Zimbabwe’s Post-Independence Journey: The Fight For Lost Consciousness

By Takudzwa Hillary Chiwanza

18 April is a special day in our calendar – Independence Day. It is the country’s chance to travel back in time and relive the liberation war from which Independence was won. It was a painful but inevitable struggle, and it must be permanently etched in our memories.

A lot has since happened since 1980, both in positive and negative terms. The thinking that influenced the new nation-state upon Independence has metamorphosed in aligning with the order of globalization where capital takes precedence over the immediate needs of people. This thinking has completely seized all sections of Zimbabwean society.

The country’s post-independence journey is one in which neocolonial interests have reigned supreme. With the leaders capitulating to the whims of global private capital, either for self-aggrandizement or fitting within the capitalist global order, the country is losing its impetus for respecting local contexts. Both the leaders and the citizens have come to believe that if Zimbabwe’s initiatives are not approved by the “international community” – either the West or East – then they lack substance. It is a regrettable reality but one that obtains in the post-colonial society.

Energy is expended towards getting the attention of the West and the East, and all this is done to massage some egos. This is true on either side of the political divide. The social forces that fought for sovereignty and self-determination are continuously neglected – the political economy is characterized more by pandering to the interests of private capital, either local or international and less of genuine, transformative participatory democracy.

Neoliberal capitalism is taking centre stage more than ever. This is a stark contrast to the desired socialist principles that drove the liberation struggle and some post-independence policies. The country is being privatized at a frightening rate, and where we expect this to be an obvious assumption, it is not. Mnangagwa’s mantra “Zimbabwe is open for business” sums up the ruling establishment’s relentless neoliberal path.

The effects of neoliberalism – which Mugabe perfectly imposed on the country – have been detrimental to national consciousness. Such narratives may not be fashionable but they aptly reflect Zimbabwe’s position 41 years after attaining independence. Because capitalism worships money over humanity, we now have a society marked by narcissism, individualism, consumerism/materialism. It is now difficult for many to think in terms of public interest.

This is a direct result of the government’s neoliberal policies of privatization and deregulation. Public services are continuously outsourced to the private sector when it is the state’s prerogative to be the primary guarantor of life. The private sector is only concerned with profits and not paying taxes. Health and sanitation, water, education, power, housing, land, public transport should be provided by the state, but the state is giving these to private capital. It is a moral affront that government has neglected its duties. It is antithetical to all the values that espoused the struggle for independence.

This is the consciousness we must reclaim as we celebrate 41 years of self-determination. The less individualistic we are as a society, the more progress we make. Inequality is ever-rising and in all honesty, this is not what was envisaged at Independence. Rural areas continue being neglected, viewed with colonial scorn yet these were the backbone of the liberation struggle. Any progress in Zimbabwe will be meaningful if the rural peasantry is economically empowered and emancipated. This will inspire inclusive development in the urban areas as well.

There is so much to say about Zimbabwe since 1980. But one thing remains clear – capitalism is defeating our collective national consciousness. Bob Marley proclaimed that we must emancipate ourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds. His words remain relevant now and forever more. 
We should be ideologically robust and fight neocolonialism. While at the same time improving and owning our contexts and narratives, priding ourselves in local solutions.

Post a Comment