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Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye: The Patriotism Bill…. When the prey trails the hunter

Patriotism generally refers to a stoic love for one’s country, even though our colleagues often mistake it as meaning the love for Zanu PF. In their warped understanding, anyone who is not Zanu PF is not a patriotic and yet our unstinting quest to have democracy, stability, transparency and development in this land of our birth is a clear testament to our patriotism.

Zanu PF has introduced what it calls the Patriotic Bill to criminalise their political rivals by laying trumped-up charges of purported unpatriotic acts. Yet the evidence shows that those who kill their fellow nationals for their political affiliation, those who have looted the country’s vast resources and have made this country a pariah State should be held liable under this proposed Act.

And yet Zanu PF and the government who are guilty of all these dastardly and unpatriotic acts now want to hold CCC leaders for the very crime for which they are the real transgressors.

They have negatively put Zimbabwe on the headlines of the world’s media in spangled banner colours. They have pauperised everyone including our hard-working civil servants, in the process making this our beloved nation a laughing stock. These are heinous acts of unpatriotism for which they now want to charge those who have politically sought to right things in our country.

Indeed, the prey has now become the hunter.

In the first place, you cannot legislate patriotism, just as you cant legislate love. Patriotism is something that ought to be naturally ingrained in the citizens; a common creed and a deep feeling of loyalty to one’s country that envelopes all of us when we stand before our national flag or when we sing our national anthem—- Blessed be the Land of Zimbabwe .

I have my own favourite line in that anthem, the line where we say Navatungamiri vave nenduramo as we exhort for a clean, open, transparent and prudent national political leadership.

The Zanu PF leadership has consistently fallen short of this exhortation by dint of a litany of unpatriotic acts, some of which have been mentioned above. If we are to be true and loyal to the meaning of patriotism, we have to agree that it is Zanu PF that has shown hatred and aversion to all things Zimbabwean, including even utilising our own schools and hospitals.

They are the guilty party under the proposed Patriotic Bill. But then the prey is now trailing the hunter. It’s the guilty party now seeking to accuse others of not being patriotic. This week, this column seeks to just run through a few examples that show that it is none other than Zanu PF and its leadership that have committed despicable unpatriotic acts in this country.

Abrogating patriotism : The charge sheet

1. One cannot claim to be patriotic when they murder fellow citizens. A government that murders its own people cannot be deemed to be patriotic. For you cannot love a country when you hate and kill its citizens. It is Zanu PF which butchered people in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces during the Gukurahundi genocide, with ED being the key enforcer. In 2008, the army murdered people with ED as the Minister of Defence. The murders and unreported violence during the coup in 2017, the August 1 2018 and January 2019 murders of innocent people by State security agents could certainly not have been orchestrated by a patriotic government that loves the country and its people.

I am not even talking about the murders of Nyasha Zhambe and Mboneni Ncube. Or even the massive deaths in our poorly equipped hospitals while the chefs unpatriotically resort to foreign medical assistance.

Now who should be held liable under the Patriotic Act?

2. They have looted this country dry. The same country that they purport to love so much. Various scandals orchestrated by the Zanu PF elite have cost this country a lot of money. The Willowgate scandal, Zesagate, the VIP Housing scandal, the NOCZIM sandal were all driven and led by an unpatriotic Zanu PF elite that must now face sanction under the Patriotic Act.

3. Frederick Shava, the Willowgate criminal who got pardoned for his unpatriotic act of corruption which also violated the Zanu PF Leadership Code, is the diplomatic and global face of our beloved country. Is it an act of patriotism to embarrass Zimbabwe by giving it a global face of a known criminal. Just who should be charged under the proposed Patriotic Act for appointing into Cabinet unpatriotic criminals that were pardoned under dubious circumstances?

4. Emmerson Mnangagwa was leading the Command Agriculture Programme where over US$3 billion dollars was looted. A Parliament oversight committee and the Auditor General have both discovered there were no receipts or paper trail in the government-led farm inputs scheme. Those who loot the country’s money and resources cannot purport to love it. The unpatriotic charlatans must f justice. Looting the country’s resources is a heinous act of unpatriotism.

5. Those who hate indigenous Zimbabweans but love people of foreign extraction cannot claim to be patriots. Mnangagwa displaced the Shangaan people of Chilonga from their ancestral land so that his white friend Neville Coetzee could grow lucerne grass for his cattle. Today, he wants to make the charge that others are not patriotic. And yet its him who hates his fellow nationals with a passion.

Xenophobia, defined as the hatred of foreigners, is bad and we have all criticised South Africa for what is happening in that country where only Africans are being targeted on their own continent. Yet Mnangagwa suffers from a rare but worse condition, one that I would call indiginophobia . An unreasonable hatred of indigenous things including the indigenous people of this land. And the Chilonga case is an indictment in this regard. You cant claim to be patriotic when you love white foreigners at the expense of the indigenous sons and daughters of this land.

Now who should face justice under the proposed Patriotic Act?

6. These are the same people who looted our diamonds and pauperized all of us. Now we have nothing to show for our diamond wealth. . Mugabe publicly admitted US$15 billion worth of the country’s diamond proceeds was looted from Marange. Now the unpatriotic looters who stole the country’s wealth want to deem others unpatriotic.

7. Putting the country into shame and disrepute must be an act of unpatriotism. Mnangagwa is named in a UN report as the lead figure in the looting of the DRC diamonds. He used the country’s military to loot diamonds for himself and his cronies. I doubt if the country benefited at all. But the narrative out there is that Zimbabwe looted the diamonds. Putting the country’s brand and reputation into the mud is a gross act of unpatriotism. Now who should be answering questions under the proposed Patriotism Act?

8. Fidelity Printers and Gold Refiners is a strategic Sate entity. Privatising such an entity is not only unpatriotic but is a high act of treason. Yet the ED government has placed FIdelity into private hands with a view to loot the country’s gold. It is criminal, treasonous and a gross act of unpatriotism to do what has been done to Fidelity Printers.

What has been done to this strategic national entity is certainly not in fidelity to all the known tenets of patriotism.

Conclusion– When the bird snatches the catapult

In recent years, the phrase Shiri yabvuta rekeni has been developed in Shona colloquialism. The phrase literally means the bird has snatched the catapult. The catapult is a weapon used to shoot down birds with pebbles. The English equivalent to this phrase is The hunter has become the hunted or the prey is now trailing the hunter , as is the title to this week’s op-ed.

In the same logic, Zanu PF, the biggest transgressor so wont to many unpatriotic acts some of them mentioned in this piece, is proposing to come up with a law that is set to target its political opponents for a crime for which they are the sole culprits.

It is indeed ironic that the same unpatriotic lot that has stolen big from this country, that has shamed this country and made it a pariah, the same lot that has made Zimbabweans a despised lot even in neighbouring South Africa, would deem to brand others unpatriotic. This is the lot that has chosen to look East and not into their own country that they purport to live. They are the elite that have sent their children for education abroad where they seek medical services themselves while the rest of us patriotically get medical help from our ill-equipped clinics in Domboshava, Honde Valley, Dombodema and Beitbridge.

Now the prey is trailing the hunter. The hare has snatched the knobkerrie and Zanu PF is targeting others for the crime of unpatriotism for which they hold unchallenged monopoly.

Cruel, cruel fate.

Luke Tamborinyoka is a patriot and citizen from Domboshava. He is the deputy champion for Presidential Affairs in the Citizens Coalition for Change ( CCC ). You can interact with him on his facebook page or via the twitter handle @ luke_tambo