Saturday, 6 October 2007

MDCs: between recidivism and rebirth

MDCs: between recidivism and rebirth

My apologies to my readers for playing truancy last week. I had had too much masese, in the process losing my sense of time and responsibility. Deepest apologies to one VIR (very important reader): Cde Yasser Afarat wekuGaza (kana kuti Tororo rekwaMaranda) who tells me he contemplates a return to the bush each time he can’t find Manheru in his Saturday issue of The Herald.

I treasure your patronage, Shava Nhuka. Ironically your insistent interest puts me on my tenterhooks, making me painfully self-conscious. Yet it is this same acute sense of, and respect for, my readers which keeps me going, indeed which gives this column its quick. Thanks of course to people like you, neimwe mhofu yekwaMombeyara who is so quick to belch molten tirade each time I miss my date, so to speak!

Clues to Manheru’s credo

To those who do not find this column exactly sexy, I give them clues to its credo. This is a column of bile and adrenalin, a column which reminds anyone who grew up in an African village of that angry and nasty single woman neighbour, after your father’s voracious herd has strayed into her shamba, grazing to stubs her entire effort of a precarious summer.

Do not expect her to enter your father’s homestead lipsing kisses and waving a warm embrace. If you are unlucky — as once was my own father after one such tragic encounter I had triggered through monumental negligence — the angry woman walks in, all clothes in one hand, the other one broadcasting hot and menacing curses, herself stark nude to show your stunned father her naked anger in erect fullness, undisguised by any sartorial pretensions. She is out to deliver a hot message you cannot duck.

You receive it stark and demure, un-distracted by other rare revelations otherwise good and treasured in peacetime. The column is that angry woman, so wronged to be polite. It carries a deep injury, carries acute frustrations of a whole people and generation so wronged. It is that deep wound that weeps, that deep wound that suppurates ceaselessly, and will not heal.

A weeping eye with grains of hot pepper in the pupil, a weeping red eye that glistens with raw, salty tears. Yes, a throat that will not clear, a throat whose cords vibrate and agitate with the anger of generations, anger generated by an unappeased wrong. It lashes. It shouts. It curses, the raw curse of an upset African.

Loving opposition, hating the Opposition

Jonathan Swift once wrote he hated mankind, even though all his love was for Peter, John and David. He never added Sarah, leading some to wonder whether he was not one of those queer ones. He summarised his abhorrence of warts-full mankind by carving an imaginary creature-character of spectacular grotesquery he chose to call Yahoo.

Mind you, Swift was writing in the 18th Century — the Augustan Age — well, well before the age of Bill Gates, well, well before this Internet Age. Critiques dubbed him a misanthropist, evidenced by his revilement of human pettiness, his hatred for puny man, with all his vile and ignoble pursuits. I find myself in a comparable situation, albeit one standing on its head.

I love opposition, although I hate MDC (together), MDC (Tsvangirai) and MDC (Ncube-cum-Mutambara). My detractors charge me for hating the opposition, a charge I find supremely preposterous. Beyond my loyalty to Zanu-PF, I think a lot about the change-potential within our body-politic.

This means thinking outside Zanu-PF, towards those structures that compete for power to see what we are likely to be, in the unlikely event that my party makes way. I think about personalities who might be our leaders, structures that might govern us. Indeed I think intensely about visions on offer: the system of ideas and proposals that some day might rule us, indeed shape us. Try doing the same and tell me how handsome what you visualise is.

Visions foretold

On my part, what I visualise is quite painful and disenchanting, hair-raising in fact.

I see Tsvangirai sitting on a bench in Banket, wistful amid an all-white, Rhodesian farmer audience, expectantly waiting for a Mephistophelian cheque from this same Rhodesian tribe, as the asking price for his political soul. I see his subaltern — one Fidelis Mhashu — boldly telling an astounded Tim Sebastian of BBC’s Hardtalk Programme that once settled in power, the MDC’s first task would be to return all land to displaced white farmers. I see a political milieu that disavows the land issue, brazenly telling the world Africans do not need land; they need jobs. I see a happy-to-be-a-servant argument and vision.

I see Ncube, Biti and Coltart drafting a Bill for US congressmen (who include Helms and Feingold) with which to strangulate a Zimbabwe irreverent to the white world, assertive of its just heritage.

I see the MDC hierarchy in hallways of Washington and Brussels, kowtowing, pleading for sanctions and white love and regard, against their own people and their interests.

A blind wish to be exalted "Mr President" by a scornful but fawning ashen white tongue whose hand snatches away black heritage.

I see the same hierarchy brushing aside stark evidence of mounting suffering consequent upon the slapping of these same sanctions, to brazenly tell the world which knows a lot better there are no sanctions against Zimbabwe, only travel bans against a few officials of the "Mugabe regime". An opposition already well accomplished in denying a stark reality, well before power impairs its sight.

Enter the dunciad

I see the MDC - right down to the last man — cheapening and traducing the person of Robert Mugabe who together with Joshua Nkomo pass for foremost founders of this great Nation born of a spectacular revolution.

Would-be rulers succumbing to petty disputes, petty ambitions and what is more, to instigation by a hostile outsider to savage our collective being.

It is as if the age of the dunciad is upon us; as if we do not know that nations are founded and run on myths and heroes, before they are defined by longitudes, latitudes, rivers, mountains and pegs.

Americans immortalise George Washington not necessarily for the little, racist good he did in his lifetime, but for the cohesion he proffers to an otherwise fissiparous country struggling to be a nation.

Cecil Rhodes was a homosexual, maybe worse — a eunuch — but one whom Rhodesians grew to revere and to place on a lofty pedestal, well above that of Queen Victoria who granted them the Royal Charter.

More than us, they knew the role of icons in statecraft, in nation-building. Here we spit at ours, soil them with raw contempt as if they pass for village curs.


I see more horror. The horror of a Sikhala boldly telling veterans of the struggle: "Tidzorerei kwamakatisunungura", in a clear colonial-wish.

Such reckless statements, such renunciation of a founding process of this Nation disturbs greatly.

Once it darts past loose lips of supposed elders — lawmakers at that — it becomes compulsive on tender minds, seeping deep into the national psyche to settle, waiting one day to escape the safety zone of the subconscious, to become a startling manifesto for a kind of politics which is sure to bring ruin. Our ruin. All this scares me stiff.

Inside Mbeki’s confessional

October 5, The Year of our Lord 2007, the MDCs precariously stand between complete ruin and total rebirth or redemption. It is not so much about 18th Amendment which would have gone through anyway, with or without MDC sponsorship.

It is not about a new Constitution, which will be a matter of whim for the winner of the March 2008 polls. It is what the MDCs told Mbeki, or to be precise, what Tsvangirai and Mutamabara confessed to Mbeki recently.

While this was said behind bolted doors, I hear it was a loud whisper elsewhere at a recent global meeting. The two men admitted to a number of fundamental political missteps. Point One.

They regretted snubbing the land question, which meant snubbing their very being. Point Two.

The white factor (read Rhodesians plus their overseas parents) whom they had welcomed as mere donors, ended up usurping their cause, overthrowing it and replacing it by a runaway one: white, Rhodesian, British, American, Nordic, German, in short a dangerously brittle western miscellany remotely related to them as a Zimbabwean opposition. Once out of the bottle, the white genie went wild.

Failing own tests

Point Three. The call for sanctions was ill-advised, made worse by the fact that the whole agenda for sanctions has outgrown them, to be driven by white witches they cannot summon back to base, now that it is twilight, dawn peeping. Ironically, they now sound hapless, wholly appealing to and depending on Zanu-PF’s sturdy campaign against these same sanctions to get them removed. Point Four.

They regret that they did not draw a distinction between Mugabe the national hero and together with Joshua Nkomo, the founding father of the Nation, and Mugabe the politician against whom they could politically parley daily.

It is a formidable set of admissions, one seemingly suggesting self-reinvention and self-rehabilitation.

Recall that this is revealed about the same time Archbishop of York and Tutu are accosting Brown to intervene in Zimbabwe. So a suggestion is put to them: if you want to convince the world you have broken the integument of white control, why don’t you distance yourself from these two evils that wear false cloaks?

Mutambara has no difficulty with this and in typical student fashion, avidly pens a draft statement for joint signatures. Tsvangirai? No, the prisoner would not sign it, arguing his constituency is already in turmoil, thanks to the latest concessions to Zanu-PF, for him to commit another outrage so soon after! To this day, Arthur has the draft statement in his portmanteau, still to be released to the world.

Only 2 percent, we are MDC

Back home, the debate on the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill reveal further tergiversations.

Zanu-PF unambiguously wants at least 51 percent share interest in every foreign enterprise.

MDC is unsure about an acceptable level, but is definite that 51percent is too much! When is claiming your heritage and resources too much? Who are you giving way to? Whites, Brits, Germans, Americanos? We seem back to the old MDC before the Mbeki confessions!

Clear pointers to a powerful pull towards a relapse! And given such prevarications, the West is aghast, slowly turning away from political parties, towards governance NGOs for the realisation of its will here. Madhuku’s hour appears to have come, but only an hour. An announcement a few days hence — whatever its little worth — will place the loner in a deep dustbin from where he will not pop out.

But clearly the MDCs are at harzardous crossroads, clearly buffeted both by agitation from within and from without. The call for a Third Force while inane and futile, definitely points towards a further demobilisation of interest, a further disintegration of the MDCs.

Such brave ignorance!

The ignorance in newsrooms of the so-called independent newsrooms can be breathtaking. JOC (Joint Operations Command) is described as "a think-tank"! I have no doubt that those guys definitely think.

I am not so sure that they do so in a tank, whether for fetching water or for a robust settlement of great questions of the day! Simply because the ICG spews so much ignorance regarding this coordinatory security institution means everybody here has to be infected?

When did these newsmen discover JOC? When ICG called on the President to disband it? How would journalists feel if a politician suggests that the way to reverse the diving fortunes of the Independent is by abolishing the institution of a newsroom? It can’t be worse!

You want another one? Take this other one: Govt seeks places at Rhodes as Australia expels Zim students! You are meant to read irony in a revolutionary Government which turns to Cecil John Rhodes for rescue!

The article says Government is frantically seeking 60 placements for these deported students who number a mighty nine! And the reporter finds it faster and nearer to reach the director of communications at Rhodes in South Africa than to reach Minister Mushohwe who handles placements of students under the original "Fort Hare Presidential Scholarship Programme"! Surely it was announced at the last intake that the programme had expanded to encompass more universities other than the seminal Fort Hare? Which reminds me of President Museveni’s question to the media mid this year in Langkawi, Malaysia: how do journalists hope to educate when they themselves are ignorant and uninformed? How? Icho! —

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