Despite being intellectual superiors to their contemporaries, the Romans were nonetheless urged to be wise. It sounded foolhardy of Apostle Paul to deem it worthy to implore them to be on one hand, wise about what was good, and on the other, innocent about what was evil.
Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana
If ever there was a nationality that least needed basic advice on wisdom, it was the Romans. They were trendsetters whose influence transcended beyond the eye could see. Founded by Augustus in 27BC, at its peak, vast territories in Europe, Africa and Asia were ruled by Rome.
Romans were the acclaimed cradle of civilisation, respected not only for their military mighty, but also for genius in drafting laws that enabled humanity to co-exist and trade. Their collaboration with the Dutch in drafting laws made international commerce possible.
Throughout the centuries, the Roman-Dutch law was adapted by many countries the world over. Yet, Paul risked appearing to be preachy when he wrote admonishing the impudent Romans to be watchful of people who deceive the naive by smooth talk and flattery.
Given their quest for knowledge, there could not have been naive people in Rome. If ever there were any, it could be that they were barely negligible, dotted far and between. Yet, Paul went ahead to dip pen in ink to caution them of pending deception.
He warned them of people whose thrust was not for national good, but to serve their own appetites. He urged them to watch out for those who caused divisions and put obstacles in the way of citizenry. It was, indeed, not time for booze and snooze.
Like the then Romans, Zimbabweans have an urgent need for exhortation to be wise. Despite being well educated and credited for being a continental literacy powerhouse, it is imperative for citizenry to be absolutely wise and watchful.
What a germane counsel to Zimbabweans! It is as timely as it was to the Romans. No wonder, the Bible is called the Living Book. As I see it, my fellow columnist, the divine Bishop, concurs that there could be no pertinent sermon than that of imploring people to be wise.
With the harmonised elections being held under the direct superintendency of the crocodile, Paul spiritually had Zimbabwe in his heart when he penned Romans 16: 17-19. If ever there was a time citizenry needed to be on guard against flattery and deception, it is now.
While all predators survive on pouncing their prey, those in the know are in unison that the crocodile is in a class of its own. It is vicious from the front as well as from the rear. Its teeth and jaws are unrelenting while its tail is weaponry enough to render a deadly blow.
Further, the crocodile is said to be as cunning as it is unyieldingly brutal in attack. It is devastatingly formidable both on the ground and in water. Unlike the likes of the big cats which hunt in packs, the crocodile braces solitary in attack.
With deposed President Robert Mugabe now wallowing in obscurity, crying foul over the stealthy manner in which the crocodile wrestled the reigns of power from him, what more awakening call does citizenry want to realise that perilous times have dawned?
Ever since the deposal of Mugabe, there has been a series of smooth talk. We have heard of criminals surrounding Mugabe, restoration of legacy, new dispensation, mega deals and the voice of the people is the voice of God. It is, indeed, time to be watchful, as Paul warned.
Yet, none of the so-called criminals surrounding Mugabe is serving time behind guarded thick walls and iron bars. One pinpointed utterance, which meets the description of being smooth talk and flattery, is that on mega deals. Most probably, meagre is mistaken for mega.
As we count down to the harmonised elections, it is not for want of talk that rhetoric is rising in crescendo. Yet, the oftentimes repeated utterance of free, fair and credible elections is a naked falsity that crumbles on the onset of being subjected to the reasonable man’s test.
Save for flattery and deception, there is no evidence on the ground for free, fair and credible elections. The absence of rowdiness and violence is not in itself a confirmation of prospects of free, fair and credible elections. In fact, there is more to the calm than good intentions.
Ever since the police were engaged as returning officers in Zanu PF primary elections held in April, all talk of free, fair and credible elections became evidently a sugarcoated ruse. With partisanship of this nature, to all intents and purposes, democracy becomes prostituted.
Instances of State institutions working in direct furtherance of Zanu PF interests are too many to mention. They far outnumber the fingers on both my hands. In addition to that, State-controlled media houses are all but publicity arms of the party in power.
Contrary to the principal of non-partisanship, both public media houses, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, (ZBC) and the Zimbabwe Newspapers are found wanting. They herald and chronicle Zanu PF drivel at the total exclusion of other parties.
With the ZBC/TV main news bulletin now reduced to a soap opera starring Emmerson Mnangagwa and his wife First Lady Auxillia, it is dumbfounding that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is oblivious of its mandate to ensure equitable coverage to all candidates.
Headed by a High Court judge, Justice Priscilla Chigumba, who ought to protect the law, Zec is negating the very tenets of fairness it must uphold.
Disputations on the compilation and printing of the ballot papers and voters’ roll cast a dubious shadow on the prospects of free, fair and credible elections.
Reports of irregularities on the voters’ roll and the placement of a voting station in an army camp are detrimental, not only to democracy, but to Chigumba’s integrity.
Like her predecessor, who knelt before Mugabe, she risks being a national foe.
Despite repeated utterances that elections will be free, fair and credible, and that Mnangagwa will step down if he loses, as I see it, all this is cheap talk meant to deceive naive minds, as Paul sighted in his warning to the Romans. We too must be heedful.
Given the inherent canning nature of the crocodile, historic and current odds are against free, fair and credible elections.
Anyone who believes that Mnangagwa would accede to electoral defeat, let alone to free, fair and credible elections is pitiable in their dire gullibility.
Besides the rhetoric that is as sweet to the ear as lyrics of the hymnal, Amazing Grace, the entire electoral landscape is treacherous, only a crocodile can thrive, others cannot even survive.
Hence, a United States senator, Chris Coons, urged Mnangagwa to expedite the implementation of his words.
All electioneering amounts to much ado about nothing as long as economic, electoral and media reforms are not implemented.
Italian ambassador to Zimbabwe, Enrico de Agostini, remarked in June that Mnangagwa must concentrate on reforms than the said mega deals.
Similar perils which Paul forewarned Romans are dawning on Zimbabweans. It was not satirical that citizenry were told, albeit straight-faced, that power was not snatched from Mugabe only to be handed to MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa. True to its nature, the crocodile is not affable.