via Mugabe using Smith’s methods: Catholics 03 August 2014
WHILE Zimbabwe made great strides in the provision of health care and other social services after independence in 1980, the country adopted a military leadership model which has stifled democracy, Catholic bishops have said.
In its latest pastoral letter, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) said the country’s leadership needed to act with haste to stem the devastating tide of corruption adding that “the habit of ruling without being accountable to the majority did not die on 17 April 1980”.
Explained the prelates: “There was much generous idealism in the early years and real strides were made in providing education and health care for that majority.
“But then three things happened. The leadership model developed during the liberation war, which, by the nature of war, had to be military, was retained after the war and any dissent was seen as disloyalty. This discouraged the blossoming of the democracy won at independence.
“Secondly, traditional forms of leadership, dating back to pre-colonial times fitted well with this military style so that tradition and militarism blended into command-style governance where ‘citizens are unable to effectively take part in public life and popular opinion cannot make a difference.”
Since the turn of the century, when a credible opposition to President Robert Mugabe’s hold on power emerged, Zimbabwe has been stuck in a vicious circle of political violence and contested election outcomes which have undermined progress in the country.
“While abhorring the colonial system that it replaced, the new government, in fact, did little to change its methods,” the letter added.
Mugabe has been accused of being a brutal dictator with Western countries fronted by Britain and the United States imposing targeted and travel sanctions on Mugabe and his close associates.
The Bishops said unless the government acted decisively to deal with corruption, Zimbabwe remained at risk. The country is going through a debilitating economic crisis with most Zimbabweans struggling to make ends meet.
“We are part of this global culture of selfishness. We have to admit that the levels of selfishness and the desire to accumulate personal wealth by any means, exist among us and we note the absence of decisive action to halt corruption.
“Corruption will not end unless and until culprits are brought to book. Private companies, parastatals, government and non-government institutions have faltered or collapsed when some people creamed off the assets for their private use,” added the letter adding that citizens seem to have accepted the abnormal.
“Lying and deceit have become tools for survival and this has the knock-on effect of further impoverishing those on the margins of our society. Orders have been obeyed without asking whether they are good or evil. All this has happened because of not listening to conscience, the voice of God within”.
The ZCBC said without effective action to curb corruption and without freedom from the desire for more at all costs, the realisation of the common good will continue to be a vague wish.