THE more things change, the more they remain the same. Just when one thought the bootlicking era was well and truly over following the long overdue ouster of former president Robert Mugabe in November 2017, this week I came across two of the worst grovelling pieces I have ever read from both Zanu PF and MDC-T.
Said Zanu PF chairperson Oppah Muchinguri: “We are still a virgin country which is yet to be discovered. The country offers limitless opportunities and God was waiting for President Emmerson Mnangagwa so as to unlock His blessings. He (Mnangagwa) did not campaign for the Presidency. Leadership was handed down to him by God.”
If I were Mnangagwa I would have cringed in embarrassment on hearing such effusive flattery, which in many cases has been found to be mere religious cant, because the person saying it does not really believe what they are saying.
I am not suggesting that Muchinguri was play-acting, but how many times have we seen politicians holding forth with their usual hypocritical cant?
Leave God out of it, especially when you are conveniently wearing your partisan political party hat in view of the looming elections.
Zimbabweans, in their maturity and wisdom, should not buy that. They should be suspicious of anyone who conflates politics with religion.
This has echoes of when in the 1980s, Zanu PF top official Webster Shamu — who I respect as a person, but am only mentioning him in this instance solely in my professional capacity — suggested that Mother’s Day be renamed Amai Mugabe Day in honour of Mugabe’s first wife Sally. Need it be repeated that this proposal to indigenise a universally recognised day caused derision all round?
Indeed, the late Sally had stood by her husband through thick and thin; and had, in her own right, directly contributed to the emancipation of Zimbabwe, but many people saw this as taking things too far.
People also saw it as taking things too far when the late Methodist Church in Zimbabwe cleric Canaan Banana — who used to pastor to us as students at Thekwane High School before independence and I have no personal issues with him — shortly after being appointed Zimbabwe’s first President in a non-executive capacity, bizarrely suggested that the Bible should be rewritten to make it more Afrocentric.
Yes, there was excitement after blacks were finally exercising their full rights as human beings, but to then get that over-excited as to eschew everything from the past as if it was all tainted by white racists is going beyond reasonable limits, it’s doing things to an excessive degree. No wonder Banana’s suggestion did not find any takers. People know when it’s a step too far.
Not to be outdone, we then had this: “There was no better month of the year suited for the birth of the MDC Alliance presidential candidate for the 2018 general elections than February. The same month that Morgan Tsvangirai, the former MDC president, was called by the Creator. For February is the month of love! So as the Sun rose on February 2, 1978, the MDC Alliance presidential candidate, Nelson Chamisa, was born at Silveira Mission in Masvingo, Zimbabwe. No wonder his heart blossoms with love for the suffering people of Zimbabwe. It all started in February.” If you juxtapose this with Chamisa’s hashtag @Godisinit#, the conflation of religion and politics is there for all to see.
Wrote someone with the gift of the gab when he came across similar flattery: “It’s a bootlicking, brown-nosing, sycophantic article that you shouldn’t read on a full stomach.” Yes, come to think of it, you could easily vomit.
This would have been excusable or forgivable had it been written by a semi-literate, intellectually-challenged MDC-T fanatic, but hold it — it was penned by Dr Phillan Zamchiya (DPhil, Oxford University). Yes, he had the gumption to append his credentials to such drivel.
To disprove Zamchiya, out of 21 dictators throughout history with known birth months, six were born in April, four in December, four in February, three in May, two in January, one in October and one in November.
So, in a year of 12 months, nearly one-sixth of dictators were born in February. This shows that February is above average in producing dictators, not necessarily that all those born in February are dictators.
Such unsubstantiated claims are far too often made by immature, unintelligent people who feel the need to put a label on everything and cannot accept that not everything fits into their narrow and shallow narrative or tunnel vision.
According to these fanatics, all those who dare to differ with them politically are bound for hell unless they agree 100% with every single thing that their leader, as the definer of everything, and their political party say, if I may paraphrase the — pardon the pun — irreverent Urban Dictionary, whose nuggets are handy in these times when lies and ignorance are being churned and spread at an industrial scale and in real-time on social media.
The resultant immature and ignorant conflation of religion with politics is quite troubling.
In the United States, it has been found that some people honestly believe that being a conservative Republican who votes for Donald Trump will get them straight into Heaven.
Same with those Islamic fundamentalists in the Arab world who believe that killing “infidels” in a suicide bombing will propel them to Heaven.
But there are many wrong suppositions and presuppositions from this conflation of religion and politics.
For instance, being an MDC-T supporter does not automatically mean that you are religious; and being religious does not mean that you are spiritual; and being spiritual does not mean “Christian”, because there are many religions and there are people from different political parties in each religion. The same applies with being a Zanu PF supporter.
Thus, there is no need for these party fanatics to be holier-than-thou, especially when they have amply shown that they can equally cheat in primary elections and be unashamedly violent against internal opponents. But, of course, these fanatics will continue to assume that they are the only Christians, and everyone else is evil, which is an evil thought in itself.
So it ought to be said here and now that leave God out of it, because neither ED nor Chamisa is God-anointed — that’s why they are campaigning.
lConway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org