HARARE – Only a few weeks ago, I reviewed Lovemore Kurotwi’s latest book — Whither Zimbabwe? The Industrialisation of Politics in Zimbabwe — and in that piece noted how the author draws from the experiences of the white settler government, which was jolted to the bone by African nationalism.
Key in Kurotwi’s book is the inevitability of people taking it upon themselves to find solutions in the face of continued intransigence by oppressive regimes. The minority Rhodesian regime was without doubt oppressive but the difference was that it was white people against black people.
Given the extent of the segregation, people had no option but to take up arms to fight the system, beginning with the First Chimurenga towards the end of the 19th century.
To borrow from the previous article, the author manages to make a comparative analysis of life in Rhodesia and life for the majority after independence from British rule, contending that life in colonial days was tough but people could understand that because there were racial issues at play.
The minority white regime of Ian Smith did not care about the survival of the black majority who only got a small share of the national cake. Because of these injustices, blacks then decided to fight the system, leading to the protracted war of liberation that lasted until the ceasefire of 1979 and the final negotiations at Lancaster House that ushered in independence for Zimbabwe in 1980.
For Kurotwi and many other marginalised Zimbabweans, the euphoria associated with independence was itself consistent with the people’s preparedness to support the war effort.
If the majority had not supported the war effort, the result could have been different.
However, after independence, the new leadership headed by Robert Mugabe forgot about the ideals of the liberation struggle and started to amass wealth for themselves and their relatives, a clear sign that cronyism, regionalism, nepotism and other ills had spread their tentacles in the newly independent nation state.
But the worst was yet to come. Government entirely forgot about capacitating industry and took politics as the only way to a decent life, hence the industrialisation of politics. Nobody cares whether industry is operating or not as long as they continue to enjoy uninterrupted stay in office while they continue to facilitate their relatives’ easy access to wealth.
True to Kurotwi’s prediction, people would get to a point where they said enough is enough as shown by the popular march of Saturday, November 18, 2017.
In the same way the people fought British imperialism, the majority was to show its disapproval at continued oppression under the Mugabe regime.
Although it was the military involvement that carried the day, the people — for once in a very long time — managed to voice their resentment at the prevailing political order.
Kurotwi touches on a number of issues that are pertinent in Zimbabwe today. The bond notes debacle is one such attempt to arrest the worsening cash crisis that has failed spectacularly.
“In fact, some economists have dared to say that the government had cheated the public on the bond notes, warning that the possibility of printing more volumes than initially promised was very high.
They say that government has failed to address issues of trust and confidence before introducing the bond notes. What they are failing to say is that politics has been industrialised and it has become the number one commodity in Zimbabwe. “If you do not listen to the politician, you do not have a life.”
Zimbabweans now wait to see what the new government led by Emmerson Mnangagwa will do in order to improve the lives of the majority of citizens in a country that had endured so much over the years.