There are some terms that those in leadership in Zimbabwe are so fond of throwing around, of which I have always found most disconcerting – such as, “we need constructive criticism”, and “you should proffer solutions, not merely criticizing”.
I have never truly wrapped my mind around such thinking – since, it has always been my belief that, the most effective way in encouraging positive change and progress in anyone’s life, was through honest identification of where they were going wrong.
In fact, in my own personal life, I attribute the phenomenal transformations (for the good) that I have undergone, to those who have had the love and care to tell me what I needed to hear, and not what they thought I wanted to hear (and, would make me feel good about myself, even if that was delusional).
Even my wife Tinta, knows how I encouraged and inculcated in her the culture of always being brutally honest with me whenever she spotted anything untoward – no matter how unsavory or potentially hurting to my feelings and ego – since, she is my mirror, which had to show me a frank reflection of who I truly was.
Only those with a low self-esteem have a fragle ego, such that can not handle the truth when it hits them in the face!
I have taught her that, true love is the ability to correct those you love – such that, even when my fly is open, everyone else will simply laugh behind my back (or, even encourage the wrong), but you are the one who can show me where I have erred.
That is why it is so troubling whenever I listen to our leadership in Zimbabwe utter such statements as, “we need constructive criticism”, and “you should proffer solutions, not merely criticizing” – as it makes me wonder exactly in what form that “constructive criticism and solutions” should take – considering that, in most times, simply being alerted to one’s mistakes and shortcomings can be what exactly “the doctor ordered”.
If we have a ruling elite that is prone to looting national resources (especially, through scandalous dealings with unscrupulous shady characters), and has no qualms ruthlessly quashing any who may raise objections – then, what “constructive criticism and solutions” do they surely expect?
Indeed, offering solutions is a very good thing – whose importance can never, and should never, be understated or underestimated – nonetheless, this “solution” can be something as simple as pointing out where those in power are getting it wrong, and how that is adversely affecting the rest of the population.
As a matter of fact, during the time I was still drinking alcohol – all my close family had to do was tell me, in no uncertain terms, that they did not like what I was doing, and how it was negatively harming their peace and joy
That was only what was needed to get me thinking long and hard about my life choices, and where they were taking me – leading to me opening my heart for the Lord Jesus Christ to set me straight…which He thankfully did with flying colours.
Yet, here in Zimbabwe, our leadership appear to have a different appreciation of this basic principle.
For them, any criticism is bad and unacceptable – no wonder, it is virtually unheard off coming across anyone expressing reservations over any government action or decision, in state-controlled media – with the only voices being those “applauding, commending, hailing, appreciating, or praising” the so-called new dispensation, or the “visionary and astute leadership of the president”.
Even if the administration were to make an abrupt U-turn only a few days later – when it became apparent their “commendable” decision was actually flawed – the same voices, would still “applaud, commend, hail, appreciate, or praise” this flip-flopping.
Is that what those in power characterize as “constructive criticism”, and “proffering solutions”?
A few days ago, I was watching, with profound interest (in the same state-controlled media) the recent decision by the PSL (Premier Soccer League) in suspending local football – after the violent scenes that were tragically witnessed during a match between Zimbabwean giants, Dynamos and Highlanders.
Furthermore, the recent ban by the world football governing body (FIFA) of the Zimbabwe national team from all international matches – due to alleged government interference in matters of the sport – came under similar spotlight and critique.
It was quite fascinating how the honest expression of varied and opposing views by various analysts and ordinary fans were freely and fairly highlighted – without any bias and censorship at the hands of media gatekeepers.
I found myself thinking – so, is football taken more seriously in Zimbabwe, than the livelihoods and survival of the ordinary citizenry?
Why did I ask myself that?
Well, such honest and frank coverage of the divergent and conflicting perspectives, is the key to bringing sanity in what is popularly known as the “world’s most beautiful game” – or, any other challenge in life – since, unhindered and brutally frank discussion and debate over issues affecting us, is the most effective way of identifying where the problem lies, and how to find a lasting solution.
There is no way a lasting solution to any challenge can be found and implemented without an unfettered honest discourse being encouraged.
As such, the nation can expect the problems bedevilling football being resolved much sooner than our economic and political issues – since, the latter has always being treated as a sacrosanct no-go taboo, which should never be discussed in frankness.
Therefore, whilst the people of Zimbabwe will continue suffering under the burdensome and constricting yoke of poverty – as a result of unresolved perennial economic challenges, which can never be openly and frankly discussed from all angles – at least, soccer lovers can expect to be smiling all the way to their local stadia pretty soon, to watch their favorite national team, as the brutal honesty surrounding their sport will inevitably result in a speedy solution.
It should now become common sense to all Zimbabweans – regardless of political affiliation – that, there will never be any progress in the country as long as our leaders are averse to criticism!
In fact, this aversion to the truth proves how untrustworthy and incompetent those running the affairs of our country are – because, only those who have something to hide, or have a fragile mindset, are fearful of being held to account – and thus, should not be anywhere near the reins of power.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org