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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Portrait of a Great Zimbabwe- a memo to all Zimbabweans
    Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
    July 30, 2013

    As Zimbabwe heads for an election on 31 July, one thing is very clear. We are teetering at the threshold of a new season. Whatever the outcome of the election, either way, our country will never be the same again after 31July 2013! The record crowds that attended the MDC final ‘cross over’ rally in Harare yesterday sent one clear message: we are ready for change and are ready to embrace it with a positive attitude rather than trepidation. By voluntarily turning out in record numbers to momentarily exercise our civil and political rights to assembly, association and expression which we have been denied for a decade, we collectively sent a clear signal to the authorities: that the new possibility on the horizon may hold an exciting destiny for our embattled nation. We expressed a clear portrait of a Great Zimbabwe founded on universal human values and a collective framework of hope and aspiration on which a Great Zimbabwe will sit and derive its strength from. Now we need a strong leader who will make that portrait a reality. On 31 July we have an appointment with history to make that choice.

    For more than a decade now, we have been harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, with our rights trampled from every corner. Our destiny was derailed, detained but we are not defeated. Just like a great Hebrew Scholar would put it, ‘We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed’, because as prisoners of destiny we have this enduring hope for a great Zimbabwe within us. Now we need a leader who will help us realise that hope in order to lay a strong foundation for our nation.

    31 July gives us that opportunity to choose a president who has a shepherd’s heart. While we are clear about the Zimbabwe we want, are we clear about the shepherded we want? Zimbabweans are not placid and irresolute but we are clever people whose silence and mendacity could easily be mistaken. We will make the right choice and only us can make that choice. Whatever that choice will be, we should live with it and one day, we should be able to tell our children and our grandchildren that when our time came we did it right: We chose a leader with a shepherd’ heart, who walks in front of his sheep to set an example and who, when he sees the crowds, such as the crowds we had yesterday, he has compassion on them and doesn’t harangue them. We need a leader who will seek and reach out to Zimbabwe’s lost generation scattered in every nation of the world, and like a father, give them a choice to either remain where they are or provide them with a compelling and enticing reason to return home.

    The choice of a good leader is not between the MDC and Zanu-PF nor is it between President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai. It is a battle of values. As a nation we have lost touch with the values that underpinned our traditional lifestyles. We have grown oblivion to the mutual obligations which we horizontally owed to each other. Some of our leaders have promoted a culture of hatred, plunder and violence and as a result these attributes are now ingrained in our society, language and culture. However, in all this, there are still perks and pockets of good that we can redeem in order for us to lay a sure foundation for a future great Zimbabwe.

    31 July gives us a golden opportunity in a generation to retrieve and rescue the vestiges of good values and our lost leadership moral compass. As a nation we should choose a leader who has a compelling vision centred and borne out of the total sum of our aspirations as informed by our values. The values of peace, freedom, social progress, equal rights and human dignity that we all aspire for did not only underpin our traditional agrarian communities but are indeed enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and are no less valid today than they were when they were first codified in 1948.

    As we choose a new leader tomorrow, we need a leader who will protect all human rights as enshrined in Zimbabwean laws and all treaties to which Zimbabwe is party to. We should be wary of leaders who label human rights a western creation. Human rights are our birthright as human beings: they are not the gift of governments but part of our common humanity.

    On 31 July, in the same way the nations of the world met in San Francisco on the 10th December 1948, to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, tomorrow, we have that once-in-a life time opportunity to choose a leader who rallies our aspirations and who helps us define a normative counterpoint to the evil that our nation has been associated with.

    On 31 July, casting our ballots should not be taken lightly but symbolically as an expression of our collective desire and drive to establish common standards applicable to all Zimbabweans, predicated upon the respect of the right to life and liberty , upon which all other rights are contingent. If we choose a leader who, like Abraham Lincoln, can confidently say, ‘When I lay down the reigns of this administration, I want to have one friend left and that friend is inside me’, we know that we have chosen a value-laden and compassion-driven leader whose outlook of life is not warped by the vicissitudes of time or the environmental demands. If we do that, one day we can proudly stand on a pedestal and tell our children that when our fine hour came, we courageously made the right choice, we chose the right shepherd.

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