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Capturing the Zimbabwean defining moment

Compliments of the new season! As Zimbabwe welcomes the New Year it awakens to critical national questions, which questions are unavoidable, thrust upon the nation by the dictates of time and legal constitutional requirements. One is reminded of Shakespeare’s Hamlet when told by his father’s ghost to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder”, the young Prince dilemma is dramatised in the famous soliloquy “To be or not to be, that is the question”.

Compliments of the new season! As Zimbabwe welcomes the New Year it awakens to critical national questions, which questions are unavoidable, thrust upon the nation by the dictates of time and legal constitutional requirements. One is reminded of Shakespeare’s Hamlet when told by his father’s ghost to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder”, the young Prince dilemma is dramatised in the famous soliloquy “To be or not to be, that is the question”.

By Munyaradzi Ndovuyako

Hamlet struggles with the onus task before him of seeking justice and restoring legitimacy to the throne. Zimbabwe finds itself in similar circumstances following perhaps the most unnatural departure of the first executive President of this great nation, Robert Mugabe. That 2018 is an elections year is not only a reality but unavoidable. Underpinning the elections are critical national questions which cannot be wished away.

Rewind to the same period last year in the cockpit of the political flying machine, were three first-year students steering the political clan with enthusiasm, youthful energy and technological digital prowess co-assisted by an excited former First Lady Grace Mugabe, whose academic credentials are now under investigation by Zimbabwe Ant-Corruption Commission.

The nation followed in awe the energetic G40 crew machinations and shenanigans, which culminated in the near dismantling of the Lacoste faction and the establishment of a family dynasty in the ruling Zanu PF party and by extension Zimbabwe. History will record the near-success of this harrowing possibility epitomised by the dismissal of the then Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa on November 6 2017, up until the G40 waterloo of November 15, when the military “intervened” in the ruling party politics, marking the beginning of an unprecedented and unusual transition in the motherland. History will record the contribution of the G40 in shaping the political developments in Zimbabwe. Who will forget the dynamism and determination of former Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, the acerbic and vile politburo secretary for Science and Technology Jonathan Moyo’s antics on Twitter or ex-First Lady Grace Mugabe “Dr Stop It” and her determination to stop it?

Like them or hate them, the G40 crew almost managed to install a dynasty in Zimbabwe, had it not been for the timely intervention of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander, General Constantino Chiwenga. Masvingo provincial minister Josaya Hungwe recently confessed that the Lacoste faction had been outsmarted by the G40 and were saved by the military. What is instructive to note is that the G40 agenda was almost achieved, thanks to spineless men and women who deified one mortal Mugabe, the so-called appointing authority until he thought he could be succeeded by his wife. How comrades, who were supposed to be vanguards of party ethos, values and principles allowed one man absolute power to the extent of handing over executive functions to his wife without censure is baffling to say the least. The moral blameworthiness of the entire “Zanu PF cabal” is a subject for another day.

It is disappointing as it is frightening that a woman of questionable character almost became a President of this Motherland. To be or not to be! It is disappointing and embarrassing that the world watched and laughed as a 93-year-old man almost imposed his wife on this nation. It is a historical fact that Zanu PF had endorsed her as Vice-President. Juxtapose this with how the ANC comrades in South Africa dealt with a similar state of affairs in December 2017.

The demise of the G40 and the subsequent events triggered by the military are now an undisputable reality of our history. Enter 2018, in the cockpit of the political flying machine of Zanu PF are the nemesis of the G40 who have labelled the old chopper the “New era”. The new pilots are former military men surrounded by the same men and women who cheered the old guard on. We are told their primary focus is economic recovery and a better life for all Zimbabweans. They have also promised free and fair elections and a “new dispensation”. To be or not to be, is the question. They have “speechified” enough, such that they may not need repeating.

They have declared zero tolerance on corruption. All good, but serious questions abound. Will the war on corruption target only the gullible G40 fellas like former Agriculture minister Joseph Made, ex-Sport minister Makhosini Hlongwane and ex-Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi amongst others? To what extent are bygones be bygones, given the clearly targeted persecution of former G40 members. Some among them former party administration secretary Ignatius Chombo were arrested over laughable allegations like wearing Zanu PF regalia. Justice is not supposed to be selective. How far will the dragnet on corruption go, given that some of those superintending the processes are compromised, at least in the public view? I may not need to name anyone but surely if the police would want to know how one came to possess a few tonnes of beans, surely they may also need to know how one man came to possess the greater parts of Gwanda, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls? Are we pursuing justice or is it persecution? Do these clearly targeted factional actions inspire confidence or otherwise?

Notwithstanding that the courts have ruled on the military intervention last November, what has the intervention done to our national psyche? Is it not fair that the ZDF assures us that we won’t wake up again with the situation in our country having moved to another level? In light of the 2018 elections, is it not only logical and fair that the ZDF publicly guarantees non-interference in the electoral process and its outcomes? Surely this can be easy they have since perfected on press statements since the historic press release by the General on November 13. While there has been no appetite within civil society to interrogate the treatment of the so-called G40 cabal, including the laughable arrest of Chombo and others for wearing Zanu PF regalia; the question is, are we not entrenching dictatorship of those controlling the means of force? The recent arrests and subsequent torture Mthwakazi activists by a suspected military officer is frightening to say the least. Did the fall of Mugabe herald a new era or was it simply a mutation of the Mugabe system disguised as a new era.

Indeed, 2018 is equally a decisive year for the opposition.The year gives the opposition movement a decisive moment to redeem itself as the political alternative in a country whose destiny has been at the whims and caprices of one ruling or is it misruling party for nearly four decades. In this post-Mugabe era, the opposition has a golden moment to show leadership to the nation and show its seriousness. The confusion over alliances and counter alliances should be sorted now if the opposition has to be taken seriously. To be or on to be, is the question that vibrant opposition elements like Tendai Biti, Nelson Chamisa and others should tackle. In the same vein it’s the year that Joice Mujuru should redefine herself as either the revered war veteran female liberator, a beacon of hope that Zimbabwe can look forward to, rather than as the leader of a failed political project presiding over mass defections. It may also be a year that will seal the fate of unprincipled flip-flopping independents who follow the wind. Once again the opposition movement has an opportunity to show leadership by congregating and offering the alternative political economic narrative. It may also be the year that we really know the fate of the G40, do we write an obituary? Are they vanquished or we are to see substance in the Professor Jonathan Moyo’s ratings, after all he promised to return.

To what extent will civil society continue its watchdog role and countervailing effect on the State ensuring that the speeches on the new dawn, new era are translated into action. Civil society has to remain mobilised and proactive especially ensuring that yet unregistered voters are conscientised to register during the extension period as well as mobilised to vote and ready to defend their vote. Civil state has to defend that space of engagement and contestation between the State and the individual around economic, political and social questions of the day, in the context of attempts to conflate the spaces in the name of “giving the new era a chance”. We have seen even progressive civil society actors showing unwillingness to condemn some glaring State excesses in the misplaced notion of giving the new era a chance. Civil society has to quickly exorcise itself of the Mugabe fall hangover and ensure that citizens remain mobilised around socio-economic and political issues of the day. The 4th estate role as the watchdog of the State should continue to inform fairly and responsibly offering equal access to platforms of political and social intercourse. The media should rise beyond serving as public relations officers of individuals no matter their standing in society.

As the year of serious and decisive contestation beckons our Judiciary has an onerous obligation to defend our constitutional democracy. Indeed, the independence of the Judiciary should be a lived reality, experienced and felt in the progressive judgments our courts will make in 2018. This is key especially in the context of a perceived military state. To be or not to be, is the question.

The year offers the citizen once again with a litmus test to their citizenship. Indeed the test of citizenship goes beyond the birth certificate and nationality conferred and confirmed through one’s identity card, rather by the extent one is citizen enough to assume citizen responsibilities, which responsibilities include participation in issues that affect the well being of the citizen and the nation state. This includes being responsible enough to register to vote, inspecting the voter’s role as well as voting. Are we citizen enough to defend our vote and ready to be called into action as we did during the liberation march of November 18. Other key questions emerge in this post-Mugabe era, Are we citizen enough to shun corruption, monitor and report it? Are we citizen enough to pay our bills and taxes? To be or not to be, is the question.

Once again Zimbabwe has an opportunity to redefine its values and ethos and show its uniqueness and reclaim the lost glory in the community of nations. Viva Zimbabwe!

Munyaradzi Ndovuyako writes in his personal capacity