As not trained to serve and protect, but only to kill and destroy
, burst into a seemingly uncontrollable vitriolic tirade aimed at the authors of a pastoral letter from the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) on the current dire situation in the country, released on Friday 14 August 2020 – in which she singled out Robert Ndlovu, the Archbishop of Harare, for the most brazen tribalistic attack, accusing him of all manner of ‘sins’, from fomenting tribal hatred, to instigating a genocidal war…yet, all that he, and other signatories to the letter, had done was merely hold the government accountable for its heinous crimes against the innocent defenceless people of Zimbabwe.
The second came in the form of a photograph that was sent to me by a most beloved cousin of mine – which was taken in 1988 (whilst doing my form two), when, as a Boy Scout leader, I was in Australia, after having been chosen to represent Zimbabwe at the 15th Australian Scouting Jamboree…that coincided with the country’s bicentennial celebrations.
What have these two incidents got to do with each other?
Well, after receiving the photograph, fond memories of my upbringing as a Boy Scout (today referred to only as Scouting, since girls are now permitted to join) came flooding back into my mind – as I remembered all the values and principles of leadership, responsible citizenry, and good neighborliness (amongst a whole host of other survival skills, especially in the midst of disasters) that were inculcated into us from very early childhood.
Later yesterday evening, when I was watching Mutsvangwa’s anger and hatred fly out of the television screen – immediately, the diametrically different ways in which people like me, and those in the ruling elite in Zimbabwe, were nurtured, were made crystal clear.
It then dawned on me that, due to the revolutionary upbringing of those currently presiding over the country – some of whom, like Mutsvangwa herself, who joined the struggle at a very tender age – were only inculcated in them that fighting, destroying, and killing were the key values in life in which to achieve their goals.
Indeed, considering that the people of Zimbabwe desperately needed to free themselves from the choking yoke of brutal colonial racial repression, the only means in achieving this objective was through violent armed struggle – as no form of diplomacy, negotiations, or peaceful campaigns had yielded any meaningful results.
Yet, after the attainment of independence in 1980 – and, the liberation war having fulfilled its desired results – there was an urgent need for a total transformation from a war mentality to a governance mindset – of which the current Zimbabwe leadership never bothered to embark in.
Every situation in life requires specific attributes and characteristics in order to succeed – and as such, a war demands a fearless, confrontational, and destructive quality, that would not hesitate to kill, as well as placing self-preservation ahead of everything else, as one needs to survive in order to carry on with the struggle.
Nevertheless, when it comes to the governance of a democratic nation, a completely different set of values and principles are expected – such as, placing the preservation and protection of the lives of those one leads ahead of one’s own; serving those one leads and ensuring that their needs are fulfilled before one’s own; being courteous, respectful and diplomatic to those one leads; and understanding that leadership means meeting the expectations of those one leads, instead of desiring one’s own – in other words, regarding those one leads as the real masters, whose criticism and rebuke should be obeyed.
In fact, a good leader is cheerful in all difficulties, and is not easily offended – even in the face of perceived concerted attacks.
In addition to these, a leader’s honour is to be trusted, to be loyal, to do his/her duty to God and his/her country, and to help other people.
These are the very principles and values that we were trained and taught from our infancy as Boy Scouts.
A person who practices such tenets of leadership, most certainly, does not perceive those who criticize or castigate him/her as enemies, neither would he/she instil fear in them, nor brutalize them.
He/she would never feed him/herself, whilst those he/she leads starve or survive from hand to mouth.
In serving God and his/her country, a true leader would never loot the nation’s resources for self-aggrandizement – whilst, leaving the country bankrupt, and the rest of the population wallowing in abject poverty – nor would he/she abuse state apparatuses for personal gain, and vindictiveness against those one is supposed to protect, defend, and care for.
These are not mere idealistic principles, but values that we grew up being instilled in us, and faithfully practised in our own communities.
Therefore, as I compare how those in the ruling elite in Zimbabwe were brought up – in the face of a very necessary liberation struggle – and, how we were trained in what entails leadership in a peaceful non-war environment, it is clear that those in power in the country are not suited for the role of the governance of a democratic, free, and progressive society.
They played their part, and succeeded in what they were trained for, but the country has since moved to another level, whereby there is need for a totally different set of leadership values.
Only when Zimbabwe goes through a whole leadership renewal – witnessed by a completely new crop of leaders, who espouse tenets of respect, honour, and love – can the people of this great nation honestly expect real positive change in their wellbeing, welfare, and dignity, as clearly #ZimbabweanLivesMatter.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Calls: +263733399640 / +2637155667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.