Last week, some of us laughed until our bellies hurt when we realised that Zanu PF supporters marching in the capital had absolutely no clue why they were marching.
Candour with Nqaba Matshazi
A solidarity march had been called for First Lady Grace Mugabe after her troubles in South Africa, where she allegedly assaulted a model and what was seen as an attack on her business after there were allegations that Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa had suffered a bout of food poisoning after eating ice-cream from her business concern.
The only thing is that her supporters had no clue who the target of their anger, Gabriella Engels – Grace’s alleged victim in South Africa — was, but they insisted “Engels is no angel”.
They were angry at AfriForum — an organisation that is fighting for Grace’s prosecution in South Africa for the alleged attack — but then again they had no clue about the rights group.
Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene, one of the main speakers at the march, was also in the dark about AfriForum, thinking it was a local group that was reading for political power.
This was exposed through a short video by Bustop TV, who dared tread where angels fear and exposed the ignorance.
Quite the spectacle, we laughed at the ignorant Zanu PF supporters, who have no idea what their cause was and were just there to make up the numbers.
But, as we laughed, we missed the tragedy that politics is globally not just locally, where most voters are ignorant about what they are voting for and will sycophantically follow the leader.
What I saw is that this is a group that will not be bothered by Zanu PF’s failures, but would vote for it no matter the circumstances.
Instead of being embarrassed by this show of ignorance, Zanu PF leaders probably were smiling contently saying “mission accomplished”, as it was clear that no matter how they stuff up, they have a loyal batch of supporters, who would vote for them unquestioningly.
This is the same group that swallows the claim that sanctions are solely responsible for the mess Zimbabwe is in hook, line and sinker and are prepared to defend their leaders to the end.
Add on to that, public office is about accountability and there is no way that these marchers, who went to show solidarity with Grace, can hold leaders accountable if they can show up at rallies without having a clue why they are there.
Such lack of knowledge helps Zanu PF ten-fold, because we can be pointing out Zanu PF’s failures, and rightfully so, yet the people that vote or to use a popular cliché — the people on the ground — are not interested in holding those in power to account, but are more preoccupied with showing their allegiance and loyalty to the rulers.
Politics is about manipulating and controlling public opinion and in this regard Zanu PF has done a stellar job.
It has groomed a voting class and youth that cannot see beyond their noses, a loyal group, who when asked to jump, do not ask why, but rather how high.
If I were in the opposition, I would be very worried after watching those marchers gleefully and ignorantly demonstrating in solidarity with Grace, because making them see the light would be a tall order.
A university professor, Simon Kaye once wrote that ignorant voters are more easily misled or manipulated by rhetorically impressive but factually unsound claims.
He said it is easy for them to believe in conspiracy theories or accept simplified versions of reality.
And this is the situation we find ourselves in as Zimbabweans, where people are easily misled because of political ignorance.
The issue of political ignorance has bothered philosophers since time immemorial and this is not exclusive to Zimbabwe.
Some have argued that the right to vote should be qualified, with only knowledgeable people voting instead of everyone else — known as epistocracy — something which has its own problems, among them elitism.
A political philosopher and author, Jason Brennan remarked that: “… the conscientiousness of the enlightened few is no match for the negligence of the many …”
This, in a nutshell, means that there are more politically ignorant people than there are politically knowledgeable ones and, always the former have more weight than the latter.
Thus, while the Bustop TV recordings gave us a moment of comic relief to lighten up our often dour reality, the truth is that it exposed Zanu PF’s hold on many people due lack of political knowledge.
While we laugh and pour scorn at what we deem ignorant marchers, the reality is that the Zanu PF hierarchy can sleep easy, knowing that their job is done and have a core group of supporters that they can count on when the chips are down.
This is the same group of people that cheered when President Robert Mugabe accused his then deputy, Joice Mujuru of using witchcraft to remove him from power, but then also ululate when he says there is no such thing as witchcraft.
This group will not ask why Zanu PF has failed to create jobs, why the country has no currency or why the economy is tanking because the party long gave them the answer; they unquestioningly blame sanctions for everything and will not hold authorities to account.
With this lot, Zanu PF is content and cannot be bothered.