By Cyprian M Ndawana
DEAR President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Your Excellency, your gift of longevity is a demonstration of the generosity God has for you. Given that the average lifespan stands well below half your age, the Almighty smiles merrily at you. Congratulations on your umpteenth birthday celebrated last month.
Birthdays are inherently mirthful, moreso for you, who has lived long enough to raise a number of generations of your descendants. It was apt that your wife, Auxillia, hosted an African-themed dinner in your honour. She truly deserves a pat on the back for the merriment galore.
Also, bravo to your two fellow Zanu PF bigwigs, who sandwiched you at the high table, for gracing the festivity. Their presence was vital to the pride, pomp and circumstance that is cardinal for Stately celebration. Clearly, there was finery and gaiety.
However, your 79th birthday merited to be historic. It must have been a departure from the run of the mill where guests feast, mingle and later engage in mundane affairs simply to pass time. It was ripe for you to set a new succession blueprint for Zanu PF.
Your Excellency, a great deal of introspection should have preceded the celebration. It was imperative for you to emulate the Israelites who thought deeply about their homeland, Zion. They sat and wept by the rivers of Babylon. They resolved to hang their harps than to sing songs of Zion.
Like Zimbabwe, Jerusalem had undergone immense ruination. Scripture has it that it had been razed to the ground. Consequently, the Psalmist vowed, “May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.”
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Given the prevailing socio-economic woes, Zimbabweans, whose country had been rendered inhabitable, are no better than the Israelites. They refused to sing songs of joy on the backdrop of their concerns for their country, Jerusalem, which had been reduced to rabble.
If such contemplation over Zimbabwe had occupied your thoughts, your birthday could have been a day of reckoning. Ideally, as I see it, it should have been your day of self-reflection.
It was a day you should have stripped yourself of all pretences and for once faced reality.
There was scope for you to validate the claim that you lived a well and truly life of sacrifice. Methinks you could have secured for yourself some effectual sanitiser that could have primed you for the rank of Statesmanship. Gosh, the opportunity passed in your plain sight.
Your Excellency, your keynote speech should have been premised on your strategic path to retirement. It could have been in order for you to announce your stepping down from national harness.
It is inevitable that even hardwired revolutionaries with a compulsion to browbeat yield to the gradual wear and tear wrought by ageing.
Given that you entered your second childhood phase, which comes in the accompaniment of body aches and diminishing faculties, it was appropriate to declare that it was time you went for a rest. It could have gone down well with citizenry had you stated that you were calling it quits, come 2023.
Your Excellency, the absence of a succession culture is the Achilles Heel for Zanu PF. Ever since the founding party president, the late Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole was toppled, power has never exchanged hands through democratic processes. Thereafter, succession has been through revolt.
Recently, the deposed late former President Robert Mugabe went through an ordeal. He was besieged by the military in November 2017 and stripped of the Presidency in the full glare of the world. He later died a beleaguered man, thousands of kilometres away from home, like a fugitive.
Despite Mugabe having been revered as the centre of power, expediency prompted his unceremonious deposal.
Although he came to power by toppling his predecessor, it never dawned on him that he had set a precedent that was bound to haunt him in years to come.
Methinks the precedent is yet to be rescinded.
Your Excellency, the onus is on you to cultivate a new culture of succession within Zanu PF, lest you be the next casualty. It is my fervent plea that you be the last leader whose ascendance was not anointed by your predecessor.
Consequently, my conviction is that there could hardly be a delightful gift you could offer citizenry than that of your voluntary retirement. With all due respect, at 79 years, it is obvious that you are living on borrowed time, well past your sell-by date, your sunset beckons.
A glance at your Presidency does not inspire confidence. Apparently, you are majoring on minors at the expense of majors. It was expected of you to be a unifying force, one who initiates dialogue to establish coexistence. Yet, even Zanu PF is torn by intraparty strife.
It amounts to pursuing the course of least resistance that you formed the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad). Essentially, these lilliputians, together with the indigenous churches group, are puppets. Besides singing for you, “How Great Thy Art!”, they also bark in your defence.
Puppetry is the antithesis of progressive leadership. As I see it, praise singers are an enabler for divide and rule.
Your Excellency, if you were to advise God on how to make you anew, as Lord George-Brown postulated, I pray you plead with Him to leave out servility.
It is worrisome that you are conspicuous by your quietness on land barons. Families that were settled on wetlands are gripped by anxiety, on the onset of rains.
Also, those on undesignated land, with no semblance of basic infrastructure are also livid, fearful of disease outbreaks.
Despite storming to the Presidency bubbly, brimful with confidence, all your promises are yet to be fulfilled. There are no mega deals to evidence, neither are there meagre ones at least. And, your effrontery to share the chalice in Cabinet with a corruption convict is staggering.
Yearly the Auditor-General reports confirm the prevalence of corruption in parastatals.
It was inconceivable that at the recent convention of accountants, you rued the losses made by State enterprises, but you were silent about deep-rooted corruption.
Actually, the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra, which is now frequently uttered, proves your being an economic pied piper. Ironically, a renowned Harare outfitters, Savilles, established 60 years ago, closed for business on your birthday.
With the economy still in the mire, the deafening silence from the industrial sites confirms the dearth of production. Little wonder, you had the presumptuous audacity to bolster the vainglory of your wife by touring her stand at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair grounds.
It struck me as absurd that you stooped to implore children to embrace the bygone set up of Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba in this modern era. Frankly, your recommendation was incongruous with their current struggle, which is ease of obtaining national documents.
Youths yearn for employment, not fossil culture. It is pitiable that Zimbabwe is now a classic case of Murphy’s law: anything that could go wrong has gone wrong.
Your Excellency, probity hastens me to implore you to hit the ground running to your retirement.
- Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public speaking coach, motivational speaker, and speechwriter