The year 2014 was an interesting one within Zanu PF politics. For the first time, we saw a woman publicly fighting another woman in our politics.
And for the first time we saw First Lady Grace Mugabe publicly attacking a sitting female Vice-President Joice Mujuru. That was a new chapter in our politics as it ushered in a new season of drama after drama.
It was the 19th year after Oppah Muchinguri represented Zimbabwe at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing which marked a significant turning point for the global agenda for gender equality.
There is no doubt that Muchinguri, Mujuru and many other female politicians gave hope for the possibility of the first female president in Zimbabwe. But no one had ever imagined that the top female politicians would be at each other’s throats when they were supposed to be united on the same cause. It was a tough case like the fight between a stepdaughter and a stepmother where the man has to pick a choice instead of pursuing peace.
When Mujuru was under attack, Zimbabweans sympathised with her, perhaps because of her motherly figure or because it was the first time in our history that a top female politician was publicly humiliated by the system.
Perhaps, it was because she was the victim. Zimbabweans like siding with victims, no matter who they are and the wrongs they did before.
December 2014 marked the political divorce between Mujuru and Zanu PF. It might have been a painful moment for Mujuru to lose her Zanu PF friends after losing her husband, the only people she had known the rest of her life. But life has to go on.
Her more than a dozen months of political silence were pregnant with speculation and hope, with some suggesting indecision while others thought it was strategic.
There is no doubt that many in Zimbabwe yearned for that opportunity to hear Mujuru’s voice booming: “Pasi neZanu PF and Pasi NavaMugabe.” Not sure she has done that thus far. Well, if she hasn’t, give her time.
Most of us thought by Joice Mujuru joining opposition politics she would provide the rare opportunity of someone who was born and bred in the system, someone who had more inside perspective of the system and someone who had something never said before — standing against Zanu PF.
For that reason, Mujuru’s entry into politics became an interesting attraction — one that would silence all opposition voices for a while as the Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) project spews what everyone has been waiting for.
Yes, we are hungry to know more. Zimbabwe is an anxious nation deprived of basic knowledge. For starters, we don’t know our leaders very well even though they have been there for over
36 years. Our political system is very secretive and runs on fear than transparency.
In addition, there are so many questions requiring answers. These vary from Herbert Chitepo’s death, Gukurahundi, political violence, vote rigging, the disappearance of activists and the missing $15 billion diamond money and several others.
We are also angry and are a nation ineptly crippled by the same political system. We are comfortable with our dreams evaporating in the thickness of fear than put our lives in danger in pursuit of change. We are comfortable navigating problems than solving them.
We find ways to survive than survive the normal way. It is the same attitude that has allowed the system to consolidate its roots deep in power and became irresponsive to the voices of those who dare ask questions.
That is why most people saw the Mujuru project as a sign of promise and hope. A daughter, a female voice born from the system attacking the system.
However, recent interviews after the launch of the ZimPF are seemingly telling a different and gloomy story. The party is gagged at birth. Those questions will remain unanswered even when we have people with answers among us. The word “criminal” has suddenly occupied centre stage and has become the answer to all the questions.
It is “criminals” who assassinated Chitepo, caused Gukurahundi, perpetrated political violence, rigged elections, caused the disappearance of activists and took the missing
$15 billion. The “criminals” are nameless, faceless and insipid and are or were not part of government. This political ducking and diving is self-deprecating, suicidal and a source of mistrust.
Whether this is strategic or mere cowardice by the former disciples of the system, what then is the added value of having another political party on an already long list of opposition parties? What happened to retirement, if the Official Secret Act law is gagging them? Why walk on fire when you know you are made of wax? Why claim to be a democratic party if the leadership cannot enjoy the freedom to express themselves?
The seriousness of the ZimPF is going to be measured by the extent to which they will address these outstanding questions. Politics is different from fighting the colonialist.
●Tapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa