It’s character and not intellectual subtlety, stupid!


I NEVER foresaw it happening and fewer people across the globe ever imagined that we would have Donald Trump as the United States President. But, we are outsiders and observers of electoral processes in another country.

guest column: MUTSA MURENJE

Those who voted for Trump believed in his competence as a leader. This is something we ignored, especially given Trump’s political rhetoric and his extremist views in a world that is becoming increasingly intolerant of migrants and indigenous people’s rights.

For me, Trump never made any sense and I am just wondering how he will be able to govern a divided America when the world has clearly rejected him. In America, Trump won the election, but the consequences of his victory have been felt globally. The markets sneezed and uncertainty engulfed the whole globe. It is heartening though to learn that Trump has called for unity in his country. It is hoped that this call will restore stability that was lost in the aftermath of his victory in the election. Few had predicted his victory over Hillary Clinton.

Of worth to note is his impeachment has also been predicted. It is, therefore, clear that Trump will not have the luxury to act as he pleases. Any form of stupidity on his part will see him leaving the Presidency, to be replaced by his deputy, Mike Pence, who seems to be more sensible and responsible than The Donald. Character, and not intellectual subtlety, matter for one’s survival in politics.

I commend America for holding peaceful elections. I am worried though about post-election violence. We have since accepted Trump as the United States’ 45th President. The earlier those opposed to him accept this, the better.
Several African countries are expecting to have their own elections and what we see in America is something that characterises our polity.

In Zimbabwe, a rise in incidents of politically-motivated violence, intimidation and human rights abuses, across the country, has since been reported by 68 civil society organisations. America needs to be the leader it claims to be. We can’t tolerate politics of violence. It’s not a good lesson for those of us in Africa. We are already grappling with dictatorial regimes and any bad example will serve to undermine our democratic struggles.

Mine is an interdisciplinary field that includes theories from economics, education, sociology, medicine, philosophy, politics, anthropology and psychology. Indeed, social work is a professional and academic discipline renowned for seeking to improve the quality of life and well-being of individuals and families, groups and communities by intervening through research, policy, community organising, direct practice and teaching on behalf of those afflicted with poverty or real or perceived social injustices and violations of their human rights.

And, in my limited experience as a social work practitioner, I have learnt that mine is a vicariously explicit role, viz, to keep a nutcracker of circumstances from destroying and to help the sufferer see that there is, as it were, a stupendous potential for growth and development even in the face of the worst hardships. We need to remain hopeful that our lives will change for the better. We need to work for this change though. It will not be delivered to us in a silver platter. We ought to fight for it.

In this perilous state of our nation, it is stupid and idle talk to regard President Robert Mugabe as representing the people when he speaks, not their language, but his own. He ceased being our representative a long time ago and each time that he opens his mouth, Mugabe represents himself alone.

The advent of a society in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want remains the highest aspiration of the people of Zimbabwe. We, the suffering and oppressed people of Zimbabwe, ask the painful, yes, we torment ourselves with these questions: Why is Mugabe so capriciously unfair? Why does he delight in watching us squirm?

At first glance, it may seem that Mugabe’s authoritarian regime really does express the interests of society as a whole, uniting all of its members within a structure everybody can see.

However, there is no authoritarian regime that has ever existed, which served the interests of the oppressors and the oppressed in equal measure.

Unquestionable evidence shows beyond doubt that in those countries, where the minority gathers to itself the bulk of the national wealth, the regime primarily acts out as an oppressor of the majority rather than as the promoter of the interests of all citizens. This is the basic and fundamental postulate one must bear in mind in order to fathom and decipher the dictatorial nature of the evil Mugabe regime.

Zanu PF has founded our society upon violence, murder, corruption, and the State has inevitably become an instrument in the hands of the minority for consolidating its dominance. Is this not the total opposite of what the liberation struggle was all about? What we want is a situation whereby the State becomes an instrument for expressing the will of the masses.

Zimbabwe has become primarily an organised force for repression and coercion. We prefer our Zimbabwe to be an apparatus for directing national economic development and managing the ailing economy. We don’t want this economic meltdown currently prevailing in the country.

Mugabe’s authoritarian regime is characterised by partial or complete absence of constitutional rights and freedoms, the prohibition of democratic parties and working people’s organisations, reduction in the number of elective State organs, and the concentration of power in the Head of State. Today, Mugabe is striving to expand his social base. His growth is promoted by the strengthening of bureaucratic power, the broadening of the legal base for police repression, and the enactment of anti-worker, anti-people legislation.

In the words of Vaclav Havel, a Czech writer, philosopher, political dissident and statesman, he said: “Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.”

In conclusion, one must bear in mind that Zimbabwe is not static. It’s constantly developing, so a distinction should be made between those aspects of its activities, which are temporary and transient, and those which are stable and the most typical. We believe that Zimbabwe is a national institution, a supra-class instrument of universal justice and harmony.

We are living in days of special perplexity and depression. Because of this, we, the suffering people of Zimbabwe, value character more than we do intellect in governmental affairs. We are indeed a little distrustful of intellectual subtlety or cleverness unless assured that character underlies it.

May God help Zimbabwe!

The struggle continues unabated!

Mutsa Murenje is a social activist