VETERAN nationalist and Zanu PF politburo member Tshinga Dube, says political quarrelling in the country is harming the economy. He believes that Zimbabweans must unite, dialogue and agree to a government of national unity to resolve the current challenges.
The Daily News’s Southern Editor Jeffrey Muvundusi at the weekend met Dube to look at today’s Independence Day, the political and economic situation obtaining in the country.
Below are the excerpts.
Q: What do you make of Independence Day?
A: Every country has a day which they recognise as the most important, that is its liberation day. Almost every country was captured as a colony, but at a certain time it’s either people fought or they negotiated to become independent.
When a country becomes independent, that’s the most important day in its history as that’s a new dispensation.
The problem is when you get independent, you don’t only have milk and honey flowing, and there are a lot of problems you may experience.
As Kwame Nkrumah said, you may get some chaos but freedom in chaos is better than servitude in tranquillity.
Nkrumah meant that yes you are getting independence you will have problems but it is better than servitude.
So independence to us means a lot, it doesn’t matter what school of thought you may have but to be free is the most important thing in a human being. So it is a day when we remember all our fallen heroes in Zambia, Mozambique, Angola some were bombed the regime we were fighting against was ruthless. Even small kids and girls who were unarmed were killed in their thousands.
Q: Being a war veteran yourself, what memories come with celebrating this day?
A: It brings bad memories to me when I see films with episodes of a revolution, I begin to think backwards and reflect on the fact that we went through a lot.
It reminds me of when we were using canoes crossing the Zambezi River with so many crocodiles. By the way a lot of our comrades remained there in the river, because the boats would capsize and crocodiles, hippos would have a really good meal. So you remember all that, sometimes you tend to forget and say well its history but when you talk about it the memories come back and as I say many of our comrades perished in the bushes, rivers trying to cross, borders, landmines and so forth.
So it is a day when we begin to remember them. When you know where you come from you begin to understand which way you must go, that’s the most important thing
Q: The celebrations are coming to Bulawayo for the first time in 42 years. What’s the significance?
A: I am actually very delighted because when something is brought to you, you begin to have a sense of belonging. You feel that it is independence for everyone. For 42 years we were watching the big celebrations taking place in Harare.
I am happy it started from Bulawayo the second biggest city so that the people of Bulawayo can actually see the defence forces parading their best attires, and everything that has to do with independence being done right in their footsteps.
So it makes people feel they have a sense of belonging. Some people do not understand independence celebrations, it is not political it is national. It doesn’t matter which party you come from, you must throw away your beliefs and ideologies and become one people as a nation because we have one flag.
Even if another party were to rule it does not change the flag, it only changes the government. That shows we have one thing that ties us together. For example the national anthem is for all of us, it doesn’t matter what party you belong to. It brings everyone as one family.
Q: Critics say there is no point in celebrating the day and accuse the ruling party of running down the country in the past 42 years, what’s your take?
A: Like I said before, Nkrumah said it is better to have freedom than to remain a slave in tranquillity in servitude. As a democracy people have a choice if not happy with the government they vote it out.
Nobody stops them, but as I say there might have been a lot of problems in the country but it is sometimes the fault of the people because if they put a government which they think has not done well then it’s their fault.
There is a common say that goes, people always have leaders they deserve. You may not like the leaders of a certain government, but if the majority chooses them, hard luck, because you are not part of the majority, you are a minority. That’s what’s called democracy.
Q: The culture of toxic politics continues to prevail in the country, how can that be put to an end?
A: People must not concentrate so much on politics at the expense of the economy. In the past I have suggested that we must try to have a GNU which other people dislike with a passion.
They hate that so much. But the truth is that we don’t lose anything by having a GNU because it brings people together. In my book I wrote that we missed a golden opportunity in 2017 when everybody united against former president Mugabe. Not because they hated him as a man, but because people felt the country had been ruined.
During the fall of Mugabe, everyone, including Indians, Europeans and coloureds came together, that was the best time ever, to capture that moment and unite people. If at that time we had formed a GNU we could be more united and successful.
Remember when a vote against Mugabe was done, everyone in Parliament including opposition parties united on one vote. Unfortunately when we got the cake we took it all. In our tradition when you skin an ox, everyone who participated in skinning will get a share. But if you just say thank you for skinning, goodbye that will be regarded as being selfish.
I have always said let’s forget about political quarrels and concentrate on building the economy. As it is our teachers are not teaching in schools, our doctors and nurses have left the country, but if we were all sharing our attention to both politics and economics we could have managed to solve this problem.
Q: Talking to your colleagues in government and the ruling party, what’s their take on your opinion about dialogue and GNU?
A: The problem is it depends on how high you are. Once you are a King, you are always a King so what we mean is whatever voice I may have because of my status or the height in the hierarchy of government it’s taken very lightly, but if someone with a higher position speaks then it is respected.
Dialogue will mean that everybody has a sense of belonging, nobody will be chasing too much politics but we will share both because the main thing is everybody wants to see this country progress, our economy picks up.
Countries like Botswana were a village when we came in 1980 but today when you go there you find skyscrapers and very neat roads and bridges so we want to see that, we have not done that in 40 years. Right from the start our priority was politics but we want to make sure this stops and we concentrate on both and make sure we have well equipped hospitals and schools which I believe our president is trying to achieve by 2030. But it’s not possible when we still have so much concentration on politics alone.
Q: Having said that, do you see any possibilities of dialogue taking place anytime soon?
A: Dialogue is the best thing for any country because you solve your problems in boardrooms not by throwing stones at each other or stabbing each other with knives. It should be a thing of the past, we should aim to build this country and make it successful.
Sometimes I feel so sad that the only buildings we have in our city, Bulawayo, are only those which were there in the 1980s. It doesn’t make me proud. We are proud of Harare of our country but we need to have done more
Q: We have seen a continued exploration of resources in some parts of the country mostly by Chinese companies?
A: When you are poor you are susceptible to those types of practices. Our country is one of the richest in minerals but people have not really enjoyed the work of these minerals and what people actually do is outsiders come here and we have to bear with that because we are so desperate for money but if we properly administered our economy we find that there is nothing wrong with Chinese coming here but the conditions we give them as ourselves. We tell them here is a mine, build a road, houses for the workers. And then we check on everything that is mined and how they pay taxes.
Q: Your parting shot?
A: We must teach our children where this country came from, right from our history, how our forefathers fought against colonialists. History of the country is most important. That’s what other countries do.
When you get to school you must pass the history of the country as it is most important because most children don’t know about the history of Zimbabwe, they only know about the history of Britain, America or Germany.