Nick Mangwana View From the Diaspora
There is a debilitating sharp division between the Zimbabwean people in the Diaspora along many artificial fissures, which has reached some unhealthy crescendos. It is difficult to identify the cause of this level of partisanship, but one can only assume that it is partially the pandering to certain narrow
interests at the detriment of the common good.
There is nothing wrong with fraternal loyalties per se.
What is wrong is when the nation suffers because of partisan interests.
What is wrong is when the Zimbabwean community fails to see eye to eye because of different political dispositions. The nation is crying for national healing home and away.
Politicians and activists should not exploit people’s anxieties, fear, envy or emotions to their selfish ends. Demagoguery is selfish and not the right legacy to impart to one’s children, especially when those children live far away from home and they are already suffering from bi-cultural crises.
When one’s child asks why Zimbabweans hate each other so much, then it is time to have an epiphany. There is more to life than politics.
During the days of the inclusive Government there were as many as three ministers including a Vice President given the responsibility of ensuring national healing. After six years, either they dismally failed or Zimbabweans are just too full of obstinate hate.
There appears to have been no shift to the bitterness that afflicts the nation. The people are bitterly divided to a level where those in the Diaspora are finding it difficult to just do something together as Zimbabweans.
Those who remained at home cast aspersions on those in the Diaspora as if living outside the country is selling out.
Call this politically naive but there are bigger issues at stake to surrender the spirit of national cohesion to very narrow political interests.
Those who want to be legends of hate are free to do so but if that is the legacy one wants to leave their children especially in the Diaspora then let them.
One cannot travel 10 500km from Zimbabwe to Britain and then waste precious time on pettifogging.
People should just cut the pretence.
If you engage regularly in discussion or debate with someone on social media, is it political naivety when you bump into each other to have a drink and have a congenial discussion regardless of different political or ideological fraternities?
And then the country appoints a whole Vice President to be in charge of national healing and yet two Zimbabweans who meet in some bar in Kent cannot have a drink and a conversation!
Or if they do they should hide and make sure there is no one with a camera phone! Rank hypocrisy!
That type of pretentious grandstanding should be left to some of the so-called prosperity preachers of today and should have no place in everyday life.
And those Zimbabweans with different affiliations owe nobody an explanation why they engaged in a conversation.
Those who have time for cliquish bigotry and have a problem with it, it’s their problem. Sadly they will be part of the lost generation.
When one imagines that in a community people are intermarried therefore the relationship thread sutures different confederacies, what happens then when two people from two different parties meet at a wedding somewhere in the UK? How about a funeral? Do people then awkwardly shuffle from each other? Should people stop talking to each other because one is a Government critic and the other is a senior Zanu-PF functionary?
People should just grow up. The people that criticise the Government are not necessarily treasonous traitors.
A lot of them have as much patriotic passion as those that fervently defend it. They are only exercising the freedom which was brought by the liberation struggle.
That freedom was not predicated on supporting or being a member for the ruling party. That freedom of association has no caveats except the usual legal rigmarole about exercising it within the remit of the law.
Some people in the Diaspora strangely now avoid celebrating Zimbabwe’s Independence because they risk being associated with Zanu-PF. Which country does not have a national day?
Even after Independence when the new national flag whose colours are pregnant with ideology the whites embraced it as an emblem of nationhood.
Zimbabwe’s Independence may have been brought by Zanu and Zapu which merged into Zanu-PF but a lot of other people played their roles. One did not necessary need to brandish the AK47 (sub) to have played a role. So when people celebrate independence they are celebrating the birth of a nation.
The beginning of an identity.
Whether one agrees with Zanu-PF or not there is nothing which stops them from celebrating Independence.
Every American celebrates the 4th of July whether it is the Republicans or the Democrats in power and whether they agree with the policies or not.
The majority of the Americans disagreed with the decision to invade Iraqi. Regardless of their divergent sentiment regarding the direction which the country was going, when it came to the 4th of July they all rallied and were dressed in patriotic colours.
For all their faults when it comes to patriotism everyone has a thing or two to learn and emulate the Americans.
But the Zimbabwean community is so divided everywhere that there is no consensus even on such basic issues of nationhood.
A prominent professor asked recently why the Zimbabwean people were so bitter and angry. Maybe that is the reason why the President saw it fit to appoint someone at the very top of Government to take charge of national healing.
Maybe that is the reason why the late John Nkomo, the late Gibson Sibanda and Sekai Holland, were assigned to the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration.
The name of the Organ speaks for itself.
Two of the people in this Organ were at second in command of their parties. Six years later we hear of violent clashes in Chitungwiza.
In lands afar we hear of one Zanu-PF functionary called Bernard Bwoni was violently grabbed by the lapels by a Zimbabwean he just met for writing articles in support of his party’s policies.
When is it ever sensible to fight intellectual ideas (no matter how flawed or objectionable) using violence? People are free to disparage or ridicule intellect. But to assault it physically is probably just contemptible.
Then there is the “Deportation Brigade”.
Zimbabweans have a reputation of getting their compatriots deported. There is a challenge among different Diaspora communities whether there is a worse nationality.
This writer is tired of advising people not to waste their futile attempts to silence him through deportation endeavours and threats.
No matter how much they fight or disagree or even steal from each other, the West African brothers are never spiteful to that level.
But hey, that is Option A to a Zimbabwean wherever they are. A domestic dispute ends with deportation.
A bunch of Zanu-PF functionaries attend their party congress. On their way back they are told that there have been attempts from fellow countrymen to block their return to the country of their residence.
The very people that take these representations to deport so and so find them lamentable and they always say, “What’s wrong with your people?”
Good question deserving a good answer. What’s wrong with our people?
As if that is not lousy enough, there is that lot that demonstrate ad infinitum at the Zimbabwean Embassy. They harangue Government officials when they come on official business.
One remembers that two ministers were actually manhandled.
Is it not ironic that the self-appointed paragons of democracy grab the very first opportunity they get to visit violence against ministers in a foreign land?
If Zimbabwe does not start healing itself, generations will be lost to hate.
Buddha said: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burnt.”
Politics is not a religion. In religion one cannot enjoy a drink with the devil, even though God tends to have conversation with him.
Job has scars to prove those conversations do take place.
When the late John Landa Nkomo said, “Peace begins with me, peace begins with you and peace begins with all of us”, he meant everyone including those in the Diaspora.
- The writer is chairman of the Zanu-PF UK branch.