Friday, 26 October 2007

MDC: Culling political profit from cadavers

MDC: Culling political profit from cadavers

Strange things are happening I tell you! While most Zimbabweans regard MDC politics as negatively anti-people and anti-nation, very few appear to have budgeted for MDC’s latest histrionic: that of pasting its name-tag on every dead body in Zimbabwe.

It is indeed politics taken to bizarre limits. MDC seems unaware that the dead doth not voteth, which is why it spends precious campaign time on cadavers. Of course, I have never died myself. Nor do I look forward to that ineluctable, unknown, but still dreaded state.

Like all things human and mutable, I am set to die some day, die but once only, never to get the joy of telling the living whether or not the dead do have political predilections. For now and in this human state, I am inclined, without of course barring the benefit of hindsight in death, to assert that dead men and women hold no political opinion.

Chinja! in the graveyard?

I see disbelief on your face, gentle reader. The MDC cannot sink to this bizarre level, I hear you say. I will make things a little lighter and gentler for you. I will give the MDC some momentary reprieve. I will assume I am being metaphoric, to encourage you to suspend a bit of your disbelief for the sake of this discourse.

When a whole party burns its ardour and sparse resources lobbying Blair, Bush and Brown who are not registered to vote here in Zimbabwe, what is the difference with shouting "Chinja!" in an eerie graveyard?

When a party exiles a good part of its constituency to Britain and South Africa, in an electoral environment of constituency-based (now ward-based!) voting laws, how different is this from building a political cell in sepulchral Granville?

Tagging cadavers

But that is death as a political metaphor, which is not what I am talking about. I mean real dead bodies which the MDC has turned into campaign tools.

Last week we got all sorts of fatuous claims from MDC’s Chamisa alleging the resurgence of inter-party violence. Of course, he was taking his cue (he always does) from Sekai Holland also quite active in New Zealand, supported by the disgraced former judge, Paradza.

There she told Helen Clark that political violence was mounting, voicing the threat of pulling out of talks. Biti countered. The MDC knows that the outside world has always donated on the bogey of political violence, which is why its inflows are as good as its synthetic descriptions and images of violence. In this drive, not even holy parts of woman are spared, which is why we have seen the MDC begging through bare bottoms.

With very few bottoms now left, the MDC has got to find another cynosure for donor compassion and generosity. The MDC, through one Kerry Kay, its "welfare" officer claims the parry had one of its cadres politically murdered in Marondera.

Curiously, no police report is generated to validate that alleged political violence. Instead, a murder report is filed with the local police by the family of the victim.

The same case which the MDC claims is political violence is reported as a fatal brawl at a beer party. It involves drunken youths whose parents, ironic enough, are high-ranking officials of Zanu (PF)! Undeterred, the MDC tags its name on the resultant corpse. Case one.

Kerr Kay again

Several weeks ago, we had a report of an allegedly thieving farm labourer who is beaten to death allegedly by soldiers after a pilfering incident at a farm owned by a Cabinet minister.

The report implicates the minister’s wife and some soldiers at a nearby Air Force base. Several weeks later — this week — we are told again by the same Kerry Kay that apparently the dead man and his surviving colleagues were all MDC supporters!

Another tag on another cadaver. Case two. You get case three, four, five fatuously coming from Chamisa by way of dire threats to Zanu (PF), motivating the impressionistic Financial Gazette to fear for the ongoing talks.

Replaying victim politics

Since then, the MDC hierarchy has been enjoying this newfound escape from the gnawing and nagging challenge of stretched cohesion. Claiming dead bodies regardless, has become Chamisa’s formula for getting his fissiparous party out of the winter of discontent.

Expelling loud farts of statistics of what the evil party terms "rights violations" is its latest way of drawing donor attention to itself. The story is not that the MDC is once again playing its victim politics; it is that the ruse still has avid takers.

To create an impression of deteriorating rights situation, the lonely crowd called NCA has now found a purpose. Without police authority, it is taking to demonstrations, deliberately to provoke police reaction.

It is clear Madhuku’s wallet is deflated, and it’s time to inflate political temperature! Then Woza, the Woza. It has now started spewing its mindless viragos, again to provoke situations for a loud count for the world. Also Zinasu.

Whys and Wherefores

Why all this? Well, to help Brown make a decent case for boycotting Lisbon. Between now and Lisbon, there will be countless provocations, all of them photogenic to help with the British cause. After all, is that not MDC’s reason for existence? Additionally, the MDC hopes claims of violence will justify the despatch of a self-fulfilling EU human rights envoy they fully know Zimbabwe will never entertain. Or better still a UN envoy through whose report Zimbabwe will crash-land in the Security Council as a subject for collective international action.

More important, there are compelling dynamics within the MDC for playing up the thesis of gratuitous political violence. Put aside fund-raising which is just as important.

Take in the growing factionalisation of Tsvangirai’s MDC, and you begin to come closer. The inter-party talks have had the unintended effect of raising the profile of some, while taking profiles of others to the nadir.

Morphing powers

And Biti, whose fortunes have risen considerably, has not helped matters. Using this new-found clout, he has suspended women leaguers led by Lucia Matibenga.

On this one he has the support of Mrs Tsvangirai who wants to see Ian Makone’s wife rise in substitute.

Talks-derived clout has morphed into decisive disciplinary action. There is a wild flutter in the dove-coat. Those in the corner are fighting back and have targeted the talks – poor talks — for attack.

They imagine Zanu (PF) would be the loser should the talks come to grief. Pity them! Their calculation is simple: you break the talks’ amplitude, you ground the soaring Biti.

So the Mukonoweshuros, the Chamisas, the Goneses, the Mashakadas, the Hollands, the Kays, the Bennetts are all united and ranged against Biti via the talks. The timing of the attack is curious.

The talks have dealt with 18th Amendment, the draft Constitution, POSA, AIPPA, the Electoral Act, etc, etc. Biti comes to Harvest House waving these victories of sorts, in the process wrecking the prospects of the likes of Madhuku. A Biti holding a draft constitution kills Madhuku’s one-cause struggle, does he not? But then how will Madhuku eat? A fight from the belly is definitionally vicious.

A uniting shot

Both sociology and psychology teach that the quickest way of forging solidary relations in a variegated group is to fire an unexpected shot.

Everyone becomes a victim in a way that unites. The MDC hierarchy badly needs such a uniting shot to keep everyone bonded on the deck. The British love it. The Americans love it. An MDC which opts out of talks ostensibly on grounds of violence, checks the current momentum towards Western irrelevancy in Zimbabwe’s politics.

It puts Mugabe back on the spot. It contains the independent-minded Mbeki. It restores MDC’s sagging fortunes in the eyes of the Western community, currently so badly united or ambivalent. The other EU and its new members are not quite clear on what stance to take regarding Brown’s threat to boycott Lisbon.

The African connection

But there is another fear, deep fear which is coming through human rights NGOs. The Zimbabwe Government has fielded Secretary Mangota for the chairmanship of the AU’s African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights.

It is Sadc’s rightful turn and his prospects are quite bright. Until now, the ACHPR has been an important plank for Britain and her poodles here.

They are likely to lose it. In desperation, they hope that if they can get Zimbabwe’s rights image tarnished, Mangota’s prospects can be reversed, or at the very least dimmed. It is a bit too late but they will still try. Meanwhile, anyone with a dead body, including the Medical School and its 300 cadavers, could sell it to the MDC!

The church, the loin

Gentle reader, I take it you have not ignored the sub-plot from the pulpit which runs parallel to national politics.

I am referring to the goings-on in the Anglican Church. I have always thought that the church, being His sacred body, would be a place of sacred amity and holy deeds.

Even its misdeeds, one believed, arise as inadvertency, indeed arise in the spirit of striving for righteousness.

Judging by the news from the Church this year, it would appear there is greater passion and rheum in the Church than there is in secular politics. The Church seems governed from the human loins.

First, we had the case of the then Archbishop of Bulawayo facing allegations

of feeding on his flock. In the end he resigned as if to suggest that indeed he faced real allegations! In a show of bravado, he promised to fight it all out in a secular court. It gets some of us confused when holy men prefer earthly salvation. But the loins had had their day in challenging the spire.

Loving sin or the sinner?

Then you have this brand new furore over gays between scriptures, this time in the Anglican Church. Not that the Anglicans are unclear on this one vexatious matter.

Their position seems so clear and unadulterated: homosexuality is outside God’s wish as expressed through His scriptures. Declarations to say so have been passed, apparently with remarkable unanimity and communion.

But the same Church urges bishops to handle those affected by the misdeed with sensitivity, the same way the scriptures urge a compassionate handling of sinners. Jesus did not join in the stoning of the woman accused of adultery.

Therein lies the confusion. What did he mean by that action? Did compassion for the sinner exonerate the sin? Amazing how the Church has not recovered from its propensity for bloody, schismatic disputes. I am sure my readers are aware that well before the rise of Protestantism, Catholics slaughtered one another over a simple question: If a fly drowns in the priest’s blest wine, is the fly blest, or is the wine defiled? What started as a simple dispute became a basis for drawing blood and with time, a basis for schism .

Those who suggested the wine would have been defiled were accused of underestimating God’s ability to cleanse sin, or overestimating sin’s power over holy goodness; those who suggested the fly got blest suggested redemption comes by a sheer happy misfortune, never through sustained penitential effort.

I can also recall John Milton and his Paradise Lost series. He would have died on the stacks, save for time which was beginning to challenge church verities, including the notion of apostasy.

His "sin" was to turn God and Satan into competing characters in his epic series. As a fallen archangel, Milton’s Satan comes through as a shrewd, calculating character of unparalleled brilliance. As humans who share in his foibles, we tend to gravitate towards him, indeed to identify with him.

God, on the other hand, emerges as a flat voice of holy edicts, seemingly hostile to fallen man’s enterprise. He can’t fit in the narrative, or else he ceases to be God. So he is no match for the restless and striking Satan. In the end Milton comes through as for the Devil, but without intending it, itself a deadly sin given 18th century bigotry.

The church, the pimp?

Today the Anglican Church gives us yet another hefty ecclesiastical dispute over what to us mere mortals appears a straightforward matter.

Surely the Lambeth position decries homosexuality as a sin, but without calling for the persecution of the sinner? Surely, handling the sinner with redemptive compassion is not to embrace the sin?

The idea was never to get gays to perform the offices of their strange love, leaning against the pulpit. Or using the holy cloth to mop beads of sweat from ill joy.

It was to understand their sin in order to defeat it. This is the Kunonga line which people like Bishop Taonezvi, apparently less from their own sexual preferences which I hear to be normal, and more from the need to secure resources from rich gay-happy churches overseas, do oppose. Can the Church prostitute its body the same way a hungry street kid does when faced with a tempting offer from a hungry rich gay? Does the Church want morally impoverishing and aggravating secular riches?

Ecclesiastical courts?

But it is worse. Assuming Kunonga has to be tried for causing schisms, apparently by fanatically upholding the holy testament, who tries him? Who prosecutes? Triple Gs? Who presides? Justice Chitakunye? If those who claim to defend the Church really want to be taken seriously, why have they not familiarised themselves with church law? Why have they not arraigned him in an ecclesiastical court?

How do they raise charges against a bishop using secular law and in a secular court? Why Triple Gs? What has happened to the church’s legal desk? And why issue out pastoral laws ahead of the trial? Pastoral laws with intemperate language reminiscent of secular politics? It gets quite baffling.

Beyond the phallic

Until of course you get to know the underlying politics. When President Mugabe compared gays to cats and dogs, he sounded like an angry old man showing what the media has come to term "homophobia". I have never understood what that means, or that getting a bad name for a good reaction to something sinful, necessarily dignifies the evil.

If Mugabe is a homophobe, why are these strange men and women not homos in the censorious sense? Many could not understand why the President reacted so sharply, simply because few realised that sexual permissiveness was a carnal correlative to an ideological position.

It is a vivid metaphor for neo-liberalism’s give-ness. It is a way of overthrowing our values by challenging the mores around a foundational reproductive assignment. Tell me: is it very difficult for a man who agrees to become a woman to another man, to also agree to shift from being a major in his country to being a minor? A minor who undresses and bends to gratify the unholy passion of an outsider? What greater conquest can ever visit such a man, such a people. To be made pimps? To be made pimp people? A nation of eunuchs? Indeed, this assault on our sense of sexuality was followed by a greater assault which has taken us to this day.

This is why what is happening in the Anglican Church must be properly understood, namely as a sub-plot to national politics. Remember that political conquest always has its phallic side. Beware. Icho!

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