Friday, 28 March 2008

Makoni/Tsvangirai: The End of History

Makoni/Tsvangirai: The End of History

I have just gone through a representative part of the western press, British press included. Putting aside nuances, the consensus is that President Mugabe and the ruling Zanu-PF are set to win.

Hardly news at all for us in the country who have seen the contrasting crowds attracted by the political antagonists. Zanu-PF has the voters, whatever sleights of hand the opposition may have tried. What is news though is that the western press is admitting to the defeat of the opposition well before the vote is taken. Including an admission that the Makoni factor has been extremely detrimental to an already divided opposition. It was pretty daft for the British to think that Makoni had a modicum of appeal in rural Zimbabwe where jongwe rules the roost. Or that Tsvangirai would be as attractive to the urban protest vote against Zanu-PF as he has been in the past.

The phantoms which the British, the Americans and Raylander have invented for Simba have proved obdurate sleepers in a cacophonously eerie graveyard. They won’t wake up; they won’t come forward, leaving Makoni quite helpless and frustrated. His rally in Mutare — itself a monumental flop — clearly indicated things were going pretty bad for him. Ever since then, Simba grew irritable and even irascible with the media. The plan to use Mutare — his home town — as venue for rousing heavyweight sleepers fell apart.

The only thing heavy about the so-called weights was the splendid quality of their sleep — deep sleep of settled Zanu-PF cadres old enough to have seen and counted ugly aftermath of reckless rebellions. The only thing heavy was Simba’s importuning them to please wake up.

They kept snoring; they are snoring; they will snore, right into the booth. They were not going to try a rebellion, let alone get associated with one born so badly, one so already soiled by sheer ineptitude. If Zanu-PF ever faced a bald rebellion, here was one.

Tekere’s potent drink

Tekere got especially haggard when it became apparent the war veterans whom he thought would back Makoni, gave a dramatic no-show in Mutare, clearly revealing what should have been obvious enough to him, if he was an ounce the soldier he paints himself to be in Mandaza’s book on him.

Those war veterans were at work! Once every bit of what Tekere’s fools were planning was known, it was time to go and they did. The system was all the richer for the brief flirtation which gave Makoni such ephemeral glory and grand illusions of misgoverning this country. But the war veterans would not walk away uneventfully. They made sure Makoni had been dealt a felling psychological blow from which he reels to this day.

I watched Simba’s mien at rallies subsequent to this devastating flop. He was clearly unhinged, quite unsure. Not even his hands could easily come together for a clasp with which he hoped to build symbolism for his project. In one advert, the clasp fails, winding up being chinja’s open arm! Even more embarrassing was the rally he shared with Mutambara where he found himself flooded by open arms! Goodness me! The hazards of political hybridity! You do not go into an election with your bare arms, will and wife, hoping for manna. You do not go boldly in a poll on the promise of a drunkard who pretends to be a kingmaker from Manicaland. I am sure he now knows God gives no manna to politicians.

Simba’s barren call to Morgan

Gentle reader, Morgan Tsvangirai has, as before, checked in the Meikles. Thursday night, Makoni and Tsvangirai linked up. The two connected, all against a planned joint press conference scheduled the same Thursday, which Tsvangirai wrecked through non-appearance. The villager for once proved the wiser party. Here was a clear entrapment. Simba would have wanted to share a press conference with Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday, ostensibly to put pressure on President Mugabe, but in reality a contrivance for a deadly comparison with the modestly educated Tsvangirai. Simba wanted to charm Tsvangirai’s constituency through sheer eloquence, proving to it he would make a better leader to the villager. Clearly the villager would not have been able to stop the Pots ‘n’ Pans villain the same way Happison Muchechetere did subsequently. Thanks to good advice, Tsvangirai made a disappearing act, leaving Makoni and Mutambara limping for reasons with which to satisfy an eager international press. This necessitated the nocturnal call. In that conversation, Makoni copiously pleaded for an eleventh hour merger. He needed it badly, and still does. But he will not have it. The villager flatly refused, coolly stating this could only be considered after March 30 when everyone’s worth is known.

The disaster of Cde kaOne

It must be recalled Makoni’s overrated mind manager — one Ibbotson Joseph — was only last week pushing the line of a Super Tuesday in the media, apparently forgetting even in the American calendar such a day only comes once.

He sold the line that this last Tuesday would see sleepers shaking off their slumber to publicly proclaim support for him. Well, Tuesday came and nothing super happened. You do not handle the media that way Mr Joseph.

It is called knocking off a pot’s bottom with one abundant meal, forgetting you will need another meal, and yet another. But then is there a tomorrow for this Mr kaOne? I doubt. Evidence points to a terminator campaign, one too pitched on superfices of physiognomy to last beyond one and only attempt. Now Nkosana Moyo is hoping to redeem the argument. He tells the BBC Simba’s strategy rests on imbeds in Zanu-PF. No one hopes so.

The Welshman factor

So Tsvangirai has rejected overtures from Mr kaOne, overtures which were meant to spare the natural scientist from unrelieved political disaster. The idea was to imbed his own defeat in Morgan Tsvangirai’s screaming and boomeranging fifth one. That way, Simba would have been able to rebuild a second attempt, this time at the helm of a reunited MDC, now that he already has Mutambara (or is it the other way?). Reading through the masters’ press (Western press), it is clear in the unlikely event of a run-off, Makoni will be fighting from the Tsvangirai corner — an even more obscure underdog than he was in Zanu-PF.

Unlike the irascible Kombayi, he will not have a constituency. Equally, Welshman may not lend favour to a Makoni who takes his faction of the MDC back to Tsvangirai. Or if he does, he will not work for such an odious eventuality.

But then, all this is hypothetical given the situation on the ground. Which means what? Well, that Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF will triumph with an unbridgeable margin. After a day or two of grousing, all of Brown’s puppets will come round to accepting the results, and Zanu-PF will get down to tackling the challenges of sorting out a sanctions-wrecked economy.

So long a letter from Law Society

The reasons for Mugabe and Zanu-PF landslide victory are not difficult to reconstruct. Both Tsvangirai and Makoni did their damn-dest to trigger Zimbabwe’s angst over its sovereignty.

The British meddlesome hand became so obvious — directly through Brown’s bald letter which outraged elements within the Law Society of Zimbabwe did so well to leak to the authorities. And indirectly through the corporate bodies which came so obviously on the side of Simba Makoni, including their local subsidiaries.

Indirectly through the cockiness of returning white farmers who stuck out like very white sore thumbs. Clearly Zanu-PF had calculated well to return into the campaign ring the issue of sovereignty. But did the two men in opposition have to validate this theme so abundantly as to vindicate Zanu-PF’s claim that Zimbabwe faced a real danger of re-colonisation and a return to white settler agriculture? Once the two men had done Zanu-PF such a favour, even their feeble bid to make issue out of the economy went limping.

Fear of the master’s anger

Secondly, the two men did not have to deny the reality of sanctions. Surely such a denial was not only bald; it was self-incriminating! Cleverly Tsvangirai and Ncube should have signed the political declaration which was supposed to have been the last act of the Sadc-initiated dialogue. That act alone would have put both the ruling party and the opposition on one side on sanctions, in which case the ground would have been clear for other issues on which the opposition had a decisive advantage. The fear of the master’s anger, it would appear, proved greater than political sense.

It was particularly bad for Simba Makoni. His aggressive and intemperate rejection of the sanctions thesis, coupled by bald attempts to justify them on grounds of autocracy, simply cut him as a bitter, barren and duplicitous politician. Here was a man who was in Government all along, now casting the enemy’s epithets on the same government he served until relieved of his post.

Here was a whole former minister of finance who saw and felt the impact of sanctions from within, right on public finance ledger, now claiming sanctions were unreal and yet deserved! Here was a man who was with President Mugabe in Dar es Salaam when both the World Bank and International Monetary Fund confessed to Anglo-American pressure on Zimbabwe, now claiming Zimbabwe was more sinning than sinned against.

Far from sounding credible, he only came across as a deceitful politician so helplessly beholden to his masters’ arguments. It did not quite make him genuine, let alone Independent. The electorate will whip him soundly for that.

Whites’ men

Thirdly, both man offered nothing but the bogey of a white man with deep, rich pockets. They offered fabled white generosity as their alternative to Zanu-PF.

Tsvangirai put it so crudely: I have white friends ready to pour in billions to recover the economy. Simba indiscreetly imbedded the same factor in the more trendy word "investor". But both implacably gloated about their "rich white cousins".

And to the electorate, the message hit inversely: they did not have rich white men; rather they were whites’ poor black men. This gave particular resonance to two key elements of Zanu-PF’s campaign theme: sovereignty and empowerment. The one seemed threatened by the white spectre; the other undermined by it. Where the debate is cast in such rabid nationalistic overtones, it is foolhardy to say vote for me for I have rich white men. But then to whom do you tell this?

Poor Unhappy Rwodzi

Fourthly, the whole issue of price escalation was turned against the opposition. In fact, they were clever enough not to have pushed this argument. Let me confess: if voting rights were apportioned on the basis of property, the March poll would have been between MDC and Simba Makoni.

Zanu-PF would have been soundly buried. It did not have the vote of the petty bourgeoisie at all. It will not have it even after this poll. From pseudo-indigenous once as Shingi Mutasa (and his Saudi prince who dominates the earth’s largest bank) to obscene beneficiaries of empowerment such as Farai Rwodzi who coordinated Makoni’s publicity, Zanu-PF did not have an ounce of sympathy. Fortunately the rich are few and will not always be with us, more so after March 30! The vectors of price escalation were in the camp of the quislings, in fact their corporate face.

And after the announcement of results of Kurebwa’s opinion poll, many who meet early morning to shed off excess fat in Harare’s sumptuous gyms, have since resolved that the die is already cast. They will not bother to vote today. They will not, for their resolve was broken by Zanu-PF’s crowds, even here in Harare.

Diminishing scenarios

So the writing is on the wall and the scenarios are diminishing. For the West, the scenario of direct intervention which BBC’s Reynolds is dying for, will not take place. There is no will for it. There is no reason for it. There is no competence for it. Lots of competence against it, and Britain and America know that. Kenyan option? Well, there is no Raila Odinga for it. As Tsvangirai will readily attest, Mugabe is no Kibaki. What is more, we have a clean ballot here and both Makoni and Tsvangirai have made the point to the whole world, ironically for Zanu-PF.

The opposition threats of a second Kenya here in Zimbabwe simply underline their lack of courage for it. Which is not to say there will not be attempts at mischief. Lots of such attempts, including trying to discredit the process.

In fact this has already started, although it is proving very hard to stick. What the West is hoping for is either a run-off or a disputed outcome which will summon a Kofi Annan or his equivalent, to cobble together a negotiated settlement which would accommodate Makoni and Tsvangirai the Kenyan style. Interestingly both men are promising a government of national unity should they win. They know they will not win, which is what makes their promises a mere wish and prescription for what they hope Zanu-PF can be persuaded to countenance. From where I sit, this is a very vain hope.

Which means this election will end two political careers: that of Tsvangirai and that of Makoni. The one because he has tried and failed too many times; the other because he tried kaOne so disastrously. And because Makoni had no party when he tried this disastrous once, there will be no Ncube, Coltart, Trudy to shout him out.

His call for leadership renewal will work against him, ironically in respect of a leadership he never gave. He will just wither away, marking the end of petty bourgeois element in Zimbabwe’s buffeting politics.

When Zimbabwe may be a colony again

I go back to my old thesis: Zanu-PF’s real challenge will not be the recovery of this economy under conditions of continued western sanctions; rather, it will be the forging of a genuine national bourgeoisie with a sufficient national outlook to take charge to a reformed economy.

That way, Zanu-PF’s politics will have aligned with its economic vision. Not the present mismatch of nationalist politics pretending to ride on Rhodesia’s settler economy.

What right does Zanu-PF have to expect Lever Brothers to validate its politics? What right, Comrade President, to expect charitable conduct from the 400-plus British companies here? Unless this obscene cohabitation is challenged, Zimbabwe may very well be a colony again. In your lifetime, Sir. Icho! l

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