#Zimbabwe: Patriotism must remain above partisan politics – Don-Martin Whande

via #Zimbabwe: Patriotism must remain above partisan politics February 9, 2014 By Don-Martin Whande

Whenever we engage ourselves in everyday life, we find ourselves defined in national and patriotic terms. We as a people share a culture, a history, values, and, above all, a language which makes us unique as Zimbabweans. People within a nation share a commonality with one another which makes them unique from other nations and countries.

Patriotism is an ideology. This implies that patriotism, like morality, must not be legislated since it is a matter of the heart. The Americans made a critical mistake of legislating patriotism by enacting the Patriot Act. Legislating patriotism shows unawareness of ideals. A patriotic person is bound by duty to support his or her country. Likewise, the problem we are having in Zimbabwe is that patriotism is now defined by the political party you support instead of loyalty to pristine ethics. Moreover, if your beliefs run counter to a political party, you are regarded as anti-patriot.

The truth is any person can be a patriot despite them disagreeing with a political policy. I believe this is where we have taken a wrong turn as Zimbabweans. This philosophy of “don’t criticise, don’t cause offense” has got us going crazy because not only has it suppressed ideas, but also public opinion and political participation. It is okay for us to disagree on matters and still respect each other as a people who in our own peculiar ways want what we think is best for our country.

Patriotism can and should, at times, include disagreeing with government policies. Citizens of Zimbabwe must be able to do so without being identified as unsupportive and an obstruction to the common good. It is the duty of “patriots” to inquire and investigate issues that affect them and question everything that must be questioned without fear of harassment. However, it would be naïve blaming politicians for lack of patriotism because patriotism is about the citizen and not the leaders.

It is easy, from time to time, to lose sight of the fact that that person with the complete opposite point of view most likely loves their country every bit as much as the one who doesn’t. Criticism should be accepted as an evaluation system and a demonstration of active interest in the internal life of our country. I encourage political parties to deconstruct the superiority mindset and understand that their ideas for government are not the only way that a country could be run competently.

Patriotism is above politics, but true patriotism is very important to politics. It is not patriotism that disfigures politics; rather, what disfigures politics is the intentional effort by some politicians who don’t understand what patriotism really means, to exploit the ignorance of voters for their selfish ambitions. I believe patriotism is the devotion for one’s country – and by country, I mean the citizens of that nationality. I plead with all political parties to start being concerned with the people, rather than what they might lose than get.

Mr Christopher Gwatidzo taught me at Midlands State University that I should always avoid using emotions when I argue. When I analyse the political platform in Zimbabwe, I finally understand what he meant because the intense emotions of identity politics, in Zimbabwe, has stifled progressiveness and leniency. If a person believes in patriotism, they should be conscious that the expression of it may have to go against the government of the country you feel patriotic about. Patriotism is an ideology and when used in moderation is healthy but, taken to extremes, it can be harmful.

Criticism is not unconstructiveness, but a way of appreciating our diverse differences. These differences are meant to be integrated and bring us to a place of commonality. Politics of emotion must be taken out of patriotism because patriotism gives us a sense of identity and must not be used to make a political point. Patriotism is above politics which is why it is a prerequisite for being elected to office.

In conclusion, whether one party believes that the status quo of Zimbabwe politics is the best way to govern, or the other believes fundamental changes are needed, both must be respected, but be willing to be corrected. Instead of finger pointing, which has been the daily order for decades past, political parties must revisit the concept of patriotism and understand that a person is not anti-patriotic when they have a different view toward policies. Our country has suffered from internal dissent and general gloom with years of finger pointing and nothing to show for it. True intentional patriotism must reflect the love, differences and commonality that bring us together as Zimbabweans, rather than the misguided love for a political party.


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    Jogo Bonita 7 years ago

    The unpatriotic people are the ones who have plundered our nation for their personal gain at the expense of the masses.By not supporting zanu pf it does not mean that one is unpatriotic as we are led to believe by some.By not being aligned to zanu pf does not mean one is a sell out as we are led to believe.The real sell-outs are those who have caused untold suffering to the general populace thru massacres, hunger, stealing elections,declaring certain groups stateless by not granting them citizenry and not allowing them to participate in national processes etc.As the writer says, patriotism is the love for one’s country and not the love for a certain individual or political grouping.

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    This article should be read by all the politicians maybe they can be transformed in their misguided politics. This is why I have always refused to join any of these parties because I do not want my freedom controlled by these naive and misguided politicians.When elections come I look at their manifestos carefully before I decide which party has realistic promises to get my vote.

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    John Thomas 7 years ago

    Don-Martin or is it Dog Martin the situation is very personal. My freedom is stolen . My tax dollars are stolen. I am forced to pay for things I abhor (ZBC is only one example). My citizenship in the land of my birth is stolen. I am discriminated against on the basis of my ethnicity. Now you tell me I must keep an open mind and not get emotional. This ship has sailed. It does seem these days that only some people can be true Zimbabweans. The rest of us, amounting to a very large slice of the population, are barely even tolerated.

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      Don-Martin Whande 7 years ago

      You can call me a dog if it pleases you, but but it reinforces my point about emotions. We don’t necessarily need emotions especially on this level. If you make an emotional decision, you will reap an emotional outcome. What we need are logical and sensible decisions so that we reap sensible outcomes.

      Emotional decisions are basically reactive and quickly thought, whilst logical decisions are proactive and well thought. It is emotion that makes someone curse you on the highway for a mistake, while common sense calms you down.

      The situation is not only personal as you say, but very collective. You and i, amongst many other Zimbabweans have essentially been taken as a restroom for politicians to relieve themselves.

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    Tanonoka Joseph Whande 7 years ago

    I like the neutrality of the article for its own importance because patriotism, like religion, is personal.
    Religion, which cannot exist without faith, is something personal between me and my God.
    Patriotism, which cannot exist without love for one’s country, is something individual between me and my country.
    It needs no applause.
    Patriotism in Zimbabwe has been reserved for Mugabe and the war veterans – none of whom are.
    None of our compatriots can be considered patriots, unless they are in the right political party. The national so-called Heroes’ Acre is a classic example of what patriots are not.
    If we were to go from one grave to another, I am very sure, not more than 15 people would meet the definition of patriot, which is what that place was built for.
    It was not a necessary thing to do because we all know who our heroes are and we all know who the patriots are. Apart from the very few at Heroes Acre, most of our patriots are buried elsewhere.
    The culture of careless politics brought home by ZANU-PF, as exemplified by the existence of ‘shefs’ and ‘povo’, was a signal that opened the door to classifying people, something that was part of the reasons behind the war effort. And it was brought home by those we would, otherwise, believe to be patriots.
    Whether one lives or dies for one’s country is neither here nor there; the simple fact of willingness to put one’s life on the line for the sake of one’s country is, indeed, patriotic.
    But look what they have done now. Patriotism has become dangerous…unless you are ZANU-PF.
    Tell us more, young man.

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    Patriotism or not, the true reality in this country has come down to the bottom of the heap, in all countries in the world.Before with patriotism, this country was high up on the heap.Patriotism should not be individualism, it concerns the country.

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    Nyoni 7 years ago

    The want for true freedom within the confines of the human right charter can be achieved but only by committed ethical people whose goal is for the good of the country. Love for country or Patriotism follows. At the present time there are many who donot identify themselves as Zimbabweans as the shame brought upon them by Zanu has dampened their spirit. ZANU IN ALL ITS FAULTS MUST WORK HARD TO MAKE US ALL PATRIOTS AGAIN . OR MUST I JOIN ZANU. Fat chance of that happening unless they “pay me”.

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    Jawett Tamuka Danga 5 years ago