Patriotism versus nationalism

HARARE - Conflicting signals of disagreements on policy and intention emanating from the ruling elite or those coming out of political units have now reached tipping point and left the electorate’s confidence rankled.

These ambiguous signals have apparently put public goodwill to its sternest test.

Voters are told one thing by one political unit only for the other unit to issue strident countermands adding to political clutter and confusion.

How many times has the electorate heard Zanu PF proclaim something only to hear either one of the MDC formations debunk the pronouncements or the other way round?

We surely live in quite uncertain times. Yet after Zimbabweans gave a draft constitution the nod in a plebiscite, they were convinced a major hurdle to national progress had been cleared.

Less than three months after the much-lauded referendum in March, the electorate has to fret and remain apprehensive about what direction the government is going to take in the face of confusion that prevails — all due to failure among politicians to see the fine line between nationalism and patriotism.

There is an irreconcilable chasm between nationalism and patriotism and Zimbabweans are now enduring the pain of uncertainty in times when their political leaders fail to make a distinction between the two.

Patriotism is love and devotion for one’s country and a particular way of life which individuals believe to be the best in the world in terms of culture, norms and values that they have no intention to foist that creed upon others, while nationalism entails self-effacing sentiments about a political unit being better than other political units.

Nationalism, in its most primitive form is inseparable from the desire for power with an abiding purpose of retaining it at all costs.

It is sheer desire to secure more power and more prestige for a preferred political unit. Some members of the ruling elite are blatantly confusing nationalism and patriotism as we enter the election campaigning period.

The nationalistic creed does not manifests its worth when the electorate is constantly reminded of indebtedness to the ruling elite, without guarantees of a better future but are coerced to remain chained to the obligation of gratitude of being “liberated”.

Yet again, a more patriotic approach demands serious self-introspection about what the ruling elite can do for the country rather than how much dividend they can draw from their positions of power.

At the moment the electorate is unsure whether to heed nationalistic rhetoric and use it to judge the calibre of its representatives in the watershed election or measure their competency by the level of their love for the country in terms of vision for prosperity and better lives for a majority.

The electorate is still waiting for the time when patriotism will override nationalistic bombast from the ruling elite.

When that happens, Zimbabwe will be streets ahead of the rest of the pack. - Staff Writer

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