3rd National Citizens’ Convention roars to life

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ASSISTANT EDITOR

THE 3rd National Citizens’ Convention organised under the banner of the Citizens’ Manifesto and running under the theme: “None but Ourselves: Reimagining the future we want after Covid-19”opened yesterday with events taking place across the country.

Citizens’ Manifesto Convener, Briggs Bomba in his opening remarks said the convention running until the 6th is co-convened by more than 20 progressive civic organizations and community collectives as a combination of virtual and limited number physical gatherings at more than 25 locations across the country  including Lupane, Gwanda, Bulawayo, Kwekwe, Chiredzi, Bindura, Arcturus, Chimanimani, Mutare and Harare.

Bomba said we are at that stage in the life of our nation where we are witnessing the coming to an end of one big cycle of our history and we stand on the threshold of the next big cycle. “This terminating big cycle was defined by the liberation struggle generation and the liberation struggle agenda. It had its deserving heroes; those who correctly identified addressing the colonial question as the priority of the time and stepped up to the plate in resisting colonial injustice. Out of the obscurity of colonial repression emerged celebrated heroic names, communities and narratives that have dominated our political landscape for the past 50 to 100 years.

“As this big cycle concludes and the liberation struggle generation exits the stage, we find ourselves on the threshold of an unprecedented grand generational transition in our modern history as a nation, where we are set for not only a change of guard but also a definitive transition to a new agenda for the next era in our history.

“Indeed, the significance of today’s social struggles is that they will define the substance and direction of this grand transition. New heroes, new names and new celebrated communities and new narratives that will shape the trajectory of our country for the next 50 – 100 years are being written in the throes of today’s struggles. These will emerge from the ranks of those who correctly read the time and correctly define the priority national questions and indeed step up to the plate to play an active role in the continued quest for a better Zimbabwe for all.”

Bomba said the conversation on ‘reimagining the future we want’, and the declaration that it’s ‘none but ourselves’ could not be coming at a more-timely moment, nor with a weightier mandate from history.  “Not every generation is privileged with an opportunity to bend the arc of history this way. It’s a mandate we must execute putting Citizens, Country and Constitution first.”

Bomba said this time requires a new convergence of progressive social forces and a new consensus on the future we want. “Our conversation over the next three days involves some of the most relevant social forces of the day – from business, organized labour, public sector workers, informal economy, rural community collectives, youths and students, artists and the democratic civil society. Our conversations and efforts through this process should be a tributary into this new convergence of critical constituencies and the issues at the core of our respective social struggles. It is from that convergence that we must build a new consensus on the future we want and craft the substantive agenda of the grand transition upon us.”

He added that the time demands that we re-think our approach to the big questions of the day as the convention program suggests three big questions, namely: “Participatory Democracy and Constitutionalism where we are asking how dowe build real democracy that creates room for everyone, every day in everything that matters in our governance. How do we build genuine rule by the people; Inclusive and Sustainable Economy where we are asking how do we get our national wealth to serve our communities and preserve our natural environment. And we have to ask questions about ownership and equitable distribution of our national wealth; Social Cohesion, where we are asking questions about how do we genuinely heal our social fabric and develop a new social contract that serves as an anchor for peaceful co-existence and national unity, accommodating our full diversity.”

He added that they have expert panels and participatory discussions to explore all these questions in greater detail.  “We are convinced that the answer to these questions lies with the people, at their most local level – that is community. Indeed, we have a mantra that says, “whatever the question, community is the answer”. This is why the question of reweaving the social fabric of our communities is fundamental. The future we want must be built on the foundation of strong community. And community is built by reciprocal relationships of solidarity. Indeed, our proposition is that the answer to the foremost questions of our grand transition is bottom up. Is that not the only sensible way to build?

“As the post-independence generation, our calls for democracy and basic rights and freedoms are often misunderstood. And we have faced all sorts of delegitimization and even criminalization. To the extent that I can speak on behalf of this generation, I would like to affirm the legitimacy of our voice. Ours is nothing less than as a solemn duty to those who lost life and limb in the liberation and democratic struggles of our people, in our relentless pursuit of a better Zimbabwe for all.”

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