Manheru, go to town about swindlers!

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LAST week, there was a tsunami in British politics. The outcome of the general election was an earthquake in political terms.

The result was most surprising and unexpected. It showed how everyone — from pollsters to political pundits — can be wrong.
But this major failure does not detract from the fact that most of the time, polls have been so, so right within the acceptable margin of error, not with exactitude.

In the UK, every 1% swing in the share of the vote — which is within the acceptable margin of error — is worth seven to eight seats, and in 2010’s general election, 40 seats were won with a majority of under 1 000.

In the first-past-the-post system of voting, a very small shift in votes can make a significant difference in the share of parliamentary seats. This can have the effect of “overmagnifying”the margin of error.

But the established fact is that when conducted properly, public opinion polling is generally quite accurate. Of course, opinion polls must generally be read with caution as people are prone to change their minds.

Survey research, however, when conducted properly, provides an accurate picture of the current attitudes, beliefs, opinions and preferences of the people.

Such information is not readily measurable in any other way, especially in between elections. Astute politicians can repackage or refocus their campaign based on the poll numbers. If a politician overturns his deficit from a losing position to a winning one by analysing poll numbers and repurposing his campaign strategy, you cannot say polling is of no value whatsoever.

But it seems this eludes Manheru — who writes not only pseudonymously, but pedantically in the State media, showing off book learning or trivia in an annoying, exasperating and tiresome way, throwing in one or two blasphemous and swear words.

Railed Manheru against pollsters: “Of course David Cameron has won, confounding and consigning the overweening (main opposition Labour Party leader Ed) Miliband and, worse, condemning those damn God’s deputies, those notorious pollsters! I never knew that these seers can be that off the mark!”

This is what you get when someone makes literature of social sciences, of which political science, which includes polling, is an aspect.

Manheru kana atenga nyaya atenga nyaya (When Manheru latches onto an issue, he runs away with it.) The sheer language itself — particularly “those damn God’s deputies” — points to someone going off tangent.

This is what drove globally acclaimed Kenyan political scientist Ali Mazrui, who died last year, to label Nigerian playwright and poet Wole Soyinka “an inexact and careless scholar . . . prone to either overactive imagination or poetic hallucinations”.

Well, Manheru, despite his pedagogy, ought to be tutored that that political science is not an exact science like mathematics where x + x = 2x.

In the real world — not in Manheru’s imaginary world — mistakes, big ones at that, are made. Japanese firm Toyota, the biggest carmaker on the globe, this week recalled 5 million vehicles across the world because of the exploding airbag crisis linked to several deaths. Can you then outrightly say that Toyota are totally incompetent and dangerously so they must be banned from manufacturing vehicles anymore?

Manheru goes further: “Of course, the one admirable thing about British polls is that they define careers. Not like here where they defy gravity and careers. Whoever thought (main opposition MDC-T leader) Morgan Tsvangirai would still be at the helm after 2013? Whoever thought (President Robert) Mugabe would be answering questions of tenure after that overwhelming result? If the ballot is not the oracle, what, who is the oracle of democracy? …Someone in my part of the world is trying to be a (Nick) Clegg (leader of the Liberal Democratic Party in the UK) who stays on! Hahaha!”

This is self-indulgence and self-serving at its worst. You can’t make comparisons between such totally different political cultures like the UK and Zimbabwe as though they are the same. It’s “unwitty” — if I may quote Didymus Mutasa from happier times — to compare a blatantly unfair game to a fair one. Over 200 people were killed in Zimbabwe in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election runoff — that’s not politics, but barbarism, which we never saw in the UK elections.

So, people must not buy into these false parallels being drawn by Manheru. Two events are made to seem similar for rhetorical effect when in fact they are totally different.

There was open and free campaigning in the UK, but here Temba Mliswa can’t even campaign in Hurungwe West because the usual bullies are at it again.

Manheru should equally highlight that promoting the political and business interests of the First Family has caused chaos and conflict.

Family politics continues to cause instability with family networks blurring the lines between State and private power, not to mention the repression that goes along with such systems.

Besides being intellectually incoherent, the views from the top are driven by blind ideological fundamentalism.

Without anyone to hold them back from their most damaging and dangerous excesses after the expiry of the coalition government in 2013, they have driven over the cliff. Judging by their own targets — for example, creating over 2,2 million jobs by 2018 — their track record of failure will get worse.

This would ordinarily render them very easy to beat at the next elections in 2018, but this won’t necessarily result in their defeat because they will ensure that, unlike in the UK, the polls won’t be free and fair.

The complete madness of it all is encapsulated in Manheru’s words: “Well, . . you cannot claim, let alone demand, benefits from a manifesto you ran against in 2013, on the MDC ticket, claim the jobs as if you are a Zanu PF card-carrying member. ”

Fine, but, mustn’t the Zanu PF regime, in turn, exempt the said “out-and-out MDC fools” from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Debt Assumption Bill under which taxpayers will be obliged to pay the $1,35 billion debt incurred by the central bank when it “bought” — or donated? — farming equipment to Zanu PF card-carrying members, many of them top politicians?

Whilst we are at it, did Manheru’s doppelganger — that is, someone who looks exactly like him yet not a twin — pay back the $100 000 he raked in from the scandal-ridden Premier Service Medical Aid Society in obscene board fees in 2013?

According to your own words, Manheru: “. . . is it not a bit too much to continue levying the very society that educated you up to university level?”

Manheru, go to town about such swindlers the same way you have energetically, enthusiastically and speedily done with pollsters!
l ctutani@newsday.co.zw

2 COMMENTS

  1. “Intellectually incoherent”..just these two words describe appropriately this pretender…By deduction ‘not worthy of comment’ becomes an appropriate response.

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