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Brian Sedze: National dialogue should aim at nation building not narrow political outcomes

By Brian Sedze

The proposed national dialogue may be held in a toxic environment and will be premised on both a wrong strategic foundation and warped desired national outcomes. It has been so since late 1970s as our leaders have failed and or neglected and or have been incompetent at nation building, mapping a sustainable country vision and deploying a comprehensive, sustainable and inclusive strategy.

Brian Sedze
Brian Sedze

Since 1978 the country has had three significant national dialogues leading to Lancaster House Agreement, National Unity Accord (1987) and the Government of National Unity (2008).The foundation of these national dialogues were devoid of any national strategy imperatives and did not build a nation. Parties to the dialogues were force marched into them due to fear of war, violence, death, tribal decimation and economic meltdown.

After the “milestone” agreements we retained nothing but a country in name. As a people we still have difficulties relating with each other, have shacky loyalty to the country, and somehow have some sought of identity crisis on exactly what it means to be a Zimbabwean.

We remain a greatly divided nation. We have uncommon challenges, different aspirations and fragmented visions. Our great divide is mainly between urban versus rural, the north Vs.  South, the MDC vs. ZANU PF (Prior to 1987 ZANU Vs. ZAPU) and the poor Versus the Rich.

In times of feasting on the country cake the divide often degenerate into to allegiance to tribes and cronies which we often define as corruption. Corruption itself is a manifest of people loyal to themselves, clans, tribes and cronies.

To put our divide into context ,it is uncommon for urbanites to view rural folks as of a lower class with questionable intellect and therefore of no consequence in solving the Zimbabwean question. It’s often cited by opposition party supporters that the rural in places Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe are an albatross in the quest for change.

We are a country that politicizes everything and this leads to death of inclusivity, aversions to new idea generation and short termism due to political expedience. Political dialogues have always given birth to political outcomes at the expense of long term sustainable nation building outcomes.

The dialogues are a quench for both material things and power. The outcomes are not about propagating a good country governance system but more about ruling. The proposed national dialogue should be inclusive and enable building a shared Zimbabwe value system.

Building  shared value  and country loyalty is a lot of work and it will never come naturally. It is a tough call to identify with a nation and let alone be loyal to it especially in times of strife and often in times of opportunity. As a person you are not likely to name, meet and let alone be loyal to all the 14 million Zimbabweans.What should build loyalty to our country are visionary leaders who pursue nation building.

Zimbabweans have little or no respect of national symbols, culture, anthems, institutions, holidays, currency, language, food and so forth. These rather important aspects are deemed meaningless and of no value. Imagine Jews had no homeland for decades but they remained relentlessly loyal and passionate to the then non-existent nation of Israel.The Jews maintained the core values and visions of being Jewish.

I will doubt you can take a Zimbabwean to any country without him/her acquiring that country’s accent, traditions, symbols and value system and subsequently discarding their own even within mere weeks. Anything foreign, from people to products, is deemed superior worth revering by our people. We have a very low sense of worth.

In contrast the defence of Israel and what it mean to be Jew is a cult-like-culture, fanatic, cohesive and non-fragmented .It is a duty and obligation of every Jew within and without borders.

To build a nation we have to start a national process that reduces the value of a political office win. People don’t fight endlessly over things that are immaterial yet to lead a government or a party was designed to be immaterial.

To stop the scourge of the ruling appetite we don’t have to remove the people responsible, but rather diminish the value of the win. Make the government less important and fewer people will think it is so worth to win it.

How great it would have been if the war time Leadership Codes was adopted to become part of country DNA.Unfortunately it was discarded and additional inits few years of existence it was a monopoly of a political party.

It is an imperative that a system of good country governance is entrenched which is not depended on one centre of power. A country should be lead not ruled. A clear web of systems and structure of governance not depended on individuals should be designed and deployed. An enhanced system of transparency and accountability designed around a system will enhance a sense of belonging.

Just like the Zionist, this country should invest massively in propaganda, indoctrination and promotion of the nation. In Israel this work a little easier because such information blitz to citizens find fertile ground because of fear. Zimbabwe can find its own unique rallying point.

The idea of internal marketing often find limited traction because it’s often monopolized by a clique or perceived as partisan.Nation building programmes should be led by people loyal to an idea instead of loyalty to political parties.

Loyalty which is the genesis of nation building is when people build bonds with the nameless .This can be achieved when we believe in the uniqueness of our country, its superiority, and that there are benefits or a lot to lose without loyalty to one another.

The fears of droughts and floods coalesced the people living along the river Nile to build a nation. In Zimbabwe we are devoid of a common fear and we have a Pareto benefit system in sharing the national cake.

A little punitive Act of Parliament is often essential to deter citizens who deliberately deploy strategies that cause harm to our generality or act in manner that make national interests subsivient to outside interests.We need our own rallying point.

To build a nation  a transparent and accountable system on contribution and distribution of national cake will ensure equitable development in ,education, health, security, infrastructure and the economy.It is generally perceived that a clique or some tribes or some parts generally have for years been benefiting more than others.This increases the chasm amongst a people.

Our new nation to be birthed from inclusive dialogue  require developing a core value system and ideologies.Besides the socialism aspect the starting point will be upscale the ideals and ethos of the Second Chimurenga. These should start with the young and the youth. Unfortunately the national service which was a great start was perceived as a party driven program thereby losing traction

The other great idea to pursue is that these countries desperately require purposeful internal  promotion of its heroes of the war, in arts, culture, economy, society and other facets beyond just naming of roads and buildings. Just like products or service brands that require models to promote. It is doubtful national pride can be entrenched by without celebrating our icons.  

An inclusive and an all stakeholder dialogue will ensure long term sustainability and future reference point when the country face similar challenges like we currently face post 2018 plebiscite.

A political dialogue should ideally be a cluster within a broader all stakeholder negotiation forum focussing on the short term. The cluster on nation building and healing should take a long term focus on future challenges and building a nation that everyone is truly proud of.It is should build a reference point on future dialogues.

I do not foresee the Emmerson Mnangagwa government relenting on their 2018”win”.With the current trajectory I foresee another disputed election in 2023.I have little hope of change in the status quo in 2018.The future therefore lies in an inclusive dialogue that ensures a framework to resolve national challenges like we face. This framework has been elusive because we value politics beyond anything else.

We need to build a nation.

Brian Sedze is the President of Free Enterprise Initiative. Free Enterprise Initiative is an advocacy in less government, free enterprise, fiscal and public policy. He can be contacted on [email protected]