WHEN I was in upper primary school way, way back, there was this adult man who was passionate about football, but would not pay the gate fee to watch his favourite team from the terraces.
By Conway Tutani
The man would drive all the way to the stadium, climb up a tree just outside the match venue, from which vantage point he would watch the game for free, but still felt entitled to scream his voice hoarse at any player losing the ball, misplacing a pass or making any boob, even the slightest one. Guess what? Us, little boys — including his son who was our friend — would be inside the stadium hearing him lashing out from outside. You can imagine the embarrassment this caused his son, young as he was.
It taught me something early in life: People can go mad at something without realising — or refusing to see and accept — that they are on shaky ground themselves. Some people will lash out in all directions despite their harsh, full frontal attacks being on questionable foundation. This man exempted himself from paying, but still found it justified to scream at the referee and players. I found it totally irrational and absurd.
My mind raced back to that time when President Robert Mugabe last week criticised the way the United Nations Security Council is structured, threatening a whole African pullout from the organisation. The basis or grounds of his criticism cannot be questioned. Indeed, the Security Council is long overdue for reform. Democratisation must extend everywhere, not the current situation where five countries — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — are permanent members of the Security Council with veto-wielding powers deriving this from those countries’ combined victory over Nazi Germany and imperial Japan in the Second World War (1939-1945). Mainland China replaced the Republic of China (Taiwan) on the Security Council in 1971.
One commendable thing is that the veto is being used less and less willy-nilly following the end of the Cold War where the Soviet Union, before its spectacular and monumental collapse, almost always said “nyet!” (Russian for “no”) to everything from the side of its adversaries in the West and vice versa.
So, Mugabe was correct to say: “Others (the five veto wielders) are real members (of the UN), (while) we are artificial members of it. How can only a handful of people dominate?”
Indeed, the Security Council veto must not be a preserve of Second World War victors, but how can the Presidency of Zimbabwe be declared a “straitjacket”, reserved for those with liberation war credentials?
Should the opposition be warned to “leave the State alone” — as my friend from the past, War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa, said last year — for the liberation war movements like it’s their birthright?
The Security Council set-up is no different from Mugabe’s vice-like grip on Zimbabwe. The only difference between the two is that while the Security Council permanent members have de jure veto powers, here Mugabe largely has de facto veto powers.
People couldn’t help, but exclaim: “Look, who’s talking!” That’s what people say when someone criticises other people for exactly something that person does himself or herself. It’s most amazing, for example, for an emaciated person to call you thin; or a fat person calling you fat.
When Mugabe was railing against the Security Council set-up, he missed the irony that the criticism applies to him as well in Zimbabwe where he is the one centre of power and unchallengeable. He might as well be railing against himself.
Despite being at a vantage point — with his immense power and influence — to reform the toxic politics in Zimbabwe, he has adamantly refused to do so on the dubious and convenient grounds of sovereignty. Sovereignty should be a force for good democratic practice, not to repress. It would be like saying: “Let me beat my wife to my heart’s content because I paid lobola for her.” They use the same justification of liberating the country from colonial rule to stay in power by hook and by crook, including disenfranchisement and stealing votes.
Mugabe again pontificated that he was somehow divinely ordained to rule Zimbabwe forever. That cannot be. The year 2008 showed main opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai can win — and that Mugabe is beatable, laying bare as a lie this talk about anyone being God-given to Zimbabwe.
But, of course, true to form, the regime contrived to overturn Tsvangirai’s victory. Said Mugabe in the same speech, completely missing the contradiction and irony: “I will be there until God says come. But as long as I am alive, I will head the country. Forward ever, backward never!” Is this the same person calling for a more inclusive Security Council, but exempting himself from that back home?
No one is saying Mugabe should never ever criticise the UN, but it must be proportionate; there must be a sense of perspective; there is need to juxtapose. We need to look at ourselves even more intensely, rigorously and critically. We need to ask ourselves: Are we doing any better or worse than the Security Council with virtually the same veto powers?
Mugabe quit the Commonwealth in a huff; no one followed him. Before warning of an en masse African walkout from the UN, he threatened to quit Sadc, but no one begged him to stay.
Observes an author and deeply respected teacher of personal development going by the pen name “Springwolf”: “Believe it or not, some people love conflict, love hearing themselves argue, and get a feeling of personal power from telling others how wrong they are.”
Hmm . . . this could explain a lot that has happened — the shockingly violent land reform in which lives were needlessly lost, etc; and what is currently happening — for instance, the dog-eat-dog infighting that has torn Zanu PF asunder, dragging down the nation with them.
Are we talking about a hell-raiser — a person who thrives in the chaos he/she creates?