“FROM the ridiculous to the absurd” is how one can describe the latest moves — being openly driven by First Lady Grace Mugabe — to topple the duly-elected and court-affirmed leadership of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA).
By CONWAY TUTANI
The hypocrisy and contradiction of it all is glaring. The same individual declaring that the leadership of her husband, President Robert Mugabe, must not be challenged until his term runs out and is due for renewal at the next Zanu PF congress, is at the same time calling for fresh elections to oust the Christopher Mutsvangwa-led ZNLWVA not only before it’s term is up, but also without the locus standi, without the right to do so, as she was never and will never be a war veteran.
Who is Grace really in matters concerning war veterans? It’s like Dynamos Football Club demanding the removal of the Caps United Football Club executive and calling for fresh elections of such. I am sure her sons Robert Jr and Chatunga, who are Caps United supporters, would take great exception to such an irrational and meddlesome move even by their own mother, which defies logic.
The plot to remove Mutsvangwa and Co was finally outed at the so-called Zanu PF youth interface rally in Bindura last week. Grace roped in, among others, Zanu PF secretary for war veterans Sydney Sekeramayi, to open the onslaught against Mutsvangwa. But Sekeramayi failed to make a clear, intelligible case for the ouster.
This often happens when you are not speaking from the heart, but have been instructed to recite someone else’s words. It was the weakest and most hollow arguing for a case I have heard. He used the facile logic that after being expelled from Zanu PF, Mutsvangwa and Co must be ousted from not only the ZNLWVA leadership, but its membership as well.
Again, who is Sekeramayi to say that? Can you say the Zimbabwe Football Association must de-register a player for moving to, for instance, Highlanders like Roderick Mutuma did after being dumped by Dynamos earlier this year? A war veteran remains a war veteran inside or outside Zanu PF.To put it mildly, this was not a good performance by Sekeramayi. He rambled and rambled back and forth. He really struggled to make a cogent and coherent case. That’s what happens when you don’t have valid points to make.
But it didn’t matter in that highly-charged kangaroo court atmosphere where there was more heat than light, more hot air than sense — that is, until the turn of War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube (pictured) came to speak. His presence of mind and unflappability came to the fore at that podium in Bindura. What was supposed to be the explosive moment everyone was waiting for, the climax of the attacks on Mutsvangwa with Dube, in his capacity as the relevant minister, delivering the final blow on the war vets’ leader, came to nothing. Yes, it was one kind of a dud — a bomb or firework that fails to explode after all preparations have been done to the minutest detail with all the hype preceding the event.
Dube explicitly avoided reprising insults against the ZNLWVA leadership. He did not refer to any of them by name. This was a telling moment. He did not chant the slogan of that afternoon “Down with Mutsvangwa!” which had dislodged and relegated the customary “Down with the MDC!” to a distant second place. Dube’s silence on that was a loud statement in itself.
It was bold and courageous of him to distance himself from the gratuitous diatribe against Mutsvangwa and Co in front of the Mugabes and their lackeys. It was like, without using the exact words, Dube was saying: “If you insist on ousting Mutsvangwa and Co, it’s up to you.” Dube was clear and to the point. You cannot be more concise than that. It could be only a matter of time before someone hits back at Grace at those rallies. People can only take so much of her insults. You cannot goad or provoke people forever.
Dube’s quiet demeanour belies a steeliness of character. He might appear languid in his gait and speech, but his is far from being feeble-minded. There is deep contemplation in him. He is not a loudmouth like Chipanga, but is a quick, sharp, clear and individual thinker. So, it’s not a surprise that at the Bindura rally, some lapdogs and poodles — those persons willing to do anything that a higher authority tells them to do, those characters too willing to support or be controlled by someone in authority — were angry with the level-headed Dube.
This reminded me of the year 2001 when the Zanu PF regime — again resorting to the same smear tactics they are now using against Mutsvangwa — had another mighty embarrassing dud. This was after the regime — proving all its talk about its politics as based on ideology is empty — hired a notorious Israeli fantasist and political mercenary, Ari Ben-Menashe, to entrap MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai into appearing as if hiring him (Ben-Menashe) to assassinate Mugabe, with Ben-Menashe making a secret recording of the discussion. Tsvangirai was “duly” arrested and charged with treason, a capital offence, meaning he was facing execution.
To build up its case before the trial, the regime turned to the Zanu PF-captured ZBC, which hit TV screens with a blitz for three days running that it would show incontrovertible video footage of Tsvangirai openly saying he wanted Mugabe dead. Come the moment of the screening, with millions of Zimbabweans glued to their TVs, all we got was grainy, black and white inaudible footage. They said there had been a glitch and promised to screen it the next day. They did, but with the same results of a dud — the nuclear bomb that was supposed to incinerate and obliterate Tsvangirai and the MDC and leave the field to Mugabe before the 2002 elections failed to explode.
So, the ugly, besmirching, name-calling, dirty politics we are witnessing currently at the so-called Zanu PF youth interface rallies — some 15 years after Ben-Menashe and his Zanu PF handlers and paymasters were exposed — is not something new, but a continuation of the regime’s smear campaigning with different hired hands such as Zanu PF youth leader Kudzanayi Chipanga, who is today’s equivalent of Ben-Menashe. Like Ben-Menashe before him, Chipanga is not driven by any political ideology, but money — and his paymasters and handlers have lots of largesse to indulge him to express undying loyalty.
With such capacity for intrigue, can anyone believe anything they say? Such as that it is actually that South African woman who should be charged with attempted murder because she is the one who attacked Grace in a Johannesburg hotel room last month? If they are capable of fabricating and fictionalising to that extent, they are irredeemable.
All said, despite all the madness going on around us, something good will happen although it might appear unlikely.
With people like Dube who have refused to reduce themselves to lapdogs and poodles, hope springs eternal!