Despite the sarcasm and cynicism of the Jonathan Moyos of this world, the nation is now beginning to coalesce against the ancien regime we have been saddled with for 36 years. It’s now anything else, but the outdated regime. The stakes have never been higher, the rhetoric has never been lower, highlighting that we are in a struggle for the very future of this nation.
Former Vice-President Joice Mujuru finally officially launched her party, Zimbabwe People First (ZimFirst), this week and Moyo, predictably, treated us to some childish stuff, saying: “It was her first outing on an alleged People First project at a five-star colonial hotel with a bar called Explorer.”
Well, was Moyo not interviewed for the BBC’s Hardtalk programme at the same colonial hotel last year? What about the alleged meet the people rallies he has been gracing — pardon the pun — so religiously which have nothing to do with the people, but everything to do with narrow political interests? It’s such costly silliness from lackeys like Moyo that makes it imperative for Zimbabwe to take a new political direction. We have had enough of this old, sterile stuff.
One positive thing is that Mujuru is well aware of the immense task before her, especially with regard to establishing her bona fides, her honesty and sincerity of intention, having been part of the repressive and corrupt system from the birth of Zimbabwe in 1980. Said Comrade Horwe, a war veteran, in January this year at a meeting of Mujuru supporters in Mhondoro: “It is true that the party will be formed in February, but we must first of all confess that we killed innocent people when we were in Zanu PF. This includes the atrocities we committed during Gukurahundi at the instigation of our superiors. We cannot go forward without owning up to our sins because God will not bless our efforts.” That’s starting on the right foot, on a clean slate. Indeed, Mujuru has to get it right with nation from the word go.
But her credibility is not really in doubt among those who do not blind themselves to facts on the ground. She had been a marked person, at least since 2008, when it became common knowledge that her husband, the late Retired General Solomon Mujuru, was behind Simba Makoni’s challenge to President Robert Mugabe. One of Mujuru’s biggest “sins”, according to her nemesis First Lady Grace Mugabe, was that she was making secret overtures to the main opposition MDC-T despite being part of the system, and that she hardly chanted the slogan: “Down with the MDC!” We don’t need such angry leaders, who scream at everyone. People want moderation. So, let’s not conveniently overlook that Mujuru was never in that shouting shrill brigade. Her sloganeering against the MDC-T was more obligatory than from the heart and this did not go unnoticed within Zanu PF itself — ask Grace.
That she has people like Dzikamai Mavhaire in her corner cements her bona fides. Why? In a Parliamentary debate on constitutional reform of the one-party State in 1998, Mavhaire threw caution to the wind while arguing that the Constitution should be amended to prevent a President serving more than two terms, declaring: “Mugabe must go.”
So, as one can see, there has been always a reformist wing in Zanu PF, but its voice has been drowned by hardliners. In apartheid South Africa, the genocidal ruling National Party similarly had two factions: the verligte (reformists) and verkrampte (hardliners). The verligte, who were far less adamant about strict adherence to apartheid and were open to genuine dialogue with the oppressed blacks, contributed significantly in ending institutionalised racism in that country, bringing justice and equality to all. Maybe Mujuru and Co can only be faulted for hanging in, in the party for too long. Undoubtedly, they bear responsibility for partaking in the Zanu PF patronage system and cronyism. Tainted she is, but we need to have a real opposition instead of the current collection of misfits and, in some cases, non-entities.
Nevertheless, main opposition parties have welcomed Mujuru to the other side of the fence. They recognise that her move is a potentially game-changing dynamic. There is now some political maturity. What Mujuru did or did not do before is now of secondary importance compared to the bold step she has taken.
But bloviators like Moyo make outlandish, strident statements on issues, thinking that the average person will care about their opinions when it’s the complete opposite.
On his part, MDC leader, Welshman Ncube said: “There is misery all over and the integrity of the country is in great danger. We cannot afford a single day longer of Zanu PF rule, hence, everyone with a view to remove the current government should not be left out.” Indeed, people are tired and angry with the regime.
This is a commendable U-turn from Ncube, who, less than six months ago — in October 2015 specifically — warned against the formation of a grand coalition for the sole purpose of defeating Mugabe, saying such a project was bound to collapse soon after the elections, adding that there “too much obsession with removing Mugabe” from power and “yet there is no clear programme of action afterwards”.
In real life, there can never be an ideal time to do anything thing; it’s never all systems go; things don’t all slot into place at once.
Continued Ncube this week: “We can argue about ideologies and who is closer to whom later in a democratic Zimbabwe. At the moment, we are not in a democratic country and cannot afford to exclude anyone, unless they really want to be excluded.” Precisely! First things first.
There is need to distinguish between policy/principle and reality. You unite against a common enemy. This makes practical sense. You don’t spurn an opportunity to gain an ally. And that is how the majority of the people see things. They are not in the least eager to be told about Mujuru allegedly wearing a mini-skirt in the privacy of her home or some such childishly silly and trivial gossip and talk like the uncouth Moyo’s now tired libellous and vulgar reference to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s alleged “open-zip policy”.
We need a national coalition of voters that can win elections; that has the broadest base. A mere coalition of leaders without a voting bloc is as meaningless and useless, as it can be because politics is not a boardroom game, but a ground game. You need to win in most categories of voters. You need that critical mass to move to your side to ever hope of winning.
In other words, you need political value addition, which — more than being tainted from the past — is what Mujuru brings.