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Zimbabwe: When a stitch in time could save nine

11/10/2017 00:00:00
by Seewell Mashizha
 
 
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That ZANU-PF continues to hog the limelight albeit not always for the right reasons, is indicative of the poverty of ideas and sheer lack of imagination in Zimbabwe’s opposition parties.

With, most likely, only a few more months to the next harmonized election there is hardly anything in the besotted opposition that could even remotely begin to stir the interest of a critical mass of Zimbabwean voters and usher in a new dispensation.

The shrill voices on social media notwithstanding, the opposition medley of political hopefuls and have-beens needs to up its game to give ZANU-PF a run for their money.

To all intents and purposes, it would seem that people in the opposition are placing their hopes on a rabid disenchantment arising from the insatiable consumerism of Zimbabweans (real or perceived).

Not surprisingly, there is relentless talk about bread on the table in a country where the majority of the people are either practising or nominal Christians. Amazingly, we never seem to be guided by perhaps one of the most aphoristic sayings of Jesus Christ: Man shall not live by bread alone…

People are so concerned about filling their stomachs that it would seem to outsiders that Zimbabweans care for nothing else. This appears to have been the reasoning behind the recent socio-economic convulsions in the country. The events emanating from the clandestine and nefarious activities of agenda-seeking persons was reminiscent of our hyperinflationary era last decade.

The idea was to induce a few critical shortages in the shops and supermarkets and then stand aside and watch in the hope that a spark might flare enough to drive frenzied mobs out into the streets everywhere around the land to cause mayhem. In my view, such a hope was always going to be far-fetched, given that even in the worst of times before 1980 when the Rhodesian Front government left people to their own devices during times of drought, hunger and famine, the overwhelming lot of Zimbabweans did not sell their birth right for a bowl of venison the way Esau of the Bible did.

Do I see fists being clenched, Andy Capp style, and do I hear grinding teeth in the background? In such cases it is good to be anonymous. You are then able to duck the slings and arrows of bigoted annoyance that your analysis evokes.



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The thing is that some of those who follow this column even if only to bash it are guilty of bias and narrow-mindedness of the worst kind wherein you are wrong if you belong to a different political persuasion. It is not a moot point to say that there are always two sides to a contestation of ideas – yours and mine – in this particular case.

The tactic most commonly used by the honourable gentlemen I have cited is always to attack the speaker regardless of the veracity of what he says. The ad hominem technique at its very best. All you need in such situations is a boisterous and loud voice and the ability to never hear what others say, no matter what. That aside, let us look at a few home truths.

It is the height of folly to watch a garment tear and tear some before you even think of mending it. When the inevitable happens at last, those who observe that a stitch in time saves nine will say, “We told you so!” And they will say this regardless of whether or not it is polite or correct to do so. Things keep happening in ZANU-PF, making one wonder just how far the fault lines can go without derailing the party.

Our shrill first lady appears to savour the opportunity of addressing a captive audience. Whenever she has spoken at recent youth interface rallies she has spoken in the language of an oracle, hard and insistent, often throwing about careless challenges against the military.

Reference to the alleged state capture in South Africa can do us some good here. Loud and perhaps justifiable allegations of state capture in South Africa arose out of a general perception than that the Guptas exercised inordinate and unconstitutional power over Jacob Zuma the state President and consequently corruptly secured advantages for themselves.

In Zimbabwe, if Morgan Tsvangirai had become President at some point in the past, his infamous kitchen cabinet (Ian and Theresa Makone and one or two others) would have been as guilty as the Guptas in that they would have been exercising undue influence on state affairs.

The motif of state capture by a few ambitious individuals who think that the world was made for them and that they can do exactly as they wish as and when they wish, has made yet another appearance in Zimbabwe, this time in ZANU-PF.

One could even call it a conspiracy against the people and the state. Nowhere in the 2013 Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe is there official mention of a first lady post (regardless of who the incumbent might be). In effect, the first lady is just what she ought to be: wife to the state president. Of course she has political rights including aspiring for the highest office in the land. But that can only happen when a post in the highest echelons of our society arises and if, constitutionally-speaking, she can legitimately claim that post. The constitution of the land as it currently stands is very clear about what ought to happen if the sitting President should become incapacitated or leaves. His Vice President takes over to end the term vacated. Thereafter, other political processes unfold.

I met a friend and fellow analyst recently and we walked together a bit and took the chance to reminisce about old times and also discuss the state of the Republic in context of recent events.

Vice President, Phelekezela Mphoko, was recently Acting President in the absence of the President in South Africa. While acting in that capacity Mphoko created a precedent by attacking fellow Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa. The acerbic attack was based on an interpretation of Emmerson Mnangagwa was said to have said while attending the memorial service of the late Senator Shuvai Mahofa in Gutu.

What Mnangagwa was heard to say was that he thought what had happened to Shuvai Mahofa at a party gathering in Victoria Falls was what had happened to him also. ZTV and other media were awash with doomsday interpretations of the Mnangagwa incident in Gutu.

Some headlines screamed that Mnangagwa was taking Mugabe head-on and when the Latter announced a cabinet re-shuffle and even said that there might be some who will fall, his words were interpreted to mean he was referring to VP Mnangagwa.

Emmerson Mnangagwa did not specifically say he was poisoned, yet he was attacked left, right and centre including by Vice president Mphoko’s attack left a sour taste in the mouth. No other Vice President has behaved like that in the past. The question to ask then is what VP Mphoko’s motive was and what he was hoping to gain by his statement. Looked at firmly and squarely it does look as if there was an attempt to stampede ED Mnangagwa out of the party. The expected resignation did not materialize. Neither did the expected sacking happen. We wait with bated breath to see how events unravel and unfold.

A Shona saying observes that when a hyena passes by, someone who asks whose hyena it is, opens himself/herself to all sorts of conclusions including the one that says he/she is the owner of the hyena.

This must have been uppermost in the minds of at least some listeners when soon after ZTV had shown the Mnangagwa in Gutu video, the first lady burst out a refutation, asking rather shrilly why she would ever want to kill Mnangagwa. While First Lady Grace Mugabe is innocent until otherwise proven guilty, her response to the situation does her no good.

How ZANU-PF attends to the matter of alienation in the presidium and how that party clips the wings of the first lady will determine its fortunes in the not- too-distant future. President Mugabe has stood firm against naming a successor and whereas the first lady dismissed G40 as being non-existent, he categorically said that G40 is a reality.

Where she was agitating to have VP Mnangagwa fired, Robert Mugabe chose diplomacy and appealed for calm and order higher up the party. He has also expressed his distaste of a situation in which he is deemed to have feathered the nest of his wife.

Robert Mugabe can stop the machinations if he chooses to. If he doesn’t, people might one day say, “We told you so” and “A stitch in time saves nine.”

If he does not check the situation there might indeed be state capture in Zimbabwe. The first lady has named herself de facto the second most powerful person in the country. She gets away with chastising the Vice President in public.

 


 
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