What was supposed to be a crowning moment — the burial of MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai this week — was reduced to a shameful saga.
By CONWAY TUTANI
The funeral was supposed to be a solemn, but joyous and celebrative occasion. People were supposed to put their rivalries aside for the day and resume their fights the next day. There was no better time to have a ceasefire.
But, no, they intensified their fights, making Tsvangirai’s final send-off most raucous, riotous and undignified. Those ugly scenes — thanks to the chaos and disorganisation in the MDC-T —- will be the lasting memories of Tsvangirai’s death and burial as this overshadowed all else. I did not feel proud to be Zimbabwean, as all this mayhem followed Tsvangirai right into his grave. What dishonour! What desecration! What sacrilege! What profanity!
There is no doubt that Nelson Chamisa is popular, but then so was Adolf Hitler. But Hitler exploited and abused that support though his militia, the Hitler Youth, to end up being all-powerful bullying the nation, destroying State institutions and plunging the world into a war that directly killed over 20 million people. From the 1920s onwards, Hitler’s Nazi Party targeted German youth as a special audience for its propaganda messages. These messages emphasised that the party was a movement of youth: dynamic, resilient, forward-looking, and hopeful. Millions of young people were won over — as young people here are being won over. The MDC-T is now being similarly rebranded as a party of youth. Some of these youths are highly vulnerable to manipulation because they are so impressionable. That’s where the dangers lies with the goings-on in the MDC-T. We saw the same in Zanu PF pre-November 2017, when youth were used to bully people out of the party as is currently happening in the MDC-T.
These characters even vented their misplaced anger at Tsvangirai’s 90-something-old mother for not being in the camp of their idol, Chamisa. One idiot even juxtaposed a picture of Tsvangirai’s mother with that of a chimpanzee saying they look alike. They did not do their cause any good.
No one stopped these hooligans soon enough maybe because there has been youthful over-enthusiasm from the very top of the MDC-T as seen in their indecent haste to occupy the MDC-T headquarters. As soon as they did that, it became guaranteed that the end of it all would be nasty, as we saw from the ugly scenes when a maniacal and deranged mob tried to burn down the village hut in which MDC-T deputy president, Thokozani Khupe had taken shelter. These are the real political idiots, not the reference to President Emmerson Mnangagwa supporters as “EDiots”.
Some of these political idiots even referred to Khupe as a “Ndebele dissident” when their own party has been vociferously criticising the Zanu PF government for skirting full disclosure and reparation for the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres when thousands of civilians were killed in a military operation against what proved to be only a handful of armed dissidents.
Wrote Desire Moyoxide on Facebook: “If the phrase ’Ndebele dissident’ is in the minds of the MDC-T pilgrims, then it’s time Matabeleland found an alternative before dawn.”
This was my response to Desire Moyoxide: “I have said before that the opposition will lose votes because of their hateful hooligans. So I perfectly understand where you are coming from Desire Moyoxide. Calling Khupe a ‘Ndebele dissident’ has the potential of alienating a whole region against whoever is associated with thugs who do that. I am ashamed to be Zimbabwean.”
I could not help, but agree with self-exiled Jonathan Moyo’s tweet: “Sad that violence by supporters of @nelsonchamisa was visited upon MDC-T vice-president #DrThokozaniKhupe & MDC-T Mat North women’s quota MP #LwaziSibanda at #MorganTsvangirai’s burial in#Buhera today. The violence is an ugly example of the new #ChinhuChedu#EntitlementMantra!” Precisely.
“Maturity is the ability to think, speak and act your feelings within the bounds of dignity. The measure of your maturity is how level-headed you remain in the midst of your frustrations,” if I may paraphrase American businessman, poet and humanitarian Samuel Ullman (1840-1924).
Sadly, we did not see any political maturity coming from the Chamisa camp. All we saw was youthful over-enthusiasm and over-exuberance. It was ugly to behold. They even booed government representative Oppah Muchinguri as she was speaking. It is beyond these political idiots that such solemn occasions can be used for rapprochment; such occasions can be taken advantage of to re-establish cordial working relations.
And if those who attacked Khupe are really that brave, why didn’t they give Muchinguri the same treatment? They did not because they are basically cowards, who go for soft and easy targets. If anything, their anger — senseless as it was — should have been reserved for Muchinguri. That is what political logic says, but these hooligans’ guiding principle is irrationality. In the same breath, Muchinguri should be commended for standing her ground.
Shocked by the turn of events, the United States embassy stepped in with this hard-hitting statement: “The US government strongly condemns the violence that occurred today at the funeral for Morgan Tsvangirai. He stood in opposition of such violence and there exists no place for these types of actions today in Zimbabwe, as the country moves forward.”
The cowards, who attacked Khupe, have not responded by trying to burn the US embassy with the staff inside. And these cowards won’t label the US embassy as pro-Zanu PF for pointing fingers at them. They did not hit back at the US, but label people like poor Tutani as being in the service of Zanu PF for pointing out exactly the same. It may be because the Tutanis of this world cannot dangle $15 billion before the MDC-T like — as Chamisa has claimed, but refuted by the US ambassador — the American government has done. Last time I checked, taking well criticism from the West and rejecting that very same criticism from one of your own was reflective of a colonial mentality — that internalised attitude of ethnic or cultural inferiority felt by a people as a result of colonisation. Well, it appears that the MDC-T has an above normal number of leaders and supporters with a colonial mentality.
I am not a prophet, but last week, when I saw where all this was leading to, I wrote: “Now infighting has arisen in the MDC-T with . . . party youth assaulting Khupe in Bulawayo last year and barring (MDC-T co-deputy president Elias) Mudzuri from entering the party headquarters this week. Besides that these misguided and brainless yobos will alienate and drive away voters, the last thing the nation needs are youths with a militia mentality, as this will have nationwide ramifications.” I will not be boasting if I say: “I told you so.”
Those of whatever political hue and colour — MDC-T included — propagating and perpetrating violence must be exposed, condemned and stopped — forthwith and without fear or favour.
It is time to call a spade a spade.
lConway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: email@example.com