HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsNo time for false nationalism

No time for false nationalism

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Losing elections in 2008 lit a fire under Zanu PF. They were jolted into action after getting singed (kubvuraudzwa/ukufuswa). The proud cock almost lost all its feathers.

Report by Conway Tutani

Zanu PF sharpened their claws this time around, splashing millions of dollars on their campaign. This was mind-boggling expenditure considering the state of the economy. Was this money from outside? Was this ransomed for people’s lives to make them loyal no matter what?

In stark contrast, what the opposition MDCs spent on campaigning was a drop in the ocean, reducing their fight against Zanu PF into a mere slap on the wrist instead of slap in the back of the head.

The MDCs would have done with sane heads like David Coltart, who did not allow political hatred and pettiness to cloud his judgment as to the issues at the core.

He correctly read that it was basically a systemic issue; that in order to allow normal, acceptable political behaviour to take root, the system had had to be removed first and foremost; and after that, turn on each other in a normal, civilised way. Coltart knew that there was no way they could take on the system separately.

The lawyer that he is, Coltart saw that justice was elusive and selective in the country — which it still is. Those ministers that former South African president Thabo Mbeki mentioned to President Robert Mugabe last year as serial bribe takers have not been dealt with up to now despite Mugabe’s avowal to take action, while High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe was placed under investigation soon after issuing warrants to search the offices of ministers fingered over corruption.

The known killers of MDC activists Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya are still roaming free 13 years later. Indeed, the killers of Police Inspector Petros Mutedza in Harare two years ago should be dealt with, but so must the killers of Mabika and Chiminya, but up to now no one has been held accountable.
Coltart read the mood of the people. It’s about action, action, action! This is an individual who, with brave others, compiled a report on the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s at great personal risk. That is why he lost by a mere 19 votes unlike fellow MDC candidates who were defeated comprehensively, showing how detached from the ground they were. They didn’t quite get the hang of it. It was like taking us back to the nursery book of politics. You need to work on multiple fronts. We can’t reduce the world of politics to an intellectual abstraction. We must not be scared of making people feel offended or provoked so that they start thinking, real thinking. It’s necessary to hit hard and hit often. How can people snatch defeat from the jaws of victory like what divisiveness did in 2008? Now it appears their first and last chance is gone — forever.

Now Mugabe is yet again savouring another victory, tainted as it is, who can begrudge him in the face of such ineptitude? Now, the regime, for its own survival, has promised to introduce some reforms.

There is no doubt that Mugabe divides opinion. He is loved and loathed in almost equal measure. On the one hand, foreigners — maybe from the safety of distance — display a romanticised view of him following his brave and sacrificial fight for independence. On the other, the majority of urbanites — who have borne the brunt of his economic policies and see political intolerance at close hand with the beatings and arrest of protesters and mind-numbing one-sidedness in the public media — have consistently rejected him since the formation of the MDC. The more discerning people are, the less attractive they find Zanu PF. If anything, that political thuggery and crude propaganda is Zanu PF’s downfall in urban areas because it is a throwback to colonial Rhodesia where the racist regime demanded unquestioned acceptance of its rule from oppressed blacks claiming that they were there to maintain some creature called Western Christian civilisation.

Today, some religious clerics, including the loquacious Obadiah Musindo, are reprising the same tune of Mugabe being anointed to rule. How can someone be anointed and at the same time go through an elective process? Enlightened people find this derisory and insulting. It doesn’t work among educated and sophisticated people as opposed to the exploitable and fickle vulgus, uneducated masses. Is it not peculiar that as one gets nearer to urban areas, there are more votes for the opposition and vice versa?

Indeed, Zanu PF tipped the balance when it went all out for majoritarianism using, to great effect, ochlocracy. Ochlocracy or mob rule is government by mob or a mass of people, or the intimidation of legitimate authorities. Using ochlocracy, Zanu PF finally swept out the MDC-T from Mbare and other places as the duly elected councillors were blocked at each and every turn by Chipangano and other Zanu PF militias.

Ochlocracy, unlike democracy (rule of the people), is characterised by demagoguery, “the tyranny of the majority”, and the rule of passion over reason. That is why land reform, justified as it was but driven by mobs, was as bloody and violent as it was. Short-term demagoguery or moral panic were used; land invasions were escalated after the “No” vote against the draft constitution in 2000. Now we are importing maize from Zambia grown by the very white farmers who were thrown out.

Loading of the judiciary can also result in ochlocracy.

That is the state of the nation today. These are the things that people should be clear in their minds about while they feast and gnash their teeth. This is the time to avoid false ultra-nationalism — especially against the reality of grand corruption. Do we need people who are only after finding a secure political office to live off it forever and ever? The extent of corrupt diamond money still has to be established and revealed.
Let’s not be silent witnesses to all this.

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