A new joke doing the rounds in Harare and on the internet is that Robert Mugabe has pledged to admit 20 000 refugees as part of Zimbawe’s moral obligation towards easing the unprecedented influx of migrant asylum seekers in Europe. While this alone is funny (Mugabe only helps his cronies and bootlickers), the punch line of the joke is when all the migrants refuse, choosing instead to risk death at sea than get sanctuary in Zimbabwe.
There is a hidden sting in the joke, one which must not be ignored by people like Robert Mugabe. His misplaced priorities and stranglehold on power, among other ills, have also turned millions of Zimbabweans into economic refugees all over the world to the extent that those who remain behind know that they are doomed. They are also like refugees, this in a country of one’s birth.
But this discourse is not really about Robert Mugabe, – he is as finished as the country he has presided over for three and half decades. Rather, this is about the important part the Zimbabwean media must play in support of the inherent determination, now shared by nearly all Zimbabweans, to build a new nation from the rubble that Mugabe and his people have made of a once prosperous and proud country. It is about how the oppressed people of Zimbabwe, with proper direction and support from the media, can reclaim their freedom and dignity in 2018.
The media in Zimbabwe is now shamefully now fixated only with the embarrassing fights between so and so in Mugabe’s government or their wishful thinking that Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru will form an effective alliance to achieve regime change in Zimbabwe. It boggles the mind how anyone can think that Tsvangirai now has miraculously transformed into a bright politician or that Mujuru is not the same woman who, as a former long time ZANU-PF member and Mugabe’s vice, is complicit in the erosion of freedoms and gross human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
What the media is not doing is to share the unspoken acknowledgement by most Zimbabweans that without an antithesis of the prevailing political model, where old and stale ideas are repeatedly recycled there will not be any change in fortunes for millions of Zimbabweans at home.
The paradox of this sad truth is that even the so-called independent media in Zimbabwe does not also seem to know about the futility of propping up failed politicians like Tsvangirai and Mujuru. It can, however, be argued that the media is also guilty of recycling the same old editors and reporters just as Mugabe recycles empty-head ministers in his government. The nett result is a nation that will continue to live in the past.
It is interesting to note that the media also use acres of space in their publications every day to report about ‘miracles’ and ‘prophets’ instead of telling the people that God will not think for them. God has never interfered in what choices people make in life although He makes sure they reap the consequences of bad choices or the rewards of embracing positive change. One such bad choice is for a whole nation to carry on doing the same thing over and over again while hoping for a different result in political and economic direction.
A common argument one gets when talking about the failing fortunes of the country and possible solutions is that there is no other feasible solution for Zimbabwe without names like ZANU-PF or MDC. This is where the problem lies and the media should play a leading role in debunking this retrogressive myth. Zimbabweans can and will get the change they want. The first step towards getting that change is to embrace new and fresh ideas in finding workable solutions. Anything short of this is guaranteed to keep the country on its progressively ruinous trajectory.
Some media houses will argue that there is nothing else to write about in Zimbabwe other than ZANU and MDC. This is the same argument proffered by most media houses in the UK when Jeremy Corbyn was nominated to take over leadership of the Labour Party a few months ago. He had an outside chance of only one in two hundred. Yesterday he assumed leadership of that party. Now the media in that country is falling over each other in congratulating him for a job well done yet they thought he was not news material only less than two months ago when he began his campaign.
This is what happens when the media joins the bandwagon of politicians who are allergic to fresh ideas. They always get overtaken by events and suffer the embarrassment of having to pick up a story which they ignored when it began in their own backyard.
ZIMFIRST is one such story. When the party embarked on the mission to become the future of the country most media houses dismissed its principal coordinator, Dr Maxwell Zeb Shumba as a nonentity or political opportunist. Little did they know they were dismissing the only real hope for a country run down by tired and recycled minds. The media’s fixation with the old at the expense of the fresh and the new has blinded them from seeing the story of the future unfolding right before them. With seemingly impossible odds against it now, ZIMFIRST is set to shock many reporters and editors come 2018. Only time will tell.