Democracy not in ballot boxes
Date: Wednesday, September 30 @ 22:49:50 UTC
Topic: Zimbabwe

By Reason Wafawarova
September 30, 2009 -

IN AUGUST 1987, just about two months before he was brutally killed by imperially sponsored reactionaries, Thomas Sankara was interviewed by Claudio Hackin, a special correspondent for Radio Havana Cuba.

Hackin asked a very simple question: "What is democracy, in your opinion?"

This was Thomas Sankara’s answer: "Democracy is the people, with all their strength and potential. Ballot boxes and an electoral apparatus in and of themselves do not signify the existence of democracy.

"Those who organise elections every so often and are concerned about the people only when an election is coming up do not have a genuinely democratic system.

"But wherever people can say what they think at any time, there is genuine democracy — because the confidence of the people must be earned every day. Democracy cannot be conceived without total power resting in the hands of the people — economic, military, political, social and cultural power."

Some in Zimbabwe’s inclusive Government call themselves "democratic forces" or cadres in the "struggle for democracy", when they are not vociferously preaching about the coming of "real change", or the coming of a "new Zimbabwe".

Without any sense of irony, they dextrously declare that democracy is a phenomenon yet to be implemented in Zimbabwe and some even think the phenomenon is stored and treasured in the pockets of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and only from these pockets can democracy be dispensed after a "free and fair" election.

The Global Political Agreement, quite misnamed in every sense of the phrase, is an inter-party agreement designed to create an opportunity for a collective approach at turning around the economic crisis of Zimbabwe primarily, and it is also designed in such a way that a new political culture of tolerance and diversity in opinion may be fostered.

There is nothing remotely global about this agreement, unless one chooses to agree that the clandestine foreign interests that were treacherously smuggled in the agreement are legitimate, or unless one opts to agree with the MDC-T that the so-called GPA is to be implemented to the satisfaction of the Americans, the British and the rest of the West. Even then, it would hardly be global.

The three parties that signed this agreement somehow belatedly named the agreement a ‘‘global political agreement’’ for reasons best known to the team of six politicians that negotiated in the formulation of the agreement.

To some the GPA has primarily become a staffing manual where public offices have to be shared among politicians on the basis of political power sharing as opposed to the doctrine of merit or constitutional requirements.

Yet to others the GPA is all about the drafting of a new constitution, in itself often seen as the vehicle of the coming "democracy", or what we hear is "a new Zimbabwe".

To those on whom fate decided to thrust greatness the GPA is an excellent bypass of the cruel requirement of having to pass the unpalatable test of elections, and these people solely owe their existence in the inclusive Government to the political settlement.

True democracy, like Sankara said, resides in the total power of the people. The power of the people is not necessarily shown by voting patterns or the ballot outcomes, as it were. Democracy cannot be conceived without total power resting in the hands of the people, and this is economic, military, political, social and cultural power.

In 1980, Zimbabweans went to the ballot wielding total political, social and cultural power. We were a people emerging from a gruesome war of attrition but there was so much political power emanating from the triumph of the liberation fighters that one could literally see this power everywhere.

There was so much social and cultural power that we called it the year of the people’s power. The elections held in March of that year were a foregone conclusion because the people’s power was indisputable.

After we attained independence on April 18, 1980, we began to immediately build on assuming total military power to consolidate our newly found democracy, and this we acquired by the time the military integration process of former fighters was completed under the auspices of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

Total economic power continued to evade us as a people as the former oppressor diligently hung on to colonial economic privileges and we were made to be contented with all other forms of power.

The land reform programme was and is our loudest expression towards total economic power by the people since independence, and as all may know by now, the policy attracted a protracted murderous and gruesomely aggressive economic warfare from the West.

The economic warfare brought a sharp contrast to the mindset of the voter of 1980 and that of March 2008. The March 1980 voter was wielding political, social and cultural power and was so proud to bring down a colonial system at the ballot boxes as a civic seal of victory to the work of our gallant and victorious liberation fighters.

The March 2008 voter was a subdued victim of a ruinous economic warfare – ruthlessly executed by the lethal effect of Western economic sanctions. This voter was tired, smitten by acute poverty, starving and in apparent economic bondage. We voted as desperate economic hostages.

This voter was stripped of the political power of 1980, stripped of his social pride and power, stripped of cultural identity and that sense of sovereignty. Where we had victorious souls lining up at polling stations in 1980 and triumphantly expressing their will for self-determination, we now had a 2008 voter who was a miserable and tormented soul, knowing well that the very colonial powers voted away in 1980 were back to torment him if he did not do their bidding.

As if to erase history and open a new page of deception and subjugation, we began to hear that Zimbabwe had never known democracy; and for the first time since our "autocratic" independence we were going to see democracy delivered by the MDC.

The attempt here has always been to create a vacuum of democracy so that people like Nelson Chamisa, Tendai Biti or Morgan Femai can be counted as heroes of democracy even ahead of the likes of President Robert Mugabe, Cde Joshua Nkomo, or Solo Maimbodei. The attempts are laughable and absolutely asinine but the advocates of this heresy are clearly not in a joking mood.

Western propaganda currently aims to erase our history of triumph and that moment of true democracy. So we are told of "Zanu-PF and Mugabe’s 29 years of misrule" when we are not being told that Zanu-PF never won a single election since the leadership came from Mozambique.

Those like Biti, will never see the folly of their posturing, for as long as the funding that brought the MDC financial glory is still upon them.

The liberation legacy has been shamelessly rubbished by those who benefited most from the fruits of independence. War veterans have been vilified and called all sorts of names and even those heroes lying at the national shrine have not been spared the ridicules. The idea is to demean the departed and living heroes of our liberation so that those funded to front the facade of democracy that Western countries want to establish may be elevated to the status of heroes.

This writer is told that the circus called the Nobel Peace Prize still has takers who consider the nominees and winners of this most manipulative and most abundantly abused award seriously. There are many such Western sponsored awards that are meant to create heroes out of Western puppets and Trojan horses and the winners are always known by looking at who funds their activities, as well as watching their lips. They speak like Desmond Tutu and John Sentamu.

Democracy lies in the people; in the total power of the people and it does not reside in ballot boxes. It is not expressed by the judges for Western awards. It is expressed by the power of the people.

If ever there was an election in Zimbabwe that was neither free nor fair it is the 2008 election. That election was not free because our people were in economic bondage and under the siege of ruinous economic sanctions. The election was unfair in that people were threatened with more hunger and more diseases if they did not vote for those who could get the sanctions lifted. You can never demean a people any worse.

The election was not fair in that a whole population was publicly blackmailed and threatened by sanctions and more sanctions. We had tormented souls voting with very little option and for many of them the vote was a vote of surrender as opposed to a vote of choice.

Some in the inclusive Government cannot stand the idea of an election in an environment of no sanctions. They know they will stand very little if any chance at all and that is why they want the sanctions to stay. Chamisa believes that since the sanctions are 10 years old they might as well stay, because those who keep talking about them now sound like a "broken record".

But can we afford to pretend to be who we are not? Can we disown our own history? Can we forget where we came from? Can we contrive glory by ridiculing those who created the freedom from which we have endeavoured to pursue political careers?

Hackin asked Thomas Sankara this about Patrice Lumumba; the founding father of DR Congo’s independence: "What does Patrice Lumumba mean to you?"

Sankara replied, "Patrice Lumumba is a symbol, and when I see African reactionaries who were contemporaries of this hero and who were unable to evolve even a little despite contact with him, I consider them miserable wretches. They stood before a work of art and were unable to appreciate it."

He added; "It makes me extremely sad to see how some people use his image and name. There should be a court to judge those who dare use the name of Patrice Lumumba to serve the base and vile causes they promote."

This writer considers those who fail to appreciate the role played by our liberation heroes across Africa as miserable wretches.

Those who derive no pride in African heroes like Robert Mugabe, Joshua Nkomo, Kwame Nkrumah, Samora Machel, Kenneth Kaunda, Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba, Jomo Kenyatta and so many such others. These people stand before the glory of our own achievements but are unable to appreciate their own rich history.

How sad is it to see Zimbabweans daring to abuse the name of Robert Mugabe for such base and vile causes as lying to gain protection visas in foreign countries or doctoring falsehoods to secure donor funding? Some of the causes our people are promoting are not only immoral but also culturally unacceptable. It is a shame that there are Zimbabweans who are prouder of Cecil John Rhodes than they are of President Mugabe. There are Zimbabweans who admire Ian Smith more than they admire President Mugabe.

Cecil John Rhodes stole our land and livestock and literally enslaved us in our own land and Ian Smith massacred at least 50 000 of our people before surrendering power and we have people affording the foolishness of admiring him and the temerity of comparing the racist thug to the very man who is a founding father of the independent nation of Zimbabwe.

There are things that are just unacceptable.

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

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on or or visit

This article comes from Rastafari Speaks

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