With so much uncertainty swirling around it is difficult for many people to see what the future may hold. Is it a coup? Is the army taking over? Will we have another ruler whose grip on power will last a long time? Will the president be impeached? Will he retire? Is this ZANU PF’s way of revitalizing the party? Will the president survive and retain his power? Yet, no matter how many times we analyse and discuss these questions there are no clear and factual answers. Rather, there is a lot of presumption, assumption and superficial analysis that is compounding the uncertainty and anxiety.
I believe the questions no one has asked that can offer us credible insight into the future are as follows:
1. Does Zimbabwe have a promising future?
2. Who is the custodian of that future?
The first answer is a bold and factual yes. Despite the uncertainty and angst, Zimbabwe remains poised and positioned for a great and prosperous future. Why? The reason is answered by the answer to the second question I have posed. If we can accept that the custodians of Zimbabwe are its people then the future is bright. The turmoil we have experienced in the past few weeks and possibly the past few years have uncovered 6 treasures that point to a great future. And it is the responsibility of every citizen to nurture and harness these treasures for a prosperous future.
1. Zimbabwe’s citizens have a voice.
After years of muted silence and lone squeaks of dissenting activist voices, the people of Zimbabwe have discovered that they have a voice. It may look like and even be considered a coup but the most important highlight of this time has been to see people on the streets speaking their minds and using their voices. This realization points to an underlying current of freedom and liberation that the people never thought could exist. Yet, deep down it has always been there suppressed by fear and intimidation. Whatever may be analysed about how and why the army allowed the voices of the people to rise up, the fact remains the citizens of Zimbabwe have a voice and the challenge is will we use it to design the future we want for generations to come when we are long gone?
2. Zimbabwe’s citizens have hope.
Hope is a critical ingredient in nation building and scoping the future. These past few weeks littered with moments of doubt and disbelief have also had a strong undercurrent of hope. When news broke out that the army had initiated some form of take-over, what sprang to life among people was hope. Hope for a better future, hope for a new destiny and hope for economic redemption. Hope is the human trait that drives us forward. As the bible says, “Faith is the substance of things hope for…” We must appreciate that any level of belief is determined by what we hope for; in other words our expectation of the future. If we are hopeless then there is no foundation to build confidence and belief, there is no grounds to build assurance for a bright future. This period of uncertainty revealed that there are deep troves of hope and expectation among the people of Zimbabwe. It is now a question of channeling this hope towards fighting for and building a bright future.
3. The Zimbabwean people can be united.
After years of division and mistrust, different groups of people agreed on one thing en mass. There was evidence of a clear and definite purpose among general citizens that drove people into the streets. It was amazing and profound to see different races, creeds, tribes and tongues congregated together and speaking with one voice. This is a necessary asset in nation building that has long been underutilized and ignored. Deep down my hope is that the unity that may have come to the surface briefly can somehow be channeled towards building a prosperous future.
4. The Zimbabwean people have passion.
It has long been stated that Zimbabweans are passive and apathetic especially from a political viewpoint. But this week has shown that this is far from the truth. Rather, what was revealed is that there is a fire and passion that has long been doused and dulled by despair. Over the years citizens have let their passion seep out as a result of numerous false dawns and disappointments. At times we have put our faith in someone else’s hands expecting that they would care for our interests. Yet deep down what we feared most was to unleash our own passion as a citizenry. Thus over time the passion has seeped out and eventually died down. Yet, these past weeks revealed that the passion is not dead. Rather our passion is like hot embers in need of a second wind to stir up a flame that burns for growth and transformation.
5. The Zimbabwean people have courage.
Importantly courage doesn’t have to be mentioned in the same breath as bravery or pointed out as cowardice. Importantly, I would say courage is about identity. It is a word drawn from the Latin word cor which talks about heart. We have had the opportunity to tell the story of our nation with gusto and heart. Different people in different contexts are calling these events different things. There are differing opinions as to why things have happened. Yet, beneath the surface there is an underlying narrative that points to courage and the identity of Zimbabwe’s citizens. The people of Zimbabwe have an identity and a story they need to tell the world. It is a story that has been shrouded in darkness, cynicism and skepticism. For a long time it has been defined by a minority as well as misconceived and misinterpreted by an international and regional community. Yet these past few weeks there are hints that Zimbabwe has a deep and enthralling narrative that needs to be told for the sake of posterity.
6. Lastly Zimbabweans want to work.
The economy of Zimbabwe has been sickly for the past 17 years with very impressive negative figures being thrown around such as 90%+ unemployment. What the past weeks have shown is that it is not because the people are lazy and don’t want to work; but that the conditions have been inconducive. Given the chance and the right environment Zimbabwean people can work and put their hands to whatever plough they are given. The challenge remains to be seen whether self-interest can be put aside and the passion and desire among Zimbabwe’s citizens be put to the plough of nation building.
In conclusion, it is important to accept that the conditions remain uncertain. It is not clear what will happen in the coming weeks or months. Subsequently, we must ensure that the events of the past few weeks do not distract the people of Zimbabwe from the truth that we are and will always remain the custodians of this great country. Furthermore that we can decide and determine what future will emerge from the current dispensation.
The danger is that the cynics among us will point to all the potential negative pitfalls that cover the road to the future. The optimists will try and ignore the negative and uncertain conditions that prevail and simply believe with no anchor of hope. The pessimist will summon the past and remind us of the false dawns and betrayals of yesteryear. But the prayer is that the realists among us will accept that the present and near term future is uncertain but spur and point us towards a bold and asserted hope that the future for Zimbabwe and its people will be prosperous nonetheless.