It is difficult to distinguish big politicians from ordinary people. The Prime Minister, MPs and city fathers mingle with the people easily on the streets, on mountain hikes, on beaches, in shops and almost everywhere without any threats or fears; such is the system in Norway. Against this background an individual shot dead more than 90 people at the Island of Utoya, around 80km from Oslo. The authorities have confirmed that the same person who gunned down the innocent youngsters was behind the Oslo central city explosions. It is tragic indeed.
I was in the city centre some minutes after the event. There was a heavy security presence around the epicentre of the explosions. There was no security presence at all about 150m from the scene. Again this is a society based on real freedom of ideals and trust between the state and its citizens. The state believes that all its citizens are always behind state institutions and the citizens believe that the state is always behind them, hence the light deployment of security personal in the city centre. Trust and transparency between the state and its citizens is vital.
These are important lessons to learn. When the state and citizens trust each other, it becomes much manageable for the nation to corporate when disasters strike. In addition, the response of the Norwegian security, fire and health services was very sober. Despite not being used to tragedies of such scale since the end of World War II, the Norwegian state institutions responded quite well. As a nation we should ask ourselves about the levels of our preparedness if disasters strike.
There are risks of earthquakes in Chipinge and the areas in the eastern parts of our country. A few years back earthquake tremours from Mozambique and Chipinge areas were felt in Harare. If many buildings had collapsed in Chipinge and Harare, how many people would we have been saved? Was there going to be a smooth corporation between the health sector, security sector and public citizens on disaster management? These are lessons we must learn from Oslo.
Norway has generally good international relations with many countries in the world. It received many words of solidarity from world political and civic leaders as well as general citizens around the globe. Will Zimbabwe receive almost similar sympathy if tragedies strike us? It is a question of Zimbabwe building its image. The name Zimbabwe should be coined into a brand name associated with good and not bad. Norway has tried hard on branding itself as a peace promoter. Zimbabwe cannot be like Norway but it can learn some issues from her.
We hope the Norwegian people will overcome this tragic episode of violence. The episode has awakened the whole world to think on how to handle multiethnic societies and how to manage unexpected disaster situations. As a member of the international community, Zimbabwe cannot ignore this but must take lessons and make herself ready to assist her citizens in case of such threats.
About the Author
Ocean Marambanyika wri-tes in his own capacity and is based at the University of Oslo, Norway.