Ms. Miriam Mutizwa’s Open Letter to Ms. Tsitsi Masiyiwa – Part 5

In this Part 5 of Ms. Miriam Mutizwa’s letter addressed to Mrs. Tsitsi Masiyiwa, Ms. Mutizwa critically examines the broader import of Mrs. Masiyiwa’s worldview on her take on what motivate the fragmented outcries and actions in the pursuit of justice as expressed in her tweet set out below:

“Some outcries and actions in pursuit of justice seem and look so right until you discover the source of the outcry and sponsor of the cause. Take a step back and reflect on some of the things we consider good and just causes.”

Ms. Masiyiwa is not alone in being concerned that many of the outcries and actions seemingly in pursuit of justice are not genuine.

But where is hope to be found when the people that stand taller than others when hopelessness abounds are they very people whose understanding of citizenship requires interrogation.

What does it mean to be a citizen of Zimbabwe? Who should participate in shaping and defining the character of what it means to be Zimbabwean after 38 years of independence? Who is to judge which actions and outcries are in the interests of justice?

What is justice anyway? Below is Ms. Mutizwa’s Part 5 contribution to what she thinks ought to matter in helping energize citizens to know what it is that they should and ought to do to make Zimbabwe great and more democratic.

In this Part 5 of the letter, Ms. Mutizwa writes as follows:

Today is Christmas day and I thought it would be beneficial, my sister, to interrupt your time to take notice of what I have to say about what is implied in your tweet that has ignited and provoked me to share my insights, experiences, and ideas on what the concept of liberty means in relation to the kind of citizenship that speaks to our individual aspirations.

It is my contention that to be a citizen is to enjoy equal opportunities that the creator intended for all of us to exploit and take advantage of.

It is also my submission to you that life was designed to allow all of us to join it with nothing and to live it by sharing with others.

If we accept that irrespective of your station in life, all of us count and must be allowed to express ourselves in the manner that speaks to our anger on issues.

I am sure you will agree with me that it can never be acceptable for anyone to assume the role of a judge in relation to outcries and actions by independent and self-determining individuals like me.

I am often reminded by Mahatma Gandhi said that: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world,” implying that he was aware that change is the business of individuals and not groups. 

I possess the power to be the face and voice on what should change in order to make the society a better one.

Citizenship, when properly construed, must be based on three fundamental and basic principles that also guided the French Revolution: liberty, equality and fraternity.

In this letter, I focus in the principle that is often referred to as liberty. I shudder to think what life would be like if liberty were to be alienated from me?

It cannot be denied that the concept of citizenship has to be underpinned by an autonomous person like me and you.

What does autonomy mean and why is it so important in the affairs of mankind? To me autonomy means self-determination to the individual as the gift of nature and in relation to groups based on individual choices to associate and aggregate as the case may be.

In my world, autonomy must mean that I must enjoy the right to decide what is a bad or good and more importantly what is a just or unjust cause.

I am sure the wording of your tweet would seem to suggest that my right to enjoy the freedom of choice was compromised by your attempt to write a scrip for me and others on what citizenship is and is not.

You will agree that any campaign for and against change that is premised on undermining the individual freedoms and rights would be offensive to the rule of law and constitutionalism.

I am sure you will agree that the historical emergence of citizenship was characterised by the systematic and systemic destruction of a series of barriers.

The privilege implied in your tweet must and ought to be abolished and restrictions on how we should respond to tyranny must also be eliminated in our discourses.

It cannot be acceptable that you seek to censor my right to choose what is in and ought to be in my own interest without even having the decency and courtesy to consult with me or others affected by the injustice in the cause.

It is not accidental that the struggle for citizenship in history and across the board has been synonymous with the abolition of inequities.

It is the case that this historical struggle has occasionally assumed an almost negative character, more a struggle against injustice than a struggle for a positive ideal.

At the core of the struggle for independence was the quest for universal suffrage yet the reality has been a manifestation of how universality of rights has posed a significant problem for democracy.

I am reminded by Herbert Tingsten, in Demokratiens problem (The Problems of Democracy), Aldus/Bonniers, Stockholm, 1960, p. 67. who stated as follows: “In public discourse, democratic policy has seemed less an ideology than a critique of ideologies and traditions. This has entailed a weakness, insofar as democracy has been introduced without examination and discussion of its problems.”

Democracy becomes a problem when a few arrogate to themselves more rights than were intended for each and everyone one of us.

I hope that as you celebrate this special day for Christians you will think deeply about the true meaning of liberty and its source.

It is only when we choose to step back and reflect on the true meaning of liberty that it would become absurd for anyone to pretend that their choices ought to bind others like me without my consent.


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