Wrote a sage: “Idleness is not doing nothing. Idleness is being free to do anything.”
By CONWAY TUTANI
Well, we saw that at play in the ugly scenes outside the Supreme Court this week as MDC-T idlers, being very much free to do anything, hurled insults at MDC-T faction leader Thokozani Khupe, calling her “hure” (whore). You cannot get more foul-mouthed than that in public. The thuggish so-called MDC-T vanguard was in full battle cry, at its hysterical and maniacal worst. Who knows, in another less secure setting, this lynch mob would have torn Khupe to pieces.
Even MDC-T parliamentary candidate Joana Ruvimbo Mamombe was horrified by that, prompting her to write on Facebook: “Yesterday morning I was at the Supreme Court in solidarity with my party. I sadly witnessed some of our members hurling insults and denigrations on Dr Khupe. As someone who has in the past few days been subjected to malicious attacks, I feel the pain and humiliation suffered by Dr Khupe. I condemn unreservedly this cowardly and dastardly act!”
Well, I have been condemning these same cowards since before MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s burial, but been labelled a Zanu PF agent and murakashi (basher) for that. Thanks, Mamombe, for stating the truth without fear or favour. One does not have to be pro or anti-MDC-T, but to be fair-minded to be disgusted by that. We can have our political differences, but let’s unite in service of the truth which is unbendable and unchangeable as illustrated by Mamombe, showing maturity beyond her youth, which qualities seem to be sadly lacking or are not highly valued by some of her party seniors, who are in the habit of closing ranks around lies.
Wrote Precious Shumba: “If what I witnessed at the Supreme Court yesterday is anything to go by, there is very little difference between the Zanu PF of old and the present MDC-T. The world is watching the so-called democrats retrieving everything wrong with the old Zanu PF system under former president Robert Mugabe. The people have to bow down in shame at this bastardisation of women in society. Modernity does not mean profanity!”
It is pleasing to note that more and more Zimbabweans are not taking things for granted as they are now critiquing the opposition as much as they have been scrutinising the ruling party for its many sins of commission and omission and discovering that, after all, there is not much separating the two. Both can easily resort to emotional and physical violence, as seen at the Supreme Court this week and in the conduct of their primary elections.
Wrote Methuseli Moyo: “The MDC led by Nelson Chamisa . . . are the ones who are rigging, in a way, by repelling supporters and voters. You can’t, in this day and age, call someone a dissident and hure the way they have been doing to Thokozani Khupe. Usually supports reflects team, leadership or both.”
Nothing is more offputting to middle-of-the-road voters — who constitute the majority of the voters and neither belong to any party — than that. We see such fair-minded people in football stadiums applauding even the opposite team when it has outclassed their own team. Only party zealots would cheer such vituperation and violence directed against Khupe.
Indeed, this rowdiness could be most costly as it puts off and alienates decent folk, into which category the average voter falls. It’s these middle-ground or moderate voters who are going to determine the 2018 electoral outcome, not these idle youths on the lunatic fringe who are free to do anything. Global studies have shown that moderate voters are the ultimate deciders especially in today’s polarised politics. Neither Zanu PF nor MDC-T make up a big enough share of the electorate to win majorities on their own. Moderates are the “deciders” who tip elections for both Zanu PF and MDC-T. This means both political parties must do more than simply pander to their ideological base or partisan hooligans.
But the so-called MDC vanguard is busy alienating moderate voters by their racuous and rowdy behaviour which, while it can work in student politics, is a sure recipe for defeat in broader society. The so-called vanguard might take delight in investing some mystique and aura around Chamisa romanticising him and making him larger than life by referring to him as “Cobra”, but this doesn’t wash outside their narrow MDC-T circles and can even be a turn-off among average voters, who are not impressed by such extravagant, flashy “smart Alec, big-time Charlie” references, but simply want stability and direction. So, all those associated with the vanguard need a “maturity advisor”.
The danger is that this developing culture in MDC-T, which began to manifest just before Tsvangirai’s death in February 2018, could all too easily lead to it becoming a cult where these fanatics don’t want even an insect to bite Chamisa, but are prepared to burn Khupe alive as they tried to do at Tsvangirai’s burial.
These types of political criminals do exist as parasites, famously described by Karl Marx as lumpen elements, but we tend to only think of drug traffickers, sexual predators, thieves, prostitutes, pimps who profit from the oppression of women as low-lifes. But the political thug is as parasitic as these listed lumpen elements.
The essence of it is that, functionally speaking, they are not part of society. They have no concept of the social as they have an individualistic life process, and for that reason are easily swayed and exploited by politicians. Thus, there has been lumpetisation of the MDC-T; and it was easy to do that because of ideological incoherence in the party. It can only be decribed as an ideological hodge-podge, an ideological mess.
And no one can deny that these hooligans were there in the service of the party as the following notification shows: “ATTENTION: All MDC-T members. You are all invited in your numbers to attend a Supreme Court (Constitutional Court) ruling regarding the ownership wrangle over the use of the name MDC-T. This follows the hijack of the party name by the illegitimate breakaway faction led by Thokozani Khupe. The court case will be held at the Supreme Court along Samora Machel Avenue, Harare, on Tuesday 22 May 2018. Time 8:00am. Please come in thousands to render your support to the party and the legitimate president Advocate Nelson Chamisa. Be there in time as the third lawyer. Dress in party regalia or all red. Let’s paint the venue red. Your presence makes the difference. Punctuality is the soul of business.
From Harare Provincial Chair Murai”
But Chamisa has, once again, chosen to be less than honest by issuing this incredible statement: “An incident involving a group of people accosting and shouting obscenities at our former colleague and vice-president Thokozani Khupe has been brought to my attention. I’m also aware that there is an impression that this incident was authored by the party. This is incorrect. I wish to state in very clear terms that whoever these people are, they do not represent me or the party. The behaviour displayed in that video (in circulation on social media) is deplorable, wrong and is inconsistent with the values that we stand for as a democratic party. It has nothing to do with us and we condemn it in the strongest terms.”
Oh my God! Can someone be compulsively allergic to the truth?
lConway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org