HARARE - Listening to Zimbabwean politicians, not least President Robert Mugabe, you wonder whether these people have learnt anything called diplomacy.
You get the sense that these are people who have learnt nothing about the dynamics of the contemporary world.
Zanu PF has failed to transform from a liberation movement to a governing outfit; the more cynical put it as a typewriter in an Internet café.
You would have heard of Comrade Disaster — a freedom fighter who remained in a cave for a long time unaware that the liberation war was over.
While we may have had cause for laughter at the man, we have, as our rulers today, Cde Disasters both in practice and disposition.
From the semantics of post-independence, it is evident that we have rulers who want us to believe the war is not over.
The reconstructive discourse is couched in such terms as Third Chimurenga placing us in a continuous war mode.
The war narrative has been remobilised to serve a political purpose.
Psychologically, war attunes us not to expect comforts.
By perpetuating the narrative of war post-independence, Zanu PF would then expect us to endure sacrifices that come with “war.”
And according to Zanu PF, it is because of this war that we experience the irregular or short supplies of electricity, water, drugs and so on.
Yet, there should not be any war. This is only meant to divert attention from disastrous governance.
The so-called war is also being waged on the culture front.
“We did not fight for this Zimbabwe so it can be a homosexual territory,” Mugabe thundered during the independence celebrations at the weekend.
“We will never have that here and if there are any diplomats who will talk of any homosexuality, just tell me. We will kick them out of the country without any excuse…”
Mugabe has an obsession with homosexuality as if it is the biggest threat to our well-being.
Should we be preoccupied by what two men or women do in the privacy of their homes, over other pressing concerns?
Mugabe cites Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni who has banned gay relations.
But the outlawry of homosexuality does not eliminate more potent threats to our well-being – poverty, disease, unemployment and so on.
It is preposterous for Mugabe, and indeed Museveni, to think homosexuality will end in our societies.
At the most, Mugabe and fellow anti-gay rulers can, successfully, reject the formal recognition of unions between such couples.
Because of such petty issues, we attract adverse international headlines: “Mugabe threatens to expel diplomats over gays.”
Our liberation war legacy has imparted visceral hostility in situations which require different approaches.
As a result, we have pursued disastrous local and international politics.
The threat to diplomats illustrates the Cde Disaster approach to international relations.
We remain holed up in a “cave” when the objective war is over.
We over-glorify ourselves as “warriors” as if we are the only ones to have fought a liberation war, and thus fail to see alternative solutions.
The way we frame a problem has a bearing on the solutions available and visible.
Zanu PF frames differences it has with others as war. As such, it chooses aggression than rapprochement.
After an objective war, independence and elections, the most ideal tool to resolve differences and for statecraft, is diplomacy.
In reconstructing our State, we should abandon lexicons of war such as Third Chimurenga.
Rather than continue to beat the drums of war, we must beat drums of diplomacy.
Diplomacy is not taking to podiums and shouting: “shame, shame, shame” at your hosts.
Nor is it boycotting a summit because your wife has been denied a visa. It is not threatening to expel diplomats over peripheral matters.
We have a choice, to continue with this Cde Disaster approach to international relations or abandon the “cave,” realise the war is over and face realities that require new approaches.