private fiefdom. National institutions have been personalised, captured and pillaged with impunity. The needs of society have been secondary to the elite’s rapacious desires.” Over this period, the national conversation, in hushed voices and whispers, has been about what has happened and who is to blame, rather than what we need to do to get out of this mess. What noise we have heard from opposition political parties has largely been about how bad the current government is. Little space has been given to any inspiring articulation of an alternative future.” Still rings very familiar, right? And the eeriness of familiarity does not stop there: “It may seem odd, then, for me to say that I still have hope for Zimbabwe. But I do see in the country’s young people a growing impatience with the ageing generation that got us into this situation. This new generation owes no debt of political or economic loyalty to the current crop of leaders. They are fearless and they have the numbers.”
And then Ncube provides a prescription: “We must remember our rights and claim them back. We must find our collective voice. We must learn that a vibrant society is built by active citizens and civil society, not bystanders and whiners.” There certainly are many of us in Namibian society who have to look within ourselves and own that we are “bystanders and whiners” The lessons from Zimbabwe are myriad and Trevor Ncube’s words prescient, as this article was published a few months – in April this year – before the current widespread demonstrations and civil unrest, and the regimes violent responses, broke out. To be clear about the striking and salient similarities between Zimbabwe and Namibia: ruling political elites in Namibia are still riding the “liberation goodwill” and many think this gives them carte blanche to do as they please; there are signs of the country being run as a “private fiefdom” of the senior leaders of the ruling party; economic mismanagement, greed and corruption have become visible threats to the maintenance of progressive social values and order in society; and there are signs that rebellion is brewing amongst the country’s young people. The list of threats does not stop there. Of course, Namibia is not Zimbabwe and in many respects Namibian ruling elites are doing much that would seem to be aimed at averting and distancing the country from such negative parallels. On the other hand, there are political and associate economicallyinclined forces that are working to take us exactly to where Zimbabwe is today. And this is where we – ordinary citizens and civil society – are called upon to abandon our positions as “bystanders and whiners” to ensure that those forces do not triumph. Trevor Ncube concludes with: “The task at hand is daunting.” And that we must remember. This demands of us to shed our passivity and to realise that the future of Namibia is ours – ordinary folk – to craft and guard, and not for those who rule now to bestow upon us. While the immediate chapter in the story of Zimbabwe is far from certain as far as outcomes go, it could still get much worse, for a long time, before it gets better. Namibians would do well to watch very closely how things in this SADC neighbour play out over coming months and years, as it could be quite instructive on our own direction as a society.
To read Trevor Ncube’s full article go to: http://mg.co. za/article/2016-04-13-only-athird-way-will-fix-zimbabwe#