Zimbabwe Challenges, Anti-Corruption Demos and Way Forward

Whilst some people are more corrupt than others, the majority of Zimbabweans are corrupt. Corruption is a scourge sweeping across all sectors of society. It is therefore difficult to understand the context and substance of anti-corruption demonstrations in present day Zimbabwe. Who wishes to demonstrate against who? Is it a case of low-profile corruption demonstrating against high profile corruption?

Corruption on one hand can be defined as the misappropriation of public resources; and on the other, the misappropriation and abuse of public trust.  The latter includes wilful deception of people to sacrifice their time, effort and substance towards a plausible cause on paper, whilst in reality they are being used (kuitiswa / ukuyenziswa) to advance a hidden personal agenda by the leadership

This is one of the predominant wickedness of the broken social order of Zimbabwe. Communities, organisations and institutions are mostly presided over by people whose priority is asset stripping and plunder for self-enrichment as opposed to real value addition and substantive institutional and community development. The dominant subculture of present-day society is status, power and privilege over good stewardship and public service

The other subtle type of corruption equally devastating is that most leaders across society (especially community/church elders and traditional leaders) are complicit with the lies and propaganda which continue to feed the psyches of mainstream society whilst they have resigned to the somewhat overwhelming inertia of this broken social order and instead choose to focus on the here and now and self-interest thereby jeopardising the integrity and future of entire generations.

We have entire generations of young people who do not know their history; who have no cultural identity; who have no idea where they are going and who have no inheritance of any kind. Their entire livelihoods have been stolen away by their self-serving leaders and elders through endemic corruption and self-serving bad stewardship.

We are citizens of a broken country as characterised by endemic corruption; deception and propaganda across the board. Those who are calling for demonstrations are equally corrupt and so are the masses which are being called upon to the streets.  These demos are a sure pathway to violence and possible civil war as much as they are a highway to nowhere. Instead of demos, there is an urgent need for a very strong voice and movement for truth, justice and nationhood.

Corruption in our society is mostly driven by greed or self-centredness on one hand; and it is also driven by bad stewardship and weak or broken institutions on the other. These are matters of the heart, or cultural and systems problems and these will not be resolved through anti-corruption demonstrations.

May we take this opportunity to remind ourselves that this modern ship of state called Zimbabwe was not created by Mbuya Nehanda or Sekuru Kaguvi; neither was it created by the nationalist leaders or the freedom fighters who fought the second chimurenga war. This does not in any way denigrate the roles which they all played towards our political Independence. Nation building in the modern sense is yet to be formally adopted and assimilated into the culture of most Zimbabweans.

This ship of state was created and built by Cecil John Rhodes with support from the Pioneer Column and British Settlers. It would be defended in a 1922 referendum by the Responsible Government Association (RGA) led by Sir Charles Coghlan from being incorporated into the Union of South Africa. Had it not been of this RGA campaign for self-government, Zimbabwe would be a province of South Africa today.

Robert Mugabe took over the leadership of the liberation movement in the last moments and made its priority the total transfer of power or regime change. He would complete total state control by 1987 after the Gukurahundi atrocities and constitutional amendments which created the executive presidential system

During this Mugabe led Independence transition until the day he was eventually retired, Zimbabweans were never accorded the opportunity to have a proper inclusive conversation or strategic planning process towards substantive nation building or cultural development. By default, through environmental pressure most Zimbabweans became corrupted in the unfolding dog eat dog individualistic culture throughout this period.

Zimbabweans inherited a modern nation state in 1980. We, by and large have not done any nation building since then. Most Zimbabweans have never been taught about nation building and hence we remain ignorant. Conventional wisdom in most communities is that it is the donor’s responsibility to build Zimbabwe. In other words, our future as a people must be at the mercy and charity of the donor community

Our real challenge though over the years, has been the lack of a prophetic voice from the Church in the wake of this corruption pandemic and broken social order. Churches have mostly been captured by the ‘Man of God’ and have been turned into family dynasties or business models for self-enrichment. This explains and accounts for the present mostly corrupt church whose mission has become ‘The Man of God’ instead of its missionary mandate.

Way Forward

There is no quick fix solution to this longstanding historical crisis. We are all citizens of a corrupt and broken social order. The main vehicle for our renewal is a cultural revolution movement which will require strong leadership and must become the corporate responsibility of every responsible citizen of Zimbabwe.  As in the book on Nehemiah, renewal requires truthfulness, collective responsibility and inclusive participation.

A good starting point would be for Zimbabweans to come to the place of acknowledgement that Zimbabwe is now broken and dysfunctional; and currently driven by the main cultural values of propaganda, deception and self-centredness. Almost every Zimbabwean is guilty of this corrupt behaviour.  We need to repent and adopt the opposite values of Truth and public service; and inspire and mobilize others to do the same.

Equally important is the urgent need for the radical reformation of the key main national public institutions, namely; the Church and Community Leadership, The Traditional Leadership and the Government both local and National, amongst others. All these key social institutions are presently dominated by a self-serving leadership driven by power, privilege, status and self-enrichment. There is need for a new breed of honest and competent servant leaders who are passionate about public service.

On the whole, guided by the principle of collective responsibility, there is an urgent need for a properly constituted inclusive national dialogue process, to discuss and agree on our shared history as Zimbabweans together with the learning outcomes from that history.

Equipped with that history, we should be able to better understand our present challenges for us to discuss and agree the socio-economic and political reforms necessary for national reconciliation, renewal and sustainable institutional development and nation building.

Armed with these resolutions and agreed reforms, the church will come together and give thanks to God for this agreement whilst petitioning God for their implementation. The Dialogue assembly will nominate a negotiating team, to negotiate with the Government of the day the implementation of these resolutions informed by the inclusive dialogue process.

Inclusive dialogue based on the TRUTH and supported by the prayers of the Church will work. Demonstrations will only put harm on our less informed young and old people alike.