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Cut the talk, Mnangagwa, and walk

19 Jul 2020 at 09:27hrs | Views
EVER noticed how fake Pentecostal pastors and prophets cheat people year round? They use a combination of nicely worded promises and voodoo "miracles".

The pattern is always the same. When the year ends, they do religious crossover rallies. They use recycled themes. They say, this year is the year of prosperity. The following year, they say, this year is the year of financial turnaround. After that, they say, this year is the year of deliverance.

Then, within the year every week they say, you are delivered from your tribulations forever. Gullible congregants ululate, punch the air in anticipated victory and shout, "Prophesy, Papa!" And, every week, the pastor or prophet lays his hands on them and, curiously, still promises that their troubles will be gone forever. That's how the prophets and pastors buy private jets and build empires.

Now, there is a man nicknamed ED. He is our president since late 2017. He has been a career politician for about half a century. It looks like he is following an illsuited career as a politician and must, perhaps, consider becoming a Pentecostal pastor or prophet, whatever the difference.

He is not bad with words, even though you wouldn't call him an orator. He makes nice promises all the time, just like the fake pastors and prophets. Progressive cynics call him a liar. He also talks about mortuaries in a way that makes you look forward to your death with glee. And he wouldn't do badly on miracles too.

Remember, in early November 2017, as the late Robert Mugabe had put a bounty on his head, he waded through the Transfrontier Park and the beasts of the jungle gazed at him in awe. The lions, cobras and hyenas scampered for cover as he made good his escape from Mugabe. Pretty like these prophets and pastors walking on pool water and never drowning.

Just last week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa spoke like he was anointed. He used a video selfie moment at State House to preach about corruption off what looked like a well-crafted script pitched behind the camera.

Here is what he said. Corruption is one of the (African) continent's greatest threats to economic development, progress and stability. The fight against corruption remains a serious and complex challenge. Networks of corruption are becoming more and more sophisticated. There is need to build strong and robust institutions to ensure that all our assets and natural resources benefit the majority, rather than line the pockets of a few. The government, also known as the new dispensation, will stamp out corruption.

If you heard it through the video selfie last week, you have heard it a thousand times since his inauguration in 2017, and that's the main problem. You can't quarrel against what he says here, just like you may choose not to quarrel against the prophets promising deliverance ad nauseam. But let's take a closer look at his unsolicited and clearly boring -message.

The president delivered the statement after a long holiday from corruption talk. What was the last time you last heard him talk about corruption, by the way? That must have been before the July 2018 general elections when he was looking for votes. So, it becomes curious when he bolts out of his self-made void and starts yapping about corruption now.

Here is a big possibility. Some people out there are organising protests for July 31. Now, these people are pitching their protests on the need to root out corruption, which ED acknowledges is one of the greatest threats Zimbabwe and Africa are facing. One would, therefore, conclude that ED has been pressured into a corner by the looming protests, which have clearly spooked all and sundry lurking in the corridors of power. So, if you are an optimist, you would say the threat of protests is yielding positive results as it has forced the president to come out and speak about corruption.

But then, in Zimbabwe, it's very hard to go to bed as an optimist. ED's video selfie message could have been designed to pre-empt the planned July 31 protests. The fast-ageing dispensation is quaking in its boots about the protests, because they will do more than one bad thing to ED and his administration. The only sure way to avoid the protests is to use a hammer on the protesters. Brute force will damage the dispensation's battered reputation further. Some embassies are already preparing statements.

In fact, one objective of doing protests is to soil the image of the dispensation, given its predictable but distasteful tendency to respond with a heavy hand. If the security forces are going to be brutal, then it's bye bye to all possibilities of political-economic salvation, particularly given what has been happening since the last
elections. Even African countries that seem to have been complicit in generating democratic poverty in Zimbabwe might start talking. And the last thing that the ED administration wants is to be forced into another global political agreement like what happened in 2008.

The point is, the ED dispensation will then say, but why must people still go and protest in the streets when the president has already acknowledged that corruption is a problem and we are dealing with it as promised? Mothers use a similar, though harmless, trick quite often. A child starts crying for ice cream. The mother takes us out some money and says, let's prepare to go to the shops. The difference now is that the Zimbabweans we are talking about are not kids, but bitter and calculating adults. But, still, the ED trick may work. They will justify stopping the protests on the purported basis that the president has promised action.

And the administration has other tricks at its disposal. Again, ED last week said he may tighten lockdown measures. Such measures would be a ready and easy tool to use in barring the protests. They will just say urban areas have become Covid-19 hotspots, so movement must be severely limited. They may be crazy enough to even impose a curfew.

But this is digressing, so back to the video selfie. The president talks well about how corruption networks are thriving. He doesn't say who is behind the cartels, but we have our good guesses. For instance, who doesn't know about the Queen Bee cartel that is responsible for the forex and fuel black markets, tender fixing and stuff ? Who, again, doesn't know that the president and his government know about this particular cartel? And why must we start getting promises of acting on these cartels now, particularly given the fact that some citizens are threatening protests on July 31?

It's two years after the last elections. What ED talks about in the video selfie, we have always known. People have persistently asked government to strengthen anti-corruption institutions, yet the president is talking as if he has just discovered the wisdom that, that is what is supposed to be done. What cosy bed has he been sleeping in all along, and with who?

You can't hide behind Africa and start yelling that corruption is not peculiar to Zimbabwe as the president seems to be insinuating in his video selfie. We all know too well that Africa is corrupt and that's why we are in this type of goo today. But people are not ready to worry about Africa if Zimbabwe is not doing what it should do to nip the cancer. ED and his dispensation must just deal with those people who externalised millions as we were promised in early 2018. ED must just deal with Queen Bee and avoid being a selfie superstar.

He must avoid more thoughts of hiring expensive jets to take him to his rural home just to eat boiled ox-hooves and gossip about rural witches. For a measure, he must seriously look into the possibility of his own sons and family being involved in lockdown graft, and must also thoroughly vet fiends of his offspring who make fake donations so as to get criminal tenders.

If he does this, he has a boundary chance of salvaging wasted opportunities to get Zimbabwe working again.

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Tawanda Majoni is the Information for Development Trust national coordinator and can be contacted on tmajoni@idt.org.zw

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