The 2018 harmonised elections have come and gone. Some have won and others have lost in the bruising political battles. To those that have won, it is time to bury the hatchet – open doors and reach out and embrace those who have lost. For those that have lost, it is time to accept the loss and join hands with those that have won. It is time to reconcile and unite – to work together in building one nation – our homeland we proudly call Zimbabwe.
The electoral process has gone past us – by and large – in a very peaceful manner pre- and post-elections only to be marred by isolated acts of violence in our capital city on Wednesday, 1 August 2018. That day cast a dark shadow on Zimbabwe. It is a day that if we could, we would unwind and erase it from our post-2018 election history.
We keep asking ourselves why, at the 11th hour – the loss of life, injury to people and destruction of property – all of which could have been avoided?
Zimbabwe needs men and women of honour and courage going forward. Men and women who are prepared to molt their personal interests away and in their stead – place national interests ahead of any other interests.
Zimbabwe needs men and women who are selfless, dedicated and God-fearing. Zimbabwe is calling for men and women who are ready to build this nation into prosperity, so that all of us can share what the country has to offer and at the same time set aside more for generations to come.
These are trying times – long winter months – for our young democracy, 38 years old. Our mettle as a nation has been put to test.
It is upon our leaders to show their true character – whether they are going to consume their energy clenching fists and fighting each other or joining hands fighting for democracy, nation building and development.
It is upon our people to show their character too – whether they are going to incite division or spread malice and hate through social media or spend their time productively building bridges and uplifting those who are hurt, desponded, and hopeless.
Zimbabwe is bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions and narrow personal interests.
Our leaders should not seek individual power, fame or riches – but should be servants of the people and work tirelessly to create jobs, resuscitate factories, open closed mines, bring productivity on the farms, avail drugs in hospitals, improve our schools, care for the elderly, remove kids from streets, rebuild broken infrastructure, protect our environment, and above all build a united and prosperous Zimbabwe.
It is upon our media too – to act responsibly and professionally and not incite hatred, fuel discontent, and create fissures within the Zimbabwean people. This is the time we need to find each other as Zimbabweans.
As the former US president, Barak Obama, said in his inauguration speech on 20 January 2009, we have the option to choose “hope over fear, [and] unity of purpose over conflict and discord”.
Professor Mandivamba Rukuni aptly puts it in his book “Being Afrikan” that our values as African people have for many generations been premised on Unhu-Ubuntu-Botho.
Ubuntu is our African cultural heritage that transcends gender, language, culture, class, wealth, education, religion and political affiliation. We, Zimbabweans, under these present adversity and challenging times, have to show each other and the world what it means to be a human being. A Zimbabwean.
Ubuntu means that as a person you are not an island but are connected to others around you. “I am because we are”. Each one of us is the product of the people before us that have shaped our lives. The people around each one of us give us our identity and sense of belonging and being a person.
Ubuntu or simply “humanism” or “being human” gives us identity as Zimbabwean people. It gives us a sense of belonging and a sense of connectedness and interdependence with others – our nuclear family, extended family, community, and nation.
During these trying times in our nation we need to transcend beyond our petty political differences and see ourselves not as “political party subjects” but as one nation, as Zimbabweans. For us to be called Zimbabweans, we need to relate cordially to each other and not throw stones at each other when we differ. We all need to coexist peacefully.
All Zimbabweans have the responsibility to build strong families, communities and above all a united and prosperous nation. As a nation, we cannot afford to be divided at this stage because of political affiliations, and because of elections won and lost.
A colleague of mine, Benson Chauke, shared with me some words of wisdom relevant to the times we are experiencing in Zimbabwe. These words were anchored on Hillary Clinton’s concession speech on 9 November 2016 and on the Scripture: Daniel 2:21.
The hallmark of Hilary’s speech shows us that in life there are successes and setbacks and that electoral campaigns should not be about one person or even one election, but should be about the people and the country we love.
Despite the pain in losing an election that she had won by the popular vote (to the extent that she had not even prepared a concession speech), Hillary nevertheless moved on and wrote her concession speech graciously concluding it by saying:
“We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America and always will. And if you do, then we must accept the result and look into the future. Donald Trump is going to be our President. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power. And we don’t just respect that, we cherish it.”
Elections or no elections – there is far more that unites us than divide us as a Zimbabwean people.
Daniel 2:21 says there is no leadership here on earth which is not approved by God. “He changes times and seasons. He sets up kings and deposes them.”
Therefore let us all wish the new President well and thank God for allowing it.
God Bless Zimbabwe.
(Allen Choruma can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)