2018: Let’s not be misled by armchair radicals

2017 — the epochal year that was for Zimbabwe. Things unravelled fast. Many people — including former President Robert Mugabe himself and his G40 faction handlers led by his wife former First Lady Grace — were caught flat-footed by the ouster of Zimbabwe’s hitherto sole ruler since the attainment of independence in 1980. Everything else was overshadowed by this. It’s as if Mugabe’s fall was the sole event that happened during the whole of that year.

By CONWAY TUTANI

To many ordinary people, it was: “Thanks for going, Mr President!” as seen in the jubilant mood in the streets of Harare and elsewhere across the country on November 21, 2017 when Mugabe finally conceded that his stay in power had become untenable and tendered his resignation to avert the ultimate humiliation of impeachment. Mugabe had to be driven out — that’s what happens when you overstay your welcome.

It has not been a perfect year, not even a half-perfect year. Far from it. We still have serious unresolved issues regarding the need for a new political culture and on that one President Emmerson Mnangagwa has to walk the talk with elections looming next year.Cash shortages and other structural crises are still prevalent. But so are hopeful signs after the removal of Mugabe that things cannot get any worse. There is now a new sense of purpose and realism. Listed below are some memorable quotes regarding that.

Wrote development macro-economist Prosper Chitambara: “. . . the 2018 National Budget contains pragmatic measures to cut unproductive and wasteful recurrent expenditures while scaling up social and capital expenditures. This should provide a solid foundation for medium-term development if implemented.” (Zimbabwe Independent, December 21, 2017 — January 4, 2018).

Observed economist Vince Musewe: “It does not take a month to repair an economy that has been damaged for 37 years.” True, true!

Remarked journalist Loughty Dube: “In normal countries, new governments are rated for performance over 100 days. In Zimbabwe, in just over a month you have people parroting how good or bad a government is. Time will tell. Let the government run the course and the results will speak for themselves.” That’s political maturity writ large.

But some in the opposition seem to have adopted an attitude of political spite. They are condemning anything and everything associated with the new government, citing, among others, what they call the unconstitutional removal of Mugabe. But only on November 21, 2017, they were prepared to vote on the side of the “putschists” together with Zanu PF MPs to impeach Mugabe, only to be denied the chance to do so by the arrival of Mugabe’s resignation letter. When did they finally realise that this was, after all, an illegal removal of a government? Would they have said the same had Mnangagwa included them in the government? Such a sour grape reaction is not lost on the people; they neither take it lightly nor kindly.

Wrote another scribe Andrew Kunambura: “The opposition in Zimbabwe should be careful and wary. Their actions and words appear like they wish that Mugabe had stayed on and, by so doing, they risk further alienating themselves from the populace. The vast majority of Zimbabweans did not want Mugabe anymore from many years back. If they (the opposition) continue on this silly boulevard, they could be donating free votes to Zanu PF. This is the time they need proper thinkers, not the pretenders who went to Washington DC recently and carried with them an unwanted stowaway.” Heavy stuff, eh? But true, true

Indeed, the MDC-T has proper thinkers in its ranks like the level-headed Eddie Cross, whose take on the new Zanu PF government has been measured in tone and tenor and so will not alienate not only the floating votes of those people who have seen a lot of good in the ouster of Mugabe and also the initial steps taken by Mnangagwa, but also the votes of MDC-T supporters who, over and above being loyal to the party, have a sense of fair-mindedness and that sense of proportion that they are Zimbabweans above everything else.

Let me illustrate my point. I saw this even-mindedness in September 2017 when Dynamos Football Club supporters, more than supporters of any other club, expressed outrage when Zimbabwe Football Association chairperson Philip Chiyangwa, a known Dynamos supporter, unilaterally rescinded the red card issued to Dynamos’ top striker at a key stage of the season to obviously and blatantly enhance the clubs’ chances of winning the league title.

So, the opposition had better be warned that people, ordinary people, have collective wisdom, and will not swallow hook, line and sinker anything and everything coming their way from whoever and whatever. People are guided by an internalised and institutionalised sense of fairness and justice. There will come a time —if it hasn’t come already — when it does not matter to the people who says this or that as long as he delivers.

These opposition elements are being misled by armchair radicals — those people who act like activists, but from an armchair, from a totally inactive, theoretical position, mostly on social media. They profess radical aims without taking any action to realise them. Their ideas require them to be physically involved in political struggles, but they instead choose to be intentionally dismissive of real-world issues and problems so as to continue believing in the false reality that their views create.

The latest false reality created by such armchair radicals is that former Vice-President Phelekhezela Mphoko’s terminal benefits have been cut on tribal grounds without taking into consideration that this is in line with his short stint in office, as opposed to the late Vice-President John Nkomo, who served much longer and got a much bigger package.

They view the world solely according to their own perceptions, instead of concentrating on what they should really do — absorbing the physical and practical reality of the situation. Instead, they distort people’s understanding of complex issues by abusing social media.

As we head into 2018, we should make a resolution not to be misled by such armchair revolutionaries because we are not that far apart, and neither are we irreconcilably so.

Happy New Year!

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

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5 Comments

  1. Comment…Well said Mr Tutani, another added example from these armchair critics is the issue of a VP seeing over a ministry, it was the same order when ED was VP he was also the minister of Justice, legal Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs and noone was raising the issue, now it is Chiwenga they are now making unnecessary noise. Let it run like that it would also save unnecessary expenditure from the treasury of paying ministers and permanent secretaries for the appointed ministries.

  2. I think quite a number of people are scared of putting too much faith in a government establishment that has let them down before. Remember that brilliant speeches did not start in November 2017, we heard them from 1980. So yes, whilst jubilant, we must still retain our ability to question anything suspicious. It is healthy and within our rights to do so. Below I cite a few things which do not appear to be positive signs for this government at all:-
    1. statement by C Mutsvangwa about the army campaigning for Zanu PF. It’s plain stupid to ignore this simply because they removed Bob.
    2. over the Radio a few minutes ago, a Zanu PF official is quoted as saying fewer youths registered in Byo & Hre. Where did he get this info? Is the ZEC database open for scrutiny by all or a select few? If the latter, then we have room for problems.
    3. there were reports last week of farm invasions in the Chiredzi lowveld. If this is true, it flies in the face of any great intentions of this “new” government.

    Let’s call a spade a spade and give both credit or criticism where it is due, let’s kill the habit of euphoric celebration whilst throwing all caution to the wind!!

    1. SAGITTAR, where is the euphoric celebration? Who is putting too much faith in the govt? I don’t see that in this article, but balance. You could be guilty of reflex or habitual opposition. The situation is far from perfect, but would you rather go back to Mugabe days?

  3. I am surprised with how the author of the above article and some others seem to blindly support the new government . I have been following your articles and you portrayed a level headed front, chastising the Zanu pf gvt and its corrupt system, until of course when ED Munangagwa mercilessly wrestled power from the aged tyrant. Then you began suggesting it wasn’t a coup, only because it was a tyrant who has been forced out. it is plain to the seers that ED Mnangagwa masterminded the coup. Had he facilitated the removal of RG Mugabe and let due democratic process take place, then he would have been a hero like the state media want us to believe, but that he quickly enthroned himself makes him one dirty villain that makes some of us sick. That he forced another villain out does not make him any clean.

    You also paid no attention nor rebuked how ED Munangagwa was elected or merely endorsed by a central Zanu pf committee to take over from Mugabe. The process was abrupt and raw, not clear and half cooked. I was expecting you to write against the imposition and incorporation of the army into the gvt, the same army that was Mugabe’s tool and willing accomplice in Mugabe’s human rights abuse and mainstay to power. Well this you ignored, and I think you did it deliberately. ED has now rewarded the coup handlerz by giving top posts in gvt. Mr Writer dont forget that the military, that is suppose to be constitutionally apolitical, intervened in ruling party succession politics, and we have ended up with military leadership in gvt. Should we expect the same establishment that belittled the constitution to then rule with respect and within the confines of the law. Lets talk about how, through the coup, they downtrodden the constitution more than we talk about how they can resuscitate the economy.

    Then you start fuming at the opposition for not doing enough but again did not mention how its being systematically marginalized and demonized. We expected a change at how the state media reports about opposition, we expected unbiased reporting from this state institution. Still the opposition cant freely campaign in state media.

    Noticing no changes, why do we have to wait patiently wait for 100 days when the same recipe for past failure remain in use. Vestiges of tyranny have not gone away. The Fight against Corruption still remains only a talk. Nothing on the ground. ED Mnangagwa still identifies and knows who the corrupt guys are in Zanu pf, but is still unwilling to fire or prosecute them because he still enjoys their support and bootlick. His boots are being licked until squeaky clean… Before the economy shows any signs of slowing stagflation, bootlickers are already dis proportionally praising ED to the heavens. They should give ED a chance to fail.

    We cant remove one component of a complex corrupt system and expect the system to become squeaky cleaner. We cant expect the system to suddenly behave normal. We cant wait even for a second expecting such ‘new’ system to produce positive results. We cant be and are not that foolish. Zimbabweans have been urged to be resilient for decades, and now they are being told to be patient for some 100 mores days. We still cant go into the streets and peacefully protest unless the army tellz us too. We still haven’t got that freedom. An imposed president still rules over Zimbabweans, nothing has changed.

    Its not the Zimbabweans who should give ED Munangagwa chance to prove his governing acumen ship, but it is ED Mnangagwa’s gvt that should give Zimbabweans a chance to freely select their next desired leader, from a variety of candidates. That is the highest form of patriotism we can expect from him. We also note with dismay athow ED Mnangwagwa is being boot licked by all state controlled media, just the same Mugabe was being boot licked. No criticism whatsoever, this is not healthy for a leader who has not done anything so far.This boot licking brews fuels pride in dictators. ED Munangagwa is a dictator covertly. He cant fool some of us.
    If the new gvt cannot allow for a free and fair election, then it will still fail, there is not two ways. Even if we give them 1000 years. Lets judge the new gvt based on that. Based on our how much freedom it affords us.

    For the opposition’s perspective nothing has changed, Mugabe and Mnangagwa are just two sides of the same coin. The same way provinces were being coerced to endorse Mugabe, now they are being forced to merely endorse Mnangagwa as Zanu pf presidential candidate for 2018. Nothing has changed. We are even worse than before.

    As for your sentiments concerning social media, for now the only way to freely spread uncensored political information in Zimbabwe is through social media. Social media is not controlled or regulated so we expect both authentic and unauthentic info. The state media is only there to portray a false good image of Zanu pf, ED and the new gvt, just like it was doing during the days of Mugabe. Nothing has changed. So dont berate social media because for now it is the only avenue to freely pass political information. People are desperate to pass information, whereas the state controlled media throttles and sensors stuff as to please the new gvt and the new president. Zimbabweans political freedom as regards the spread of sensitive information now exists only on social media. Only bootickers like Bishop Lazarus can freely use the state media. Bootlicking gives our leaders some ecstasy.

    We continue to demand that the state media be free for all. If state media is reserved exclusively for the new president and Zanu pf, sidelining the opposition, then we should all acknowledge that the current president is also a dictator who feigns otherwise.

    Again Mind you Mr Writer , the opposition and probably many Zimbabweans did not wish for Mugabe to stay like you misconstrued , they just dont like the idea of removing one tyrant only to replace him with a more cunning one.

    Zimbabweans cant wait forever for their freedom, the past 37 years has been more than they can endure.The same cruel crooks keep asking for more time to prove themselves, Zimbabweans cannot wait for freedom forever. ED Mnangagwa and his team are still the same old Zanu Pf guard, they will not accomplish anything positive, but only wasting Zimbabwean people’s time and will continue with pillaging of the country’s resources. Unless if only they embrace democracy and freedom, but they are too too scared of democracy.

    Pardon me if I sound radical, it is the truth itself that is radical.

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