via Mawere: Letter to Charamba aka Manheru – New Zimbabwe 05/10/2015
Dear Mr. George Charamba aka Nathaniel Manheru,
I AM writing this open letter to you to add my voice to an article entitled: “Afriforum: Colour, Cause and Coin of White Rights,” in which you raise a number of fundamental and critical issues regarding what is required to build a caring, just, inclusive, viable, and cohesive post-colonial state.
You will note from the title of this letter that the context in which I would like to engage you in this conversation is within the four corners of a class of business. For far too long, many of us have surrendered to a simplistic understanding of what a businessman is and what the purpose of business is; simply because of ignorance about what the true purpose and meaning of business is and should be.
It is the case that there is no school of politics and, therefore, its actors rarely do have any frame of reference to guide them. It is also the case that your boss, President Robert Mugabe, has had no equal or peer to learn from about his chosen craft. It is clear that although you have never been a President, the President is subjected to ideas that come from dreaming about statecraft largely because the post-colonial experience has failed to produce more than one elephant in the room.
In the business world, the actors are many, as are the stages, so that we can draw lessons from the experiences of those that choose to share. The politics of Zimbabwe has, therefore, deprived even President Mugabe the opportunity to know what it is like to be an ordinary citizen and the real challenges of life.
One cannot blame the victim, like President Mugabe, but we should look at ourselves and examine our own choices and actions to determine whether we have done all we are expected by the constitution to do to ensure that we tell it as it is. You also have a duty to inform your ideas with facts and correct perspectives and in so doing help in advancing the cause of lifting Zimbabwe up for the benefit of all.
I am sure that although it is convenient for you to link the beliefs, values and principles of Zanu PF and its key actors to the land and resources matrix, you will agree with me that before Zanu PF was conceived and born, the creator had already impregnated the land now called Zimbabwe with sufficient resources to accommodate the needs of multiple generations. It can only be a fool, who argues that there is a causal connection between the actors on the stage of Zanu PF and the state, and the resources created and donated to mankind by a third party.
Even the wealthiest person on earth will soon admit of his or her own human limitations. Even President Mugabe, the person who best inspires your ideas is, after all, human and, therefore, incapable of being infallible and objective. There are people that President Mugabe does not like as it should be for all humans but one cannot then proceed to say that his personal opinions should rise above the author.
There is a tendency that seems to run deep in your DNA to put people in power on a higher moral pedestal yet, in reality, societies that are founded on the self-evident idea that all men are created equal have better prospects of delivering the promise of a just, equitable and prosperous dispensation.
The independence of Zimbabwe was meant to create a government of the people, by the people and for all the people irrespective of their race, gender, race or any other man-made barriers but regrettably has created absurd outcomes as is clearly evident from the ideas that inform the views expressed in your article.
President Mugabe should know and ought to know that his purpose in government was never meant to substitute the sovereignty of the individual Zimbabwe to assert their independence and self-determination. I am sure you will agree with me that there can be no conceivable prejudice to you and your superiors to be humble and start to learn that Zimbabwe does not start and end in the corridors that you are perceived to be the thought leader.
You will appreciate that a businessman like your boss is simply a human being who is, after all, just an undertaker of a promise to voluntary, random and sovereign market participants in the knowledge that to deliver the promise, resources are required at risk. You will also agree with me that without taking risks, no reward will be generated and, more importantly, no customer exists who is willing to pay for no value offered.
I should like to believe that the purpose of political actors is and ought to be the same as that of people in business except that the same human being who is prepared to exchange time for money and money for goods appreciates that the role of political actors is to serve and not dictate.
In the premises, the point of sale experience in which one form of value is exchanged for another does not apply and, therefore, political actors can only promise that which they have not personally created. Even the programs undertaken in the name of government are financed by working people and other benefactors. It is only when we choose to tell the truth about the limits of state power and statecraft that we can begin to create a new generation of dreamers and actors.
You will no doubt also agree that in the last 35 years of independence, President Mugabe has had nothing to offer from the fruits of his personal labour to the people of Zimbabwe. As a person who has worked closely with the most powerful man in Zimbabwe perhaps for the wrong reasons, you should be the one to share in an open and candid manner precisely what happens in the corridors of power.
The poor will never cure the hunger from speeches and weekly articles. What the poor need is a system that respects the law and where no one, including the post powerful few, are encouraged to believe that they are the law. In your article, you make a number of points that cannot justly be dealt with in a single letter. I have, therefore, chosen to address the issues in parts so that the readers can follow easily the alternative thought process that also has to find expression in the battle of ideas about where Africa should go.
In this first part of the response, I deal with your fourth paragraph in which you state as follows:
“Generally, in all decolonisation cases, the bench is always excused and exempt from all post-colonial changes as a way of reassuring whites and protecting white interests, once these whites lose control of the colonial state. It is a strange concession, but one which nationalists have been won’t to accede to, starting with the Lancaster House settlement for Kenya. So, nothing odd about the anomaly in the Rainbow Nation. The key thing is for the ANC and its Government to know that sooner or later, they have to gather sufficient anger to want to tackle this leftover Bench and, more critically, it’s even longer, troublesome ethos. I can tell the South Africans – tell them as one directly involved in the overthrow of the Rhodesian Bench – that when the time comes, and one hopes we will not have much longer to wait, the greatest odd will not be white judges. Once challenged, those are always ready to resign. The greatest odd will be black judges who think the white apartheid bench defines judicial standards until kingdom come, without acknowledging a whit that apartheid judges saw the law in apartheid terms.”
I have no doubt that in the quietness of your time; you will pause and reflect on the above words and implications thereof on the true meaning of the idea behind the words and what kind of understanding should you invest in so that you can effectively be of value to your bosses who are products of unintelligent electoral processes.
You make the generalisation that in all decolonization cases, the bench is always excused and exempt from changes. It is clear that these kind of wild generalisation suit your chosen narrative that independence was and ought to have really been about musical chairs i.e. replacing white with black state actors.
However, when properly examined and construed, one can appreciate the difference between Mandela’s idea and that of other African founding fathers that have chosen to cling to power about the true design and purpose of a post-colonial state. I am sure you will agree with me that Mandela must have understood that the post-colonial state had to be founded on the age-old idea that a government should only be instituted among men to secure the rights that only the creator could confer on humanity i.e. life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The government’s purpose had nothing to do with empowering citizens but to ensure that the playing field was level for the real actors to do what they needed to do with God’s time to earn a living. The struggle for independence was informed by the idea that the arc of the moral universe always bends towards justice and any system founded on injustice will perish in the long term.
Accordingly, universal suffrage was presumed to be the appropriate cure to the civil rights injury caused by colonialism once cured, human beings were going to prosecute the business of life on an equal footing. You will recall Mandela’s 1963 Rivonia speech in which he made the point that any form of domination would be unacceptable to him as it should be to everyone.
It is this point that limited his appetite for power as he understood that it was irrelevant as to who was an office bearer when the right to institute a government had placed in the hands of all who were forward leaning and had chosen freely to participate in the enterprise of constituting a government. It is baffling that in the worldview that you choose to live in; white interests still exist under the watch of your revolutionary and nationalist superior. Surely, the ghosts of white interests were removed in 1980 and the government of Zimbabwe has always been a consequence of the consent, silence and acquiescence of the black majority.
You fail to pin point in precise terms how the ghosts of white hegemony have been allowed to dominate the post-colonial narrative without conceding that black interests have been subordinated to the interests and whims of the few powerful KNOW IT ALL actors in the state. Any 35-year old Zimbabwean knows of no other leader except President Mugabe and his chosen few. In the premises, it is ironic that you seem to stubbornly refuse to accept that the raising of the Zimbabwean flag in 1980 had real legal consequences to whites.
At the very least, one would expect you to know that the nature and character of the relationship between whites and the state of Rhodesia ended in 1980. This should be common cause even to a layman yet you seem determined to build your big ideas on a nullity. You will agree with me that after the demise of the colonial state, there could be no basis for former nationalists and now state actors to make any concessions.
Once nationalists assumed state offices, their duty of care shifted from destructive ideas to constructive ideas about the future, premised on respect of the rule of law. It is strange that clearly oblivious of the destructive idea that independence was about personalities, you believe that the experiences of Zimbabwe have armed you with the requisite knowledge to give lectures to South Africans about statecraft and how to transform the judiciary.
It is obvious that you fail to appreciate that the so-called white bench that served during the post-colonial period was the bench for all Zimbabweans. Implicitly, you are acknowledging that the post-colonial state has failed to provide the necessary checks and balances to deliver the promise and that it is justifiable to continue to point fingers about people who lost power 35 years ago as if they have stopped the incumbents from what they should have done to deliver the promise to the people who put them in power.
The white government was in power to promote and protect the interests of whites and there can be no excuse for a majority government to seek to blame the departed minority for failure to understand their purpose and power. It is clear that to you, nationalists occupy a special and permanent place in the story of former colonial states. It is inconceivable that blacks have real interest in an independent, impartial and detached bench.
You seem to argue that the bench must be transformed without identifying any rational person who would benefit from a poisoned and intimidated bench. You take personal credit in overthrowing a so-called Rhodesian Bench in Zimbabwe without explaining how it was possible for a Rhodesian bench to co-exist with revolutionaries who claim credit for the demise of the very system that you acknowledge was alive and well in post-colonial Zimbabwe.
Strive Masiyiwa makes the point that investment is a friend of the rule of law. There is also no doubt that his personal experiences under a black government have shaped and defined his perspectives. You will agree with me that it is not the case that all Zimbabweans understand the importance of the rule of law but those that have been privileged to rise up on the opportunity ladder appreciate the centrality of the rule of law in securing the aspirations of humanity.
For a person like you, it would appear that the issue of the importance of the rule of law and an impartial tribunal is really, at best, a theoretical one as it may be the case that you do not have anything of value to secure. In addition, it may very well be the case that you have not dreamt of a day when the power that allows you to pontificate will be absent and, therefore, there is no difference between yesterday, today and tomorrow.
You will agree with me that there are many Zimbabweans like you who have not been on the other side of justice who are clearly and constructively ignorant of the toxicity of the ideas and views that you believe to be fact and progressive. Indeed, as a rational person, I have no doubt that the sooner you understand and appreciate the power of the rule of law in unleashing human ingenuity and creativeness, the better.
When one combs through the ideas that inform your worldview, one is either left scared to even contemplate being part of the post-colonial Zimbabwean experience or jump into action to present by refusing to be intellectually bamboozled by borrowed words and terms that are devoid of values and principles that speak to a human being.
I am sure you are aware that apartheid is long dead and the rule of law should be neutral. You make the case that apartheid judges saw the law in apartheid terms yet you deliberately forget that the laws that are on the statutes today in South Africa are a consequence of the choices made by a legislative board that flows from the majority choices of blacks.
I am not aware of any white person who has imposed his choice on black voters since 1994 and, as such, it is contemptuous of you to ignore the power of democracy in creating what may appear odd and absurd to you. The judiciary in South Africa is composed of men and women who have been chosen based on the transformation of the political system in 1994 that conferred power on the majority.
It is clearly evident that you do not respect your own people and their choices. It is black people who gave Mugabe the legitimacy to govern yet your frame of thinking places the majority of the people outside the ring only for what appears to be political expediency.
I do hope that you will reflect on the above and the harm that you are causing by your cheap propaganda. Africa needs serious thought leaders and not opportunistic pseudo revolutionaries and nationalists.