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An inherited crisis of imagination: A Long Essay concerning the understanding of Zimbabwe - Pt1

27 Jul 2018 at 19:02hrs | Views
If it is a despot you would dethrone, see first his throne erected within you is destroyed lest what you call freedom is the strongest of chains.

The Gibranian perception sums the November 2017 events in Zimbabwe where army generals and false fathers found themselves committing a more debased Oedipal crime of sleeping with the mother without having slain the father.

As I have said in the past, the current Zimbabwean dilemma is only a tip of an iceberg that cannot be tackled in a pedestrian manner. It is not an everyday discussion of conflicting formulas, philosophies or principles of academic nature but a life and death condition which cannot afford the luxury of procrastination while we breathe this toxic and intoxicating atmosphere.

Zimbabwe is a painful problem that demands immediate attention.
A superficial evaluation of the catch would attribute the problem to its manifestations when the root of the matter lies much deeper. It is therefore incorrect to locate the points of tension in the present. The problem lies rather, in the configuration of the nation. These origins should be traced without delay. This I shall demonstrate in this piece by steering off the mediocrity of missing the point that forever tries to settle any pressing question through giving an anti-Popperian trend of issuing a sound and balanced judgement that makes everyone happy but entirely missing the point.  

My argument is simple; the idea of Zimbabwe has not translated to a Zimbabwean idea. This anchoring argument allows me to locate the idea of Zimbabwe as both a modernity/coloniality scholarly claim as it is a flawed and illusory representation. Consequently, as I shall demonstrate, the moral validity of the idea of Zimbabwe is itself questionable. I think that point is clear though it might lend itself to misunderstandings. I am not disputing Zimbabwe as a geographic space. That form of existence cannot be denied; Zimbabwe has been in existence for thirty-eight years. It might change anytime, but for now it is still in existence, a reality to fathom. However, that does not stop anyone from analyzing or questioning its moral or political validity.

At this point, it must also be noted, any discussion of the nation-state in Zimbabwe and Africa is all about an inherited colonial structure. The contentious but fluid forms of citizenship by the ruling(black) elites, just like that of the colonialists is characterized by dehumanization, domination, violence, repression and coercion.  The colonial structure always had ethnicity(race) as its founding pillar just as the 'post-colonial' structure has ethnicity(tribe)as its founding pillar. This order of things buttresses the relevance of Du Bois' observation that the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line. Eminent scholar and philosopher Ramon Grosfoguel sheds even more light by defining racism as that global hierarchy of superiority and inferiority along the line of the human that have been politically, culturally and economically produced and reproduced for centuries by the institutions of the 'capitalist/partriarchal western-centric/Christian-centric modern/colonial world system'. References to race, racism and whiteness in this piece should for that reason not shock anyone. In a nutshell, the problem of Zimbabwe and Africa and the idea of both is at large a problem of inheritance and the crisis of imagination by its leadership which has remained an extension of both entities' 'historicism' whose umbilical cord refuses to be detached from the womb of totalitarianism that birth it.

The final section; " The Big fat Elephant in the Room: UMthwakazi/ Butua/Bukhwa", is an attempt to move away from an epistemological approach that perpetually seeks to permanently subordinate ontological positions to whims of a logical hierarchy which is not only colonial but a clear case epistemicide. In other words, I seek to concretely resurrect and preserve in our analysis and without prejudice to its absolute character, the pre-colonial as something we can draw great lessons learn from if not imitate. Instead of scoffing at the pre-colonial as barbaric and savage we should rather treat it logically and perhaps in a co-existent manner without linearizing time.

I begin.

A: A Background: Triumph and an end of introjection
Herbert Marcuse in his essay on liberation describes triumph and introjection as a stage where the people cannot reject the system of domination without rejecting themselves. That entails people discarding their own repressive instinctual needs and values for the imagination of a new nation.

In that case he argues, liberation is subversion against the will and against the prevailing selfish and domineering interests of the great majority of the people over the minority.

One thing that is real about Zimbabwe is that it has, over the years been a terrible society that has profitably functioned for the selfish 'majority' until the consequences of debasement caught up with the degenerate society. Of course one man had to be sacrificed, the father, Mugabe. By chance or default, the beneficiaries of the evil system somehow mastered the High Priest Caiaphas' words that, "you don't realize that it is expedient for you that one man should die than the whole nation to perish".

As such, it should not surprise anyone that the very same people who were previously worshipping Mugabe, somehow, in an Iscariotian manner, lynched him the very following day. Not to mention that his favourite sons, the son of god (Mnangagwa) and the most obedient son (Mpofu) were at the forefront of his lynching without forgetting that the 'Munu wese kune Mai' Chiyangwa is no longer his relative. Those who scream Hosanna today bellow crucify him tomorrow.

There is a concealed constant here that holds these nodes together. Ethnicity.
The point is simple. Zimbabwe is a tribal entity before it is anything else. Ethnicity structures all the relationships in that country and determines all the socio-economic gradients and economic discourse masquerading as sophistry.

For fastidiousness' sake, the sophistry that accompanies the interpretations of the current imbroglio, whether economic or political serves to conceal the socio-economic disadvantages by all the minority groups under the Ndebele umbrella, (Venda, Chewa, Tonga, Kalanga, Nguni, Sotho, Tswana, Khoisan, Matebeleland-Shona, Shangani, Lemba and others). In a nutshell, the tragic failure of the social, where failure to manage heterogeneity and the promotion of ostracisation of difference has birthed and scandalously preserved the ethnic at the expense of all that works ranging from the economic, political, social fabric to modes of worship.   
But how does this come about?

B. The dilemma of Zimbabwe; inheritance of structure and tapered imagination
As I pointed out earlier, the idea of Zimbabwe is punctured with defects, hermeneutics of suspicion, justified self-interest without support of moral principle. The general will has been subjected to the rule of the vanquished by the vanquisher not to only divide and rule but to also vanquish any form of order, for through chaos the despots thrive. As we may know, the general will is simply what the citizens of the state have decided together in their sovereign assembly. To add, an alternative interpretation of the general will is the transcendent incarnation of the citizens' common interest that exists in abstraction from what any of them actually wants in the process losing individuality, clan, tribe or religion for the sake of the whole. Today, after the coup we are presented with the Generals' will instead of the General will.

This crisis goes back to Zimbabwe's conception.
Subsequently, the crisis of Zimbabwe is not economic, political or other. It is a serious crisis of imagination. This crisis has led to fragmented and competing ideas of nationhood where minority consciousness and groups are defined as enemies of the state therefore deserving of death, physically, culturally, economically and even linguistically. For this kind of state to exist there has to be an internal enemy, a dissident that binds the nation together and is the glue of the artificial national consciousness.

This leads to sobering questions; what is our idea of the state, what is our idea of being, what is our idea becoming and in a nutshell what does is it mean to be human in Zimbabwe? What does it mean to be Zimbabwean? Is invisibilising others being? What has led to the ubiquity of normalizing the will to power despite its visible defects? While it is impossible to inherit an unencumbered state, why are its defects unseen, ignored or go unquestioned?

We can begin answering these questions by categorically stating that Zimbabwe is a European/Western idea just like all other African countries. It is a zombie state. Its imagination is Eurocentric. Its crisis of imagination can be traced to the European idea of the nation-state. That is an idea which has struggled to bring anyone who looks different into each conception of humanity.

C. The Westphalian European State
The European idea of the state is about conquest, total domination and homogeneity. Difference is an abomination. This idea was sold hook, line and sinker to African nationalists like Samora Machel known for the line, "for the nation to live the tribe must die" when in reality for the nation to live the tribe must flourish. There is no problem with tribe but there is a huge one with tribalism.

The Eurocentric idea of the state has its dubious character, as pointed in the past by scholar Ndlovu-Gatsheni, of fortifying the myth of the chosen one, one chosen nation, one chosen language, one chosen religion, one chosen tribe, one chosen race and in Africa it has been all along one chosen leader.

This model does not correspond with the reality on the ground. It is these Eurocentric ideas that lie at the heart of the irreconcibility of the realities of the Zimbabwean nation-state, the impossibilities of imagining the state in a diverse ethnic, racial, linguistic manner. The European worldview has always exhibited the poor management of difference so has Africa, ironically a continent with the most diverse ethnic groups in the world.

Where the Eurocentric state does not correspond with the realities of diversity on the ground it becomes characterised by the development of coercive tendencies where it has the power and claim the constitutional use of force within its defined territory. Consequently, via the army, police, media, courts, church, education system and security sector seeks to unite the people subjected to its rule. This is done by means of homogenisation and banal nationalism where the pursuit of building a shared sense of belonging is performed to creating a common culture. The spectacle includes symbols such as flags, values, reviving traditions and formative myths of origin, and sometimes inventing and re-inventing them. Like headless chickens the half-cooked and half-baked idiotic elite finds itself clutching to these symbols.
More generally, this Eurocentric inability to navigate dissimilarity is even well entrenched in institutions that one would expect more tolerance from. One example is in religion where even a philosopher like Vladimir Sergeevich sees difference as nothing but a progression towards re-intergration.  The British Labour Party has in the past shocked people with its strong stance on assimilation. Tony Blair, sounding like Nigel Farage, was quoted as saying, 'Our tolerance is part of what makes Britain, Britain. So conform to it; or don't come here'. Not to be outdone was his Minister of Communities, Ruth Kelly, calling multiculturalism as outdated and a threat to British identity was even more adamant, 'In our attempt to avoid imposing a single British identity and culture, have we ended up with some communities living in isolation of each other, with no common bonds between them?

This is derisory coming from the Labour Party and from a group of people who have never conformed to Indian, Chinese, Nigerian values or any other values of the lands they landed on. These are people who have taken the good in their history and shouted 'our heritage, our heritage' on roof tops and invisibilised their bad side, which all the same is rapidly coming out today.

In isiNdebele they say, 'okulempondo akufihlwa emgodleni' or 'Sobohla Manyosi'. Assimilation is hierarchisation, it assumes a superior group whose values must be adopted. Assimilation is for non-citizens, the drags of society, the foreigner, the non-human. These groups may be forcibly assimilated via genocide, epistemicide or political linguicide.   In countries like Nigeria part of the assimilation into Nigerianness means the adoption of Hausa tribal attitudes, in Kenya it is Kikuyu attitudes and down South Zimbabweanness and to be human means adopting Shona supremacist, xenophobic and genocidal attitudes. By and large this tendency translates to elections in Africa in general where elections are nothing but ethnic roll-calls.

Ernest Renan the 19th century French philosopher even resurrects and adds to these antiquated divisive notions of the nation two key discordant concepts. These are namely 'forgetfulness' and 'extermination and terror". These, according to Renan, are a means to an end. The end is unity and the nation. Renan claims that forgetfulness is a key component in the creation of a nation.
 
Drawing from the Eurocentric ethic of violence Renan asserts that all nations are born out of violence, so the violent acts should be conveniently forgotten for a nation to be forged and unity to prevail.  This flawed take of things should not be surprising coming from Europe, a continent that has exterminated the Herero, Aborigines or the Native American.

Renan believes that people unite in their memories of suffering because alleviating grief requires a "common effort" which serves as a foundation for unity. But Renan's idea of unity, in itself is mottled. This contrived nationalism takes unity for uniformity yet the two are different terms altogether. Unity is basically the harmony and togetherness of different populations or nations within a country yet uniformity desires likeness and any form of difference is not tolerated. One red flag of where ZANU was going to take the country through its ideas of uniformity could have been seen during the struggle when handicapped people, just because they were different were killed or the Nhari/Badza rebellion where people with a different perspective were buried alive, some imprisoned and others shot dead. Renan proves true when the oppressor Mugabe attempts to subsume all the Matebele sub-nations into Shona via genocide, deprivation and linguicide.

This failure of reason, self-deception and poverty of imagination by so called African revolutionaries and its intellectual advisors is disheartening. Forklifting and transplanting of genocidal ideas is inexcusable.

It should however be understood as espoused by Valentin Mudimbe in the opening lines of his book 'The Invention of Africa' that, colonialism's intention sought to transform non-Europeans into fundamentally European constructs. Mudimbe even traces the etymology of the word colonialism which is derived from Latin, 'colere' meaning to cultivate or design. The black and dull elites trusted with power in 'post-colonial' Africa, who anyways were the closest to the colonial masters have done a neat copy and paste job and even went step further by committing genocide against their own people, something the colonialists will not even do to their own.
People like Joshua Nkomo were not understood when they pointed out these things as they appeared to be far ahead of their times only to be understood almost two decades after their death. For example, Nkomo was already aware of the lack of imagination by the African students in European universities during the struggle,
"White experts on Rhodesia….missionaries, government employees, academics loyal to successive regimes had for a long time emphasised and exaggerated tribal differences as a way of dividing people…now their work was bearing fruit through students at universities abroad who felt the need to create some artificial loyalty to a group, and they chose tribal differences as a means of rallying that loyalty".

D. Zimbabwe: A 'manure of conceptual contradictions'
At the heart of this Zimbabwean problem is a series of conceptual conflations. One example is the rhetoric and normativised idea of conflating the nation with the state. A Zimbabwean state exists but not a Zimbabwean nation. There are many nations within the Zimbabwean state, some of the nations transcend the state into countries like Mozambique (Manyika) or Botswana(Kalanga, Tswana).

It is important to note that the modern state, across the world is a Westphalian political construction that emerged in early modern Europe.  Despite being duplicated across the world with all its flaws the model has been imitated in all other parts of the world with disastrous consequences.

The state is only a juridic entity that arises out of society, but should not subsume society. But in Africa the state was developed to serve interests divorced from the populace, it is divorced from the nation(s), but only legislatively functions to monitor those nations via a paid mob of the army and police on behalf the master(Coloniser).

It is through these lens that we can understand the coup in Zimbabwe.

How then does this crisis of imagination play out in Zimbabwe? What can we read from the recent coup de tat events?

E. Performing Coloniality and Eurocentrism in Zimbabwe
As we navigate this terrain, I would like to begin by pointing out three things. I am aware that I may be taken for a cripple who hates dancers but frankly, it does not help anyone for the strong and swift to limp before the lame mistaking the act for kindness. Qiniso aliqedi buhlobo!

First, in the Hegelian sense, the true problem is always the opposite one. This cannot chime truer than observing the Zimbabwean situation which is also well- illustrated by Slavoj Zizek, that when we observe a thing, we see too much in it, we fall under the spell of its empirical detail which prevents us from seeing the determination that forms the core of things. As such, the political, economic, or military tyranny is all a result of the social in Zimbabwe.

To be precise, the social is anchored on the ethnic in Zimbabwe. That denotes the deliberately 'constructed' majority ethnic that has become a reality. We should therefore not proclaim to be erudite when we only see the thing in front of us forgetting that the thing is embedded in all the wealth of a social context, at times premised on concocted histories established on the the will of power. Therefore, let us not reduce or confuse the thing for its traits or its manifestations.

Second, it is always wise people's words that you cannot honour one guest above the other, for he who is mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.
Third, there is nothing unique or special about Zimbabwe in the grand scheme of things. Zimbabwean exceptionalism is a myth. Like any other country in the underside of modernity, Zimbabwe has, like a clumsy un-imaginative clown in a circus performed an ancient routine with more brawn than brain through a very simplistic Shona supremacist hierarchical structure to the detriment of the country.
 
We should not get it twisted. The Zimbabwean economy, in all its glorious shambles, like the ruins it is named after, is a result of the social. The tyrant's long stay in power was a result of the social. The social world determines the emergence of meaning and human identities and how individual situations relate to the development and preservation of social and political situations. Regrettably, over a long period of time the mis-birthed social can be established as natural or teleological law. And this is how the social was (mis)constructed in Zimbabwe.

At the very heart of Zimbabwe is a hierarchical power that flows from the top to the bottom. At the apex is a 'god' in whom all power is concentrated. The 'god' is all and in all. He is the chosen one, so is his language, his ethnic group and his culture. His power is mediated by his 'son' who in turn channels power to his representatives across the country, which is mainly the state institutions, the army and even Vice-Chancellors of universities, NGOs, the media and the clergy.

This model extends to the whole society and in an ethnocentric manner at that. It goes all the way to village chiefs, headmen, headmasters, and even to the village idiot. The glue that binds the whole structure is 'dissidentifying' of the different via language not necessarily of the majority but the 'constructed' majority, the Shona.

Here majority does not mean the most people following an idea, be it socialist, ubuntuist or a capitalist idea, but it means the majority ethnic group following their kith and kin.   A sense of responsibility of defending the state is engendered even without pay such that the average person from the benefitting group can be mistaken for an intelligence officer. The sense that one might get would be that everyone works for the state, which is somehow not far from the truth.

It is from this structure that we can understand the going-ons in Zimbabwe(itself a tribal name) today despite the fact that the 'god' has been replaced, albeit by his own 'son'.

In a nutshell, After 37 years of zombification this voodoofication of thought should be expected in the populace and shockingly in its syllabus intellectuals. An army clearly says, and in broad daylight, we want to preserve the status quo and get rid of these mafikizolo malcreants who are not only threatening our wealth but liberation credentials too. And the populace gives applause.
 
Why should we dehumanize ourselves to produce artifacts that throw our being into invisibility? Why? It smacks of the village prophet who merrily pulls down the panties of his female congregants in all their hew and make, at times in the full knowledge of their husbands, just because he has power to belt out a prophecy or two at times accompanied by a spell or three.

But the cowards must remember these two things; 1. whatever form of violence or sophistry cannot permanently silence natural freedom and the will for liberty. 2. A cannibalist state in all its power, it could not eat the outsiders but itself. The populace should remember this one thing, to support any of the kissing ogres, for one selfish reason or another is tantamount to castrating your own son, the pain cannot be felt physically by the parent today but by the son however in the long run the parent would have castrated the self and the lineage.

As outlined in the preceding sections, we need to focus on how this ethnic anomaly is translated into a language of logic or epistemology and finally praxis.

A national enemy is created. The enemy is not without but within the state. Creation of a protracted negative. The imagined enemy. This creation of a hereditary enemy through history is largely not supported by sensibleness but epistemological concoctions in the media, church, education systems and informal tales, be it folk or pub tales . The nation state here, is defined in opposition or in extermination of the imagined enemy. One-sided education based on obliterating the other focuses on 'dissidentifying' the other such that others even deny their identity.

This denial of identity is not unprecedented in global identity politics of life and death.

In America blacks will start claiming other identities ie Tiger Woods, Cablinasian, in Zimbabwe some begin to distance themselves from their own claiming Malawian or Mozambican(A South African link is not allowed) heritage which keeps them closer to the 'authentic subjects'. Others would perform a heavy rulers' accent live on TV when dethroning the tyrant for quick acceptance into the nation. In a nutshell the 'nation-state' should be protected from contamination by the dissidents or those who look or sound like dissidents.

We have seen this position before. The quote below is a good example,
"There is a lot of 'Aborigines' in the land, their doom is to be exterminated and the sooner that their doom be accomplished so that there be no cruelity so the better will it be for civilisation". This was not pub talk but words of Anthony Trollop the author of the famous novel turned movie series, 'The Wizard of Oz'. Those words easily fits the narrative of genocide where the extermination of the Ndebele was deemed the better for the nation.

It is through these lenses that we can understand the coup of no coup. I focus on two key expanses. First, what happened in Zimbabwe was a coup d'etat.  A coup d'etat by its simplest definition is the illegal and overt seizure of a state by the military or other elites within the state apparatus.
 
The motive behind the coup can be read in various ways but to me, without inhibiting the development of varying interpretations, other lens for me are trifling and trivial. By having the Head of state in the grasp of the Ndebele in the person of Jonathan Moyo was against the very idea of Zimbabwe. It was shaking the very foundations of Gukurahundi upon which Zimbabwe is founded. Quarrelsome Grace Ntombizodwa was fooled to think her Nguni name or Benoni South African roots would be ignored. Not to mention the idea of Valerio Sibanda heading the army or Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko ascending the throne after refusing that he was junior to Mnangagwa.

The Horror! The Horror! The Horror! The Kurztian horror of a Ndebele being a president. The horror has always been nipped in the bud anyways, in 1961 Nkomo was displaced, Ndabaningi Sithole same fate, Morgan Tswangirayi over Gibson Sibanda, Arthur Mutambara over Welshman Ncube. Even when Ncube finally led the other MDC, he could not be allowed to take sips of tea with the tripartite.

It is a long list that covers all spheres of life where even in sport merit means ethnic group, as such Peter Ndlovu will not be greater than Moses Chunga, if he does, does the ethnocentrist retrieves George Shaya. Jeys Marabini a Ndebele artist will be pelted with bottles and stones just because they say they do not understand his language. These are the same people who will listen to R. Kelly when they can hardly hear any English or Busy Signal's Jamaican Patois.

To sum up the events one would highlight the incident in Parliament where MPs like Angeline Masuku were forced to speak in English by the Deputy Senate speaker Chen Chimutengwende when responding to Joram Gumbo who had actually addressed parliament in Shona in the first place. There are a million incidences of the 'dissidentification' of the Ndebele at all levels of society even by the Zimbabwean Human Rights Lawyers who have since the regarded the Ndebele as non-human not worth representing.

There was indeed a coup.

Yes, according to the idea of Zimbabwe a coup was taking place, someone had to intervene without killing god and save him and the 'nation' from the Ndebele dissidents. This was long time coming after all, to those who were following events in the country in the past two years or so. One could list a thousand things, but a few would suffice.

The campaign against the Vice-President Mphoko staying in a hotel when others junior to him had even stayed longer. The declaration of Obert Mpofu as the most corrupt minister in the country.  The heavy involvement of the Ndebele in the events leading to the skirmishes would need another thousand words to explain on how by design they fulfilled the 'dissident role'. By that I mean the hunt for Jonathan Moyo, the letter by Simon Khaya Moyo, the TV announcement by Sibusiso Moyo, the MC at the Mnangagwa first appearance, Obert Mpofu, the MC at the inauguration Khaya Moyo and the announcement that there could be a coup in Zimbabwe by Dumiso Dabengwa. All these events were not by default but design even up to the looting of the Mphoko owned Choppies shops. It had to be the Ndebele who had to play a dissident role of testing the wrath of the masses. This is not the say the Ndebele mentioned are covered in glory. God forbid, they are not, they have their own skeletons
That is how rotten Zimbabwe is. A shona gukurahundist supremacist state in denial.

F. The Convenient 'Jezebilising' of Grace Mugabe

Second 'Jezebelising' of Grace is a very simple narrative that seeks to mask the monster that ZANU is. If Grace Mugabe is the problem in Zimbabwe we may be forced to ask some routine questions; Was Grace at Mgagao, was Grace at Enos Nkala's house, was Grace at the Nhari rebellion, where was Grace during the assassination of Chitepo, Tongogara and others? Where was Grace at Gukurahundi? Where was Grace at Willowgate, how about during ESAP?

I am pretty sure the sudden convenient hero Sally Mugabe was there during all those times. I am talking of Sally Mugabe who regularly left with a million dollars in cash to Ghana until Zimbabwe customs complained. I am talking of Sally the angel who took a dialysis machine from Mpilo Hospital to her home and hundreds lost their lives. A lot can be said about the angel Sally. We will not get into the inconclusive Rashiwe Guzha kidney story. So please spare us the lies and stay away from easy narratives.

Grace Mugabe and Mnangagwa have been fighting the same battle from different angles. They were both on the verge of being left in the lurch by the tyrant. On the one hand, as observed in the past by Dinizulu M. Macaphulana Grace and her children potentially face the wrath of those wronged by the tryrant and on the other hand, Mnangagwa faces the wrath of justice of all the blood he spilt with and on behalf of the tyrant during his right hand man tenure.

This, for safety sake, became a marathon to safety, the 'god' had to be deposed not killed as he is worshipped and both competitors are moulded in his image so is his ethnic group. The unfortunate part with Mnangagwa is that tribalism caught up with him as there are also tribal hierarchies within the Shona supremacist state that has the Zezuru at the top, at least for the past 37 years. As a Karanga Shona sub-group Mnangagwa risked being thrown to the hounds, so he had to use brawn to grab state institutions after being beaten hands down by brain, at the mercy of Jonathan Moyo. If he beat brain by brawn we yet to see if he can beat the ballot. But, it all depends on his governance. A South-South relationship is his only survival otherwise he is history. There is a lot of precedence in history. When Bashar Al-Assad's father, Hafez al-Assad died, al Bashar had to initiate reforms that unfortunately came back to bite him. He had no choice nevertheless but to make those reforms.  Mugabe's departure must be celebrated because his symbol goes with him and all his successors will not be strong as him.

But what do his successors have in store for the country?

 G. Mnangagwa and the Generals: Is their remorse greater than their misdeeds?
Now that Mnangagwa and the generals have delivered a 'New Zimbabwe' are they to be trusted with the new way forward? In 2014 one of the best brains and political analysts in Zimbabwe, Mthulisi Mathuthu predicted the current scenario. In his article entitled, 'Weighing Mugabe's Calculations', Mathuthu anticipated with great accuracy how Mnangagwa would rise to the throne and open up Zimbabwe to Western interests and secure the country into the broader community of nation states.
This opening up the country to Western and Eastern interests should lead us to key questions. Who is Mnangagwa? What does Mnangagwa want? What does Mnangagwa stand for? Who anointed Mnangagwa and for what purpose? What is the glue that binds Mnangagwa and the army together? Is Mnangagwa and of course the generals what Zimbabwe want? Where does Mnangagwa stand on that dehumanizing bridge between individual and structure, to be precise what is his position on Matebeleland genocide and the dispossessed white farmers? Finally, will Mnangagwa together with the army adopt a pronounced democratic approach believing in all verities of freedom, justice and equality or we are yet to see a continuity of sustained domination?

In answering these questions, one might as well bet that the idea of Zimbabwe that put him into power or manufactured him shall not be let go. Freedom of speech, respect of the law, sanctity of life and other humanizing artifacts will remain only for the privileged constructed majority. Others will remain a fringe interest if an interest at all and continue to occupy the position of national disdain and dissidence.

Common sense, despite being non-methodical, its practicality and pragmatism should also dictate to us that Mnangagwa will be unable to shed what he has benefitted from. Shedding it off would be like expecting an eagle to pluck off its own feathers to soar higher. That said, it cannot be ignored that, the focus, albeit on the present and what the future might bring, conceals within it a deep anxiety because the bridge between the past and the future appears to promise nothing but a reproduction of the same past.

Eliminating a tyrant is not synonymous with liberation, let alone to replace the tyrant with his right hand man. What causes anxieties is largely the absence of infrastructure at the moment of 'victory' to take us forward or give us hope. This exacerbated by what becomes my argument for this section drawn from Frantz Fanon and Lewis R. Gordon. My argument is categorical;

The generation that takes the mission of decolonization, through means such as war is not necessarily suited for the next stage of liberation, a new generation needs to take over. As pointed out by the two philosophers, the fighters for national liberation are nourished on the unique struggle they often maintain their uniqueness on those terms.

These liberators circulate a lot in the orbit of their oppressor such that they cannot be disentangled from the oppressors and always seek validation from the very same oppressor. But we should also be wary, those who have not fought the liberation struggle or born years after detente can also speak from the position of the liberation struggle veterans.

 It should not surprise anyone that the new regime will seek aid from the very people it finds its ontological density from having fought. Ain't that a gwitch? Somehow, struggle stalwarts have or are always inclined to erasing their liberatory credentials. It is left for the new generation to define liberation in its own terms.

The first stage of liberation is the Marcusian sensibility. Sensibility is men and women who overcome their sense of guilt by choosing not to identify with the false fathers who have built a colonial 'post-colonial' enclave in the form of a Zimbabwe characterized by hate, genocide, ethnocentrism and epistemicide (the killing of knowledges). Sensibility calls for the new generation to give up the divisive things it has cherished and held on to, the things that has prevented it from taking a leap into life and liberation. New social practices that liberate us should be constructed. If Mnangagwa is on to lead in this social reconstitution it must be all in sincerity and transparency.

Social practices are knowledge practices that mirror scientific knowledge. So what does Mnangagwa stand for and what informs his idea of Zimbabwe? To answer this question, we can only draw from his history and from the few speeches he has made so far.

What is his idea of development? Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, he said in his speech. In his employment and deployment of the job narrative Mnangagwa is doing what one may call revelation by concealment.

First, what he reveals in his politics is epistemic dislocation, something that fulfils Hegel's claim that the greatest thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history. Mnangagwa just like his predecessor and many an African leader is epistemically dislocated.  In this case, by epistemic dislocation I mean thinking from Europe or rather a Eurocentric mindset and not from his own position.

Jobs, infrastructure, health and all these other material artifices cannot precede social re-configurations. If the social, such as inequalities and specifically ethnocentrism or rather Shona supremacy which of course degenerates into various gradations such as Zezuru or Karanga supremacy are not addressed, they will come back to destroy the very same jobs and infrastructure that has been created. If there is any befitting example to use in Africa, it is Zimbabwe, the so called former bread basket of Africa.

One of the greatest philosophers of our time, the late Joshua Nkomo, whose speeches have become prophecies spoke about this way back in the 1960s, was very clear on this;

"If development in Southern Africa is an obstacle to political freedom of the black people there, then we shall have to destroy that development…… if a bridge meant to help our people is also made to oppress them, we are going to destroy that bridge".
One has to understand though that jobs and infrastructure rhetoric only appeals and makes sense to the desperate. As we all know it is only the desperate who sells his or her birth-right for a soup of lentils, and of course it is only an idiot who has the benefit of hindsight that sells his birth-right for a soup of lentils. Oh oh sugar lumps, cranberry, ice tea, flippin heck, lentils always catch up with us.
Second, and as an extension to the previous point, Mnangagwa's rhetoric conceals the Zimbabwean problem by de-contextualisation. De-contextualisation enables Mnangagwa not to only remove the gaze from the social but to control the interpretation and deployment of meaning. For example, corruption has been re-defined to mean his enemies and not his friends who are also filthy corrupt.

What Mnangagwa is doing is what Hannah Arendt calls 'dramatis personae'. The president wears a mask and is performing transparency and non-corruption. That façade is not needed. The political theatre is the last thing that Zimbabwe needs now. He needs not wear a mask, with or without it the people do not need any form of play-acting, they have suffered a lot.  

But what is not true cannot be maintained.

I do not have a problem with corruption, as long as it is made to beat bureaucracy and invest in the people. All strong economies in the world have benefitted and are benefitting from corruption. Wow!!! What is this dude saying? Yes, I said so. The most corrupt countries like the United Kingdom plunder other countries but what they do well is invest in their people, the social. Funny enough these despots, through lack of imagination, plunder their own country, as opined by Ngugi Wa Thiongo and invest in the very same Western countries. This discussion can be left for another day.

 H. What could be the way forward for Mnangagwa and his entourage?
At this point it must be dawning to the isiNdebele proficient Mnangagwa the reality that 'isilima siyabulangazelela ubukhosi' literally translated, it is only an idiot that desires the throne. This saying is not about the idiot though but a reflection on how complex and unforgiving the job of a leader is.

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Source - An inherited crisis of imagination: A Long Essay concerning the understanding of Zimbabwe
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