Every picture tells a story.The pictures emerging from Mazowe in the past week could not have been starker in telling the anguish of the villagers whose few possessions had been destroyed.
CONWAY TUTANI ECHOES
Who could not feel for that adult man who was crying openly like a baby and could not bear to watch anymore as his hut went up in flames?
You don’t see many people as broken and as inconsolable as that.
The police, it must be stated here and now, followed unlawful instructions overzealously despite a High Court order prohibiting them from carrying out the demolitions and evictions. This can only point to one thing: They were acting at the behest of individual politicians, powerful politicians.
According to reports in the private Press, which were initially conspicuously – not strangely – absent in the State media, the demolitions and evictions were done to pave way for First Lady Grace Mugabe’s occupation of the land to further expand her already extensive business empire in Mazowe.
The longer the official response took, the more the story became believable because this gave the impression that they were fumbling for a plausible explanation. And when the explanation finally came, it was a stuttering one with Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha describing the allegations about the First Lady’s involvement as “perplexing, to say the least”, stretching the credulity of most people to the absolute limit, kutamba nepfungwa dzevanhu/ukudlala ngengqondo zabantu.
Yes, Dinha’s belated response was totally unbelievable going by what he said last year that Grace Mugabe could get as much land as she wanted in the area. Dinha said so, nothing — apart from his dodgy grammar and dreadful diction for a lawyer — was lost in translation. During the official opening of the Amai Grace Mugabe Junior School in Mazowe, Dinha said: “I was one of the few people who believed that her projects would not materialise up (up?).
This is one project that came true. The land is no longer sufficient to sustain the projects the First Lady has on her sleeves (sic). We are working on the papers to stretch the land so that she can have more land to do her projects.”
Can land be stretched? If land were stretchable, there would have been no need to evict the villagers.
Today, people, seeing those in power turning a blind eye to plentiful evidence of high-level corruption and dispossession of the poor, are not fooled and duped by the romanticisation of the liberation struggle and endless demonisation of whites in the name of protecting the gains of independence.
They know that no white man conducted the Mazowe demolitions and left villagers at the mercy of the weather in the middle of the rainy season, and their children with no prospects of attending school just days before the start of the first term.
What we are seeing in Zimbabwe today is the emergence of an oligarchy. An oligarchy is a form of government in which most of the political power effectively rests with a small segment of society, typically the people who have the most wealth, military strength, ruthlessness or political influence.
A recent example nearer home is South Africa, where a small population of whites denied access to business and educational systems to the majority black population, using their perverted Calvinist brand of Christianity as propounded by the Dutch Reformed Church that the Creator and Lord had shown special grace to them as a particular people, labelling blacks “hewers of wood and drawers of water” to justify this blatant racism and its twin: economic exploitation. This had been going on since mid-18th Century and later became known as “apartheid”. This lasted until the end of apartheid in 1994.
Vimbai Chivaura and Co’s theories that ancestral spirits of Zimbabwe ordained Zanu PF to rule the country forever and declaring that President Robert Mugabe “is a svikiro (spirit medium) which will never die” are no different from the basis upon which apartheid was founded and worsened oppression. This has the effect of giving too much power to one person – and the oppressive results are there for all to see.
Such neo-apartheid false constructs are being used by the ruling elite in Zimbabwe to justify their political and economic dominance, including rigging elections to maintain their hold on power and grabbing farms, mines and businesses across all sectors to primarily enrich themselves whereas what we need is extending greater rights to greater numbers of people, thus ensuring fairness and equal treatment of all, including the abandoned Mazowe villagers.
In apartheid South Africa, the basic characteristics of oligarchy were particularly easy to observe since their form of oligarchy was based on racism. But exclusion is not solely based on race. You can exclude your own – ask the abandoned Mazowe villagers.
The transformation to oligarchy can be traced back to the accumulation of unchecked economic power among government ministers, top politicians and their hangers-on starting from independence in 1980. Remember Phillip Chiyangwa saying: “If you want to get rich, join Zanu PF”? How true – but at the expense of the nation. Yes, Chiyangwa might be rich himself, but how many thriving firms has he run into the ground?
That said, please allow me to extensively quote someone who could possibly be Professor Praveen Kumar, a distinguished scholar with a PhD in Economics: “Oligarchy means the rule of the few, and those few are generally people who are richer and more powerful than the others, what you might call the aristocrats or the nobles.
These are not always men; just as monarchies have both kings and queens, women sometimes appear in councils of aristocrats, and even when they are not members, they are often telling their husbands or sons what to do. So oligarchies are generally bad for the poor, but they are pretty good for women, at least for rich women from powerful families.”
Without being disrespectful or insulting, husbands and wives please keep each other in check. Otherwise we end up being poisonous influences on each other and – worse – the entire nation.