Need for more responsible, responsive govt

HARARE - When it was announced that Archbishop Desmond Tutu had been given a “one-off extraordinary award” of $1 million dollars by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation recently, it made the people of southern Africa particularly proud.

But it also made us envious; not of the money but of the qualities and integrity of a man who has consistently shown the way and drawn the line between right and wrong.

Announcing the award in recognition of Archbishop Tutu’s “ lifelong commitment to speaking truth to power” the Mo Ibrahim Foundation said that Desmond Tutu was: “one of Africa’s great voices for justice, freedom, democracy and responsible, responsive government.”

The Foundation said they wanted to recognise an “outstanding African civil society champion” through the award. “In everything he stands for, everything he says, and everything he does, he displays a consistent obligation to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak the uncomfortable truths.”

Learning about the award Archbishop Tutu paid tribute to the people around him.

“I have been very fortunate throughout my life to be surrounded by people of the highest calibre, beginning with my extraordinary wife. It is these generous people who have guided, prodded, assisted, cajoled and ultimately allowed me to take the credit.”

Words of both the giver and receiver of the award are profound and particularly appropriate for Zimbabwe at this time in our history.

As we move ever closer to the time when we get to choose how we want to be governed and by whom, there is a renewed desire for a more responsible and responsive government.

A desire for leaders who will interact with us, listen to the concerns and opinions of the people who voted them into government and then respond to the issues that concern us. Instead we have the opposite.

Following the ongoing ZBC coverage of various Zanu PF rallies and meetings, we see MP’s shouting and angry, berating the people they are addressing. The looks on the faces of people in the audience says it all, they are bored and tired of being reprimanded and treated like naughty children in the school room.   

“Speaking the uncomfortable truths” is another of the qualities in Archbishop Tutu that was recognised by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation award.

That too is something desperately needed in Zimbabwe.

Leaders who are brave enough, honest enough and responsible enough to say the things that need to be said regardless of whether they attract votes or not.

The list of “uncomfortable truths” is very long in Zimbabwe’s comparatively short history. Uncomfortable truths about the atrocities committed by the Fifth Brigade in the Gukurahundi in Matabeleland in the 1980’s.

Uncomfortable truths about the orgies of political violence before, during and after elections and uncomfortable truths about who was responsible and why the perpetrators have not been held to account.

Then there are the uncomfortable truths about the looting of parastatals like Air Zimbabwe, the NRZ, the GMB, Zesa Holdings to name a few.

There are uncomfortable truths about corruption, bribery and nepotism in central and local government.

Uncomfortable truths about  the methods and the beneficiaries of land reform; about the abuse of farm inputs schemes, farm mechanisation programmes, multiple farm owners, and about inequality and racism.

There are also uncomfortable truths about the indigenisation policies and about who exactly is benefitting from that.

When Archbishop Tutu gave credit to the people who had “guided, prodded, assisted and cajoled” him he revealed perhaps the most important clue for Zimbabwe’s future.

It’s not just about getting votes, it’s about “consistent obligation,” about listening, accepting help and guidance, responding to changing situations. - Cathy Buckle

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