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The Ndebeles who succumbed to a manipulator

11 Aug 2013 at 09:10hrs | Views
It is both funny and irritating. I am referring to current spirited attempts by strange people who had nothing to do with Zanu-PF, nay, who worked against Zanu-PF in its bid for re-election, to now seek to fill Zanu-PF's governing agenda by their own vile thoughts. They now want to tell Zanu-PF what it must do, how to govern from its victory and near-absolute mandate. Newspapers are groaning under the weight of copious opinion pieces, all of them unsolicited. They are now adorned by florid and persuasive editorial comments, all to try and give Zanu-PF - perceived by these writers as some kind of tabula rasa - a governing agenda.

It is as if Zanu-PF ran on empty, won without a manifesto, or if it had, one needless in subsequent governance. You even have attempts at rehashing old arguments, old preoccupations, by those who imagine Zanu-PF's win sets the stage for another round of inane arguments on indigenisation.

There is a firm belief that Zanu-PF won on a half-mind, won on a divided mind, and thus is on offer for final persuasion before it starts to govern. Worse advice - trying to put together a Cabinet for the president-elect, or selling selection criteria for the same! Advice from people who have advised election-losers? It is a bit irritating.

Reissuing neo-liberal blueprints
Just picture this: You sit there in regal idleness while others are sweating it out in the dusty electoral field. When the battle is won, you are suddenly roused; you break into a sharp sprint, copious advice in hand, to interpret for the winners what their victory should mean by way of governance? You present an endless desiderate, an endless list of things to do.

You know what the voter wants, the same voter you could not attract for those other parties you pledged loyalties to! You know what this economy needs, flaunting the same neo-liberal blueprints that spawned misery for the electorate, that cost you a whole poll?

If you were so good, so knowledgeable, why didn't your ideas triumph, your side win? And if you have such a role to play post-electorally, what should be the role for those who worked for that victory, those who voted for it?

We even have some with the audacity to call Zanu-PF cadres hardliners! Called so by persons n*kedly known to have been agitating for the so-called "new Zimbabwe" in comfortable companionship with Blair's pawns here, persons all along pushing for a neo-liberal, white-led model for Zimbabwe? Persons who since so severely chastened by the electoral result, now seek to transfigure from being MDC supporters or sympathisers to being apolitical advisors, intense supra-nationalists whose sole devotion is to Zimbabwe! Give us a break please. At best this is sheer dishonesty, at worst not-so-clever treachery.

The new Native native commissioners
But there is a deeper meaning to all this. The overriding sense is that by voting Zanu-PF, the people of Zimbabwe have opted for a disaster. They must be rescued by knowers of and from the losing side; they must be saved from themselves!

The clear message says Zimbabweans are a suicidal lot, a self-immolating lot who use the elaborate rituals of the ballot to prescribe collective suicide for themselves, use elections to hurtle headlong towards collective doom and death.

And you despair when you realize this is the same colonial image of the infantile African, one whose mind eternally frozen in vegetative growth, forever needing to be protected from himself. The only slight difference is that the whole thinking no longer needs white native commissioners like Posselt to articulate and administer it.

It now has a native class of Native Commissioners by way of our so-called African intellectuals and commentators who daily masquerade as our seers, our sages able to foretell our morrow. We now have a class of decorated idiots who prance about as timeless sages, displaying and flaunting all-knowing infallibility and sureness.

They quote from big white book to tell us how the landed peasant of Muzarabani shall vote; who he shall vote against, who for. And when the result comes - always contradicting their predictions – they curse the subject matter, curse it in long English. The voter is irrational, nay, suicidal.

He wallows in political dope, writhes from enveloping hypnosis unleashed by vile politicians summoning powers of the occult! Check your columns as bad defeat transports a whole coterie of MDCs intellectuals into comic rounds of metaphysics!

Mthulisi Mathuthu and theory of national idiocy
Sample one of them - Mthulisi Mathuthu. Unable to understand from afar (he stays in Great Britain) why Zimbabweans went ahead with the vote of July 31, he wrote: "And yet we went ahead still.

And the result, true to stated fears, hurts. Zimbabwe - boasting the highest literacy rate in Africa - may have entered the Guinness Book of records last week when an 89-year-old geriatric, through a breathtakingly rigged election, personally gave an MP to each one of us, turning virtually everybody into a zombie and to the extent of shocking both the victims and beneficiaries alike.

"So brazen was the act that to celebrate would have been rank insanity and yet so neat was it that not any social scientist (which he presumes himself to be one!) can as yet convincingly trace all the clues." He goes much further, describing Mugabe - the winner - as some kind of male African witch with so powerful a set of charms that he is able to poison and hypnotize the air which the people breathe, resulting in "some kind of national and collective idiocy".

"How does one achieve manipulative power of this scale and so daringly - inducing national idiocy and to the extent that, despite widespread indignation it is, so far, it is almost obvious that not even a stone will be cast at him?" A massive whiplash falling on the back of a n*ked voter!

Mathuthu signs off as a "Zimbabwean researcher, journalist and commentator", conveniently forgetting to tell us he lives in the UK; that he never bothered to come back to cast his vote so as to register his own rejection of this "national idiocy" or "ubiquitous fog of confusion". He is the wise one, some god up there who gives fallible mankind the long rope of free will to hang himself.

The Ndebeles who succumbed to a manipulator
If you think Mathuthu is aberrant, here is another one for you, one Thabo Kunene, a Diasporan who, unlike Mathuthu, chose a vicarious vote by phoning those on the ground, actually came back to witness the vote. I don't know whether or not this translated into actual voting on his part. But he came and that is laudable.

He calls Mugabe "the great magician and master manipulator", agonisingly asking: "Have the people of Matabeleland become so dome that they can't see the difference between good and evil?"

In his reckoning, as indeed in Welshman Ncube's (and Kunene does not hide his support for Welshman), there are only "people of Matabeleland" and "the Shona". The world is Manichean. There are no Shonas and Ndebeles who jointly and transcendentally can become Africans, can become Zimbabweans, peasants, workers, petit bourgeoisie, the landless, ex-colonials, anti-imperialists etc, etc! Or simply Zanu-PF, MDC-T or MDC.

Museve and ignorance of the masses
Lest I sound like Kunene by way of seeing people as Ndebeles or Shonas, here is yet another, one, Vince Museve. Unlike Mathuthu who thinks of Guinness Book of Records, Museve has a worshipful regard of Bertrund Arthur William Russell, "a British philosopher who unfortunately died in 1970". He weeps for this British philosopher in his first paragraph.

My condolences, Comrade Museve! Like his two compatriots, he bemoans "the ignorance of the masses who continually deliver power to the ruling class of chickens and goats given at political rallies", thereby frustrating his bid to "engender a new narrative that accepts that freedom and liberty are priceless and (that) their pursuit will hardly be profitable in the short term".

He adds: ". . . we must have citizens who know their worth and their potential so that they do not sell their dreams short . . . We need an outside of the Zanu-PF narrative."

And like the afore-quoted he goes mystical: "My challenge here is that, I can hardly have this conversation with a peasant from Muzarabani whose only concern is to get seed from the Government. For him, his gods have answered his prayers."

The message is very clear: any result that does not confirm Museve's expectations brewed in the Gauteng pot, condemns the voter to ignorance!

Mandaza the MDC advisor
I want to give you another intellectual, Ibbo Mandaza. Until July 31 he swore, swore repeatedly that calls for elections were mere posturing by an old president abortively fleeing mortality. No election would take place, he maintained, swearing by his own mother, and all those in her lineage who contributed to the genetic pool.

We laughed, wondering whether it was part of high intellect to freeze inevitable occurrences. Of course the wheels kept turning, with July 31 approaching. He sensed movement against his scholarly injunction. We were with him in Maputo when the two MDCs, Metternich-like, tried to use Sadc to stop the clock.

He played a prominent role on the margins, hopping from one media unit to another, one opinion driver to another, from one delegation to another. But surprise, surprise, he was not sampling opinions, ferreting out the future like all scholars are wont to. He sought to canvass for MDC-T, the outfit which, following the British government decision to reposition Simba Makoni for an eventual takeover from Tsvangirai, Mandaza decided to play advisor to Mavambo had been incorporated; nasty fallouts of yore had to be overcome.

We laughed at his zeal, but still hoped he could leave a portion of him behind, all to mind and validate his claim to some intellectual role in our society. What becomes of the intellectual soul when the body moves into a political camp? Does it augment, does it shrink?

The wonders of hindsight
Once Mandaza realised the train was unstoppable; he went into overdrive politically, even recklessly so, all on the MDC ticket. Mugabe was derided, derided left, right and centre.

Tsvangirai was apotheosised, polished anew to sit refulgent. All the voters were his, we were all told, we all read from outputs that taunt him today. And phony debates were arranged at Sapes, all to avail the national mind to snooping western ambassadors. Or so he thought.

Or so they thought! At such events, he spoke magisterially, spoke like God's deputy. Of course in between a few handsome coins dropped into his bowel. Who cares? He built scenarios.

Scenarios of defeat for Mugabe. Scenarios of victory for Tsvangirai. But he forgot one simple thing: the vote which he and his allies in Mavambo had divided, had enervated, had sloughed from Zanu-PF in 2008 was being roused in readiness for 2013, what without him and his Mavambo colleagues to mislead or dispirit it.

Surely the best research find for him would have been a simple confession on how small MKD, and with it himself, had shrunk since 2008? How the vote they misled in 2008, rendered despondent in 2008, had since recovered its bearing, its mooring?

Today with hindsight, it must be clearer to him that it is Mugabe who regained the vote he lost in 2008. With hindsight - itself the only lot cast by us earthly people with no pretensions to intellect - it must be plain clear to him that numerically, Tsvangirai got back his 2008 worth, more or less. Nothing was stolen from him!

The question that boomeranged
Today he wails, surprisingly still wielding enough courage to sign off as an "academic, author, publisher . . . and convener of the Policy Dialogue Forum at the Sapes Trust, a regional think-tank"!

What think? What tank? He blames society, blames the voter, asking: "So, do we have to await another of such farcical electoral rituals as we witnessed in Zimbabwe last week before Africans themselves begin to examine the underlying reasons for such failures and acknowledge the need to reform the contemporary African state?

Can there be an alternative, better than this one which reduces our societies to war zones each time an election is held?" The question put becomes cosmic, enveloping " the contemporary African state".

Some meaningless research fad dropped in to lift a personal political failure into a cosmic tragedy! It is typical petit bourgeois thinking: your personal tragedies or even tragedies of your class become the tragedy of a people, of a continent, of a race.

But there is something sinister and hypocritical: what of the failing intellectual? What of a seer who proves so blind, so distracted by the very phenomena he professes to understand? Can there be an alternative better than him? Or is it another case of institutionalizing failure?

Baffling summersaults of history
Whichever way you look at it, the language of all these "scholar"- commentators is decidedly condescending, a condescension couched in antediluvian imagery. Zanu-PF politicians, principally Robert Mugabe, are imaged as occult figures armed with potent powers from the deep. They have no policies, no manifestos to offer, only spells of hypnosis, only opium for the masses. Similarly, the voter is hypnotized into mass idiocy, doped into mass ignorance, says Museve. He is credulous.

He is irrational, which is why no social scientist can paste a theory to his voting behaviour, again says Mathuthu.  He is forgetfully self-immolating, says Kunene. Has failed to be a bitter Ndebele as he should be, doped into forgetting past abuses at the hands of the Shonas, that is also the settlers' bafflement in late 1896 when the Shonas - imaged in colonial lore as an asinine victim tribe pillaged by the warlike Ndebeles - rose in rebellion, alongside the Ndebeles, their erstwhile tormentors.

Why, asked the fledgling "pioneering" community, would the timid Shonas suddenly pick courage, forget inveterate enmity with Ndebeles to suddenly join hands with them against white settlers who in 1890 brought colonialism and with it, peace and protection for them?

Ignorance of the intellectuals
For Museve, the narrative of freedom and liberty is too sophisticated for the comprehension of the peasant who only worries about seed for the next season! And you can see in these sample pieces how, with advisors like these, both MDCs lost the polls.

There is no reckoning that the Zimbabwean voter has since broken the integument of tribe, emerged from the chrysalis of primordial forms of foci, to become a class conscious actor in the ballot box, a player who must be courted by class significant offers.

That the seed which wins over the peasant of Muzarabani symbolizes the sensibility of an agrarian class which has emerged from far-flung land reforms, and whose land acquisitions from 2000 had assumed such enormous proportions by 2013 that whoever promised greater support for the farmer, was guaranteed to emerge as the hero.

Or the converse, whoever tormented the farmer as did MDC-T's Biti; threatened the new farmer by promising a land reversal as did Tsvangirai, would be rejected outright.

But this is also the peasant who bore the brunt on the war of liberation which Vince Museve escaped by dint of age, and whose current responsibilities Museve continues to dodge from the snug, leafy Gauteng province.

The peasant fought for that freedom and for that justice which Vince now places above the peasant's ken.

The only difference is that he has since moved on, moved to a more fundamental double-barrelled question of how to defend that freedom, how to defend that liberty from neo-colonial encroachment; and how to turn that freedom, that liberty, into a material good for his own sustenance. And because these our commentators are wrapped and wrapt in white thought and white book - all of them, they cannot understand, let alone commune with this same peasant who allocates political power for the furtherance of his own class interests.

Zanu-PF's augmented social base
Does it need any divination for Mathuthu and Kunene to know that the matter-of-fact Zanu-PF manifesto on indigenisation and empowerment would naturally resonate better in both Matabeleland North and South in 2013, than it ever did before then when the emerging newly landed peasantry was still sinking in investments in a sector of known for long gestation?

That elsewhere in the country, the US$600 million from tobacco which went into rural pockets translated into a stable rural peasant vote plus its youthful non-sedentary one by way of the peasant's child now living in towns and cities?

That Zanu-PF's empowerment language as it relates to mining landed on fertile ground by way of thousands of small miners and makorokozas for whom the takeover of mining concerns is no longer a far-fetched dream, or, as with our salaried pseudo-bourgeoisies, a frightening prospect, but rather an idea whose time has in fact come? All those now know what it means to own a mine and work it for yourself? Would anyone except these Diasporans wonder why Chakari which is so full of artisanal miners voted the way it did? Would anyone wonder why the peasants of Gwanda and Shurugwi shunned the MDCs in defence of the continuation and expansion of notion of community share ownership which is already funding projects in their lives? Why make your own lack of comprehension of what moves your people, of what constitutes interests for your people, turn into inscrutable, irrational behaviour? It helps for these giant intellectuals of ours to now know that Zanu-PF, all along founded on a peasant social power base, has now augmented that traditional ally by adding a countryside middle-class, augmented that base further by promising new ownerships in mining and industry.

This is why most vehicles along our highways were smothered by Mugabe posters, a gesture of voluntary loyalty. This time around, the Zanu-PF supporter was motorized, part of a middling class which must be nurtured sustainably through more support.

All for such tosh?
Are our so-called intellectuals ever accountable? Do they have the mind to come back to the same society they will have "misled" with their most profound prognoses, come back head in hand, butt on neck, all 10 fingers interlocked guiltily behind that butt, to meekly and plaintively say "sorry" to all of us? No, they can go wrong; go wrong vociferously and with impunity, hurrying forward to cut new niches for themselves as born-again soothsayers, indeed hurrying forward to make more spectacular prognoses! Today they chastise Morgan for not seeing it coming! He must not be forgiven, nay, he must step down and aside so a new leader is found. Fair. Fine! What of you? Did you see it coming? What advice, what hopes did you give Morgan? Is it correct for this society to accord an intellectual who has taken sides in such a brazen way the mantle of a professional knower? Good to grant him high-sounding appellations and titles he will have repudiated through voluntary choices towards the partisan, through repeated misreading of phenomena? We pay these people to think for us, accord them place and regard as workers on the cutting edge of knowledge. All to give us such tosh? Kwete.

Icho!

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nathaniel.manheru@zimpapers.co.zw


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