Home » Governance » Opposition Politicians Need Sense of Proportion [opinion]

LET me start this column by stating that I agree with sentiments captured in some sections of the media and like-minded political parties that as a nation we need to do more in honour of the late Father Zimbabwe, Dr Joshua Nkomo.

At the same time, I want to disagree with the same media and political parties on their perverse motives for wanting a greater honour for Dr Nkomo as a counterfoil to the policies of the current Government which they oppose and want to associate the late Vice-President with the sellout politics cloaked in the slogans of democracy and human rights.

That people have the temerity, even the insolence and disrespect, to want to associate Nkomo with the politics of treachery and perpetual servitude of the blackman is what should make him turn in his grave.

And these political and media schemers had a g peg on which to hang their misleading “We are with you Nkomo” placard. Typically, on what should be a day of sombre national reflection on Nkomo’s life and his legacy, some of the media chose to pick on a sore and emotive and politically divisive issue, the bitter letter Nkomo wrote to then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe from Britain in 1983 after he was forced to run away from Zimbabwe following the deployment of the Fifth Brigade in the Midlands and Matabeleland regions.

That letter is in the public domain. The same bitterness is a self-evident motif throughout his autobiography, “The Story of My Life”.

There is no denying that that period up to the Unity Accord in 1987 marked the darkest hour in our country’s nascent democracy. That has been acknowledged, with President Mugabe stating publicly that it was “a moment of madness” which should never be repeated. It is our independent Zimbabwe’s chapter of shame. But history has not stood still it never does although it has an uncanny tendency to repeat itself if as a nation you are foolish enough to forget it.

And this is the mischief behind the reproduction of that letter and the desire to be associated with Nkomo. We are being told that Nkomo died a bitter man. That could be true.

We are being reminded of the obvious, that Nkomo was a heroic fighter for democracy and freedom. That is unquestionable, the honour belongs to him. We are being reminded that Nkomo fought for human rights. Of course, else what is freedom or democracy without human rights!

But we are not being told about the substance of that freedom or democracy or human rights. We are being deceived that today’s leaders of treacherous political parties and civic society organisations whose agenda is planned and sponsored from Europe and the United States, that such leaders are the flag-bearers of everything Nkomo was fighting for.

The same Nkomo who stood firmly at Lancaster House on the issue of land redistribution, we are being made to believe, would side with those who have carved their political careers out of opposing land reform and black economic empowerment policies just because there been corruption in their execution!

Let people not invoke Nkomo’s name in vain. Let not Lilliputians try to drape themselves in Nkomo’s robes. Measure yourself, keep a sense of proportion.

Let us be clear. Nkomo was above tribe, region or skin colour. He is one man who almost personalised the expression “peace and tranquillity”. He wanted Zimbabweans of all shades to live in harmony in a country of “peace and tranquillity”.

But he was very clear also on the whole mission of the liberation war. He was already a businessman in his own right by the time Zimbabwe attained independence and majority rule in 1980, and he owned a lot of land across the country, but that did not blind him to the plight of the poor around him, compared to what a few whites owned.

On several occasions at different platforms, Nkomo warned the white commercial farmers that they risked a “second revolution” if they did not want to share land with blacks.

He told landless Zimbabweans “nxa ufuna i mali, lima”. And he knew who owned the land on which these fellow Zimbabweans should farm. If people want to worry about a civilised methodology which would please everyone, let those whom Nkomo warned tell us what they understood by a “second revolution” over land.

But, as people now jokingly put it, white commercial farmers knew it was all empty talk. It had never been done and it couldn’t start in a tiny country like Zimbabwe. Masters of the universe, the US and Britain, would not allow that to happen, especially after felling the giant USSR.

If Nkomo were alive today, he would probably deplore the corruption in land allocation, misuse of State resources and regret the high levels of polarisation along partisan lines, but he certainly would never aocate punitive action by foreigners against the motherland to stop land reform to protect foreign interests, what the US calls “economic nationalism” which it always views as a threat to its access to natural resources, hence the decision to flog Zimbabwe with Zidera.

Nkomo was a patriot who always stood on the side of the poor, not power. We have allowed the fight over a foreign cause to divide us, and we are bringing up children who scoff at the sacrifices of our liberation heroes.

However, this week witnessed the beginning of the consolidation of the land reform process with the handover of the first 79 A1 settlement permits in Mashonaland West province. The new permits are valid for an indefinite period, can be passed on as an inheritance and be used as collateral. Hopefully, that partially resolves the scarecrow of security of tenure often raised by our timid bankers.

As if to anticipate this, President Mugabe stressed at the launch at Chifundi Farm in Mhangura that the permits would be issued only to productive farmers who had put up infrastructure as part of their own commitment. He said those who took land only to use for braais or picnic parties at weekends or as family burial sites, risked losing the land.

“We are aware that some have either abandoned land allocated to them without having constructed any buildings thereon others have sub-leased the land or surrendered it to individuals for lease rentals which are a pittance… Every Zimbabwean must have a piece of land where they say this is mine, no matter how small,” President Mugabe said.

It is definitely a dream Dr Nkomo would have wanted to witness come to fruition, a dream posthumously fulfilled, regardless or despite how mighty the challenges.

Once Nkomo committed himself to the Unity Accord, he rarely looked back to the initial disappointment and bitterness of the early 1980s. It was time to forge ahead, a time to build a new Zimbabwe where blacks would assume full control of their resources. He had a broader perspective on national issues, far bigger than personal glory.

On the other hand, the reproduction of Nkomo’s letter as a bitter man on an occasion when we should all be unified by his dream and vision, just looked discordant, so polarising, giving the impression of people who are caught in a time warp and are unable to move forward.

As indicated earlier, we should not forget our history, but only to the extent that it works as a guide on the pitfalls to avoid, not as an impediment to progress or as a spur to keep old hostilities alive.

Speaking at the commemoration of his father’s passing on, Sibangilizwe Nkomo appealed for peace and reconciliation among Zimbabweans, saying it was time to move forward, not look backwards.

He said it was “time we healed ourselves at family and national level… People are fighting region against region, brother against brother. Let’s resuscitate our dignity and follow tradition.”

Source : The Herald