HomeOpinion & AnalysisA nation locked in victim mode

A nation locked in victim mode

By Trudy Stevenson

WHEN Simba Makoni announced that he would run for presidency last week, I expected the whole nation to sit up and take notice. Here at last was a mem

ber of President Robert Mugabe’s own party prepared to challenge him openly!

Certainly there has been a lot of talk and speculation, and some genuine excitement, especially among the business community. But almost immediately we started to get the negative remarks: “He’s just trying to trick us.”; “He’s a plant to destroy the MDC”; “There’s no way he can win, whatever he does.”; “He has no following.”; “He’s an opportunist.”; “Mugabe has already rigged the election.” , etc.

This reminded me of similar negative reactions to the Sadc-led negotiations between MDC and Zanu PF and the unity talks between the two formations of MDC, and other positive developments over the past few years.

People almost immediately dismiss all these developments as futile, and go back to victim mode, the “poor little me” syndrome wherein all the forces are against them and there is absolutely nothing they can do to get out of the mess they are in.

While it is true that the Sadc-led negotiations did not lead to agreement between Zanu PF and the MDC for the election, and that the unity talks collapsed following Morgan Tsvangirai’s failure to adopt the agreement last weekend, both of these developments led to positive spin-offs, which are dismissed along with everything else as being worthless.

To me, the very fact that Zanu PF and the MDC were prepared to talk in the same room and try and reach an agreement, even if that agreement failed, is a positive development. It means the will is there, somewhere, in both sides, to work together to resolve our national crisis.

Likewise the fact that the negotiating teams of the two MDCs (comprising the top 10 of each formation) agreed on a reunification document means that there is a will, somewhere, at least in the top leadership, to present a united front in the forthcoming elections.

Surely these are positive developments despite the negative end result.

I believe that we Zimbabweans have been victims of abuse for so long that we have become locked in victim mode and do not actually want to switch over.

We enjoy all the negative publicity about our situation and our country.

We enjoy being patted gently and consoled for all the terrible things we are suffering.

“Oh, you are from Zimbabwe. Poor you, we feel so sorry for you.”

We are like women in an abusive relationship. We are battered and bruised and have broken bones and we shake with fear.

But we cannot imagine getting out of this relationship, and we just go back for more.

Afterwards, if a really decent man comes along, we are afraid of making a commitment to him because of our experience, so we lose our self-confidence and wither quietly away — another destroyed life.

We do not want to hear that anything positive is happening. We block our ears, and quickly find another story of women and babies being beaten and locked up by riot police.

We look for evidence that the election will not be free and fair, and ignore positive developments like all the elections being held on the same day.

So when a powerful new figure announces a challenge to the old man, we prefer to find reasons why it will not change anything.

We prefer to wallow in our comfort zone in victim mode rather than shake ourselves awake and find the energy to really fight for a better Zimbabwe.

Someone said to me the other day: “You know, even if the old man died and his body was in a coffin, people would say: ‘No, it can’t be him, it must be someone else’.”

We Zimbabweans are in need of psychotherapy because we have become mentally ill. We need professional help to get out of this negative mindset, and we need it fast, if we are to wake up and make the most of this amazing God-given opportunity that has suddenly been thrown at us.

Surely the fact that someone as respected across the board as Simba Makoni has come out in the open and asked all of us to join forces to save our country is an opportunity not to be missed.

It has come very late for this election, but it has come — and if we can snap out of victim mode and into victor mode in the next few weeks, we CAN do it!

* Trudy Stevenson MP is a member of the MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara.

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