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struggle is about becoming more conscious - politically, socially
and individually: Interview with Takura Zhangazha
July 18, 2011
Inside/Out with Takura Zhangazha
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and political commentator Takura Zhangazha has worked with the Zimbabwe
chapter of the Media
Institute of Southern Africa and makes frequent contributions
to Zimbabwe-s independent newspapers- opinion columns.
He is currently serving as director of the Voluntary
Media Council of Zimbabwe.
activist what is your struggle about?
My struggle is a return to making purposeful history, to taking
the country and our lives seriously. It-s about being more
conscious of our existence politically, socially and individually.
I don-t see this in the country at the moment. I see comrades
being too casual, comrades looking too much through the prism of
NGO frameworks that they-ve crammed more than they understand,
and comrades behaving consistently like the 'other-,
not wanting to be equal. Behaving sometimes as though we are still
natives, yet we are supposed to have significantly returned to making
our own history as a country, and even after independence we are
supposed to have consistently been conscious of the challenges we
face. This is where you see the failure of ZANU PF. It cannot renew
itself and it still insists that the country is still the same when
it is not. Simultaneously those who challenge ZANU PF have only
been around for ten to fifteen years in an organised form, and most
of them are very unconscious of their own struggle history, never
mind the liberation struggle. They abandon positions as if conventions
never occurred, meetings never had resolutions, and they come up
with new ones. They pander more to international epistemologies
about how exactly the country should move. Take economic policies
for example, what the Minister of Finance might present has nothing
to do with the realities on the ground. We-ve got to have
some basic minimums.
feel frustrated? Because it has been a very long time, and I see
Yes the frustration is there. Sometimes comrades don-t negotiate
enough with their circumstances. You don-t have to be a radical;
neither should you be a pushover. Even if you find middle ground,
I-m sure you-ll find something better. But most of the
time we-re either pushovers or we are attempting to be too
radical. But you-ve got to negotiate your position on land;
you-ve got to negotiate your position on gender. Not to compromise
the principle. For example, when Cabral writes on the weapon of
theory he says 'we know that in Cuba, the revolution occurred
but we can-t export this revolution to Guinea Bissau, what
we can do is to negotiate and to learn from it- and so on.
It-s the same with dealing with international capital or donor
organisations. You don-t have to do what they are saying,
you negotiate on the basis of principle, you say 'look comrade
this is what we have and this is what you want. These are your interests
and these are ours-, and see where the common ground is. Too
often we are either just pushovers or we-re unnecessarily
radical. In the process we lose our sense of purpose and placement
in the struggle.
of the election, which I understand is again a point of contention,
and also BAZs recent call for applications, do you think we are
on our way towards a freer media space?
I think we-re on our way towards a negotiated political media
space, a compromised media space that in the end also comes out
as partisan. I see the media operating in an environment, which
does not reflect section 20 of our constitution, which is the one
that guarantees us access to information, and freedom of expression.
It won-t reflect the spirit and letter. It will reflect more
the political interests of the big political players who are in
Parliament at present.
even possible or practical to expect an entirely independent media?
It is possible to have a free media space, we should have it, and
we should ask for it and not be over academic or over comparative
in our analysis. We deserve to have a completely free media because
we-ve never tried it and we are coming from a repressive media
environment; its best democratic practice. We don-t have to
follow what is done in other countries without thinking what we
want for ourselves. All these years of trying to fight AIPPA,
and all these years of trying to get rid of ZBCs monopoly should
inform our understanding of what we want. But an independent media
must come of course with an understanding that a self-regulatory
mechanism needs the support and understanding of media stakeholders.
It also needs the politicians to understand that you can-t
license the media. As Zvobgo said in 2002 it-s like licensing
your own citizens to speak. The right to freedom of expression and
media freedom are intertwined - they-re inseparable. It-s
is your opinion of the political landscape, with particular regard
to the elections?
First of all I think the three political parties in the inclusive
government are close to mortgaging the country to SADC and the South
African government and read with that, South African business. As
you know from International Relations, there are no permanent friends,
just permanent interests. It-s very unfortunate that every
other week there-s a story about SADC or ZUMA making decisions
or meeting with our president or prime minister every second month.
It basically means that our leaders might not be in charge of their
own country. It-s sad to say that we-re not bringing
them to account on that. SADC mediation is more problematic than
it appears. On the issue of elections themselves, it-s not
so much the timing but the fundamental reforms that must be made
to electoral laws and processes and the building of confidence around
the same. The continued postponement of elections creates an excuse
for people who are not doing their work.
I think our
leaders are completely inorganic. They fight amongst themselves
and disagree amongst themselves and forget that we are watching.
In our observation, what we have noticed again and again is scape-goating
and in part, a simplistic approach to the problems the country is
facing. Where leaders easily write letters to Zuma, fight over a
report at the SADC troika ... we are here, and we have a Parliament
and a Government.
your opinion piece regarding the new constitution where you concluded
that you would not be voting yes for this constitution. If we again
have a no vote for this constitution, what then?
Then we start again.
Do you honestly believe that the partisan interests will not somehow
hijack another constitution making process?
No. The surprise and shock I think for ZANU PF in losing the draft
constitution referendum in 2000, indicated that the issue of the
constitution has become something of a leitmotif, something that
is somewhat unconsciously inherent in Zimbabwean citizens. As soon
as there is suspicion that it-s a manipulated document, people
tend to mobilise against it. So to allay your fear, yes the constitution
will be manipulated on a regular basis by political parties, even
in trying to reform and also by some civil society organisations
that are biased. But what you can-t take away from the country-s
people is that ability to give a verdict, which is democratic practice.
So on the constitution, no matter who manipulates it, at least ensure
that the verdict is respected, don-t judge the verdict on
constitutionalism if you-re a constitutional expert or have
a law degree. Just understand that we are all citizens, and no matter
how naïve I might be about it, I must understand it. Even more
important is the issue of us doing it right for once. Why must it
become a big political process?
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