PRESIDENTIAL spokesperson George Charamba is fond of the statement his appointer and principal, President Robert Mugabe, is famous for using it to sledge the “West” when he feels like. But, if before the enemy was far away and perceived white, this time the target is much closer to home. As the country burns, and the children die, Zanu PF has turned a cold shoulder and told Zimbabweans too, to “Go hang”.
There is no telling, no debating the level of debilitating chaos that 36 years of misrule has brought on Zimbabweans. The actual extent of damage caused by Mugabe and his band of patronised hoodlums is the stuff of legends.
If Idi Amin Dada represented the most brutal African reign in history, our own government has broken all sorts of his known records.
They have ruled by greater fear and violence.
What is mind-boggling, if not mind-blowing, is such brazen cruelty has often been welcomed, if not celebrated. Who can forget Didymus Mutasa’s infamous statement in the early 2000s? That over 6 million people who had died from HIV/Aids deserved it because they were probably MDC supporters?
Or the late former minister of various portfolios and Zanu PF central committee and politburo member, Nathan Shamuyarira, who shockingly claimed: “The area of violence is an area where Zanu PF has a very strong, long and successful history.”
It is easy to remember the President, boldly proclaiming on State television in 2008, that opposition supporters would be “bashed by the police”, or in 2000 when he said, he had “degrees in violence”. The list is rather long, too long. It is indeed the stuff of legend.
But it is the present that ought to worry us. The words of dead politburo members like Shamuyarira, and exiled ones like Mutasa while true, are buried in painful yesteryear. It is the actions and words of those living today, and indeed those suspected dead (no pun intended), that are heart-wrenching.
When the President and his spokesperson told the “West” to go hang, it was in response to questions about the post-election violence of 2008 and the illegitimacy of Mugabe’s presidency at the time. The questions were warranted.
By law and the Constitution, Morgan Tsvangirai had won the election, albeit without the required majority, but when a runoff was not held within 21 days, Tsvangirai automatically became “de jure” President.
Secondly, his supporters, and his members were brutalised, beaten, and killed. Thousands sought shelter and refuge at the South African embassy, while millions fled the country
Given all that and more, Mugabe had been hastily elected, then installed as President. The world obviously questioned where his shame was.
The response, “go hang”, was meant to communicate and clarify a few positions. The first being Zanu PF did not care about the opinion of the international community, the West as they call them, or indeed anyone else. The second was that they did not care about the lives that had been lost, the displacement, and the pain they had caused.
The last was what the Afrikaners like to call, “voetsek”. Yes, Zanu PF told us all, from North Pole to South Pole, from Cape to Cairo, they told us to voetsek! They wanted power, and power at all costs, everything else and anyone else had to “go hang”.
Fast-forward to 2016. The government is broke. A drought has ravaged the land. Poor planning and bad administration are about to condemn an entire population (13 million minus the few hundreds from Zanu PF) to starvation.
For 36 years, the policy has been borrow and loot, tax and spend. The coffers are dry. There is no one to borrow from, and hardly anyone to tax either. The government cannot afford to pay its own workers. When asked about such a shocking anomaly, the response has been to call the workers lazy and remind them that they did not only deserve a bonus or salary, but that both were somehow a privilege and not a right. Wow! Anyone say voetsek?
But what must be illuminating is that the Zanu PF government cannot afford to pay its workers, whereas it can afford to spend lavishly on the party’s congress. It can afford to fly Mugabe and some estimated 100-plus officials all around the world at a cost of nearly a billion dollars.
As we speak, Zanu PF is preparing to feast and party on February 21.
And make no mistake, with Mugabe nearing his death bed by nature, they will party, and party in style! The nonagenarian is now very old, he may have outlived many, and still might outlive even some of us if his secret police have their way, but he cannot outlive and defeat nature.
Each birthday could very well and easily be his last. It is not a curse, he is just old.
Yet, ironically, while the country burns, they will party, and they are already partying. Remember the so-called meet-the-people tours by the First Lady, Amai Grace Mugabe? Even as the government failed to pay its desperately poor workers, Mugabe’s wife toured the country for fun, and on State resources for the matter!
If by now you are asking yourself what those white journalists asked in 2008 — “Where is the shame?”, then well, remember the answer, just as it was then, it is now, Zanu PF has told us all to — “Go hang!”
Maynard Manyowa is a political analyst and social commentator –www.maynardmanyowa.com