Friday, 2 January 2009

MDC: Who really stands in the way of the inclusive Govt?

MDC: Who really stands in the way of the inclusive Govt?

The dogs of war are barking furious, less from a determination to bite, more from frustration that the script has failed — yet again. The link between facile Western journalism and war jingo, indeed the link between crass Eurocentric journalism and white wars abroad, seems never hidden.

Take the case of Martin Fletcher, a London Times media dog of war, personifying residual colonial reflexes. He comes into the country secretly as part of the empire’s war-canvassing, multi-skilled deployment. Once in, he claims a series of "harrowing" sights he reasons and believes make a good case for war, for an armed invasion of Zimbabwe to fulfil the international community’s "responsibility to protect".

One such image is that of an "an emaciated old woman making ‘soup’ from weeds for her orphaned grandchildren". It turns out Fletcher’s eyes had roved and rested on an old rural woman discharging filial and custodial duties by preparing family relish from wild okra, a relish found in abundance with the onset of the rains. While this is a staggering sight to our colonial booty-fed Fletcher, to us the indigenes, this is a typical sight for the season, regardless of how and by whom Zimbabwe is governed, indeed whether in fat or lean years.

With the early rains comes a verdurous explosion of all manner of wild vegetables we all turn to for lunch and/or supper. This abundance of greens cannot be a cause for war, surely.

Enormous errors from minnows

Another "harrowing" sight that moves our Fletcher to declaring war against Zimbabwe is that of "young men defying crocodiles to catch a handful of tiny fish in the Zambezi".

What to Fletcher passes for "tiny fish" is what to us indigenes is called matemba whose very unique selling point (usp) is precisely that same tiny size which this Fletcher turns into a part of an iconography of suffering in Zimbabwe. And, of course, the practice of catching matemba is as old as the Zambezi itself, and, what is worse, a big business for big white businesses, not least Sea Harvest, a company any serious British journalist would readily know.

Zimbabwe is renowned for matemba the same way Britain is well known for its hake, its crabs or its snails. I am sure a Zimbabwean African would find the sight of a battalion of Englishmen chasing poor foxes across an otherwise serene heath quite amenable to all sorts of interpretations, especially when read against myriad challenges created by the mad cow disease, both for butcheries and for mental soundness of Albion’s citizens.

Strange gastronomical pursuits of a people hardly point to poverty or desperation, let alone reason enough for aggression by another that thinks itself better situated, never mind by what ill-gotten means.

A short, easy war

I have cited this enormously ignorant English journalist to show the not-so-clever link between unmerited British aggression and celebrated British journalism.

What for us would-be victims of that aggression would pass for mundane, run-of-the-mill rural pursuits, are for this strange English sensibility causa belli, a cause for war. In case you think this sensibility is a fluke, I can refer you to yet another — one Sir Bernard Ingram — himself a curiously knighted, out-and-out churl who spoke for Margaret Thatcher in her political heyday. In a well-written, horrible piece, the hoary ex-journalist concludes: "If we are not prepared to remove him (President Mugabe), we should shut up."

He is venting frustration at the lack of spine within the British establishment for a toppling war which the impressionistic Fletcher says is not only doable, but long overdue since "the Mugabe regime, like a tree hollowed out by termites, is just waiting to be toppled". As with Eurocentric prognosis just before the invasion of Iraq, Fletcher sanguinely reads a dispirited, disloyal, unpatriotic defence force which "would melt away at the first sight of a foreign force".

"Any fighting would probably be over within hours, and the bloodshed would be minimal," concludes man Fletcher, apparently unhelped by experiences of two long wars that have bogged down his country’s army well over half a decade.

From State House, Harare!

It is this crass journalism, this inciting journalism, which is buoying Tsvangirai’s MDC here, making it corky and intransigent.

As I write, Tsvangirai appears to have requited President Mugabe’s invitation to him to join the inclusive Government through ringing impudence.

The man dares make demands, send ultimatums to President Mugabe, obviously misled by Zanu-PF’s series of concessions whose larger calculus he has not quite grasped.

Misled by Eddie Cross — an official statistic of bankruptcy — Tsvangirai thinks Zanu-PF is so weakened that he might end up walking to State House, unopposed, without conditions, unsharing. Even the way he addresses his official correspondence amply show building delusions of grandeur.

His latest letter to President Mugabe suggests it is posted from "State House, Harare"! And any apparent show of readiness for British aggression done on behalf of the overstretched British army by war merchants from newsrooms, real marginals who cannot tell gunpowder from cocaine, fortifies Tsvangirai’s obduracy, certain that whatever Mugabe does, he has the British maxim gun, which Mugabe does not have. Life teaches that however violent, however, loud, whatever degree of fragrance, a fart can never be a harmattan, let alone a monsoon.

The real spoilers

If you sit down with level-headed MDC-T functionaries, they are quick to register a sober appraisal of their leverage against Zanu-PF, eager to confess to their desire to speedily join the inclusive Government. Already carrying self-arrogated titles on their doubly bent backs, they are always anxious to tell the system who the spoilers of the party are, who the real owners of MDC are, where the system must read real signals on the direction and position of their formation.

Hardly a day passes without such indications, all of which converge on an inclusive Government by mid-January or early February. More surprisingly, they are quick to vent their frustration with individuals they think are standing in the way of "progress".

And the name of Tendai Biti keeps coming up, as does that of Mudzuri, both for very different reasons. Biti gets foremost blame, much of it attributed to his enormous ambition for a meaningful role both within MDC and in the proposed inclusive Government, both which translate to deep contempt for the MDC-T leadership as presently configured. He thinks Tsvangirai must submit to the party’s constitutional term limits, which would then mean his stepping-down this February.

To his credit, these voices in MDC say Biti has not implied his ambitions to step in and up to the zenith. He has said so openly and loudly, which is how he has triggered angst in the likes of Mudzuri, who think they have better composure for such a leadership opportunity. This angst has triggered very interesting restlessness and speculations, including the possibility of an alliance between the Mudzuri group and Tavengwa’s Zapu.

Should this turn out to be true, it would be the first time that Tavengwa, a.k.a. Dabengwa, would have reclaimed and utilised his Karanga roots, roots long self-denied.

For MDC, for inclusive Govt

Within the proposed inclusive Government, Biti cannot understand why the MDC-T formation has decided the bottom is the better part of leadership, instead of the head.

He cannot understand why Tsvangirai preferred Khupe to him, arguing the symbolism of tribal balance has been too big a price for the MDC to pay.

His ambitions feel killed by symbolism. Cleverly, he pulls sound legal arguments on why MDC-T cannot join the inclusive Government on present terms, in the process reinforcing the self-sought perception as the sole guardian for best deal for the party.

At once the argument blocks progress on the formation of the inclusive Government while at the same time confirming his credentials for topmost leadership.

And grant it to him, no one in MDC appears able to counter Biti intelligently. Of course, these voices will also tell you about pressure for real gains by the grassroots who now accuse the MDC-T leadership of cutting best deals for itself with Zanu-PF.

Yet the real stumbling block

Interestingly, no one in MDC is too keen to play up the external straitjacket represented by Britain, America, Sweden and other European powers who view MDC-T as a political tool for the realisation of their larger geo-strategic goals in Southern Africa.

I have just cited war arguments purveyed

by British journalists — themselves war’s prologue – for the invasion of Zimbabwe. Increasingly, this thrust sidelines MDC as the visible actor for more direct action by imperial powers.

We have seen in the intervening weeks the inexorable sidelining of MDC as direct actors in Zimbabwe’s political drama. Britain must now lead, supported by America and Europe, legitimised by an African force. MDC-T is there as proof that Zimbabwe now has a credible alternative to Zanu-PF, an argument Britain pushes without any sense of irony.

Surely if Zimbabwe had that alternative, why would this require an invasion? The people will always install an alternative they need, whether by ballot or by bullet! The trouble is the British have been battling to whittle down President Mugabe’s social base, but with little success.

This is why the man has to be dislodged through war. Except the British have not realised that the new year will yield an equally determined Robert Mugabe, one quite fed up with Tsvangirai’s antics, and thus ready to take the mighty bull by the horns. We will have a substantive Government quite early in the year, with or without Tsvangirai.

He could just save himself and his party by going down this one path: that of Zimbabwe, away from his benefactors for so long. Will he?



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