I HAVE said it before and I will say it again, here and now, that politics was never my specialisation though it cannot be denied that I am a political zealot. Despite this zealotry, I happen to be quite simply a social worker whose interest in political matters is immense. I can’t even explain it myself how deep this political interest is. There are so many things that I don’t quite understand but one thing that I have come to understand very well is that my political involvement is a result of the fact that I am acutely aware of politics’ venomous effects on our lives. This isn’t to suggest that all politics is bad. We have good politics and also bad politics. For us, however, it’s bad politics that we have been and no doubt continue to be exposed to.
OPINION BY MUTSA MURENJE
At 34 years of age, what I have known for all these years is nothing but bad politics in Zimbabwe. We have read about and seen good politics in both distant and contiguous countries. We look at these countries gleefully and with awe and admiration, wishing if it could only happen in our own country. Sadly, realising good governance and democratic ideals remains a herculean challenge for our country. Our President and his party, Zanu PF, have connived to make our journey in this regard even infinitely longer than it is now. This is a trend that oppositional forces are trying to curtail and there has been a convergence, perhaps realisation, that Zanu PF can be surmounted electorally and politically if only we have a united coalition or alliance of political actors in Zimbabwe. It is, therefore, from this standpoint that I advance the proposition that unity surpasses all things. It is what we need now to be able to right some of the wrongs committed against our people by the Zanu PF dictatorial regime.
Political tension has reached its zenith in our country, whether one looks at it from the perspective of the so-called “struggles-within-the-struggle”, originally attributed to murdered Zanu chairman, Herbert Chitepo and popularised by the late Masipula Sithole of the University of Zimbabwe’s Political and Administrative Studies Department, or from the perspective of President Robert Mugabe’s Gukurahundi “moment of madness”. My reference to Chitepo in this paragraph is quite deliberate. His story has never been fully told especially with regard to his assassination on March 18, 1975. There is still a lot of speculation regarding his death (including that of many others, who died in equally suspicious circumstances) and those who have attempted to write about it have caused us a lot of confusion, often leaving us with even more speculation. The history of our heroes needs to be correctly documented so that we may know that which they did and that which they could have done but didn’t do.
Recounting his meeting with Chitepo in 1942 on his way to Adams College in South Africa, where he hoped to train and qualify as a carpentry instructor, the late Zimbabwean Vice-President Joshua Nkomo had this to say: “From Salisbury, the capital of Southern Rhodesia, were Enoch Dumbutshena, my long-time friend and now Chief Justice of the High Court of Zimbabwe, and Herbert Chitepo, who also became a brilliant lawyer — having been my friend, he later became my great adversary, until he was murdered by his own associates in Zambia in 1975.”
We can even look at political tension from the perspective of the brutal political violence that began in the 2000s. We have had a seriously divided opposition political movement in Zimbabwe. The MDC has gone through serious challenges some of which have worsened the conditions in which people live. What this suggests is that there is still a political lacuna that needs to be plugged for us to mitigate its negative ramifications for us to be able to edify the situations of those whose lives are characterised by widespread poverty, rampant unemployment and serious lack of viable economic opportunities. These serious challenges confronting our nation cannot be simply addressed by banning South African dancer, Zodwa Wabantu, from coming to Zimbabwe without underwear for the carnival festival at former Studio 263 actress Anne Nhira’s instigation or by siding with our First Lady Grace Mugabe, who escaped criminal incarceration in neighbouring South Africa through international law on diplomatic immunity.
Many Zimbabweans, young and old alike, continue to migrate to South Africa foraging for a better life and better employment opportunities that they are being deprived of at home. For these Zimbabweans, there is nothing that will stop them from undertaking such migratory journeys even though they can be risky. They expose some migrants, especially women and girls, to such vices as smuggling, trafficking, sexual exploitation, harassment and even rape. Considering the irregular situation in which some of our people find themselves in, they are not always ready to report some of the crimes that are committed against them. What recourse do they have when they are running away from a regime that knows neither truth nor ruth? It is a fact of life that they have limited options, hence, their continued exposure to these avoidable dangers.
Because I am extremely enthusiastic about politics, I haven’t found something as good as politics to keep me engaged, I have been through a psychological process of rumination and cogitation to find better ways through which political gladiators fighting for the consolidation of good governance and democratic practices in Zimbabwe can make our lives better. The steps taken by Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube, Morgan Tsvangirai and other political leaders are significant. Not only because we will be able to fight the regime from a common political corner, but also because Zimbabwe now has the option to place Zimbabweans at the centre of political option. With unity, it is possible that our leaders will now direct all their energies to the situation of disempowered and marginalised Zimbabweans. I am also confident that this step will intensify the inclusion of Zimbabweans in national political action plans and strategies thereby reaffirming our cultural and political diversity. May God bless Zimbabwe! The struggle continues unabated!