via Letter to the EU on Zimbabwe February 27, 2014 by Vince Musewe NewsDay
My name is Vincent Musewe, I am an African who happens to have been born in Zimbabwe.
For the last 34 years, I have watched my country, Zimbabwe, become what I never imagined it could be, because good men kept quiet and did nothing, while most sought profit from our pain as you do now.
In my country, I have seen President Robert Mugabe retain power and control for its own sake. The dictatorship I have seen has devastated the aspirations in millions of innocent souls whose only sin was to be born in Zimbabwe in these times. That is hugely unfair.
I have seen millions of my brothers and sisters being denied their inalienable right to self-determination. Most can never live up to their full potential and pursue their dreams without limitation because their “liberator” has become their oppressor.
I have met war veterans, despondent and hopeless because what they truly sacrificed their livelihoods for has been usurped, twisted and adulterated to secure the vested material interests of a few. Our leaders have claimed entitlement to political power through the sacrifice of the sweat and blood of our veterans. That can never be countenanced.
I have watched old men and women, now pensioners, reminisce about the past with a twinkle in their eyes, while they remain disillusioned about a future they once imagined. Their wishes of an old age characterised by their dignity and security have been demolished because of the greed and selfishness of the same people you now have exonerated from their responsibility in propping up a dictatorship. That is the truth.
I have seen little black children in the ghetto getting used to being poor and playing in the mud not out of choice, but because they happen to have been born in these times and are oblivious to the fact that they deserve better. We owe them much.
Poverty breeds poverty.
I have met many of my brothers and sisters who left their motherland and must brave the unfriendly, harsh conditions of life as refugees in Europe, the United States, Canada Australia and South Africa. I know they all wish that one day they could be back home where they belong; that one day a man or woman who understands that all of us are born equal and entitled to equal opportunity, freedom and the right to pursue happiness in their own country will rule in Zimbabwe.
My country Zimbabwe will never live to its full potential and we all know why this is so. The wealth of our country has been usurped by those who claim to have liberated us. The values of our society are shameful.
My country Zimbabwe has all its needs; it has the resources which you desperately want, even at the expense of us achieving our dreams. It has all the human capital and capacity to surpass many African countries and yet today, we must import what we eat and survive on a dollar a day.
Today, our graduates sell airtime at street corners, drive kombis or choose to stay drunk with cheap alcohol to while away their time and soothe the pain of unmet expectations. Their dreams have been deferred.
At times, I sit and wonder what Zimbabwe could have become. I know that we are much more than what those in Zanu PF can dare to imagine. We still hold fast on that dream that we saw in 1980 at our independence. It has been delayed not because it was unrealistic, but because those we gave the responsibility to create that dream have cheated us.
I expected more from you, European Union, a union founded on the basis of opportunity, freedom and justice for all. I imagined that you would want for us what you want for your citizens. I was wrong.
The choice made by you to ease the sanctions on Zimbabwe and those responsible for our nightmare cannot be justified or supported by those of us who know that this government of Zimbabwe neither cares for its people nor is it accountable to them and feels responsible for their development.
Of course, we cannot blame you Europeans for the circumstances that we have been complicit in creating. We have created our own dictatorship through inaction and fear. However, we expected unwavering commitment by yourselves to the principles that hold your European nations together: Equity, liberty, justice and freedom. We were wrong.
Africa is weak and its business as usual for them. This is while they quietly compete with us and seek to gain advantage from our economic decline, while they quietly encourage our current political leadership to stay on the course which they have chosen.
A course only informed by their vested interests which continue to limit our opportunities; a course that disrespects our aspirations and limits our potential as ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe; a path that has cost lives and has resulted in hopelessness, poverty and regression; a path which you Europeans continue to justify in your minds, as long as you get your diamonds and gold from us.
That is wrong.
Your removal of sanctions does not contribute to our freedom and the achievement of our hopes. Your humanitarian aid is much appreciated and I know that you continue to have concern for the poor and sick and the hopeless and the helpless. For that I am grateful. However, we need you to support democratic forces in our country than to give us handouts. We need your moral support of uprooting this dictatorship more so now than ever. We need you to strengthen our people so that they may fight for what is right. That is the right thing to do.
Let this letter force these truths into your minds: Zimbabweans will never be free as long as Zanu PF is in power; my country will never be free until we have a leadership that respects and is accountable to its people; it will never be free until it has leadership that puts Zimbabwe and its people first. No removal of sanctions or millions in humanitarian aid will change these facts.
The people come first!
Vincent Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. He writes in his own capacity. You may contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org