HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsWill Zanu PF cowards discard fear of Mugabe?

Will Zanu PF cowards discard fear of Mugabe?

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Julius Malema, the youthful leader of Economic Freedom Fighters, South Africa’s second biggest opposition party, does not burden himself with political correctness or niceness.

echoes: CONWAY TUTANI

While politicians don’t come as erratic and as volcanic as Malema, with some observers — myself included — even questioning his mental stability, you cannot just dismiss this maverick of mavericks.

One, Malema is succinct and to the point. He clearly expresses what needs to be said without unnecessary words.

Two, Malema’s arguments, whether or not one agrees with them, are generally cogent, meaning they are convincing or believable by virtue of forcible, clear, or incisive presentation. This has seen him out-debate intellectuals and other self-absorbed experts, making them look stupid and ignorant. Is it any wonder that even before getting his degree, Malema was invited all the way to England by the prestigious Oxford Union, Oxford University’s famed debating society, in 2015, where he did not disappoint when he addressed a packed hall?

This week, President Robert Mugabe was on the receiving end of Malema’s bareknuckle succinctness and cogency.
Malema stated the obvious, saying: “Zimbabwe’s situation is bad. President Mugabe can’t even hold a spade. He is no longer capable of discharging his responsibilities. We don’t hate the man.”

You cannot have a more stinging rebuke than that and this must be particularly galling to the tetchy and peevish Zanu PF after Mugabe feted him at State House in Zimbabwe in 2010 with the usual lackeys in the State media regurgitating the State line of lavishing praise on Malema as the greatest ever and the greatest there would ever be. Now, Malema’s excesses, which they aided and abetted, have come back to haunt them. Kinda karma or poetic justice?

Malema has told people things they already know, but which need to be restated in view of the rank/sheer madness of the regime to still have an old and ailing person preside over State affairs when there is manifest evidence of collapse everywhere — hospitals, roads, you name it. No amount of physical makeover will make Mugabe look any younger. He can’t forever defy the march of time. You can’t force the march of time into a new direction. The biological clock ticks for us all, Mugabe included.

Zanu PF — in a cowardly manner, proving Malema right — hit back without the least sense of irony, labelling Malema “a Gucci revolutionary”. Does that make First Lady Grace Mugabe, who is embroiled in $1,4 million diamond ring saga, any less “Gucci” than Malema?

I am not a fan of Malema, but I understand where he is coming from. The ruling African National Congress government in South Africa is becoming as corrupt and as decadent as Zanu PF, but, fortunately, not as repressive. That’s it’s saving grace. The democratic ethos in South Africa has solidified — President Jacob Zuma has openly called on those canvassing to succeed him to go ahead. Here, it’s the opposite. Mugabe does what he wants — it’s just too much power for one person to have. There has been mention of treason for daring to express ambition to succeed Mugabe.

What treason?

One can understand why Malema holds that opinion about Zanu PF without necessarily agreeing with his other radical, even hateful, politics.

We had this facile response from Zanu PF youth leader Kudzai Chipanga: “. . . it’s high time Malema minded his own business and stopped interfering in ours.”

Well, Malema has every right to point this out because South Africa is paying heavily for the tragedy that Mugabe’s rule has become, with millions of Zimbabwean economic refugees having crossed there to escape poverty.

The other lame defence from the regime is that those not in Zanu PF have no business to call on Mugabe to step down. They say mind the affairs of your parties and leave us alone. If they didn’t dip into taxpayers’ money to keep the regime in power or prop it up, that would be well and good.

But Zanu PF has become a true and proper parasite, an organisation which lives/survives on other people’s efforts and at their expense, and gives little or nothing back. This is seen on potholed roads, where Harare City Council gets only $1 million for road maintenance annually, while the regime — through State-captured parastatals like the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration — keeps $39 million due to the council from tollgate and vehicle licence fees.

It’s the same story of giving little or nothing back in the health sector, where we now have the scandal of about 50% of the budget being provided by donors, resulting in collapsed public hospitals and more and more Zimbabweans now pouring into South Africa as health refugees. These are only two of many, many examples.

As one can see, the regime’s blunders impinge much more on the marginalised majority. We are all made to carry the can. So, we must demand, alongside Malema, that Mugabe steps down forthwith.

Malema then hit the nail on the head: “They can respond and insult us anyhow they want (yes, they get angry when confronted with facts), but they are a group of cowards, those comrades in Zanu PF, to be scared to say to an old man like President Mugabe: ‘Please, with due respect, let go’.”

Indeed, Zanu PF ought to have the capacity or capability to view Mugabe as separate from the party in the same way, for example, Christians ought to see the Bible “apart from the church out of which it grew and for which its writings were collected”, to quote Derek Wilson in his book Out of the Storm: The Life and the Times of Martin Luther, about reformist German professor of theology, priest and monk Luther (1483-1546), who saw that the Bible was being subjected to the dominant Catholicism doctrine in the same way Zanu PF has been reduced to Mugabe-ism.
The Bible stands above all churches, not the other way around.

Similarly, a party should not be at the mercy of an individual. But, as one can see, Mugabe has not only abused the nation, but his party too. The Bible is not there to serve the church, but the Church to serve the Bible. Likewise, Zanu PF is not there to serve Mugabe, but Mugabe to serve Zanu PF. Zanu PF members should demand their party back from Mugabe.

A reviewer of the book describes Luther thus: “A remarkable Rennaissance man, whose rationalist convictions changed not only the post-Reformation Church in Europe, but also the individual’s relationship to society . . . provoking the re-thinking of deep-seated ideas about Church and State, government and the individual . . .”

While Malema is far from being an intellectual giant, what he said this week ties in with what Luther observed six centuries ago: That power relations ought to change; that there cannot be one centre of power, as we are constantly reminded ad nauseam by the regime; that people ought not to completely relinquish power to individuals behind institutions like political parties because these individuals will end up owning them for all practical purposes.

And, specifically, that Zanu PF is a classic case of “too much power for one person to have”.

Will those cowards in Zanu PF now join the rest of the people who long ago discarded fear of Mugabe?

Come on board, compatriots!

Conway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: nkumbuzo@gmail.com

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