The Future is a Choice...

If anything, I’m going to do this for my children. For we are the generation that screwed it up. And must fix it.

Zimbabwe's Elections 2018
 

While driving to work this morning, I listened to an interview on BBC World Service, featuring two young Zimbabweans - Ashley and Vanessa  - who shared their opinion on the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government elections set for Monday the 30th July. The interview filled me with joy and emotion. A renewed sense of optimism and hope has colonised the mindsets of young Zimbabweans. Ashley and Vanessa described the prospects for transformation change, for a new politics, for jobs, for opportunity, for health that this election offers.  

They marvelled at how social media has transformed the political space. How social media, particularly ‘Twitter’ and ‘Whats App’, has enabled them to ‘hack’ through the firewalls and expose a once opaque and corrupt political elite - creating opportunity for Vanessa and Ashley to share ideas and to demand accountability. 

Vanessa and Ashley will be casting their vote for the first time in their life - and I am joining them on Monday, 30th July 2018. 

Their views are probably widely shared. There has never been a time in Zimbabwe’s history when the choice for the future is so distinct. And the opportunity so open.

Zimbabweans are a proud lot. But former President Robert Mugabe’s administration hit them where it hurt the most. He attacked the very thing that Zimbabweans care for the most: their sense of dignity, pride in their progress, rewards for their hard work and maintenance of their social relations. 

This is a nation that used to be at the fore front of science. We are the nation that developed and commercialised to the rest of the world SR52 - the world’s first single cross maize hybrid, an exceptional hybrid with yields that surpassed that of the USA corn belt and have since been adopted across Africa, including being used as a parent for several three-way hybrids, particularly in Kenya.

We are the nation that initiated the Green Revolution in 1960 - five years ahead of India. Years later, that would pay off and we would earn the prestigious title of 'Africa's breadbasket.'

We are the nation that pushed the frontiers of education - The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency’s labour force survey estimated that 97% of people over 15 were literate in 2011. Such was the pride in our institutions of higher learning that we used to joke that ‘if you fail to make it into the University of Zimbabwe, we will send you to Oxford and Cambridge.’ 

We are a nation of cricketers, of rugby players, of netball players, of hockey and soccer junkies. Nothing has undermined the pride of Zimbabweans more than watching us drop in cricket rankings to nations such as Scotland, or lose the last Gold Cup Rugby match 36 - 45 to Kenya! 

Nothing hurt us more than watch our nation expelled from participating in the World Cup in Russia because we couldn’t pay the National team manager his wages!

We are the nation of great musicians. Oliver Mtukudzi remains a household name, but we have newer artists: Jah Prayzah; Winky D; Killer T; and my favourite of all time - the Chido Chemoyo artist, DECIBEL!

We are a nation of wonderful story tellers, with award winning authors like Shimmer Chinodya, Charles Mungoshi and more recently Petina Gappah, Noviolet Bulawayo. 

And yes, we are a nation of great entrepreneurs  including Strive Masiyiwa, whose Liquid Telcom and Econet Wireless companies are taking the broadband and telecommunications space to greater heights. 

We are the nation blessed with diverse mineral wealth - we boast one of the world’s largest known alluvial diamond deposits, about 5% of the world’s platinum production, 3% of the world’s palladium output. We host outstanding wildlife and parks: At 44,000 elephants, Hwange National Park alone has more elephants than the whole of Kenya and almost twice the number of elephants in South Africa.

We are the nation that commanded the second strongest economy in Africa, and have watched as Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya took our spot. 

So how is it possible that a nation with such an embarrassment of opportunity finds itself at the bottom of the poverty list, with a crippling cash crisis, an economy that has shrunk several fold and huge under-investment in just about every sector 

Yes, you guessed right! Our politics is broken. We are also a nation that allowed a tyranny to destroy our institutions of progress and social care. We are the nation that watched political elites as they destroyed the fabric of Zimbabwe. We are the generation that presided over corruption, squander of public resources - and the loss of human dignity and decency. We are the nation that allowed our disagreements over race to destroy the very thing that ironically we went to war to achieve: human dignity.

Yet Monday represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to correct that and set us up on a progressive pathway. I hope the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission runs a decent election. For this opportunity is too important to lose 

Like Ashley and Vanessa, I will be in Harare to cast my vote - and damn well express my political preference. If anything else, I’m going to do this for my children. For we are the generation that screwed it up. And must fix it. The future is here, and the doors of opportunity are beckoning. Come on Zimbabwe, you got this!

Maxwell Gomera