By Hopewell Chin’ono
It is now eight months since the removal of the veteran dictator, Robert Mugabe, and the difference is staggering and becoming scary.
Where the country was united for a purpose in November, there is now a huge crack and an eerie sound coming out of that polarity crack.
It is a sound of hopelessness, fear and despair as the citizens wonder what went wrong!
More disappointing is the accentuated and shrill voices of abuse between citizens who fail to understand that nothing will come out of such vile and unproductive discourse.
This is a natural and yet disturbing soundtrack that plays whenever the political elites start fighting amongst themselves over power and control of the state apparatus.
They will always use the masses to fight their battles whilst they seek for solutions ensconced in their plushy mansions away from the maddening crowds.
These political fissures have not spared the Zimbabwean Diaspora either.
Zimbabweans living in the UK were invited to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London where they made an embarrassing spectacle of themselves, trading insults in front of a bemused British FCO Staff compliment.
Wherever you go these days since the elections, it is quite evident that the country is polarized and that very few thought leaders are available to bring sanity as many of them have joined the fray.
The other half of the political elite divide is now calling for sanctions saying that they will make sure that a ZANUPF government gets nothing from the West.
Zimbabwe has faced much tougher moments in history and prevailed because the leadership it had at those moments on both ends was mature, deeper, circumspect and rational.
The current political elites must introspect and ask themselves why such a glorious moment of burying Mugabe’s past and taking the country towards a prosperity route is now becoming a distant dream.
It was a misplaced decision to police the streets with the military because it sends a wrong message and image to the rest of the world.
It was an unexpected gift for those who are opposed to ZANU PF Government.
The official opposition and all those against Emmerson Mnangagwa have derogatorily refereed to his government as a Junta because of how it came into power.
So one wonders why the same administration would have been so tone deaf by sending soldiers into the streets and help to feed into that narrative that they are a military government.
It is also not smart for the opposition to start calling for sanctions now because it will make those in charge of the state dig in and instead of resolving the stand off. It will have the opposite effect of prolonging the economic and political crisis that has been with us for 18 years.
There is a huge body of people in government who are opposed to the democratization of the state and the country because they will lose the monetary rewards that they are getting through this crisis.
A democratic dispensation will bring transparency that will stop the buccaneer business people and their surrogates in the state from creating and controlling corrupt business monopolies.
This lot will thrive if there are sanctions against Zimbabwe.
We have seen that reality and we have the last eighteen years as testament that sanctions only enrich those that they are meant to punish.
What is needed now is for both ordinary citizens and the political elites to realize that ZIMBABWE is their country and that it is better to make sacrifices today that will allow the country to recover from the eighteen years of hunger and starvation.
It takes a strong and thoughtful leadership to realize that reality and to also lead in seeking lasting solutions instead of quick fixes.
Unfortunately, getting into power at any cost regardless of the damage it does to the country in the long term motivates many on both sides of the political aisle.
Zimbabwe is groaning under both domestic and international debt, it has NO economy to talk of as we have become South Africa’s dumping ground.
Many of our young people have NO idea what it means to be in formal employment and as such, very few people are paying taxes.
This cannot be resolved through repression or sanctions against the country.
Sanctions and repression will accelerate the economic and political disaster that we are faced with now.
If the government can’t fix the economy as we all hope they should, it becomes a question of time before the plebs and the rank and file are back in the streets.
If the opposition succeeds in getting more sanctions imposed on the government of Zimbabwe, then there won’t be any economic recovery to talk of.
So the crooked will thrive and their ill-gotten wealth will underpin the repressive apparatus and the crisis will continue.
The state is surrounded by buccaneer businesspeople and compradors compatriots, a confrontation is exactly what they are hoping for so that Zimbabwe is thrown out of the family of nations once more.
I have heard citizens saying that it is the government’s fault if sanctions are imposed, however the same citizens seem oblivious to the fact that it is them not those in government that will bear the brunt of their economic impact.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, Nelson Chamisa and their political elite surrogates will not miss a meal because there are sanctions imposed and neither will the repression visit them.
It is we the citizens that will have to engage with the pain of sanctions and repression.
It is time we start encouraging our political leadership to find themselves instead of encouraging them to stay apart with senseless social media posts.
Our inability to go beyond the obvious is staggering for a nation that prides itself as being the most educated on the African country.
Education without knowledge is as hollow as failing to use it wisely!
This is self evident through the insults that are flying everywhere there is a Zimbabwean audience.
Running a country is easy, a train driver and boxer, Roy Welensky, ran three countries.
He successfully superintended over Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi) commonly known as the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
What is difficult seems to be having the ability, common sense and heart to put our country first.
We all should put our country first and not allow our partisan and at times selfish narrow interests ahead of the country.
Unfortunately when a conversation is taking place, our people now chose what helps their case and ignore the rest of the conversation.
Such selfishness is staggering and saddening at the same time.
A stalemate after these elections will only accelerate the battering of our beautiful and yet broken country.
This time a crisis will be painful and intolerantly harsh because according to my diplomatic sources, South Africa has made it clear that it is time for Zimbabweans to resolve their political mess.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed that he wants nothing to do with it.
In my previous article looking at post election scenarios, I mentioned the symbiotic relationship between ZANUPF and the military.
I also mentioned the strategic failure by the opposition to open a line of communication with the military. This they thought they were doing through Dumiso Dabengwa but he has no clout within that establishment.
Politics is more complex than slogans and promises of a new dispensation.
Hopewell Chin’ono is an award winning Zimbabwean international Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker. He is a Harvard University Nieman Fellow and a CNN African Journalist of the year.
He is also a Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Africa leadership Institute. Hopewell has a new documentary film looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe called State of Mind. Hopewell can be contacted at [email protected] or on twitter @daddyhope