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Mnangagwa affair: Romanticisation of the underdog

02 Nov 2017 at 05:21hrs | Views
There is something romantic about an underdog, something that attracts one to it and makes people build affinity for no hoppers.

From biblical times, the story of David slaying the giant Goliath is one that is told with fondness, as it is meant to give hope that an underdog can do the unthinkable and slay a monster of sorts.

The same goes with football, the world was captivated by Leicester's fairy tale run to winning the English Premier League title a few seasons ago.

The so-called neutrals and fence sitters found themselves instinctively backing Leicester unquestioningly, while even the most unwavering of supporters of different teams were in awe at the Foxes' achievements and would not begrudge them their moment in the sun.

It is the same with politics, where a person who is under siege suddenly gets a flood of support and good wishes because of his or her predicament.

Where people suspend reason for a moment and use their hearts instead of their brains to judge a political situation.

We saw it when Joice Mujuru - now the leader of the National People's Party - was axed from Zanu-PF and the government, she suddenly got a wave of sympathy and support, with many viewing her as a victim of a ruthless, cruel and manipulative government.

At that point, very few questioned that she had been part of that government for 34 years, as her troubles seemed to wash away her sins and her transgressions were somewhat forgiven.

The same happened with Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo, when he was axed from Zanu-PF ahead of the 2005 elections.

He received an outpouring of support when he contested as an independent candidate, as many felt he was being victimised and thought he deserved a shot at the then Tsholotsho constituency because he had done so much for that community.

In latter day times, there is a new underdog in the form of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who many feel is being victimised by President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace.

Mnangagwa has been on the receiving end of some stinging jibes from a faction in Zanu-PF called G40 - although his staunchest of supporters believe this is nothing and he will overcome.

But the consensus from observers is that he is on the ropes and it is only a matter of time before he hits the canvas, with the Zanu-PF extraordinary congress in December expected to be his Waterloo.

Mnangagwa is an atypical underdog because he is very much a part of the system and it is surprising that he could find himself in such a position, when it was believed that his path to the presidency had all but been cleared.

But nevertheless, when the factions are weighted, one can argue successfully that he is the underdog - and not the heir apparent he once was touted as - and many believe his goose may already have been cooked.

There has been an outpouring of support from Mnangagwa particularly on social media networks, where many believe he is being given a raw deal, considering that he has been at Mugabe's side for decades.

As I wrote in an earlier article, even opposition activists are seen to be taking his side and there have been reports that some foreign countries prefer him as the successor.

He is believed to have the wherewithal and the nous to run the country considering his experience in government and his problems have meant that he is receiving support from the neutrals just like Leicester and David.

But, this is a classic case of observers using their emotions rather than their brains to judge someone as being suitable for high office.

As Mnangagwa himself argues, he has been at Mugabe's side for 40 years, meaning he was brought up to think and act like the Zanu-PF leader and extrapolating that, my guess is that his presidency would be more of the same rather than a total divorce from the current economic and social chaos that we face.

We should question what difference Mnangagwa will bring, when he has only one school of thought for all these years and has been under the shadows of one man for so long.

I am sure what many people would prefer is a change of the governance system, where violence and intimidation are done away with and my question is: Does a Mnangagwa presidency mean a change in trajectory?

A monkey on Mnangagwa's back that just refuses to go away is the Gukurahundi issue, where he is often accused of playing a leading role.

Activist Judith Todd's autobiography Through the Darkness is quite instructive in pointing out this, although there are many texts that back this and I will not belabour the point.

Then there is the violence of 2008, where again his name props up a few times.

Any sceptic would argue that were he to be President, then nothing would have changed, as it would be similar to a Mugabe Presidency.

His staunch supporters argue that he knows a thing or two about business and could turn around the economy, but just like Mugabe, he has been in government since 1980 and we are yet to be presented with evidence of this business acumen.

I am not judging Mnangagwa, he might turn out to be a fantastic President - that is if he does succeed Mugabe - but our judgment of him should not be based on emotion and the suspension of reason.

The same goes with every politician, honestly, they should be judged on merit and what they are offering, rather than their troubles.

There will always be something about an underdog and someone who is under attack, but the country's future depends more than just the romanticisation of the underdog.

Sentimentalisation works well in sport and religion, but for the country, we need merit and a plausible agenda.

What we should be yearning for is leadership capabilities rather than using emotion in our political choices.

Source - newsday
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