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Zimbabwe: One side black, the other side bright

23 Apr 2016 at 12:56hrs | Views
I suppose it is called delayed sight. Last week I drew the ire of opposition MDC-T supporters when I raised the self-evident, dead-end scenario that comes with demonstrations, and the fleeting joy that comes with regaling inflated crowd numbers.

My crime was simply that I reminded Tsvangirai and his ilk that demonstrations do not make parties electable. Do not make manifestos. Do not make parties even. That they only afford demos momentary street power, afford them a chance to purge emotions so as to restore their body's "humours" to full balance for a pacific sedateness ever after.

The Greeks of yore, knew this very well, which is why they invested millions in amphitheatres, where deadly games and other forms of gory mass spectacles were enacted for the collective joy and inside pacification of the demos.

The people needed to be "amuseth", as Dickens would presciently proclaim years later in Hard Times. For there is that zone in all of us, which seeks escape from hard realities by sliding into the irrational, delectably irrational, a zone of perfect amusement where hard questions of life, hard balls thrown up by the rational brain, are happily suspended. A great escape, but one which does not last forever.

Inserting constitutional fissures
And makers of world constitutions — many of them great students of collective human behaviour — know this perfectly well: that every society needs institutionalised fissures, needs escape holes, the real challenge being to know what these are, and then of course to provide for them.

Some go samba. Others bull fighting. Yet others find that by way of sex orgies. In the western world, these fissures included allowing their mad caps moments of untrammelled rage, of un-listened rage even, in some dark corner, in some park called Hide, sorry, Hyde, where their angry shout themselves hoarse, exhaust themselves in unmatched but unheard eloquence.

Fissures by way of newspapers and newspaper columns where anger is daily ventilated in great style and headline. Fissures created by illusory power borne out of ephemeral combinations. So, your constitution must provide for freedom of association or assembly, freedom of speech, so pent-up mass anger gets purged through collective street action — street marches to be exact, or solipsistic writings.

The supposedly angry march together, bellowing song and denounciatory chants, but mauling good portions of ice-cream and other street goodies in stride. Even swooping love messages amidst this same season of mass discontent and anger. Yes, a pane, a bull light or two might be smashed or broken. But what is that compared to the raging demos of Paris in 1789? Compared to a monarch without a head? A Bastille smouldering smoke?

The key thing is to make them feel avenged for the excesses of their governors. Thereafter, pubs are full, guffaws of oppositional victory soon melding and giving way to airy froth of malt, and then real froth of spittled snore of the drunken.

Such constitutional fissures amount to indulgences of the demos by the powerful, gifts from power, all to give the masses a sense of play, participation and involvement, which they do not actually have. And will never have.

Inviting stern faces
It is important for political leaders, especially those in opposition, to know this basic truism of human science, so they correctly place demonstrations in the scheme of things political. The real tragedy comes about when the likes of Tsvangirai mistake this ephemeral, indulged power, with a walk to State House. Or with their reawakening from a long-wrought political stupor, with their second coming, all to false cheers from an obliging, politically semi-literate crowd.

Then, the temptation to overreach and thus to invite real trouble for themselves becomes only too real. There is no constitution in the world which provides for demonstrations as a mechanism for changing power and leadership. You would have to look elsewhere for that kind of permission. Quite the contrary, constitutions grant concessions to solidify power already got, leadership already ascended. Giving that power and leadership the legitimating show of legitimating permissiveness. Not sanctioning chaos.

And as Tsvangirai was soon to learn, reading too much into the constitution, and into miserly demonstrations, invites interlocutors with awesome, forbidding faces, invites eerie warnings from arms of State coercion. Such is the way society is organised, and he should be literate enough to know that. And so, too, should be those who advise him.

Look who is quarrelling with generals?
Of course, one commentator got it perfectly right. The MDC-T demonstrations were not meant against the establishment. They were a show of opposition people power against other opposition peers. No wonder they have drawn quite some sharp reaction from within ranks of the opposition, while Zanu-PF, mammalian king of the jungle-like, lumbers on, unconcerned, undistracted. And exactly the scenario I drew up for the opposition last week played out with a raging, vindicating nemesis.

Tsvangirai no longer wants coalition talks, we are told. Mafume warns against demonstrations that breed big egos, we read. Or Madhuku who carps, "Topple Mugabe", all from the safety and serenity of an ivory tower and a one-man crowd. It is a wonderful, amusing spectacle which has given us a roaring effervescence, followed by a quiet settlement of a bowered pool.

But give it to Tsvangirai, he made his point to his siblings, and proceeded to monopolise an altercation with the State, itself the ultimate objective of the opposition. Today Save brags that he is the only one picking a fight with generals and commissioners. Others may join him if they so wish. It is not a pleasant feeling.

The first as the last
And from opposition websites, a clear admission that People First is having a hard time breaking into Matabeleland. Why mention any one region? That is the story all over, everywhere, spectacularly so in Masvingo where attempted gatherings of Zimbabwe People First have been such a monumental embarrassment to the interim party, if a party it is. Gatherings created by disgruntled MDC-T functionaries all in the hope of plenty.

And once posts and stipends have proved unavailable, they have pulled back and out, leaving the First the very Last. And the appeals taking place for readmissions within Zanu-PF, set against the self-pleasing gloom and doom predictions! The start of a massive roll-out of big public projects — in housing, roads, broadcasting, health — does anyone in the opposition read these great signs and auguries ahead of 2018?

In heat yet again
Of course not. Quite the contrary, the beast is in heat again. The signs of self-delusion abound yet again. Invented invincibility. Swelling, imagined crowds. Pending victory. A spectacular one came by way of a loud story whose by-line was evenly split between Itai Mushekwe, Mary-Kate Kahari and Malvin Motsi. You sometimes wonder whether or not these propaganda simpletons credit us with any thought or memory.

In gist, the story claims a $2bn-Marshall Plan for Zimbabwe by godly America, set and soon to be disbursed once "democratic elections" are successfully held in Zimbabwe, giving us a democratically elected leader from the opposition! A democratic election whose outcome is predisposed, even with a name: Morgan Tsvangirai, deputised by Joice Mujuru!

And attempts at creating an impression of far-flung sourcing of the story, creating an impression of arduousness in putting it together. Sprinklings of historicity. Amidst an undecided US electoral contest still at the phase of intra-party contests! Oh my Goodness!

Yes, I hear you, gentle reader. You are right. It is a story we have read before. And before, read practically as a prelude to every electoral year. But Tsvangirai begins to read this with unvarnished, boundless delight, even feeling the tickle of power up from behind and beyond his ears! The beast is in heat yet again.

When gloom is bright
And the propaganda package for us ahead of 2018 is a very simple, unvarying one. Paint the situation in the country as one of unrelieved doom. Everything must be depicted as collapsing, including Zanu-PF itself.

When the President projects an economy on the mend, present him as mad, as an out-of-touch old man whose projections deserve raucous laughter. Yet on the same day, an American think-tank makes pretty much the same prediction, but to editorial A-men from the same press. It must come from Americans!

And, even as Zanu-PF is falling apart, like everything else, the opposition must still be exhorted to unite ahead of 2018, so as to defeat Zanu-PF! To fight a dead party? And dire predictions of mass starvation in the country. None which we see at all. Then the new American envoy showers Zimbabwe with praises, acknowledges phenomenal progress made by the country, all against the harsh environment of sanctions imposed by his country.

Even promises thawing relations. And somewhere inside, talks about some pledge of some $20 million towards drought relief. They lap up to that, behaving as if without that pledge, Zimbabweans are set to perish with hunger. It has to be gloom and doom. That is the one side, propaganda side.

And bright actually gloomy
The other one is where things look incredibly bright for the opposition, rosy, ahead of 2018. Freedom for the hyena means death for the sheep. They do not have to do anything, beyond simply uniting. Zanu-PF is finished, and all that remains is to keep entrapping it, setting up for discrediting by the international community. A stunt or two by the other Dzamara for loud, oversized headlines. Finish!

Meanwhile, the Russians are dominating ZITF. So are the Chinese. Gold companies are retooling for greater outputs. The consolidated diamond mining company is set to operate and another revenue stream gets opened up. At another level, Zimbabwe records a trade surplus against South Africa, its foremost trading partner.

Less because Zimbabwe's export performance has picked pace, more because of import restraining, itself the beginning of economic wisdom, and with it, recovery. I mean does it make sense to entertain an outfit like called Food Lovers which busily imports 'manwiwa' from South Africa, yet all the way from Binga to Lupane, roadsides are green-balled by stout watermelons from hard working peasants, all crying for a market.

Or a Food Lovers which imports 'mabura, mbambaira chaidzo', which almost block the highway from Juru right up to Mutoko? Just that import compression takes us very far down the road to recovery. Just that policy clarity, alongside many such wayward policies, which did not make sense.

Another miracle for the blind
Thus we shall have this binary communication where the dark is in fact the bright, and the bright the dark, with false ululating all over. I mean you talk and write lame about a fictitious $2 billion Marshall Plan, and not about $2 billion dualisation of the Beitbridge-Chirundu highway, with many such to follow. Such givenness to pessimism can actually be infectious, with the public media also diseased.

The other day I asked an editor with the public media how Zimbabwe can be said to be in an energy crisis when he himself has not suffered any load shedding since last year, and against the backdrop of mega-Chinese projects on energy. Simply because of failure to read the times correctly, failure to resist a herd-mentality that shapes news, very soon Zimbabwe will be another miracle, unheralded, unexpected. In the meantime, let the irate supporters of Tsvangirai be irate yet again. Who cares?

Icho!

nathaniel.manheru@zimpapers.co.zw

Source - the herald
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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