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Mujuru remains a wandering ghost hovering above the whole initiative

17 Jan 2015 at 12:16hrs | Views
I AM so happy we are, as a people, now able to construct meaning outside Western hegemony. It takes a lot to be able to do that, certainly much more than intellect. The recent developments in France were sad, as is always the case with all developments that cost human life. A happy twist to the sad development was that among the first victims of the shootings in France was a French policeman of Islamic faith.

I dread to imagine the French backlash if such a deflating sacrifice had not happened. Indeed not long after, we saw what could have happened in France, through a well attended march against Moslems in Germany.

That country's leadership had to swing into action quickly to overwrite this threatening run-away xenophobia, one threatening in a country with an unsettling past when it comes to targeting other communities.

With a Nazi past dominated by the crime of Jewish holocaust, was Germany's future going to be tainted by an Arab genocide, one bred from borrowed outrage? One certainly understood the swiftness of the response by the authorities.

When religion caused wars But all this says a lot about the state we are in. A look at history will remind all of us that Africa was assaulted, occupied and colonised on grounds that it was a continent of barbaric heathens who knew no Christ. The ostensible goal was evangelisation, the method war and genocide.

The outcome was colonialism, the gain exploitation of Africa's resources. But there was also a long lesson for the continent: that religion and faith are "casus belli", legitimate grounds for war.

That while religion and faith might be about matters celestial, Westernisation is their secular cultural and value expression. So, Africa's alleged heathenism and idolatry spawned conquest, colonisation, Westernisation and exploitation.

It was a huge bill. We still pay it today, more than a century after our proselytisation, leaving most of us to wonder what the real original sin committed was. I am making the point that it was the West which gave the cross the protective armour of the sword, the West which gave "heathens" a deserved fate of subjugation on grounds of their non- or wrong, different belief. Indeed the same West which taught us that above all else, religion and faith mattered, in this case religion as Christianity.

Free expression versus religion So why is the same civilisation telling me through Charlie Hebdo that free expression - derisive free expression - is higher, indeed that it far surpasses the notion of an ultimate Being who explains all, hopefully including our craving for free expression?

Is free expression a new religion, a new faith, a new cult? Why is the same civilisation telling me it is wrong to back up or enforce religion by sword? Which is a better hate: that of post-genocidal West now in a comfort zone in which the continued assault on the Other can luxuriously take non-physical forms of free expression, or that of embattled Islam which shoots to challenge a hegemony that institutionally taunts and abuses it, backed by wars on various parts of its territory?

And does it have to take an armed attack on a media facility in France for that Western civilisation to begin to debate which is greater, religion or free expression? Or is the question only put when that religion, that faith, is Christianity? All other religions, faiths, don't matter, don't enjoy comparable sacrosanctity?

Should not grip people the same way Christianity did? Should not arm people the same way Christianity did? Should not create zones zealotry the same way Christianity did? Should not conquer the same way Christianity did? Should not embed secular values and cultures the same way Christianity did? Surely these are pertinent questions to raise in Christendom, to raise with peoples whose proselytisation missions had no qualms in being westernisation missions, had no qualms in giving us a God who was white and western? But that is only a part of a wider debate.

Charlie had died . . . Another part has to do with dying and death. If France was a sad incident, Nigeria is a continuing sore tragedy. Boko Haram, reportedly militants fired by the same faith, same religion as those who attacked Paris, massacred thousands the same week 12 or so people died in France.

Massacred thousands to deafening global silence! The dead were brought right onto our screens, the dead in their reckless sprawl, shamelessly exposing their uncovered hinds, and baring death's sexless, ugly grin. They upset our dinner, violated our tender, cultured sensibilities, we the affluent ones dying from too much peace! And then Paris happened. Boko Haram which the army of mighty Nigeria could not defeat, fell so easily, thanks to racialised global news values.

Death had occurred in Paris. Death had occurred in France. Death had occurred in Europe. Death had visited the white world, Christendom. Everything stopped, including Boko Haram which continued to kill Nigerians, still kills them in the aftermath of Paris.

The only story, the only death, the only tragedy, was in France. And everyone chanted "Je Suis Charlie"! Charlie had died, and the whole world was moved, touched.

Death the leveller? Yes, Charlie had died. Not Oluwatobiloba. Not Odumegwu, Nnemkadi, Ebitonye. No, Fechi was not dead. Nkoli was not dead. Chimamandanata had not been failed by her God. She was alive, alive after Boko Haram had shot her dead through the head and heart.

And just as breathless Achukwu was alive, so too was Abayomi, Abeje, and many others who had visited, who studied or worked in the troubled North. Only Charlie had died, and the world mourned. The message is very clear: only Westerners die and are mourned. Only in Paris or its Western equivalents do we have deaths, funerals, grand marches.

Yes, only in the West do we have jihadists, terrorists, mourned victims, brave policemen and policewomen, the dead who bear names, who die better, notably. Only in the West do we have the dead who are telegenic, whose fall create global news.

Indeed it is a hierarchical world through and through, right up to one's end, right up to the cemetery. Death the leveller? What a fool to think thus! Thank you Zimbabwe press for asking profane questions. We are free!

A party of the dead? Mutasa, Oh mudhara Mutasa! What have you started, saManyika? First, a bit of laughter from this comedy of errors. What happens when a man suing Zanu-PF signs off as "Secretary for Administration"? Well, it means he winds up as the First Respondent to his own case!

Mudhara, hini ndava? And when he signs so! Well, he provokes Jonathan Moyo into jumping: "Hi Ho, I am the Pope"! And the taunt has just caught on, to pearls of laughter echoing across the national veldt. Why mudhara DNE? And when you sign off as acting "on behalf of all past members of Zanu-PF, expelled or who dissociated with Zanu-PF (note the use of (PF) and-PF in both references) voluntarily in prior years due to the perceived lack of democratic principles and practice in the party", who are you courting, recruiting to your party? The ghosts of the likes of Nhari, Ndabaningi Sithole, Tekere, Mhanda, etc, etc? The likes of Mutambanengwe, Tsvangirai, Makoni, Dabengwa, Chipoyera, Gumbo? What timeline is "prior years"?

Restoring the Dare And if "democratic principles and practices" are "perceived" as lacking, are they actually lacking? Or you are still not sure about the views of those on whose behalf you claim to act? The sceptical distance implied by "perceived" should be perceived to stem out of what mental disposition? What ideology, vision is implied? A hint comes from one of the rebels in the Mhanda group, Bernard Manyadza, a.k.a. Parker Chipoyera: "That watershed statement (issued by Didymus Mutasa) has restored Zanu-PF to its founding principles like when it was led by the likes of Chitepo . . . As freedom fighters, we are going to strive to restore the true image of the party, not this thuggish behaviour.

"This statement signals our future. We are going to rebuild the Dare. We are building something that is different from this current rubbish. We want to build a culture of democracy. Leaders must come from the people and not one person."

Is this what Didymus Mutasa means, envisions? Rebuilding the Dare ReChimurenga? To which the whole lot, except Rugare Gumbo, were not members, including Chipoyera and Mutasa himself, not to mention the former Vice President?

Reared in the white liberal politics of Cold Comfort, Mutasa only reconnects with the armed struggle in 1977, upon invitation by President Mugabe from Birmingham where he was ensconced. He had left the then Rhodesia, thanks to Guy Clutton-Brook. But did Rhodesia leave him? The beauty or ugly side of this unfolding altercation is that those bones all along hidden in cupboards of history shall rattle back into the world of the living.

Friends so far apart But poor Didymus knows nothing about Dare, knows very little about the period between the end of Dare and his late invitation to the struggle in 1977. His desperate attempt to harken to the days of Mayo, or Nyafaru, could invite a scrutiny he might never want, nay one which might just be too much for his fragile DNA.

He will struggle to find a place or voice in politics that seek to "rebuild Dare", indeed politics which seek to restore and celebrate Rugare Gumbo's era, until now his routine opponent in the Party.

Then he shall discover the bonds are fragile, more fragile than his bones. Equally, the return to Dare, assuming that is a "live" proposition at all, will trigger a sense of angst in the southern part of the country. Certainly a return to the Dare is not reassuring, is certainly not the same as a return "to the founding principles of the Patriotic Front"! But let me not spoil a larger point.

Representing the President in more ways than one But give it to the old goat, he has some sense of humour, albeit one susceptible to boomeranging. He is acting on behalf of "all current office bearers who recognise and accept that they are unconstitutionally appointed"!

I suppose that starts with the President and his two deputies! Ha haha, give it to him! But something else also brings more humour, revealing the comical side in this particular case. In the statement issued in the name of Mutasa, President Mugabe is repudiated both as the leader of Zanu-PF and of Government.

He is dismissed as a dictator who has chewed party ideals and values, who has built a personality cult, indeed a once-revered leader who has lost his leadership bearings, soiled both his national and continental stature, and legacy.

There is no hint that the President's position is salvageable, or that his "sins" are forgiveable. Quite the contrary, there is every hint pointing to a complete divorce, to a transfer of loyalties to someone with "integrity . . . in upholding Party values and principles".

Two days later, Mutasa responds to Kasukuwere, and is quoted saying: "We have never been against our president, but we are against omafikizolo like him (Kasukuwere) who have misled our president."

You cannot miss the language of affection coming from the former Secretary for Administration and Minister of Presidential Affairs, an abiding affection many in Zanu-PF would vouch as having been cultivated between the two men from way back in history.

The riddle of schizophrenia It immediately raises the question: which one is the real Mutasa? Which one is the real politics to go into the future? I notice a key defence given by those affected by the recent Zanu-PF Congress is that of pleading ignorance and/or loss of control. Many in that group claim they did not know they had been harpooned into a power succession game. Others claim while they were aware that power would eventually transfer, and that they needed to position themselves well for that eventuality, they maintain they sought to wait for decisions of the hierarchy, never to subvert it. They add it could be that those supporting them may have done things in their name. Or worse may have sought the achievement of goals set elsewhere, for outcomes unknown to them. They cry victim, often pointing fingers at the likes of, ironically Mutasa himself, and Kaukonde, the ousted chairman of Mashonaland East. It is also interesting that Kaukonde, speaking through Mhonda, distances himself from the statement by Mutasa, something which seems to corroborate a similar claim of tensions and rifts within the group. This hint at forces larger than figures around whom the halo of impending leadership spotlighted, had also come through in testimonies from party youths, who included some who had served in that faction. Mai Mujuru, they opined, was a mere pawn in a game of wily self-seekers. Or a pawn of pawns. For me this is a key hint, one which cautions against pasting ownership of statements on mere signatures at their bottom. Some day you and me will know that the so-called Mutasa statement was penned away from, and not in, India where he and his wife lay recuperating, indeed shall know that the statement did not issue from his doting head, or from his unsteady hand. The schizophrenia I am hinting at shall uncover new dimensions to the whole question. But new dimensions which are in fact a continuation of old politics in our country.

The demons she never created The second point to note is the inevitable directional and messaging confusion set to stalk this whole initiative. It connects with the preceding point. At the heart of the whole effort is a whole legacy of internal, anti-Mugabe succession politics left unripe by the late General Mujuru, and whose truculent infrastructure the ejected past Vice President inherited, sometimes willy-nilly. Without taking away her own culpable input, there is a way in which Mai Mujuru is a figure of pre-ordination, a real Thomas Hardly female victim-character slowly grinding to a halt amidst a destructive immanent will. Whilst she recognised some features of those politics, of that infrastructure, she never quite encompassed both. And with her stalking husband gone, many dangerous goals encrusted onto those politics, an encrustation which in fact had started well before the demise of the General, creating little demons the late departed was seeking and struggling to exorcise, or at least quieten. Much worse, often these forces are a mere local colour to deadly forces linked to the broader regime change agenda, definitionally external. With the fall of the MDC formations as dependable vehicles of those politics, the focus changed to putschists in Zanu-PF. This dimension constitute the real threat, the abiding threat we ignore at our own peril. It is governmental. It is corporate, a very rich medley of deadly forces pursuing unbending interests in our Land.

The rebels who will not die Then you have a whole tradition of rebellions and deep-seated disgruntlement which has stalked Zanu-PF from way back in history, renewed by embittered technocrats who got disappointed by decisions in post-independence. Whilst a part of it had been rehabilitated, and had in fact re-joined Party and Government to high posts, it still came under the spell of the external factor. But there is a component of it, personified by the late Mhanda or his surviving comrade, Manyadza, which remained outside and unrepentant, always nursing hopes for a return to the seventies. Rugare had deserted it for a new, happy fate as the rehabilitated one. Today he seeks to reconnect with it as a two-time ejectee. For this cabal, the ideology for recapturing power takes the form of a return to source, source narrowly interpreted as time of their heyday in the seventies. The most obvious feature of this group is its personal trenchant hatred of the President. But its numbers have been declining, which is why it must develop wider criteria of membership, ideals and values. But this group would want to stress roots, to project a sense of a systematic elimination and betrayal of liberation fighters in favour of mafikizolos. It plays the card of a revolution hijacked, unmindful of the fact that all revolutions recruit, renew.

Combining to attack Mugabe's halo Of course there is a whole layer of floaters in the form of ex-party office holders now bitter at their pre-Congress and post-Congress dismissal. While these are considerable numerically, and had some standing in their respective provinces, the urge for office and sinecure is all there is to their bitterness. They will prevaricate, indeed will support anyone who helps them regain their lost positions. All of the above reveals the catchment and resource base of the group. But it also reveals the inevitable ideological turmoil set to follow. The dominant external force will want to harness the symbolism of personages in the group to remove or at least reduce the liberation halo around the President so that Zanu-PF is tackle-able politically, whether from within through the so-called reformers, or from without through a new amalgam of oppositional forces beyond the MDC. This halo has been the key obstacle to tackling Zanu-PF. But these personages must combine with new, democratic forces the West made through the MDC. It is interesting that a pointer comes from a barely disguised comment from Tendai Biti who deploys a chess game metaphor to underline the need for an amalgam of old and new, in building opposition to President Mugabe. The clear convergence of interest between an opposition which is already used to serving under Zanu-PF, and an internal Zanu-PF group which once opened a whole flank against Zanu-PF in 2008 to allow that to happen, should be easy to read and appreciate. And of course a grinning column of old rebels reading brighter prospects of being avenged against an old, stubborn and hard-to-beat opponent, should be easy to detect.

---The MDC factor. --
Two potential stumbling blocks stand in the way. One is Tsvangirai and his MDC. Whilst he might have a longer history of working with this group, both during days of its late founder, and surreptitiously during the days of the inclusive government, there is a feeling of angst in his camp regarding what is likely to follow in the wake of such an amalgamation. Tsvangirai fears displacement. So, too, does Makoni. That angst has taken the form of a new leadership structure which would incorporate Simba Makoni as the second in command in the MDC. Always the West's favorite, such an arrangement ensures the resultant government in the event of "victory" will have Simba Makoni at the centre of an envisaged neo-liberal dispensation. His initial comments on his readiness to work with the Mujuru group, to which he is linked consanguineously by the way, whilst showing initial hostility, is just a negotiating posture, but one now aligned to the MDC-T or maximum traction. We wait to see how this interest is accommodated.

---The Dabengwa factor---
The second stumbling block is that of Dabengwa. Ironically, both Dabengwa and Makoni worked closely with the late General Mujuru, but fell apart when the 2008 project collapsed. While Dabengwa may have been amenable to overtures mounted through Rugare Gumbo, and developed at the recent wedding of Tshinga Dube's daughter, Dabengwa has problems with some personalities in the emerging equation. More significantly, he is realising that his politics of raising fears of insecurity in Matabeleland in the wake of the appointment of the two Vice Presidents, might just help draw people towards his otherwise dying Zapu. He wants to engage the group from a position of power, which means engage it while flaunting the southern part of Zimbabwe is in his palm. The significant editorial comment in the Buluwayo-based Southern Eye, predicting doom for the Mutasa initiative, was meant to police borders for Zapu, ahead of the horse trading show likely to follow. With emerging doubts as to the viability of the whole initiative, another editorial which seems neutral, has had to be worked out. That is the uncertainty there is.

--- Horns of a dilemma ---
The immediate challenges facing the group come by way of the two by-elections, and the legal route they broached before much forethought. The proclamation of the by-elections by the President has forced their hand, leading to a pre-mature disclosure of strategy. The Mount Darwin by-election is too symbolic to be left alone, or to be lost. Leaving it alone signals an acceptance of Mujuru's ouster, indeed brings in the sealing fate of a quietly retiring State pensioner, not a presidential aspirant. Losing it would throw into deadly doubt claims by the group that it controls most of the structures and support in the party. Winning it would signal an emphatic comeback, a renewal to a group wilting from a searing assault mounted against it at the recent Congress. The dilemma presented by the proclamation was whether to launch a party now, in preparation of sponsoring a candidate for the by-elections, or to find a candidate, open or proxy, in the process automatically expelling themselves. The likely strategy is one of provoking expulsions from an overreacting Zanu-PF, so as to walk away with crucial sympathy from the party membership which will view them as victims of growing internal high-handedness. The rebels need to walk away with a significant portion of support from Zanu-PF, and hence the Mutasa signature by way of the various categories he claims to speak for.

---Principle or patronage?---
Three key pitfalls await them. They need a political and ideological position which reconciles the divergent forces presently under them, while creating a broad and attractive enough church to attract those outside of their tent. So far, they have started very badly. Secondly, they need to convince a heavily skeptical voter of their bona fides: are they breaking away from Zanu-PF or they are the beginning of a Zanu-PF project for 2018? Makoni and Dabengwa were punished severely for this perception challenge. And the affective reference by Mutasa to the President may very well prove fatal. And there is a bit of a bind here. In the eyes of the Zanu-PF supporter they want to draw to themselves, everything they do from now onwards in the direction of breaking away, any hostility they show against the President, will confirm the very charges that ousted them from posts in the first place, and from the party in the case of some. Zanu-PF will roar with an emphatic We-told-you-so! It is beginning to roar that way already. Yet that is exactly what would prove their bona fides in the eyes of the voting public. In fact they have to overdo their hatred of President Mugabe and Zanu-PF, a complex which has distorted all oppositional politics in the country. Are they fighting for civil rights and constitutionalism as they purport, or they are fighting for lost patronage as they are perceived to be doing? Here Mutasa will be a very heavy millstone around their neck. And it might just be fatal that they put him forward as the face of their politics.

--DNA for a meander? ---
Equally, the fact that Mai Mujuru remains a wandering ghost hovering above the whole initiative still in intangible, ethereal form, could be used to indicate she values and seeks to safeguard her pension emoluments and investments, more than she seeks to fight for a "democratic" desperation the Mutasa statement proclaims. It is yet another baneful legacy she might just have unwittingly inherited from her late husband who never came to the fore, after launching Mavambo. The General continues to refuse to let go of his wife. Thirdly, Zanu-PF's response is likely to confound the calculations of the rebels. Their whole strategy seemed to rest on a Zanu-PF which responds in a single, predictable way. Yet Zanu-PF has many options, many avenues which could both wrong-foot and isolate rebel players into divergent, unshared personal fates as would scatter them. About this, let less be said. The key thing is that Zanu-PF should never lose sight of the key enemy, today lurking behind locals and ex-fighters. But one thing is clear and very clear: for mudhara Mutasa, the road will never be straight, yakati tasa, yakati twi. It shall always meander, rise, fall, deep and elongate, all for a taxing walk that might leave him ati tasa. I hope he has the DNA for a long run.


Source - zimpapers
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