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South Africa’s battle against cowardice
Considering the new wave of xenophobic attacks against black Zimbabweans, some black South Africans now have conceded that they are a brood of insecure, spineless cowards.
I grew up with these cowards, lived with them in exile, conferenced, drank and shopped with them in their fancy boulevards and arcades. Under that veneer of happy-go-lucky hypocrisy, their limited intellect seethed with nothing but venomous contempt for other Africans, especially - Zimbabweans, Mozambicans, Zambians and Malawians. Sales’ assistants in South African shops have shown me contemptuous hatred and suspicion. Even when I check into five-star hotels at Rosebank, I have to grope around for ideal seating while the receptionists scurry around for the attention of Japanese guests in anticipation for a tip. I acknowledge that Ubuntu has not been upheld in spite of the three hundred years of plunder and mental abuse by the Boers.
Fear and cowardice have gripped much of Africa and there is a common historical strand. Here in Zimbabwe, after thirty years of violent repression, a typical Zimbabwean will not say much against political order or any system for that matter without glancing over their shoulder. The consequences are devastating. We have become so accustomed to service delivery abuse that mediocrity and compliance are now in the DNA and our social behaviour. Zimbabweans wait for someone to say something, and they join with a ‘we knew it all along’ chorus. Fear and coward mentality!
But there was an exception; Mr Dzikamai Mavhaire, a close ally of Robert Mugabe who, at the height of ZANU-PF’s one party state euphoria in the 1990s, bravely defied his personal friendship with the president and publicly declared; “Mr. Mugabe must go; he should give way to new party leadership.” There was hue and cry from his delusionary party, but he became an instant cult hero in the ‘democratic movement’.
As you read this rebellious treatise, twelve million Zimbabweans of progressive political ideology would want to show Mr. Mugabe the flashing political exit, but we have had absolutely no clue on how to go about this noble democratic exercise since 1985. Villagers have been pummelled into prostrate submission while urbanites are routinely reduced to dysfunctional robots that worry too much about day to day survival at the expense of long-term political wisdom.
The neighbouring, South Africa, has not made it any easier, at petrol service stations, councils, churches, schools, public buses – Zimbabwean citizens are abused, but the most they can do is to wait and see, hoping that the next day will bring better tidings. Grocery supermarkets compel us to buy merchandise we do not need because they stock no loose change, and we take this punishment without so much as twitching an eyebrow but the hope that maybe one day we will return home. As for now we still have one question still lingering on our minds; “ Hee bakithi, sizophindela njani ekhaya uMgabe esabusa?.” [“How on earth can we return to Zimbabwe during Mugabe’s reign? ].
My advice to the South African ruling government is that xenophobic attacks on my countrymen are not an illusion, but a direct result of false promises of jobs and housing for South Africans. For my fellow citizens in Alexander, Kya Sands, Soweto and Westham –it is only an insecure, good-for-nothing pea brain that would kill someone solely on the basis of ethnicity. I say swallow your pride, rid yourselves of fear and return home to fight against fascism. The battle is about to be won.
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Rejoice Ngwenya is director of coalition for liberal market reforms in Zimbabwe, and affiliate of AfricanLiberty.org and IMANI.