Deny, deflect and divert: Zanu PF’s flawed approach to governings

When the news that the Association of Rural Teachers of Zimbabwe (Artuz) boss, Obert Masaraure had allegedly been kidnapped, brutalised and left for dead first filtered in, the government and by extension Zanu PF’s response was predictable; they would deny everything and if possible, blame the victim and true to form, that is exactly what they did.

Probably, the best response would have been for the police — not the government through Information and Publicity secretary, Ndavaningi Mangwana — to say they are investigating the issue and would seek to speak to Masaraure first to ascertain the details of the case.

Instead, they resorted to a crass knee jerk response that has become the hallmark of Zanu PF governments right from 1980.

Zanu PF’s approach to governing is simple, particularly when confronted with a difficult issue — deny, deflect and divert.

Not much thinking is involved in this; it just kicks in, like it is second nature and they move on like nothing ever happened.

It is not just about politics, but it is about every sphere of life.

For example, when rumours that a fuel price hike was in the offing in January, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) flatly denied that any such thing was going to happen.

However, a few hours later, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced new fuel prices.

Did Zera apologise or explain the contradiction? No, they just went on like nothing ever happened.

The same thing happened in May, where again reports of a fuel price increase surfaced and true to form, Zera once again denied that.

You would expect that they had learnt something from the episode since they were once beaten, but not with this lot.

Neither did they apologise nor explain why there was miscommunication, instead, for them, life went on and I am sure the list of people that still trusts Zera is not a very long one.

The default mode, that is the easy thing out for this government, is to go into denial mode.

It is like they do not even have to apply their minds to it, it just comes naturally.

Denial is a second nature to this government, right from 1980 to date. They never take responsibility; they do not want to be held accountable and they will deny just about everything.

To this day, nobody wants to take responsibility for Gukurahundi. Authorities have gone from denying that it ever happened, to trying to deflect and place the blame on dissidents, thereby evoking the national security question.

Neither President Emmerson Mnangagwa nor his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, have in any way or form sought to address this issue meaningfully and have so far only offered piecemeal solutions, with their tried and tested response being to deny, deflect or divert.

The modus operandi is the same right through to the shootings of August 1 last year and January this year.
For a while, following the killings in August, the government had managed to move the debate away from the deaths to the rather inane issue of who had deployed the army on that day.

Then there was a time when former Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu came up with an Alice in Wonderland narrative, claiming he had seen snipers on buildings and these were responsible for the August 1 2018 killings.

A former army boss, Anselem Sanyatwe then claimed that a soldier who was accused of shooting into the crowd, had, in fact, shot at a 45 degree angle.

They followed the same script in January this year, denying that the security forces had killed anyone and we were instead introduced to a new term – rogue soldiers.

When foreign television crews, who do not have the same fear as local journalists and whose first instinct is not to censor themselves when reporting, started following up on multiple rape allegations and filmed violent acts, the government responded in a manner they best know how to — deny.

All manner of theories and scenarios were postulated by ranking government officials, with all of them having one theme, no one took accountability nor responsibility.

Instead, the government went for another tried and tested method, that is to deligitimise either the accusers or the media houses that carried the stories.

Together with deligitimisation, they used diversion tactics, accusing the media houses of being part of an age old imperialist plot to unseat the government and the people who had either been allegedly assaulted or raped of being opposition activists hellbent on seeing the government’s back.

So, instead of addressing the allegations, the debate moves to either the foreign media’s lack of sincerity or questioning their interest in Zimbabwe.

Again, what was missing from this narrative is a simple apology or a promise to investigate the claims, but all these seem to be beyond the government.

Then there is the sanctions issue. I have promised not to debate it and am not about to, but allow me to touch briefly on it.

That this government is failing economically is not a secret, but instead of trying to fix their faults, they have dusted up Mugabe’s book of excuses and picked up the most convenient one, that is to blame every failure on sanctions.

When Zanu PF made all those election promises last year, they knew the sanctions were a reality, but they still promised affordable healthcare, housing, better education and more jobs.

A simple reading of this would say that Zanu PF knew they were hamstrung by the sanctions, but they would come up with innovative ways and solutions to circumvent the embargo and ensure that they deliver on their campaign promises.

Mnangagwa was even quoted as saying “we have sanctions, but if we are going to cry about sanctions throughout, then we will not grow”, showing that the government was confident it would thrive in spite of the sanctions.

Therefore, to turn around and blame sanctions today for economic failures is disingenuous; it is dishonest and is an admission of failure.. What Zimbabwe needs is an honest government that is able to accept its flaws, take responsibility for its shortcomings and is accountable to its citizens because without this, we are wasting our time and going nowhere.

 Nqaba Matshazi is AMH head of digital. He writes this in his personal capacity. Feedback Twitter: @nqabamatshazi


  1. Farai J Nhire

    Who said the zimbabwean government has failed and failed what? There are those who are trying to subotage government but of course this will only have temporary effect. And what is more, it’s only a mater of days not months before the suboteurs start crying foul. Watch this space my brother or sister or whoever you might be. The government has not failed despite these small drawbacks from subotage. Any fool will tell you who most of the captains of industries want to suport and who they want to subotage in politics but they will be crying foul too very soon. Sooner rather than later, they will face the ZUPCO kind of competition in their businesses. You may say whatever in an effort to support the the political outfit of your choice and that is very natural but the truth will not be changed by that. The government revised upwards the producer price of maize and that was enough excuse for the retailers to hike the price of milliemeal and then point a finger at Mnangagwa for failing to invite Chamisa for a GNU.

  2. Farai J Nhire

    The only kind of failure can only been seen in the opposition. In other nations, the opposition plays a very usefull role of checks and balances in how the country is run efficiently but our opposition here does the very opposite. They even go to the western countries to ask for the renewal of sanctions which they helped put in place and I wonder why they make that kind of effort if they knew it does not work in their subotage effort. They also have many influential people in business whom they use to subotage government programmes but they are not doing those businesses favour because the kind of competion they are helping to invite will be so nasty and unbeatable. Watch this space everyone who cares. All these cartels and monopolies will soon be history. The government had done its citizens favour by reserving ceirtain sectors of the economy for them but instead of grabing the oportunity and run their businesses in an ethical maner, they decide to go in an adultarous relationship with the opposition forces.

    1. Cde Nhire, all I can say is that you need medical attention. You are sick.

      1. And you Suwai Nhire you are sicker than sick.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *