Zimbabwe Must Wake Up: SENTIMENTALITY has failed. It’s time for PRAGMATISM.

This country has always been governed by emotions rather than practicality. Both civil wars (the First and Second Chimurenga) were triggered by sensationalism over the land issue. The reality was that those who fought for the land did not know how to exploit it. The dilapidation of once productive farms we have seen since the land invasion validates this point.

It is rather unfortunate that greedy, selfish and ambitious politicians have time and time again vandalized this emotive vulnerability. They promise to give land to the masses but they loot all the best land and plunder it right in front of the electorate. It baffles the mind that Zimbabwean voters have continued to be this gullible to the extent of regressing to pre-colonial politico-religious beliefs of a sacred land run by the wise and old till their death. This is a dangerous precedence.

What Zimbabweans seem to forget is that religion has always been and will continue to be the most powerful political force in this country. The First Chimurenga was started and led by spirit mediums. Similarly the Second Chimurenga was largely propelled by a baseline belief in supernatural backing in the form of Nehanda Nyakasikana, one of the spiritual mediums who led the Shona people south of the continent from the kingdom of Ethiopia. Most people do not even have a modicum of comprehension of the later fact.

Religious influence in Zimbabwean politics somewhat died out with the exit of the first President of Zimbabwe, the Reverend Canaan Sodindo Banana. From then on Mugabe shifted to the stirring of people’s emotions with his oratory on “certain enemies who need to be kicked out.” The enemy has continued to change since independence from the British capitalists. First it was the ‘Ndebele dissidents’, then it was the Commonwealth, the West, the ‘traitors’ MDC and so on. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF cabal have now come to a point where they have run out of ‘enemies’. I am almost certain there is an adage out there which goes, ‘When hyenas run out of carcasses to eat they kill each other till only one remains.’ ZANU-PF cannot survive without fighting; it is in their DNA.

Since they have now seemingly run of prey to kill they have turned against each other. The hunter has become the hunted. The hunted however has made a fatal error: they thought they had totally destroyed opposition politics and quickly returned to their own squabbles without bothering to check whether the enemy was truly dead and buried. Their blow was powerful but only maimed the prey not kill them. Over the past four years the opposition has silently re-grouped and re-strategized and is now reasonably prepared for an all out war.

Only one presidential candidate was needed and they now have him. The most powerful arm of the electorate, the war veterans, have seen the light and are ready to talk business. The largest group of the electorate, the youth, are all riled up thanks to Pastor Evan Mawarire who played to the tune of the well-tested fallacy of sentimentality to effect political change. It appears almost all conditions are now conducive for true democratic change. All the fuss about voter registration and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is just an issue of technicality. It represents a welcome shift in Zimbabwe politics. A transformation from putting emotions first to relying on good old facts as the dictum of governance.

The sheer number of opposition political parties which are converging to put practical matters over and above matters of self-interest and sensationalism gives credence to the preparedness of Zimbabwe for authentic democracy. Communism is on its way out.

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ZIMBABWE Millennials have been betrayed by Rhodesian black youth

If one were to start from the assumption that the current state of affairs in Zimbabwe is as dire as the environment in Second Chimurenga Rhodesia it becomes easier to compare and comprehend the virtues and strengths of the hugely disadvantaged black Rhodesians in the 70’s as compared to the equally disadvantaged youths living in modern Zimbabwe. The youth of the former have become the fathers and mothers of the youth of the latter. It is natural for parents to compare their own youth with that of their children and at some point the children will also compare their young selves with their parents’ younger selves.

A convincing argument can be made that the odds the modern day parents had to fight against in their younger selves (70’s teens and young adults) are far much fewer than the hurdles of the present day teen and young adult. In the 1970’s there was a clearer political objective; defeat the whites. In the 2010’s the political objectives are more confusing and outright psychotic; the enemy has no direction. The pre-independence economy was far much more stable and comfortable than the 21st Century Zimbabwe economy. They were even more jobs per capita in Rhodesia than they are in black Zimbabwe. In hindsight, considering all the above, it seems the 70’s youths (who are now the millennials’ parents) were spoiled as compared to their children. They had the chance to succeed if only they worked hard enough. Today’s youths do not have that pleasure. Even if they work hard they will not succeed. There is no hope for their future because the older generations have stolen their past.

A plea from the 70’s youth can be tabled to the effect that they had to fight very hard to gain their independence and today’s youth should do the same if they are also to attain their own independence. Of course this is a credible argument but it is insufficient to offer a solution to a problem without working out the formula. In fact the formula to be employed in solving the myriad perils bedevilling the contemporary youths can never be the same as that invoked in the form of a civil war. A civil war in modern Zimbabwe is not an option. Not even close.

Young Zimbabweans crawling in the dusty streets of the ghettos do not have any other choice but to run away from the fight. Their only source of solace is in the arms of foreign aides since their own kith and kin have taken up arms and tortured democracy into submission. They have been silenced even before they speak. They have been made the enemy by their own parents. No heritage has been set aside for them. Everything has been plundered by those who have unilaterally assumed the throne of  ‘custodians of Zimbabwe’ and protectors of the land. Where then can their drive and hope come from? They were born with nothing and do not even know what they do not have. There is no hope for them because they were and will continue to be betrayed by those to took arms and never let those guns go.

WHY TSVANGIRAI SHOULD LEAD THE COALITION

A coalition of all opposition parties in Zimbabwe is as utopian as a nonagenarian winning an election to rule a country he has personally destroyed. Zimbabwe has over the years evolved into a nation of ‘shocks’. A nation that is always writing on the pages of world history. Mugabe and ZANU-PF have consistently resembled Hitler and the Nazi Party. A detailed comparison of the two regimes is so elaborate it qualifies as a thesis for a manual on how NOT to run a country.

Mugabe has from the outset been aggressive in his rhetoric and resolve. He has ploughed himself into power all the while digging deeper to cement his roots. ZANU-PF has become a huge baobab tree whose roots and trunk will take a long and hard fight to destroy. This is where Tsvangirai comes in.

The man is an icon who has been chipping away at the giant tree long before people even realised the tree had to be cut. He started his journey in the late 80’s and has never looked back. None of the opposition party leaders come even close in political endurance and tenacity. He has been tried and tested. He has been consistent and resolute. His moral integrity has matured as the nation’s rot has also matured. Chematama has evolved into Save. The man who was full of energy has become the political sage oozing wisdom.

Joice Mujuru, the other likely coalition leader, does not even come close to her ally’s resume. She falls short on so many yardsticks of a democratic leader to the effect that she cannot be trusted. Every Zimbabwean citizen has put up a brave but silent fight over the hard years and it is only natural that we make the imminent transition led by a leader we trust and respect.

The 2018 elections are as crucial as the 2008 elections. The atmosphere is the same, the abundance of hope is similar and even the confusion can be paralleled. Next year’s harmonised elections are as unique an opportunity for a revolution as those we won ,exact to the date, a decade ago. It will take an exception leader to lead this monumental task and Tsvangirai’s resume is the only one that makes him worth hiring.

MUGABE IS BIG BROTHER – 1984

Long before Big Brother UK, Big Brother Africa, Big Brother here and Big Bother there ever graced (or disgraced…either one applies) our television screens with a revolutionary reality TV concept, Big Brother was in actual fact created in 1949. He (Big Brother of course) was conceived when Eric Arthur Blair (GEORGE ORWELL) had a fling with his typewriter and gave birth to a beautiful piece of literature christened ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’.

Big Brother depicted in the novel has eerily similar traits with a modern day dictator. Orwell’s Big Brother controlled every aspect of one’s life especially of members of ‘the Party’. He rose to power through a coup (called ‘the Revolution’) and assassinated all his comrades who also had claim to the throne. He pretty much ignored those who were not members of the Party (‘the proles’) who also happened to constitute the greater majority of his country’s population. Big Brother saw everything, listened to everything and controlled every aspect of member’s life. All crimes were punishable by death and even the word “crime” was controlled. Love, free speech, clothes other than blue overalls and even orgasms were punishable by hanging in the public square as entertainment for kids.

It has long been speculated that Orwell’s portrayal of his Big Brother was heavily borrowed from Adolf Hitler’s persona. Mugabe obviously resembles the Big Brother in George Orwells novel as much as he compares well with the modern day Big Brother and the author of Mein Kempf.

Mein Kempf and Mugabe….I will review that soon.

A PLEA TO THE YOUTH

While cleaning my bookshelves I came across an old little book with the boring title, “Prague Spring: A report on Czechoslovakia 1968” written by an obscure historian by the name of Dr Zbynek Anthony Bohuslav Zeman. I was genuinely taken aback by the parallels in the Czechoslovak uprising and our own Zimbabwean situation. I was inspired by the tenacity of the intellectuals in that communist country in fighting against their oppressive and redundant regime. Writers, university students, lawyers, doctors and professors of every imaginable field outwitted the Novotny regime all the way to General Svoboda’s regime until they prevailed over the greater majority of injustices imposed on them. Naturally I began wondering why Zimbabwe’s intellectuals have not and are not doing the same. Of course the MDC conceived the struggle in 1999 (remember the MDC was a coalition of intellectuals mainly lawyers) but that struggle has since dissipated into an uncoordinated attempt at shelving a colossal regime deeply entrenched in all spheres of power. I believe there is still room for a ‘Zimbabwe Spring’ led by the intellectuals in our middle-aged nation. Fortunately for us the greater majority of citizens in the peripheries of the centers of power (Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo) are full-fledged intellectuals in their own right by virtue of them being unemployed University graduates. All we need is a way to unify and harness that fierce intellectual fire power. Where there is a will there is a way.

PEEPING THROUGH THE PARLIAMENT WINDOW

Things are not looking too good in the ZANU-PF camp. Their leader continues to be subdued by the burden of the dour judge called TIME as evidenced by his prolonged naps and shortening speeches. As Zimbabweans we were used to the flurry that accompanied the demagogue’s state of the nation address. It used to be that chilling day when all radio stations and ZBCtv would resonate with the orator’s voice, a man whose syntax and articulation mesmerized both friends and foes. We were treated to a minimum of 2 hours of the Mugabe show. Apparently those days are gone; this year we were given sour grapes; a 23 minute speech that lacked the inspiration and wit of the once great man. It is fast becoming a public secret that our president is a tired man. I have always said I feel pity for the man. He really needs a rest.

As if that was not enough a bald (not bold as he wants to call himself) minister who has no clue how to do his job gives us an oration whose quality was in the regimen of the ramblings of the local tavern drunkard. Chinamasa needs to get off the bottle.

ZANU-PF is in serious trouble. Their weaknesses (which they used to cover very well) are getting exposed like a perfectly timed flow of dominoes. Parliament is smelling really bad; too many old hacks sleeping and farting.

MUGABE: THE YOUNG AND THE OLD

Born on the 21st of February 1924 Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s life before his return from Ghana  in May 1960 at the age of 36 remains largely unknown. What is known about these first 36 years of his life is largely derived from interviews with the few people who knew him before he became a public figure. It also seems strange to me that those who knew him in those early years only recounted his educational pursuits and erudition. Very few of them give an insight into his temperament, hobbies, love life and other such personal details. One would think such thorough research is warranted to understand how he became the man he is. Was he a bully in primary school? What kind of books did he read in the high school library? Why didn’t he have any friends? Details about Mugabe’s formative years are still scarce if not classified.

If one were to study Mugabe’s ascendancy to power right from the point he set foot on Rhodesian soil in May 1960 up to the birth of Zimbabwe in April 1980 (exactly 20 years) an interesting parallel can be observed being in tandem with his retention of power from independence till today (36 years). One thing I find interesting is the fact that Mugabe jumped onto the political bandwagon at the tender age of 36 years which might explain why he unexpectedly showed admiration and respect for Nelson Chamisa during the GNU era. Was it because he saw a part of himself in the young Chamisa who also happened to be in his thirties when he joined the political limelight?

A closer look at the young Mugabe’s road to State House will reveal a consistent trend. His rise to power was not because of his popularity (no one knew him) but on his brand: the well-educated demagogue. It is important to remember that ZANU just like the MDC was formed by a group of intellectuals who were somewhat elitist in their outlook. The leadership boardrooms only had room for the educated elite and this pattern is still prevalent in the present day ZANU-PF as evidenced by the level of education Politburo members possess. Those few technocrat who invited Mugabe to join active politics did in fact impose him on the grassroots members of the party. They were mesmerized by this oratory prowess and they felt he was the most qualified to speak on their behalf by placing him as the Secretary of Publicity. What this educated cabal failed to do was look at his leadership qualities and competence rather than just looking at their immediate need for him. He was always put in positions of leadership that entailed talking to and convincing the masses to join the armed struggle. That was the job they intended for him and nothing else but Mugabe had other ideas. He wanted to be the Commander-in-Chief of the ZANLA forces because he knew that would guarantee him a place in the State House.

He quietly gained power through coercion and patronage until he sealed the deal with barbaric acts of violence. This has always been Mugabe’s strategy and it has always, and I mean ALWAYS, worked. In the last 36 years Mugabe has retained power by first charming his way with everyone, then insulting them before finally beating or killing them. I call them “Mugabe’s 3 steps to power” – charm, insult then beat. It essence Mugabe has never changed, never ever! The young Mugabe who returned to Zimbabwe 56 years ago is the same Mugabe we have now.

DR IBBO MANDAZA IS RIGHT

Academic, political analyst and businessman Dr Ibbo Mandaza at the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition conference said there is need of a youthful party composed of technocrats to resuscitate the country. He has also been one of the staunch proponents of a transition committee which resuscitates the economy and prepares for free and fair elections.I agree with him on both fronts and despite his checkered past this man deserves credit for talking sense in this political jungle.

In addition to this logic I believe the said youthful party needs to capture the Christian vote whose constituency is by far the largest in the country. It follows that the new party should reshape democracy as a whole by taking into consideration the new demographic dichotomy. It is no longer youths vs war veterans or urban vs rural. The new churches that are popping up like weeds have made sure of that. In the past decade churches have swollen up and have become a sanctuary for the battered and desperate populace. Even Mugabe is aware of this simple fact as evidenced by him going to the extent of wearing a white robe to please the ‘mapostori’ in Bocha, Marange a few years ago.

Another classification of the electorate that has in the past decade developed is that of employed vs unemployed. The unemployed (despite age) have also become a formidable constituency thanks to Mugabe’s incompetence leading up to a staggering 90% unemployment rate. Only these two constituencies can guarantee a victory for the proposed party. The unemployed have to be convinced that those they are voting for have a thorough and pragmatic plan of how to revive the economy. Obviously that is no small task. The unemployed in this country also happen to be university graduates who are more than capable to thinking for themselves and see through nonsensical policies such as ZimAsset.

All factors considered it appears as if the idea of a new youthful and competent party remains a dream. With a total of 52 opposition parties it will only take an act of God for it to materialize.

TSVANGIRAI SHOULD NEVER BE TRUSTED: A LESSON FROM HISTORY

I have been closely following the coalition talks among opposition parties in Zimbabwe and I must say I am thoroughly disappointed. It appears as if opposition politics in this country is as fragmented (if not worse) as it was during the 2nd Chimurenga when Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU operating from Zambia was at loggerheads with Mugabe’s ZANU operating from Mozambique.

Drawing parallels between these time-blocks is understandable if one subscribes to the verified notion that ‘the past is a valid indicator of the present and the future.’ Allow me to cut to the chase; Tsvangirai is comparable to Mugabe in this regard. Mugabe at the time led an army of about 8 000 troops while Nkomo led a 2 000-strong army. Despite this undisputable fact Nkomo was the more popular of the two hence being affectionately know as ‘the Father of Zimbabwe’. Nkomo was so popular among the black Rhodesians that if the 1979-1980 election campaign had been held under strict democratic principles he would have walloped Mugabe in the elections or at least he would have put up a nail-biting fight. What eludes the memories of Zimbabweans is that ZANU won that election through violence and terror which was consistent with their approach of the liberation war. Stories are abundant of how ZANU soldiers abducted highschoolers from St Augustine’s Mission, Old Mutare Mission, Mutambara Mission schools to name a few of the missionary-run boarding schools along the eastern boarder of then-Rhodesia. On the other hand proscription into ZAPU was in most parts voluntary. ZANU has never been run contrary to these principles and Mugabe has never known any other way of attaining and retaining power.

No one can dispute the fact that Tsvangirai is the most popular leader in opposition politics as it currently stands. Again Zimbabweans have been blinded by popularity of an individual without weighing the facts of the said individual’s competence. Tsvangirai may be the most popular opposition politician but the facts dictate that the man is incompetent and vacillating in his policies. His stance on the current coalition negotiations betrays this fact. He seems to be looking down on other opposition politicians through the myopic scope of popularity without due consideration of competence and other such pragmatic factors essential to the resuscitation of a failed state. There are currently 53 registered parties in Zimbabwe and I think looking into the competence (rather than popularity) of a leader needs to be at least considered before endorsing any coalition leader. It is so unfortunate that Tsvangirai has chosen the high road and has forgotten that  the clutches of democracy reach much farther than popularity. The Trump vs Clinton battle is an excellent example.

More to follow……

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