Never say never.
Rebel Rhodesia’s Prime Minister Ian Smith boldly declared that there would be no black majority rule “in my lifetime” nor “in a thousand years”.
Less than 10 years later, an independent, black-ruled Zimbabwe was born.
Smith’s supposed 1 000-year rule, like Adolf Hitler’s 1 000-year reich, lasted less than 15 years.
Three weeks ago after an opinion poll established that MDC-T would handily win the next elections, Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa boldly declared: “Who is (MDC-T leader Morgan) Tsvangirai?
He will never rule this country!
How can we let the country be ruled by sell-outs?
He will only do so over our dead bodies.
If we go to the polls and he defeats (President Robert) Mugabe, Zanu PF and the people of Zimbabwe will not allow that.”
Now, could there possibly be a statement more loaded with contradictions than this?
If they are not prepared to accept the possibility of defeat, why go through the expensive sham of elections?
Would the people rise against themselves?
Would they possibly cry foul against their own freely expressed will?
It can only be a powerful militarised minority rising against a defenceless majority that would achieve that feat.
Smith, though his project was destined to fail, was at least honest to himself and the world in that his plans were based on exclusion of blacks through disenfranchisement whereas Mutasa and his party talk of a free Zimbabwe but won’t allow people to cast their votes freely.
It is such irrationality that led him and others, including Sydney Sekeramayi, of all people a qualified medical doctor, to swallow hook, line and sinker Rotina “Diesel N’anga” Mavhunga’s stunt that she could make pure diesel ooze out of rock.
It is clear from the voting patterns over the last decade that Zanu PF has lost support, and massively at that, and instead of outrightly dismissing the poll, Mutasa should have taken lessons from it as an aid in modern politics, but by all accounts he won’t.
While opinion polls are statistically representative samples, there is always a margin of error, but Mutasa chose to add a margin of terror.
Instead of shooting the messenger, Mutasa should heed the message.
The poll results give Zanu PF ample time to restrategise and re-invent itself as a modern, civil party.
Mutasa should heed Zanu PF vice-president John Nkomo’s advice in August this year: “(For) Zanu PF, this is the time . . . to shift from being a liberation movement to a party that is development-oriented if we are to continue being relevant to the needs of our people in the 21st century.”
Some of these leaders should simply accept that they have taken Zimbabwe as far as they could and the very best they can offer is stagnation in this fast-changing world; and the worst is a steep downhill plunge, which has been the case over the past 10 years, culminating in the Zimbabwean dollar being printed out of existence by the Reserve Bank.
This talk of handing over the country into wrong hands is a mere excuse to perpetuate their rule and dominance.
No one is indispensable in whatever situation.
People should learn to live to fight another day, that’s exactly what Daniel Ortega, the current president of Nicaragua, did when he regained office in 2007 through democratic polls after being thrown into the political wilderness by a non-liberation movement opposition.
Ortega was first elected president in 1985.
Defeated in the 1990 election, he remained an important figure in Nicaraguan opposition politics.
His bids in 1996 and 2001 were unsuccessful before winning the 2006 election.
But it’s his words on stepping down gracefully after his defeat in 1990 that mark Ortega as cut from a different political cloth, whether one agrees with his ideology or not:
“We leave victorious . . . because we Sandinistas have spilled blood and sweat not to cling to government posts, but to bring Latin America a little dignity, a little social justice.”
Maybe Zanu PF needs a spell in opposition to realise that instead of pursuing an all-or-nothing approach, a “force-first” policy, they should live to fight another day, they should seek a civil way of bridging differences, and it’s not their divine right to rule in perpetuity because electoral office can never be a straitjacket as one former general infamously declared ahead of the 2000 presidential polls.
Otherwise they are a mere throwback to Rhodesia and will go the same way, they will be completely wiped off the political map.
It’s said when you are in a hole, don’t dig deeper.