Last Wednesday, clearly rattled Zanu PF MPs invoked “The Buckley Rule”, named for US conservative founding father William F Buckley, Jr: “Support the most conservative candidate who is electable.”
Instead, Zanu PF political commissar Webster Shamu says Wednesday’s “stunning but Pyrrhic” victory of MDC-T insurgent Lovemore Moyo over the favoured Zanu PF plodder Simon Khaya Moyo marked “a bad week not only for Zanu PF but also for the country”.
Genuflecting before his party’s politburo, Shamu indicated he had nothing but warm feelings for MDC-T.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo weighed in, scolding that the MDC-T, a movement of the Great Unwashed, can either “help a nation by acting as a corrective, or it can descend into a corrosive populism that celebrates unknowingness as authenticity that confuses showiness with seriousness and vulgarity with true conviction”.
If Zanu PF is worried that an out-of-control populist movement might tear down their party at this moment of maximum opportunity, they have no one to blame but themselves.
Already Khaya Moyo’s dismal performance in the Speakership contest has left the revolutionary party in a quandary, what with angry Sadc leaders red-carding President Robert Mugabe for his intransigence in the inclusive government during the Troika summit in Livingstone.
The decision by Sadc gave the country optimism. While our legendary optimism might be expected, it is also simultaneously paradoxical.
Indeed, revolutions eat their children. Ask Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Liberia’s Charles Taylor. And Zimbabwe is certainly no exception.
The lust for more power and money brings even the most self-righteous to a fall. All the handshakes, applause and accolades bestowed on the lawns of Western capitals, all in vain.
Alas, just another sorry saga in Kenneth Kaunda and President Mugabe’s feel-good biographies.
The conflict in the GPA bears all the hallmarks of just another run-of-the-mill ethnic African power struggle.
With all economic sectors in the intensive care unit, some Zanu PF bigwigs are desperately trying to protect their ill-gotten gains while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T has rallied the 15-nation bloc Sadc, ZCTU, the anachronistic civic society and poor masses to their “noble” cause to lead the country.
These erstwhile former freedom fighters of the 21st century are now engaged in a cut-throat struggle to claim their self-allotted pieces of the Zimbabwean pie. They believe they did not go to war to remain poor.
It started with the Willowgate scandal and continued with the likes of the late Maurice Nyagumbo to name but a few, some now convicted criminals.
And it has only taken 31 years for the predictable revolutionary rot to have reached the very foundations of the self-entitlement movement. But then, who can blame the less satiated?
The black economic empowerment comrades Phillip Chiyangwa, Ignatius Chombo, Obert Mpofu and Saviour Kasukuwere just can’t get their fill, and the crumbs falling off the Affirmative Action Group table only aggravate the insatiable appetite of the power-hungry and have-nots.
This is Zimbabwe for you. So why be clement when there is a very real possibility of having the whole pie, all to yourself?
So you play the disillusioned masses by promising them all they’ve ever seen on TV (i.e. farms, mines, jobs), till the powers-that-be are forced to invite you to share in their feast lest you threaten the status quo that sustains their lordship over all they survey.
Unfortunately, the pie is only so big. The gloves have come off, the buffet for anarchy is set and there will be no Queensbury Rules when the battle-cry “We demand our piece of the pie” makes Zimbabwe just another sorry footnote on the endless list of post-colonial African losers.
Like the French revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre who was dragged to his death on the guillotine by angry Parisians, Zanu PF has learned too late that when you live by the mob, you die by it.
Eventually, all revolutions devour their children.
Zanu PF could have spent the last two years in the inclusive government carefully developing intelligent counter-proposals to emerging frustration and then building a constituency around them. Instead, they spent the last two years appealing to their followers’ spleens rather than their heads.
The former ruling party took the easy way out, the shortcut; they decided to grab power on the cheap by misleading a frightened but malleable base with nonsense about tyranny and socialism and the end of targeted sanctions as we know it.
And after two years of Zanu PF-manufactured outrage and hysteria, and with an important election approaching, party stalwarts now want this populist movement of nature to suddenly stop on a dime, act rationally and do the right thing for their good.
Spin doctors must go back to the drawing board following the “Battle of the Moyos”.
But the predictable pendulum of Zimbabwean politics may indeed be swinging in the MDC-T’s favour.
When the erstwhile politicians comment only they speak for Zimbabwe or when the President’s knock-offs say Zanu PF need not “take back” the country because Zanu PF already “is the country”, it becomes alarmingly and dispiritingly clear that Zimbabwe is imperilled by a burgeoning far-right movement, largely northern in psychology if not geography, that has yet to reconcile itself to the fact that it lives in a democracy and so must share this planet with people who are different.
This movement has been deliberately and recklessly nurtured by leaders who ought to know better about the dangerous fire they are playing with.
It’s been encouraged to embrace a psychology of sedition by apparatchiks and a cynically Zanu PF establishment.
And today this establishment sits back in wonder and astonishment that Sadc and the mob now come for them.