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A true leader doesn’t create separation, but brings people together!

I love Bluetooth! I fondly remember the first time using it – when we discovered that we could actually send SMS texts to each other with my beloved wife Tinta (who was still my fiancée all those many years ago) for absolutely free, as long as we were within the specified range…which I think was 15 meters at the time.

When we attended a conference in Bulawayo, I found this nifty technology so convenient, as we could easily still communicate – keeping close and connected, as if in the same room – even though, we had to sleep in separate bedrooms, since we were yet to be married, and staying celibate till our nuptial vows.

In other words, Bluetooth technology broke down the walls of separation – and, brought people together without paying even a single cent…well before the age of other instant messaging apps as WhatsApp.

However, that is certainly not the only reason I am so in love with Bluetooth.

The foundation for this system, which was later to be known as Bluetooth Wireless Technology (BWT), was first laid by Dutch engineer Jacobus Cornelis Haartsen (or “Jaap” to his friends) in 1994 – who worked in the mobile phone division of Ericsson Mobile – and, publicly announced in May 1999.

In 2000, the Swedish company (Ericsson Mobile) launched its first “Bluetooth” product.

Here is where it gets interesting.

This technology was named after a 10th Century Danish king, Harald Gormsson – who became famous for uniting Scandinavians in 958 – whose trademark dead tooth, which was a dark blue/grey colour, earned him the nickname “Bluetooth”.

As such, when Ericsson Mobile named their product “Bluetooth” – which connected and united people – they were honoring the heroic exploits of the legendary Viking king, who was known for doing exactly that…uniting people.

That is what makes me love Bluetooth.

Do we, in Zimbabwe, have leaders who are known for uniting the nation – such that, fifty, hundred, a thousand years from today, they will still be remembered by future generations for having brought together the people of this great country?

Have we had a responsible leadership that has actively sought to unite people, despite their different linguistic, tribal, racial, and political persuasions?

Unfortunately, the answer to that is a grave and tragic, NO!

In Zimbabwe, as if by some inexplicable sickening curse or malevolent spirit – we have had the recurring misfortune of leaders, whose only avenue to “success” has been to sow seeds of hatred and division amongst the population.

Let us not forget that – before we even talk about what the Zimbabwe regime is doing today in separating the nation – we have a ruling political party that was established in 1963, on the back of encouraging tribal animosity, whereby those who remained in the parent party of ZAPU were considered of the Ndebele ethnicity, whilst ZANU was for the majority Shona.

Yet, before the advent of ZANU – the people of Zimbabwe were united, and knew no tribe, living peacefully under one banner.

The ethnic divisions created by ZANU’s formation resulted in widespread killings and violence, especially in high density suburbs of Highfield, in the capital Harare (then Salisbury) – which proved more fatal and perilous than any other brutal repression in residential neighborhoods ever unleashed by the colonial Rhodesia regime.

No wonder liberation movements in neighboring countries – as Zambia (UNIP), Mozambique (FRELIMO), Botswana (BDP), South Africa (ANC), and others – initially adamantly refused to recognize this outfit, accurately identifying ZANU as nothing more than a divisive and tribalistic splinter group.

Fast-forward to independence in 1980 – after the party’s leadership, led by Robert Gabriel Mugabe stubbornly and arrogantly rejected the advice of the more sober-minded commanders as Josiah Magama Tongogara, and Dumiso Dabengwa to unite with Joshua Nkomo as leader – it was not surprising at all that the Gukurahundi genocide did not take too long in being ruthlessly unleashed upon those accused of belonging to the Ndebele tribe (leaving over 20,000 dead).

Come the new millennium, and when the country’s ruling elite noticed that the nine-month old opposition MDC party would most likely trounce them in the upcoming June 2000 general elections – more so, after a humiliating resounding rejection of a government-sponsored Constitutional a few months earlier in February – ZANU PF resorted to its default language of divisive death and destruction, through a supposed fast track land reform program.

Surely, for a government in power for twenty years, was there really any justification to kill people – mainly based on their racial profiling – instead of just repossessing the land (if they genuinely felt compelled to “correct colonial injustices”) using their legal powers?

From that period onwards, the country has never been united – with the governing authorities making every effort on labeling anyone who opposes their rule, an “enemy of the state”, “unpatriotic”, and “foreign agent of regime change”, who can be justifiably persecuted, beaten up, abducted, sexually abused, arrested on lame and spurious charges, and even murdered.

As I write this article, seventeen members of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union (ARTUZ) – including their president Obert Masaraure – are languishing in custody after being arrested on 12 January 2022, as they conducting peaceful demonstrations at the NSSA (National Social Security Authority) building on the sidelines of the NJNC (National Joint Negotiating Committee) meeting, as they placed their constitutional demand for the safe reopening of schools in line with COVID-19 safety standards, and restoration of teachers’ salaries to where they were pegged in October 2018.

Such has been the trend in the country of Zimbabwe – whereby, weaponization of the law, particularly COVID-19 regulations and other draconian statutes, has been abused in an effort to subdue voices of dissent, even when these are constitutionally-enshrined labour, political, or social disputes.

Are we now to believe that normal disagreements – expected in any country on this planet – are to be regarded as worthy of brutal suppression?

As a matter of fact, an opposition MDC Alliance activist, Makomborero Haruzivishe was only released by the High Court a few days ago, from a nine-month incarceration for ostensibly breaching his bail conditions for several clearly politically-motivated charges.

This continued painting of opposing activists as “criminal enemies of the state” who seek “illegal regime change” – accusations which have largely remained unproven and unsubstantiated, as shown by the lack of any conviction on treason or subverting constitutional government charges – is a most troubling disingenuous divisive strategy, meant to “divide and rule” the people of Zimbabwe.

We have witnessed the opposition MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa’s entourage being violently attacked by ruling ZANU PF party hooligans on his recent campaign trail in various parts of the country – embarrassing events, that tragically appeared to have the endorsement of higher offices, who had the sickening temerity to accuse the young leader of “forcing himself on people who didn’t want to listen to him”.

Really!

Does this not then set a very dangerous precedence, which provides justification for Zimbabweans, in their various regions, to also violently attack ruling ZANU PF party top officials when they “force themselves” in their neighborhoods – knowing that the country has clear MDC Alliance strongholds?

In fact, a more important question should be – what manner of a leadership can only survive and thrive under an atmosphere of division and disunity?

What type of a people believe that they can never receive acceptance and support from a nation that is in unison and oneness?

Would we be wrong in concluding that, as a leadership borne out of deceit, divisiveness, and destruction, they do not have any real and genuine public backing, endearment, and endorsement?

Why can we not have our own uniting force, as the Danish had in “Bluetooth” – who has always been affectionately remembered by his people for over a thousand years?

Already, Mugabe is notoriously regarded after only two years into his grave – and, I seriously doubt if his successor, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, will fare any better.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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