The Tide of Time and Change

The struggles of humanity for justice, freedom and equal rights seem to have gone on forever, but they must all be viewed against one constant – the tide of time. Somehow God created time and this, like many other aspects of life in the universe, is a reasonable constant. I say reasonable, because nothing is perfectly constant. We are locked into a system that is tied to 24 hours a day, seven days a week and months and years. We live three score and ten and if we have gone beyond that, we are doing OK.

Somehow we never seem to learn to judge our lives against this scale. When we are small it seems that growing up will take forever, when we are young it seems that everything by comparison is so old, when we are old it seems that time has flown and the days seem so short. When we are in politics and have power, we think we are immune to the tides of time. We are not.

Mr. Mugabe is in a race against mortality and he is going to loose that race, all of us will, he sooner rather than later because he is way past his “sell by” date. Yet he is in a bizarre dance inside Zanu PF pretending that he is able to carry on indefinitely and capable of leading his Party into the next elections – whenever they are held. There are signs that he is in a hurry, perhaps this is the only hint that he knows he is mortal, but these nuances are silenced by his strident demands for his underlings to kowtow and faithfully support his candidacy at the December Conference/Congress of the Party in Bulawayo.

Clearly he still thinks he is capable of carrying out the responsibilities of candidacy and the future possibility of leadership or he would not be acting like this. He must also live under the illusion that he is indispensable, both to Zanu and to Zimbabwe. Both are fallacies – he will soon have to face the inescapable fact that both assumptions are false.

That being the case why do we not prepare for the inevitable? A mystery of the human character and not uncommon in Dictators of one kind or another. You find them in business and politics. Invariably their actions have similar consequences and can be very destructive in organisations and countries. We can all think of leaders who have overstayed their welcome.

But in Mugabe’s position there are added anomalies – he appears to have no idea of just what destruction he and his regime have wrought on the people of this country. In a speech to the Central Committee of Zanu PF last week he said that their defeat at the polls in 2008 must not be repeated. But what has he or Zanu PF done to prevent that or change people’s minds? Under Zanu PF Zimbabwe has become a wasteland – derelict and abandoned farms and factories, massive unemployment and hunger. Homelessness and a collapsed infrastructure that can no longer meet the basic needs of the people for water, food and energy. Living standards that have collapsed to the lowest in the world along with the shortest life expectancy for any people on earth. The only records we break are negatives – the highest infant and maternal mortality in Africa, the worst inflation in the past century, the fastest collapse of GDP in history and all can be laid at the feet of Zanu PF under the leadership of Robert Mugabe. And he still expects his Party to nominate him as the Presidential Candidate and the people to vote for him and his Party in the next election. This has to be a record of some sort for self-delusion.

While he hangs onto power and privilege, the activities of Zanu PF continue to ravage and decimate what is left of this once quite decent small country. Denied the opportunity to rape the resources of the country through massive corruption at NSSA, NOCZIM, the Reserve Bank and many other institutions of the State, they have driven off the thousands of small miners who were making a living on the Marange alluvial diamond fields and are now stealing the proceeds – estimated at several billion dollars a year. They are finishing off what is left of agriculture and are now trying to consume what is left of industry, commerce and banking.

Not satisfied with controlling all the institutions that represent key economic and political interests they are trying to subvert and control the Church through surrogates like Kunonga, a shepherd surely described in the Bible in Jeremiah 23:1-4. They are intensifying their control of the legal system and subverting the rule of law, preaching peace in public they are using violence and intimidation, murder and disappearances as tools of oppression. Pretending to allow freedom of speech they are racking up the propaganda campaign on TV and radio. Arrogant and worse, they are trying to subvert the agreements they have signed up to in the GPA and in regional and international forums. They despise fellow leaders in the region and anyone who opposes them.

Their record in the Transitional Government has been totally negative – all the portfolios they control show no progress, no signs of reform or change, no grasp of the fact that history and the political and economic environment is changing rapidly. Zanu is a typewriter in an electronic age. They are yet to learn that you either change faster than the average or you get left behind and become irrelevant and obsolete.

The question is why does otherwise sophisticated and experienced political parties like Zanu PF fall into this sort of trap? The only constant in life is change and unless we keep abreast of this, we fall behind and eventually lose the race. I have often argued that Mr. Mugabe has been the biggest asset of the MDC in the past decade just as Smith was essential to the success of the nationalist’s struggles in the 60’s and 70’s. Reform and change in Zanu Pf is the last thing we want and they seem intent on delivering on both fronts. But the down side of this destructive process is that the country continues to suffer and stagnate while the Parties fight each other and jostle for power.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo 8th October 2011