Equal Concern: Remedying Injustice - The West And African Politics

20 Feb 2012

By Reason Wafawarova

Author of "Sovereign Virtue," Ronald Dworkin wrote, "Equal concern is the sovereign virtue of political community: without it government is only tyranny."

This writer wrote about the Zimbabwean revolution last week, lamenting bitterly the intransigence and inexorability of elite bureaucrats and that of politicians at whose alter these arrogant officials worship in the despicable world of patronage.

The piece went down well with the poorer of the readers, and not so well with the corrupt elites, as with those sympathetic to the imperialistic cause.

It was a piece about a stolen revolution, a betrayed revolution - about abandoned grassroots revolutionaries, all betrayed by the petty bourgeoisies in the leadership ranks. It was a sorry story about an undefended revolution, almost abandoned by those who claim its custodianship.

Equality of concern is what Zanu-PF preaches when one looks at such policies as the land redistribution program and the current economic empowerment ventures as pursued by the Youth Development and Indigenisation Ministry. At policy level the party unequivocally advocates for equality of resources or opportunities, giving everyone a fair start in making something for their lives.

The MDC-T virtually has no policy apart from aspiring to replace Zanu-PF, for better or for worse. The people of Zimbabwe have a Zanu-PF that brags of sound and well-articulated policies that have been largely poorly implemented by a leadership not so keen to learn or improve. On the other hand is an MDC-T with firebrand and overpromising politicians with no known policy other than change, deliberately undefined to keep it all encompassing.

There is a link between equality of resources and equality of opportunity. It is important for any government worth the name to show equal concern for all its citizens, not only towards those pliant to the ambitions of politicians, or those affiliated to the ruling party, or to the parties in Government.

The one way to measure equal concern for all citizens is evidence that a government is working to minimise disparities in ownership of resources, ensuring that there are no cartels of people enjoying an unfair initial advantage over all others.

The land reform program corrected an era of inequality that had been created by the colonial legacy - remedying an injustice that the West wishes to restore through a racial coalition backing London's colonial hangover of past privileges. Britain seriously wishes to reverse the land reform program, laughable as the prospect may sound.

Britain is so stuck in the colonial past that it is determined to mislead the world that the Falkland Islands are "British territory" despite the fact that the islands are over 4 000 miles away from London, down in South America.

Argentinians know too well that Britain will shamelessly put a fight to preserve the injustice of an evil era of colonialism - much as Zimbabweans are quite aware that Britain will do all in its power to restore white ownership of commercial farmlands. Colonial rights still make a lot of sense at No. 10 Downing Street.

It is this imperial arrogance by the Great Satan that makes the idea of a revolution so desirable and inevitable for the formerly colonised. Zimbabwe stands illegally sanctioned by a racist Western coalition obsessed with the preservation of colonial injustices and this February the EU will doubtlessly extend the sanctions, citing all forms of benchmarks for our lesser politicians here.

One cannot talk of the ideal of equality of resources and opportunities without reiterating the need for personal responsibility to make good use of the same resources and opportunities in order to create a flourishing life. Firstly one cannot talk of equality of concern when some of our politicians openly declare concern only for people affiliated to their own political parties. Political parties must attract membership by showing equal concern for all citizens, and not by using selective concern in a carrot and stick fashion.
Vote buying, hate politics, vilification of political opponents, strangulation of the voter through economic sanctions, political violence and all other forms of coercive measures are all untoward ways of illicit political survival. They must be discredited and abandoned. Those who were privileged enough to acquire land through the land reform program have each an individual responsibility for their own lives in particular, and for the life of the nation in general. Neither Zanu-PF nor the government can be expected to take the place of the individual in the management of people's lives.

One has to take initiative and one has to produce from that land. Those who are now settled on the country's arable land must start to think big about the land they occupy. They cannot at the end of each day rest on their pillows thinking of how best they can get the government to do their farming; so they can keep supporting Zanu-PF or standing with the revolution. That behaviour is treacherous.

One who owns land must start dreaming big about making billions of dollars from that land, about feeding the whole nation, about dominating the global markets with produce, and about adding value to the agricultural products. We cannot remedy colonial injustice by simply occupying unproductive pieces of land, or by simply and only kicking out colonially-settled white farmers. We remedy injustice by making ourselves a productive and self-reliant people - by dreaming bigger than the colonial commercial farmers ever did. We cannot develop the country with farmers who dream beer and sex when they retire to bed. Neither can we build this nation through farmers who perpetually expect free inputs from the government. We cannot buy each other into development.

What independence brought is political liberty, and economic liberty is what the land reform program sought to bring. Liberty is about one being free to determine his or her own destiny. It is not about the West telling us what freedom of expression is, or about the West's idea of democracy or human rights.

To be honest and frank,that rhetoric is irrelevant and plainly stupid, misplaced and dangerous, and this writer has no respect for it in the minimum. We have minds of our own and we know how to express ourselves without being taught so by former colonisers. We cannot learn democracy from enslavers and colonialists without insulting ourselves. I have no respect for models of democracy preached to us by all forms of Western charlatans and their runners employed from among our people.

The West that hires Al-Qaeda to help in the spread of democracy in Libya cannot be taken seriously on matters of freedom and democracy, and anyone that does so can count themselves perfectly foolish. But the West's idea of democratisation is so contagious that even Al-Qaeda had to catch it, just like our own Morgan Tsvangirai caught up the plague, hopefully with well-intentioned determination. Now the West watches silently as Libyans chaotically clash each day that comes.

Coming back to the idea of equality, Zimbabwe started off its post-independence journey preaching rigorously about socialism and equality of concern. Today equality could easily be the least fashionable of all political concepts, and one wouldn't be wrong to assert that it is the most endangered of all decent political values.

Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu politicians of 1980 were unanimous in claiming that the formation of an egalitarian society was an ultimate goal, that a society of equal concern for all citizens and of equal access to resources and opportunities was the ultimate achievement of the war that had just brought us independence.
Of course that aspiration is not only silent today, but clearly it is no longer part of the left-liberal vocabulary of Zanu-PF politicians. After the fall of the Soviet Union, most of the Zanu-PF politicians toned down on the ideology of socialism, completely forgetting about it after Westerners established in Zimbabwe the mass-killing Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) in 1992 - a murderous project so unashamedly embraced by our own leadership.

Now Zanu-PF is stuck in the rhetoric of a "third way," distancing itself from the harsh realities of corporate power and capitalism; from the ruinous reign of imperial domination, and also from the "old left's belief that all citizens should share equally in their nation's wealth," to quote Ronald Dworkin.

Of course the above-quoted type of equality was nave and doubtlessly unsustainable. People must merit their wealth and that by definition is through hard work. We cannot have a society where the lazy are regaled with the produce of the industrious, just like we cannot have a society where the unindustrious keep harping for government subsidies without ever taking responsibility for their own future.

The indigenisation policy being advocated by Saviour Kasukuwere must be about equality of concern and not necessarily about equality of share. Indeed we are here dealing with inequalities bequeathed by a history of colonial injustice and we all have a national duty to remedy that injustice.

But the remedy is not and cannot be in equality of share, itself very limited by the mere fact that the cake to be shared can only benefit a few unless it was so cut to such tiny pieces that we can only share a grain each, something that would be inconsequential to the starvation. The indigenisation policy must be about readjusting to a more equitable (not necessarily equal) disposition of wealth. One can only remedy injustice by potentiating justice. In our case we have to potentiate justice for the formerly marginalised and excluded, and that is done by creating for these people opportunities of equality - by showing each of them equality of concern. We cannot create justice by converting a selected few of them to direct replacements of the deposed unjust elites.

We read recently that the Ministry of mines hiked fees for mining claims by margins well beyond the reach of almost every Zimbabwean who is not a thief, or who has not illicitly acquired wealth in the recent past. When you raise registration fees for a mining claim from US$200 to US$500 000 in a country where the average salary is hardly US$300 dollars a month, certainly there is a sad shadow cast over the issue of equality of concern.

Unless these fees are meant to facilitate investment only by foreigners, there is no other way the development could be viewed as having been passed and gazetted by sane people. No government can be viewed as concerned about creating equal opportunities for its people when it does something like hiking registration fees to chase away small scale miners from the lucrative business, as would seem to be the case with the current development.

Those who argue that the fees will generate revenue for the government are essentially arguing that we can sell away our untapped minerals to prospective foreign miners to raise the much needed revenue - a scenario akin to a man that sells the family cow to raise money so he can buy milk for the day.

One would think that the local small scale miners naturally deserve affirmative action in order to create opportunities for them so they can realise their dream of creating real wealth through the industry.

This writer hopes the gazetted fees related to the mining sector will be revised in line with the letter and spirit of the economic empowerment program.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.



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