By Reason Wafawarova
We are re-engaging with our erstwhile friends in the West, and there is a huge temptation to over-compensate for our perceived waywardness under Robert Mugabe.
We cannot be as desperate for acceptance in the West as to pretend we are no longer aware of the exultant display of Western fascist values often disguised as matters of good intention. We cannot just pretend that we have forgotten all about the self-righteous moralism, the self-proclaimed high standing in democratic rule. There is a tradition of supremacy that cuts across the media fraternity and the intellectual culture in the West.
The tradition of mass murder aggression has become part of the DNA of the United States foreign policy. We can look back at the Vietnam War, the invasion of Grenada, attacks on Cuba, the aggression in Nicaragua, the Gulf War, the invasion of Iraq, the occupation of Afghanistan, the Syrian War; the story line will remain the same, including that of the sanctions law ZDERA on our Zimbabwe.
When George Bush Senior resorted to the use of force against Saddam Hussein in Kuwait and earlier through the barbaric invasion of Panama, there were those who acclaimed the ringing messages about the wondrous “era full of promise,” and these people had to craft the historical record skilfully, excising crucial facts.
We have seen the same with how Western politicians told the story about the “struggle for democracy” in Zimbabwe before the Mnangagwa era.
While indeed there were real issues regarding free political competition in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, the truth that ZANU-PF brought majority rule remains. There are facts around our historical record that were skilfully excised to make sure that ZANU-PF was demonised enough to send it to its deathbed.
ZANU-PF remains the liberation movement that fought for and brought majority rule to Zimbabwe after it brought down the colonial empire. This is the party that together with PF-ZAPU waged a 14-year armed struggle that gave us the one-man one-vote democracy we enjoy up to today.
We hear Ian Smith ran the breadbasket of Africa’s economy in this country, and that our economy was the second best colonial economy after South Africa. We are told these communists from Mozambique inherited the “Jewel of Africa” from Ian Smith and totally ruined the whole thing into a “basket case”.
But we must never forget that we went to war against the inequalities of Ian Smith “breadbasket economy”.
It was an exclusionist economy that sidelined the majority of black Zimbabweans to the extent of creating exclusive whites only streets in the capital. There was absolute poverty in our rural areas under Ian Smith, and we cannot pretend we have forgotten all about that.
Much as the economic decline that started in 2000 cannot be denied or excused, we cannot equally forget the achievements of the ZANU-PF Government in the first 20 years of our independence. These achievements are well documented.
By 2000 there were 4 500 primary schools with a combined enrolment of 2 274 178 in contrast to the pre-independence 2 041 segregated primary schools with a total of 81 958 pupils. We worked hard in the villages to build most of these post-colonial schools in our rural areas. But these are unwanted facts in the lexicon of our opposition political parties.
In 1979, there were 177 secondary schools in the then Rhodesia with a total enrolment of 66 215 students. By 2000 Zimbabwe had 1 548 secondary schools with a total of 700 000 students. Yet our opposition continues to claim that ZANU-PF presided over 38 years of total ruin.
We hear these are now irrelevant statistics just because our economy has declined in the past 18 years. There were only four teachers’ training colleges at independence in 1980 with a total enrolment of 1 000 student teachers. By 2000 there were 16 teachers’ colleges with a combined enrolment of 17 000.
There were only a couple of technical colleges before independence with a total enrolment of 2000 and by the year 2000 there were 15 technical colleges with an enrolment of 20 000. These benchmark achievements are a documented record of ZANU-PF rule, and we cannot conveniently forget them simply because we wish to see the back of ZANU-PF leadership.
The University of Zimbabwe was the only university in the country at independence and it had an enrolment of 2 000. By the year 2000, there were seven other universities and a combined enrolment of 30 000. Today there are about 20 universities in Zimbabwe, and total enrolment is no less than 45 000.
Literacy was standing at 62 percent at independence and today Zimbabwe has the highest literacy in Africa with 93 percent of its population defined by the UNDP as literate. These are facts that cannot be silenced. In June 2000, former president Mugabe had this to say about Zimbabwe’s education system: “We are leaders in education and skills development, and we continue to introduce changes to our educational system to ensure we remain among the best and broad enough to meet our manpower and skills requirements. Again this is a resounding achievement for which we make no apologies.”
Zimbabwe’s professionals: doctors, accountants, engineers, nurses, teachers and many others are among the most sought after in Europe, the US and many other parts of the world. Instead of priding ourselves as a renowned source of global expert human resource, all we have heard is “25 percent of Zimbabwean citizens have fled poverty”.
Twenty years after independence, the Zanu-PF Government had constructed and upgraded 456 health centres, built 612 rural hospitals, 25 district hospitals, and one provincial hospital for each of the country’s eight provinces. By the same time 85 percent of the population were within 8km of a health facility.
There was 25 percent coverage of immunisation at independence. In 20 years this had risen to 92 percent, and antenatal coverage rose from 20 percent at independence to 89 percent in 20 years. As we rebuild our economy we need to reflect on these successes so we can remind ourselves of our own capacities. The power to rebuild Zimbabwe is in our own hands, not in the hands of foreign investors and lending institutions.
There were 1 226 boreholes throughout the country at independence. After 20 years boreholes had risen to 34 538, with an additional 10 536 deep wells, 520 rural piped water schemes, up from only 26 at independence.
Much of this infrastructure has become dysfunctional in the last two decades, but that does not mean we did not make these phenomenal achievements at the time.
A lot can be said about the upgraded and newly constructed roads, about Zesa’s rural electrification programmes and other infrastructural developments.
Under the willing buyer-willing seller policy between 1980 and 1995, 71 000 families were resettled on 3,3 million hectares that had been acquired from the commercial sector. This has rarely been talked about. We are told corrupt politicians grabbed all the acquired land.
The compulsory land reclamation programme of 2000 benefited more than 300 000 families, but to some the land reform program was a tragic calamity for 4000 white commercial farmers who “lost their property”.
When Nelson Chamisa was spokesperson of the MDC-T in 2011, he rhapsodised at a rally in Kuwadzana that his party had done more in its two years in an inclusive government than ZANU-PF had ever done in 30 years.
He repeatedly made this claim in rallies across the country when he was running for the presidency of this country earlier this year.
Among the achievements he attributes to the huge success of the MDC-T are issues like making mobile phone sim cards cheaper and accessible and making the US dollar accessible.
To Chamisa’s credit, more than 2 million voters voted for him, and this means these people believe in his rhetoric, hopefully not in the baseless claim that there are no traceable achievements attributable to ZANU-PF since 1980.
Now we have people who were celebrating recent cholera deaths because the epidemic helps prove ZANU-PF incompetence. So we celebrate a calamity because it offers excellent politics against a party whose failure we hanker so much for. Surely how low can we sink as a people?
There is a way our world affairs are supposed to unfold. Obama called it being on the right side of history.
When Bush Senior called for a New World Order we were told by Western intellectuals that the call was dedicated to “peace and security, freedom and the rule of law,” and of course the call was delivered by the only ever head of state to stand condemned by the World Court for the “unlawful use of force.” Of course Washington dismissed the Court’s condemnation of the Reagan-Bush terrorist war against Nicaragua. Western media and intellectual opinion supported.
These people argued that the judgment merely discredited the World Court, and this is how the “respectable” commentators explained it.
Bush being the “noble-minded missionary,” had opened the post-Cold War era in December 1989 by invading Panama (Operation Just Cause), well aware “that removing the mantle of the United States protection would quickly result in a civilian or military overthrow of Endara and his supporters,” as explained by Latin America specialist, Stephen Ropp.
This meant that the puppet regime of bankers, businessmen, and narco-traffickers installed by the Bush invasion would face immediate demise if the master patron withdrew.
For the same reasons Barrack Obama could not easily get out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hamid Karzai could not last a moment in power without US soldiers guarding his rule.
Also expunged from the record was the March 30, 1990 resolution of the Group of Eight (Latin American democracies) expelling Panama, which had been suspended under Noriega, because “the process of democratic legitimation in Panama requires popular consideration without foreign interference that guarantees the full right of the people to freely choose their governments”.
Such freedom for the people of Panama was obviously impossible under a puppet regime maintained by the US.
We have argued in the past that our elections must be free of foreign backing of any political party, and it is pleasing that in this last election we saw very little of Western meddling.
When Saddam Hussein tried to emulate what the Americans had done in Panama by invading Kuwait so he could install his own puppet government George Bush Senior was furious, and he waged the Gulf Massacre with typical American firepower fury.
There are political acts only permissible for the chosen few, not for lesser peoples.
Freedman and Karsh wrote: “Saddam apparently intended neither to annex the tiny emirate nor to maintain a permanent military presence there. Instead, he sought to establish over Kuwait, ensuring its complete financial, political and strategic subservience to his wishes.”
This is what the US intended and achieved in Panama and it is what they intended to achieve in Zimbabwe for some time. Nelson Chamisa and Tendai Biti still hope to benefit from this kind of political meddling.
Saddam was unfortunate because he could not veto Security Council resolutions against himself, unlike George Bush Senior.
This super power monster with the ability to shield its evil deeds by violating the parameters of its privileges as a permanent member of the UN Security Council is what the United States is today. Now Donald Trump is threatening to sanction, arrest, persecute and jail ICC judges and prosecutors who may for any reason find themselves presiding over the trial of US citizen before The Hague.
As we re-engage with America and the rest of the West, let us keep in mind that we have to safeguard our sovereignty and national interest. Our democracy must tell a story of the will of our people, not the will of Western powers.
It does not matter the backed political party is ZANU-PF or any other party; we must not allow a manipulation of the collective will of our people.
We encourage President Mnangagwa’s re-engagement effort, but we will caution against any perception that says our extension of the hand of reconciliation is a gesture of capitulation or weakness.
Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!
Reason Wafawarova is political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.