Friday, 26 December 2008

Tsvangirai: When the agent makes way for his principals

Tsvangirai: When the agent makes way for his principals

Happy Christmas guys! I hope you appreciate this instalment was penned on Boxing Day. I will make it light, as light as befits boxers. A recount of a little encounter I had this week, but one quite loaded. One evening I found myself surrounded by my elder brother’s inquisitive brood.

A four-strong gang, these young Diasporeans were not about to let their "little Father" off before attending to a few hard balls. I know my brother and his wife ("big Mother") to be a kindly couple, one too good-natured to have set out to create this army of clever impossibles! Before pleasantries were exchanged, one from this enormous number stepped out, only to come back armed with a copy of The Herald for the previous Saturday.

Straight away I knew I was done, already girding my loins for a bumpy encounter with these three issues from family loins. The opening salvo was a perfect probing attack, literally. Sir, in your omniscience, did you by any chance happen on this character called Nathaniel Manheru?

Nathaniel’s surname was pronounced in that very rich but erroneous intonation traceable to Albion’s tongue. I used head, hand, limb and all to duck this unsteadying volley, which came too, too close for comfort, again literally. I receded into a hidden corner of the sumptuous sofa, hoping for some deflecting parapet. That did not quite help.

Rescued by a toddler

"Uncle," came the preface to one more volley, this time a particularly brittle one, albeit misleadingly prefaced by, and pitched on a strong bond of consanguinity. "Uncle, help us proud Zimbabwean Diasporeans. If I am asked what all this is, where all this is leading to, how do I respond?"

The London tonal ring was particularly concussing, clearly indicating this formidable army was not about to be fobbed off with light explanations politicians are wont to dish out at rallies. "This" referred to political challenges and developments in the country.

The shot was a well-calibrated one, sure to take out its target. A goof on such a fundamental, existential question, raised with such devastating earnestness would just do it. It would alienate these youngsters whose faith and belief in their own country is already under siege, under severe strain.

As I fumbled for the best angle for returning fire, a cover volley came from a completely unexpected quarter. It came from a little litter from my own loins. Tired of being ignored for a while, my slightly-over-one-year-old male nuisance, decided that a direct and rather noisy, grabbing rejoinder to his politically inquisitive elder brother was appropriate.

This knight in shining armour started on a dramatic reorganisation of the well furnished and sumptuously decorated sitting room, ensuring all utensils within his reach rattled, some wailing from heart-rending breakages. Everything fell, anything along his path of determined, unselective ruin.

And like a perfect opposite of the Almighty, he was not about to rest, never about to pause and admire the topsy-turvy world he had just re-made in those six long seconds of total and indecipherable destructive creativity.

New kind of order, and freedom

Right before us was "order" belonging to the realm of man-child, order sure to make perplexing sense to our uncreative one of complete and unbroken things. Culling succour and solution out of things messy has always been my knack. I read the situation well: in no time, the embarrassed mother of the man-child would be agitating for our departure to stave off even greater "creation".

I knew freedom would soon come. I did soonest. "A-aa veduwe, chiregai tiende. Vashe ava vatidzinga," the mother of the comet intoned, clearly embarrassed. Golden chance! Without further ado, I showered everyone with goodbyes, including my questioning tormentors, all the time ensuring my face registered utmost regret that so important a question had been this rudely aborted by the little one, or more accurately, by its mother who does not seem to appreciate the place and spatial distance for kids when and where elders are talking! In the next instant, I vanished, stepping into delightful freedom.

Two weeks of vexations

For the past two weeks I have been particularly accosted by many well-meaning, patriotic Zimbabweans who just found the events of the intervening weeks too vexatious. On the one hand, you have this searing pressure from western powers agitating for a proxy war against Zimbabwe in our Sadc region.

Then you have an attempt on Air Marshal Perrance Shiri by a cowardly gang of assailants. You have the cholera pandemic whose antidote the West declares is an invasion of the country, hopefully followed by a deposition of its president. You are told the malady is improving its grim harvest, all the Western media networks declaring things are falling apart.

Then you have the President sending out invitation letters to leaders of both formations of the MDC, asking them to formally join the long-awaited inclusive Government. These men’s sins, it would appear, is expiated by reward of high responsibility. The mind boggles. One is mum; the other says he needs a passport to come back to his country.

So a President who invites a man to join him as his Prime Minister, orders the arrest of that same man? Again, the mind boggles. As all these things are happening, Jendayi Frazer slovenly declares America has lost faith in the September 15 Agreement, itself the political bedrock for the inclusive Government which the West has been agitating for.

And true to sequence, the American cheek is soon followed by Albion’s jowl. Speaking a day after Jendayi Frazer, Britain’s Malloch-Brown – the real man behind the Zimbabwe’s unilaterally imposed elders — intones that power sharing is impossible with Mugabe in office. The mantra has changed, changed from "power sharing now", to "Mugabe must go now."

Attacked and therefore we are . . .

Expectedly, people who are concerned about their country scour every nook and cranny for possible answers. As a columnist, you are condemned by the "in-the-know" assumption. You must know what is happening, otherwise how would you write, the enquiring public reasons, often not without reason.

We columnists are regarded as deep-throats of those holding key to political enigmas. We are regarded as persons to whose ears reach early whispers, including those from God. We are supposed to be cleverer, better connected and supremely able to read the hieroglyphics of vexatious power. Hence the pelting questions from my brother’s sons, two of them in university, two about to be.

Put together, the four amount to a small but literate community quite exposed, if not to developments in the country, certainly to how they are interpreted by Eurocentric pens and mouths. The way the consciousness industry has become so perfectly integrated into the structures of unfair power, makes public knowledge diseased by power’s self-fulfilling reading of events and developments.

And the way the Western state has perfected the art of engineering social consent, ensures that the frequency and reach of that cankered public knowledge is total, searing and concussing. Often I get frantic calls from college-mates now resident in the Diaspora, wanting to know whether there is still a country called Zimbabwe, or people called Zimbabweans. My cryptic answer to them has been Cartesian: WE ARE ATTACKED AND THEREFORE WE ARE!

They can’t finish us

Come to think of it, the perfect solution for Blair, Bush and Brown would have been a Zimbabwe empty of human beings with black surfaces. That was the objective of both the First and Second Chimurenga, was it not? How do you develop anthrax and other rapidly broadcastable and communicable pathogens except to finish a people? How do you arm mindless racists that Rhodesians were, if not to effect a perfect genocide, while allowing yourselves a scapegoat who makes the slaughter exculpable?

That we are here and here well enough to excoriate white imperialism, is not out of white mercy or goodness. It is out of sheer resilience that is ours as a people. They could not finish us. That cannot finish us. They will not finish us. We are what remains when the last lash of genocide comes to a splitting fall. So in the propaganda denial of our very existence, is our affirmation. But that is never the problem.

Rebels against Mother Country

The real problem for us is the health of the soul, the buoyancy of the spirit that animates it. What has been under severe attack is not the body, much as body-Zimbabwe is caroused and scarred. The skin always mends its own, restoring its shine or lustre. What takes too long, painfully long to mend and heal is the soul, once wounded. Zimbabwe’s soul has been under severe attack, calculated to fell it. The idea is to burn and scorch self-belief, to pulverise our own sense of worth and dignity, to challenge the soundness of our aspiration to be in charge of our country and its affairs.

Our collective welfare must always have a white guarantor, underwritten by Europe whose seal of approval we must daily strive for. The shadow of a white guardian angel must always hover above us, about us so our every step in whichever direction is white-minded, white approved. Which is why we should never come of age as a people. To come of age means demanding legal age of majority, itself always a refractory exercise frowned upon by symbols of patronage. We should be obedient, dependent infantiles always on the benevolent lap of motherly Europe.

Britain’s fight here is to retain its coveted status as our "Mother Country". Zimbabwe’s struggle here is break out of this hated frozen chrysalis state, to break out of suffocating white foster parenting implied by this most condescending, unilateral maternal metaphor of "mother country". Zimbabwe is asserting its teen status, struggling to grow its own way, away from white tutelage.

The real principals

Let me illustrate the point. You have Jendayi Frazer telling the world America no longer believes in the political settlement here and thinks President Mugabe must step down. As I have already indicated above, Malloch-Brown, himself of Rhodesian parentage, echoes the same sentiments, suggesting disenchantment with the political agreement on both sides of the Atlantic.

Just what gives these two beings, or the regimes they personify, the right to speak about Zimbabwe with such airs of proprietorship? What gives them locus standi in this whole matter? They were not signatories to the agreement; they are not guarantors. Sadc, the AU and remotely, UN, are the guarantors. Where do they come in? Or rather, do they come in at all in the equation?

Of course, they do! What will be mortally wrong is ever to suggest that they come in as concerned human nations. That would be committing the error is mischaracterisation they themselves would not find amusing. They are not humane, so why be so unkind to them. Their status derives from a peculiar kind of cruel history that connects them to us, forcibly. They stake their claim over us on colonial relations they reckon should never come to pass.

Whether we like it or not, the world is still structured by the Berlin Conference of 1884, which is why we are still regarded as refractory children of the Anglo-Saxons. This land we call Zimbabwe is theirs by colonial conquest, which is why everything about us requires their underwriting. By declaring their disenchantment with the September Agreement, and by implying that a withdrawal of their endorsement to that agreement spells doom to this country and its political leadership, Britain and America have given us yet another conclusive proof of their meddlesome hand in the political question here.

The MDC formations were not principals to this agreement. They were proxies, which is why they are dutifully quiet once the real signatory to the agreement has decided to withdraw. I posit that Tsvangirai today stands removed from that agreement as he is physically from its venue, the Rainbow Towers. All he can do is to gaze from a vast distance, a perfect exile from an arrangement he thought he authored.

Script from No. 10

In those circumstances, Zanu-PF strategy must be obvious and straightforward. President Mugabe has always maintained MDC is a minor, adding a lasting settlement to what troubles us here can only involve the British, themselves real disputants in this matter.

Much of Sadc did not believe him, wanting to give the MDC some modicum of sovereignty. Today President Mugabe stands vindicated, with South Africans totally persuaded that Tsvangirai has not an ounce of political latitude. His script comes from No. 10 Downing Street. The important thing is to remember that the real question is an economic one — about land —never a political one as is often postulated by the western media.

Let us face it, no one in Britain will lose sleep for a second because there is no democracy here or anywhere on the continent. Soldiers have just chewed the constitution in Guinea and I can assure you not a single soldier will drop from the whole of democracy-cherishing Europe, to save democracy in that country. But governments in Britain will fall if Zimbabwe ceases to be the Rhodesia of yore. That spells doom to the economy of Britain; that challenges Britain’s claim to imperial fame.

Holier than Lucifer

What makes Tsvangirai fit to run this country are not his democratic credentials which are as impeccable as Lucifer’s hard-to-question holiness. What makes him fit to run this country is his dutiful political disposition to the empire’s interests: around land, mines and minerals, industry and commerce and, of course, in ensuring a labour reservoir for capital. That is what makes him infinitely better than Mugabe.

Conversely, what makes Mugabe unfit for office is not his democratic deficit. When he did not challenge the empire’s political economy, he was paraded as suffering a net surfeit of democracy. Zimbabwe was well-run, its economy best managed. Mugabe deserved honorary degrees and even MBE. The moment he chose to dis-embed Zimbabwe out of the empire, all hell broke loose. He became politically unsightly.

So what makes him unfit to rule Zimbabwe is his insistence that Rhodesia dies, Zimbabwe emerges. So young men, this is the story of our country. Your country, Zimbabwe. The national question remains what it was when your father did time in Marandellas Prison in the early 1970s, then as a young, rebellions student of medicine at the local university.

Then the question was of your country’s Independence, narrowly defined in political terms as the right to self-rule, right for equal vote and political opportunity. But politics was the obvious foreground behind which lurked fundamental matters to do with wherewithal, our wherewithal as Africans. What to eat, what to wear, where to sleep, how to learn. These are issues which take you straight into the realm of wealth and wealth-creation, as well as how that wealth is controlled and distributed.

And for us the starting point has always been the Land. Our Land which must come back to us. That is the fight. Soon you shall be leaving us, to go back to school. Do not flinch. Go tell them what the matter is; go tell them where the rain began beating us. Icho!


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