I’m a Liberal Democrat with unwavering affinity to both life and choice. On a clear day, this is a metaphysical paradigm where co-existence tends to be a foregone conclusion, yet I see these two as ultimately mutually exclusive. Like life and death. Light and darkness. Democracy and tyranny. On life and choice, my inference is one based on common sense and rational judgement that if you choose to live, you do not die.
But if you choose to die, you can only be alive if you exercise your choice to live. However, like the Zimbabwean political party I will draw your attention to later, if you are destined to die but you chose to live, you become a burden not only to your physical self but also to the community at large. In other words, an entity should discern when to continue living and when to die. Like in any marketing scenario, when a product’s popularity assumes a status of rapid sales decline, it is more prudent to withdraw it from the production line. The scenario above could easily relate to euthanasia.
My contextualisation of euthanasia is on the basis that universal judgment sometimes tends to be myopic. It is assumed that if you chose to die, those who are in control of your life support system or exercise a higher degree of moral judgement over your existence may act unilaterally to keep you alive. I assume that when a human being gets to a state of hopelessness, they may convince themselves that absence in form is better than presence in both spirit and form. So why is it that where you are in total control of your faculties, an act of life termination becomes punishable by law – albeit in absentia? This is when Wikipedia says: “According to the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics, the precise definition of euthanasia is a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering.” That is my literary destination – a political party in this Zimbabwe in a state of anatomical fragility that requires men of alert faculties to turn off the life support system for the good of us all.
Since 2000, the intractably intransigent Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF has lay precariously on the brink of political extinction – on a [political] life support system intravenously sustained by a dangerous combination of frivolous theories of ‘empowerment’ and electoral fraud. But the Suetoniusian school of thought that human form can die “quickly and without suffering in the arms of his wife, Livia” is antitheses to the Anglophone context of fatal ‘kicks of a dying horse’. Unlike a Wild West cowboy who would be inadvertently caught in a flurry of kicks despatched by his beloved dying horse, Zimbabwe’s life-threatening proximity to this ‘expiring’ political party has not been a magnanimous act of equestrian affection. Like an albatross welded involuntarily to our necks, Robert Mugabe’s party has decided to sink with the rest of us – Titanic style – to the dark depths of a watery abyss.
And yet one might enquire first: if ZANU-PF was supposed to ‘die’ in 2000 with the advent of a ‘movement for democratic change’, why has it been kicking so fatally vigorously this long without running out energy? Second, when a dying political horse lashes out on its residual clinical breadth, is it physically possible that it kicks so many ‘cowboys’ [twelve million Zimbabweans] in such a wide geographically spaced area almost simultaneously [June 2008 election violence]? The answers lie in understanding the nature of euthanasia. Wikipedia enlightens us that the European Association of Palliative Care (EPAC) Ethics Task Force warns: “Medicalized killing of a person without the person’s consent, whether non-voluntary (where the person in unable to consent) or involuntary (against the person’s will) is not euthanasia: it is murder. Hence, euthanasia can be voluntary only.” And herein lays the tragedy for us Zimbabweans- waiting for the ‘voluntary death’ of ZANU-PF!
Since euthanasia is illegal in Zimbabwe, whether voluntary, involuntary, passive or active, there are those who are sitting on the bedside of ZANU-PF hoping that the party will sooner than later ‘volunteer to expire’. As it turns out, the party is clinging on to dear life with a thin battery of “common treatments, such as antibiotics, necessary for the continuance of life”. The latest addition to this life-sustaining panacea is the ‘anti sanctions petition’ campaign that I hope has pumped toxic oxygen into the political lungs of the dying party!
The continued arrest of innocent citizens, battering of human rights defenders, banning of legitimate public gatherings and paranoid state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcast Corporation propaganda is now a call to action for those on ZANU-PF’s bedside to switch off its electoral life-support system. Zimbabweans can no longer wait for the bureaucratic wheels of legislation to legitimise euthanasia. “Unlike physician-assisted suicide, withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatments with patient consent (voluntary) is almost unanimously considered, at least in the United States, to be legal” continues Wikipedia. The exercise of mercy and compassion is no longer that of saving a political dinosaur and postponing its inevitable extinction. I appreciate that no political party wants to die because life is God’s gift to mankind. However, at times men of courage have to take painful decisions that when sustained existence means the death of a nation, choices become limited.
How many more citizens will have to be ‘kicked’ before those men and women of valour at ZANU-PF’s political death bed summon enough courage to unplug the party from the wall of unpopular existence? Can we continue paying with our lives, freedom, reputation and integrity just to sustain an ungrateful Jurassic entity whose time has passed? Euthanasia is illegal, but the people have been speaking since 2000. Democracy and tyranny like life and death; light and darkness are ultimately mutually exclusive. There is now only one choice: unplug the party’s electoral life support system for the benefit of us and future generations
Rejoice Ngwenya is President of Colaition for Liberal Market Solutions, a think tank based in Zimbabwe and affialted to AfricanLiberty.org