Home' Policy Magazine : Policy Vol 33 - No 2 Contents BOOK REVIEWS
POLICY • Vol. 33 No. 2 • Winter 2017
MDC sullied [with violence] and divided it was harder
to proclaim this with the same conviction’ (p.445).
The two MDC parties finally end in disintegration
and impotence by 2013.
Third, in Coltart’s judgment one of the chief causes
of Zimbabwe’s woes is the tragedy ‘that hero worship
has become deeply ingrained in Zimbabwean political
culture. The word of an individual means more than
the constitution, more than age old wisdom’. He
adds rather ominously, ‘This culture may well outlive
Mugabe.’ Coltart sees this problem stretching right
back into the 19th century. As he had said to a group
of judges in 1997, ‘[Cecil] Rhodes begat [Ian] Smith
and Smith begat Mugabe’ (pp.599-600).
Fourth, despite all that happens, one of the most
striking features David Coltart brings to this book,
other than his courage, is his remarkably persistent
hope for his country. Much of this is undoubtedly
due to Coltart’s Christian faith which permeates the
book, though in a quiet, self-effacing way. Coltart
never preaches to the reader, even though once or
twice he will quote something from the Bible that
has been most meaningful to him in the long and
dangerous struggle. At the end Coltart even wonders
if the Old Testament prophet Isaiah’s words to an
outwardly religious but strife-filled ancient Israel
might be also true of present-day Zimbabwe. ‘Here’s
the rub: can we expect a just God to respond to an
outwardly religious nation whose “fasting ends in
quarrelling and strife”?’ (p.599). Coltart also invokes
atheist Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen
on the connection between good governance and
sustainable long-term development to support what he
calls ‘Isaiah’s remedy written thousands of years ago’.
At the very least, The Struggle Continues serves as
a warning of the terrible damage bad government
can do to a country, and an
inspiring example of the courage
and selflessness of those who
struggle for something better.
The Right Reverend
Robert Forsyth is a Senior
Fellow at The Centre for
(CIS). David Coltart will
appear at CIS for a book event on August
10. See www.cis.org.au for further details.
of Khumalo as his old lower house seat had been
broken up and gerrymandered. Remarkably Coltart
finds himself as the Minister for Education, Sport
and the Arts in a ZANU-PF-MDC Government
of National Unity. This means that he serves as
the only white man in cabinet and with the very
same president Robert Mugabe who has publicly
threatened him more than once. However, it is not to
last. In the 2013 election, notable for its well-planned
electoral fraud and intimidation, Coltart loses by
19 votes. He writes of that moment, ‘Some of my
campaign team burst into tears, but I experienced a
remarkable and inexplicable peace’ (p.577). Freed
from political demands he at last writes his memoir,
The Struggle Continues.
No review can capture the detail of the decades-long
story that David Coltart so carefully lays out. A few
comments are in order.
First, it would be a mistake to think of The Struggle
Continues as a simple tale of good versus evil. Coltart
is hard on himself and the time of white rule as well
as on post-colonial Zimbabwe and its rulers. Even
Robert Mugabe has unexpected positive moments.
Coltart describes his relationship with him as
‘curious and unpredictable’ (p.549). Mugabe is the
man who once had said there was no place for David
Coltart in Zimbabwe other than in prison, and
most likely at least once tried to have him killed.
And yet it is Mugabe who publicly praises Coltart for
his work in education, backs him in a dispute in
cabinet, and makes a genuine enquiry about his
daughter who had been mauled by a lion.
Second, one of the more depressing aspects of the
narrative is not so much the 50 years of Mugabe’s
ZANU PF misrule and abuse of power, as it is the
failure of what for a while looked like a genuine
alternative opposition, the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC). Coltart was involved with the
MDC from its beginning in 1999 and served as a
member of parliament under its banner for many
years. However, after years of fairly fruitless struggle
against the brutal ZANU PF regime, differences in
personalities and, most importantly, ambivalence
over the use of violence led to a MDC split in 2005.
It is a low point for Coltart who writes in a chapter
he graphically titles ‘A Hellhole in the Wilderness’,
‘Even in the darkest days of 2000, I felt that good
would prevail over evil, eventually. Now with the
Links Archive Policy Vol 33 - No 1 Navigation Previous Page Next Page