Michael Mhlanga and Richard Mahomva
April 18 holds a special place in the hearts of all steadfast lovers of Zimbabwe. Surely, no falsehood or propaganda can alter the undeniable ideologically historic function of April 18 as a reinvigoration preliminary point of the liberation struggle’s race.
A race of patriotic zeal to which we are all athletes, running towards the finishing line, that day when Zimbabwe will emerge as a triumphant symbol of Africa’s liberation.
The 18th is not just an ordinary day in the memory of our nationalism and its genesis to what is now called Zimbabwe. The day offers cinematic reflection of a journey of national “becoming”.
Sad enough, this “becoming” has been accentuated on anti-establishment emotions than it has been grounded on purely Afrocentric thought-processes. In Becoming Zimbabwe: A History from the Pre-colonial Period to 2008, a collective representation of this perspective forms the bedrock of Professor Brian Raftopolous and Professor Alouis Mlambo’s thematic framings of the national loyalty/belonging.
The logic which informs the architecture of this volume is harnessed from an intellectual heritage which was outrageously opposed to the traditional narrative of the nationalist trajectory’s homogenity in trampling colonial supremacy. Profs Raftopolous and Mlambo’s narrative asserts that Zimbabwe’s path to liberation was a Struggle within a Struggle as hypothesised by the late, Professor Masiphula Sithole.
Further substantiating this notion which challenges ideological certainity in national belonging is a hesitant point of enquiry by Professor Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni in his monograph, Do Zimbabweans Exist?
However, a counter narrative to these submissions is supplied by David Martin and Phylis Johnson’s account on The Struggle for Zimbabwe. In their book, Martin and Johnson argue that the liberation struggle took a uniform fashion in challenging the centrality of imperialism leading to the landslide ouster of the Ian Smith regime by Zanu-PF.
Ensuing that astute display of combatant excellence and ferocious defence of the wishes of Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi at Lancaster, Zanu-PF was vested with the mandate of re-asserting the essence of national loyalty or belonging by virtue of being a democratically elected political party. In tandem with its revolutionary credentials, to this day, Zanu-PF serves as a pivot of our national consciousness.
This explains why other political institutions feel threatened when Zanu-PF takes the lead in commemorating the path we have traversed to be a free people. It is as if Zanu-PF has no legitimate historical privilege to lead celebrations of the nation’s birth, its heroes and acclaimed iconic symbols and defence bodies.
In fact, the accurate side of history bestows Zanu-PF the right and responsibility to be at the fore of re-remembering our fight for liberation and re-aligning the values of this liberation with today’s governance concerns. At the same time, the party must diligently nurture the nation’s ideological welfare in a bid to incessantly out-manoeuvre the currents of neo-colonial regime change projects guised as Africa’s much needed democratisation panacea to the belligerent tyranny imposed on the African people by ruling nationalist parties.
As a result, the mandate of the revolutionary party is to ensure that democratisation approaches applied in situating the ideological setting of the national agenda is in line with the country’s liberation values and norms.
This entails positioning the national agenda in the interests of the Umvukela/Chimurenga. This view equally translates to defending national interest within the context of the legacy of the collective pro-African national consciousness not the popularised epistemic mimicry of the West by African governments.
This is because history has proven that the Western paradigm of liberation cannot alleviate Africa from its plethora of crises. Instead, continued dependence on the West for material and ideological succour can only produce pitfalls of national consciousness. This position bequeaths Zanu-PF the mandate to be anti-West and stand as a defender of the African revolutionary processes threatened by the tactful tenacity of neo-colonialism across the continent.
At the same time, Zanu-PF has a mandate to consolidate power through rational economic development of the country. The party’s mammoth task inspired by the legacy of the liberation struggle is that of curating self-sustained growth synergies of the productive sector of the country’s economy and social institutions.
It is also the party’s mandate to ensure that public goods are readily available for all citizens regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender and class. Success in this regard will redefine nationalism and align it to its expected course of modernity which will see the absolute eradication of the ugly marginalities of the past which were legally enacted through the divisive attributes of the Rhodesian system.
This way, the party will transcend the normative stereotype attributes of being an active player in the dirty game of politick. This is because the party always assumes its distinguished revolutionary founding principles which to this day have made Zimbabwe a think-tank of decoloniality and a genuine symbol of Africa’s post-colonial aspirations.
Therefore, as we reflect on 37 years of independence, we must audit the extent to which the revolutionary party has remained consistent and loyal to the tenets of liberation. Moreover, genuine lovers of the republic must constantly hold the party accountable for all its actions and ensuring that the party is loyal to its founding and ideological value. This way, there will be a two-way check system of measuring and auditing loyalty to the liberation trajectory of this country.
Therefore, this year’s independence celebrations must give room for introspective loyalty to what the nation has gained and that which it seeks to gain from the incentives of the Chimurenga.
Gone are the days of euphoric embrace of what 1980 and particularly what April 18 means to the citizens of Zimbabwe. Today’s logic of patriotic consciousness vests us with keen interest in participating in nation-building guided living to the fullest expectations of those who gave their lives for a free, prosperous and peaceful Zimbabwe.
At the same time, we are compelled by our affinity to the republic to safeguard the 1980 gains from individual monopoly and personalisation lest our commemorative goal is in vain.
However, this introspective loyalty to the republic needs not to be confused with NGO sponsored loyalties to the nation which are narrowly inclined to regime change which is not consistent with the ideas of the liberation struggle. As we retrospect the path of nationalism and all its introspective prospects of national development, we need to be guided by African benchmarks and standards of national “becoming”.
As Zimbabwe celebrates her 37th anniversary, it remains critical to note that loyalty to the republic must not be limited to slogans and commemorative textiles. Loyalty to the republic by both the party and the nation at large must be serenaded by sound policies such as Command Agriculture and STEM.
However, the need to put to rest parochial loyalty to the republic is further buttressed by the pronounced outbursts of factionalism and rehearsed ‘love’ in the ruling party. This indicates a rise in dissent hence a multifaceted loyalty to the agenda of nationhood that Zanu-PF ought to be promoting. However, what emerges clear from this dilemma facing the party is that since 1980, Zimbabwe has nurtured passive loyalty which is void of ideological correctness among some cadres.
As we celebrate 37 years of independence; it is critical for the party to be loyal to what gave birth to its power and longevity considering its outright 2013 victory which must be consolidated in the 2018 polls. At the same time, there is need for the party to revert to its function of producing more cadres who are disciples of ideological correctness and nothing more; cadres who are not after self-interest.
As we celebrate 37 years of independence, we need to prioritise values which will sustain loyalty to the republic and not individuals and slogans. We need to take stock of the astute revolutionary credentials we have emulated for the philosophy and the person of President Mugabe, Cde Hebert Chitepo, Cde Josiah Tongogara and many more sons and daughters of the soil.