By Prof Artwell Nhemachena
ONE very big problem for Zimbabweans, and the rest of Africans, is that they worry about the possibility of rigged elections without worrying about the possibility and actuality of rigged Zimbabweans, or Africans.
Of course, the problem emanates from CSOs, NGOs and Western States and institutions which purvey ideologies about elections rigging in Africa, as if it is only or even mainly elections that are possibly rigged in Africa.
Lots of time and money are spent monitoring elections as if they are the only ones that can be rigged. Why it never occurs to some that humans themselves are rigged is baffling.
A narrow understanding of rigging does not serve Africa which is more inclusive in its depictions of rigging.
In narrow Western democracy, there is an obsession with fixing identities of the electorate, matching identities with votes, checking identity cards, passports and even recommending supposedly more secure biometric identities as part of efforts to prevent electoral rigging.
However, such conceptualisations of rigging are too narrow to make sense in Africa.
And one is not Zimbabwean simply because one has a Zimbabwean ID, passport or other form of identification. Identities can be rigged even as one is still holding one’s identity card or passport.
One’s identity goes beyond an identity card to include values.
One is an African because of African values; just as one becomes American or European because of European values.
Rhodesians were Rhodesians not merely because they had Rhodesian IDs and passports but because they had Rhodesian values which they defended by fighting against African liberation movements.
And Americans are American because they hold and defend American interests dearly. Similarly, the British are British because they hold and defend British interests.
Similarly, one is still a spouse to the extent that one still upholds the values of the marriage, and in the world of work, one is still a worker to the extent that one still holds the values of one’s employer.
It would neither matter much to argue that one is still a spouse because one has the marriage certificate nor would it matter for one to say one is still a worker merely because one still has the company ID.
Identity has more to do with values than with identity cards but, unfortunately, during elections in Africa, identity on the basis of holding values consistent with that which one claims to belong to is not considered.
I want to argue that this lacuna provides openings for rigging humans.
Rigging occurs at the level of values and interests rather than at the level of elections.
When one’s spouse has been rigged, the spouse will cease to share the values of the marriage, even though he/she might still possess the marriage certificate.
Similarly, when citizens have been rigged, they cease to share the values and interests of their State, even though they might still hold citizenship.
It would be considered insanity to continue to claim to be a spouse when one has long lost the values of the marriage.
By characterising some minds as: Dzakatamba nepwere (the minds of adults that enjoys child’s play); Hadzimo (the minds are absent); Dzakarasika (the minds are lost); Dzakadambuka (the minds are broken); Dzakatacha (the minds are short-circuited), the Shona people will be referring to rigged minds.
I want to provoke Zimbabweans to begin asking themselves, and their friends and relatives, whether they haven’t been rigged.
Instead of preoccupying themselves only with whether or not elections are, have been or will be rigged, Zimbabweans must ask the question whether the voters themselves are, have been or will be rigged.
I want to argue in this article that rigging an election is a much smaller thing than rigging human minds that participate in the elections.
When one rigs a human being, one would have rigged the entire process, including lives of the rigged ones, beyond the elections.
What I call rigged human beings are human beings who are no longer themselves but have been cultured via ideologies to become zombies.
They will have lost their African identities.
Africans who have been rigged have lost their African standpoints and have assumed Western standpoints.
Zimbabweans who have been rigged have lost their Zimbabwean hunhu/ubuntu and they have adopted Western standpoints.
Rigged Zimbabweans no longer accept Zimbabwean identities and essences at the level of axiology.
They want to identify with Westerners and with everything non-African. Zimbabweans who have been rigged no longer discern the value of their heritages which they readily give away.
And Zimbabweans who have been rigged readily accept foreign leadership even as they rabidly oppose and pillory their own leaders and parents.
Zimbabweans who have been rigged no longer appreciate anything Zimbabwean — they will have lost their ideological, moral, cultural and political compass.
Put in other words, when the West imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, the idea was not necessarily to restore democracy but to rig Zimbabweans.
The idea was to inflict economic pain on Zimbabweans such that they would turn against their leaders, against their culture and against their heritage.
The idea was to inflict pain on Zimbabweans such that they would stop redistributing their land and asserting their sovereignty.
If the Western sanctions were really meant to assist the cause of democracy, then the West would have assisted Zimbabweans get back their land which was stolen during the colonial era.
What kind of democracy is Western democracy that does not appreciate efforts by Africans to take back their stolen land?
The right to land is a human right.
By redistributing the land, the Zimbabwean State was, in fact, enlarging and enriching democracy such that it would not only be restricted to elections but would also include material ownership of resources by Zimbabweans.
I am urging scholars of politics, government studies, international relations and economics to think in terms of what I call expanded or enriched democracy.
This enriched or expanded democracy extends ownership of material resources to Africans.
It recognises the necessity of restitution of material resources, which were stolen during the colonial era, to Africans.
The Zimbabwean land redistribution was not against democracy but it was, in fact, what I call an enrichment of democracy.
In this regard, when they imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, Westerners were in fact opposing democracy in Zimbabwe.
They were opposing the enrichment of democracy to include African ownership and control over resources.
And, of course, when they opposed the land redistribution in Zimbabwe, Westerners were opposing an enrichment of human rights.
What I call an enrichment of human rights refers to human rights that include the right for Africans to recover resources stolen during the colonial era.
If, in addition to liberal democracy, Americans own and control their resources, why must Africans only have liberal democracy without ownership and control over their resources?
Africans need an expanded version or enriched version of democracy that includes ownership and control over their resources.
The problem for the West is that such an enriched or expanded version of democracy threatens Western interests in Africa.
Such an expanded or enriched version of democracy is a threat to the West that wants to keep African resources which were stolen during the colonial era.
For this reason, Western NGOs, CSOs, States and institutions prefer that Africans only exercise an impoverished version of democracy which excludes African ownership and control over resources.
It is not only an impoverished version of democracy but it is also a kind of rigging meant to rig African minds into believing that they are getting freedom when, in fact, they are being kept in bondage.
In other words, Western democracy is already rigged ab initio in the sense that it appears to offer freedom when in fact it is offering bondage.
It is a version of democracy that is not meant to free but to zombify, to turn humans into zombies with rigged minds.
If Western democracy is really inclusive, as its architects assure humanity, then it must include this expanded version of democracy.
If it is really inclusive, then it must include in its definition of rigging the kind of democracy, in the form of Western liberal democracy, that has rigging human minds built into its essence.
Rigged Zimbabweans would believe in the rigged version of democracy.
And rigged Zimbabweans may be quick to accuse electoral officials and competitors of rigging elections even as they fail to see that liberal democracy itself rigs human beings in the sense of offering them a kind of democracy that perpetuates bondage even as it promises freedom to Africans.
Rigged human beings would believe in a liberal democracy that makes all other changes except changes to colonial property ownership patterns in Africa.
When human beings are rigged, elections are already rigged even before they are conducted.
Zimbabweans must begin to ask themselves whether they are not rigged by Western ideologies. This is the question that would guarantee real freedom and fairness in elections.
Fairness in elections is less about votes than it is about ensuring that human beings are not rigged before they go for elections.
It is not only elections that are rigged but human beings are also rigged in this world.
Africa does not only need election monitors and observers, but it also needs monitors and observers who ensure that the human voters themselves are not rigged — which is an antithesis to Western interests.
Zimbabweans take stock.
Do you still have your mind?
Are you not rigged as a voter and do you still have patriotic Zimbabwean values?