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How fear has arrested our potential



By Vince Musewe - Elton Mangoma

The second chapter by Vince Musewe Elton Mangoma in their series on the "Zimbabwe we want"

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In this paper we want to look at how Zimbabweans have for the last 34 years operated under an environment of fear and how this has limited the country's potential.

Political leadership by instilling fear has resulted in us as a country not taking the best decisions. Rather, we have left this to a group of men who do not necessarily have the interests of the country at heart, but are more interested in retaining political power at all costs.

In order to retain power, they have used violence and all means to instil fear and perpetuate an environment where they cannot be questioned or challenged. This has insulated them from reality and prone to make the wrong decisions with regard to developing our country.

So, on the one side we have had politicians who fear change, and on the other citizens who fear victimisation if they challenge the status quo. This is a cocktail for regression, non-accountability and bad leadership.

In the Zimbabwe we want, we cannot afford to manage ourselves through fear because fear disempowers both leaders and citizens. Fear paralyses progress, and leads to a deterioration in the quality of leadership. Fear diminishes citizens and they cannot live up to their full potential. For this, our country suffers and like sheep led to the slaughter, we create a backward society with low standards of living.

We must understand however, powerful as it may be, fear is a mere mental construct; an imagined reality that only exists in our minds. Fear exists in our minds only and yet it is the most powerful and debilitating negative force to any society that seeks change.

There is an evident fear of loss of political power by our politicians and a fear for possible exposure of crimes committed in pursuit of political power and personal wealth..

They fear that, if they lose power, they not only lose the prestige that they currently enjoy, but more threatening, is the possible exposure of crimes committed. This fear continues to hang over their heads and has made them intransigent,secretive, intolerant and protective of their positions in society regardless of how well they are performing. These politicians have therefore become a liability to society.

Citizens fear politicians. This has retarded social progress because politicians have been put on a pedestal. Fear limits potential and it robs us our personal power and demeans who we truly are. A society cannot develop and progress, as has been the case in Zimbabwe. Where citizens are not fully empowered to pursue their ambition, they become unproductive and apathetic.

In the Zimbabwe we want, we cannot afford to have fearful leaders or fearful citizens. The question is how we ensure that?

The solution is for us to create a platform where fear can be openly discussed. As long as it remains bottled up within us, we will not be able to progress as a society. We must deal with the past in order to create a better future free from fear.

Everyone becomes a victim. Our leaders are victims of the past whose effects still affects how they relate to the world today. Our communities are victims of an abusive social system that has denied them their rights. Our war veterans have wounds from the war never attended to or addressed. Our children have suffered by growing up in parentless families and polarised communities. We have also neglected the old and the vulnerable. All these people must be healed from a brutal past.

We believe that communities can indeed take the initiative to begin to deal with their fears. Communities need not wait for government or for anyone to do this. We must create social platforms where we all discuss our fears so that we may begin to live to our full potential. We must realise that it is also our responsibility and not the governments to heal ourselves.

It is fact that other nations have suffered much more than Zimbabweans but they have come out stronger because they have rejected victimhood and taken the responsibility to create a better future. We can do that too.

Yes the past has been a horrible experience for all but we cannot allow is to determine our future. We cannot continue to blame others but must empower ourselves.

In the Zimbabwe we desire citizens are fully empowered and this means that citizens have all the freedoms and liberties necessary for them to pursue happiness without the state limiting or controlling who they can become.

Empowered societies are innovative, self-confident, creative and productive. They take responsibility for creating the circumstances they desire. They do not expect the government to do for them what they can do for themselves. Empowered societies create opportunity which ultimately results in economic development.

This means freedom of association, free speech, an open media and the respect of the dignity and right of all citizens regardless of race or political affiliation.

The absence of fear and victimhood is empowerment; that is the Zimbabwe we want.

Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. Elton Mangoma is a Zimbabwean politician and entrepreneur. You may contact Vince directly on vtmusewe@gmail.com