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Mujuru - Tsvangirai: When a widow decides to go out on a binge with a long-time lover

20 Aug 2016 at 09:37hrs | Views
Ice cubes in the freezer can never change the weather in the kitchen, I keep telling people. In politics, anything goes, more so for people who delight in pelting opponents. It is downright foolish to invoke the book of rules when your missile has just landed, pinching tender flesh. Dr Timothy Stamps, our former minister of Health. Not many know that he is such a fund of humour, a real delight to talk to. He once said of boxing: I find it strange that a game whose essence is to transfer injury needs rules!

Brickbats and accolades
The Herald Monday story tracing the provenance of the Tsvangirai-Mujuru concubinage to the late national hero, General Mujuru, drew reactions that were as self-serving as they were unduly defensive. Much worse, there were attempts at emotional blackmail: that the story which roughly coincided with the late general's death was in bad taste, an irreverence on the late departed. I hope so. When a widow decides to go out on a binge with a long-time lover, and this on the eve of the remembrance day of her late departed husband, what does she expect the watchful world to say and do? Cheer? Look languidly with gaping ears and hear inaudibly with shut mouths? Sorry, it does not work like that. Gweru was meant to be a tribute to what the late general had started, and which his later widow has now embraced and consummated as a gainful political legacy. In the unlikely event that the concubinage succeeds politically, chances are this country will be made to celebrate its beginnings by way of a national holiday. The late General's name will loom large, extolled as a prescient builder of winning alliances. But in politics, tomorrow's accolades are today's brickbats. Full stop. So, Ibbo, stop weeping falsely to what you were a part of. The world has long eyes, long memory. However good a groundnut crop maybe, it never provides hiding shrubs.

When are the dead beautiful and gone?
And this Gutu bwoyi who says MDC-T mourners were making good an old Shona adage that "wafawanaka." My foot! How many other deaths have we had since then, deaths of national heroes? And when did the same adage lose compulsive behavioural force? When did it lose its semantic force to move limbs towards the National Shrine? Surely the same MDC-T would by now have developed professional mourners for our Heroes' Acre? Composed songs which by now would have been hit dirges. It is this duplicitous, self-serving stance in politics which I abhor with a feeling. Pretences that politics has rules, codes and morality. Claims that living outcomes contrived by dead players of yesteryear must remain off-limits in media discourse today, when in fact they impinge on political choices you and I will have to make, come 2018. No, the voter must know when and where the rains began beating us. How many dead heroes have been abused by MDC-T in its desperate bid to make itself politically pretty? Equally, how many dead people have been thrust in our face by the same formation in a bid to harvest our sympathies? When all this is considered, when are the dead beautiful and gone, as far as politics is concerned? You make a true, but invidious reference to the late departed, theories about his demise are resurrected. When Joice presses lawsuits, claiming she is a poor, vending widow, it is all nice? Is that not abusing the dead? Or is all that meant to blackmail us, gag this society? To hell!

Wheeling prams into Unity Square
And this sickening streak of hypocrisy runs through and through, threatening the moral fibre of our society. Dzamara's children are made part of political demonstrations to the understandable outrage of children rights movements and bodies, UNICEF among them. These little ones, innocent ones, are conscripted for acts contrived for the political gain of elders whose tired tricks no longer support their long, endless and unimaginative ambitions. Correctly, the children rights bodies' protest, only to be made targets by goons bereft of lofty aims and purposes in life, failures harnessing bravado in the hope of building persecution profiles for outside notice. Come on! And our media publish such ethical outrages, highlighting police response and ignoring the traducing of core rights and values meant to shelter a tender, hapless generation? I have a problem with that. Meanwhile the offending elders, one Patson Dzamara especially, had the quietest years in the crib — years longer than was biologically necessary. Does that suggest the generation of their responsible fathers faced no burning political questions? That they had no capacity to wheel prams to Africa Unity Square? Let's just lay clear ground rules for our politics, and then we all read from the same page. Or admit openly this is not a game of rules where anything goes. Not the current opportunism based on expediency and pseudo-morality.

Sorry sight from Aleppo
Talking about children, I hope these youngsters who naively think social conflict in a country can be started and stopped in a calibrated fashion have seen Omran Daqneesh, the five-year old boy pulled out of the rubble of Aleppo in Syria. Clearly concussed, Omran sits alone, wistful, coated with the dry grey dust of war, legs encrusted with blood. He even scratches an itch, oblivious of a falling bomb, as if it is the itch, not the bomb, he should worry about. It is a heart-rending innocence, one that gets you to raise existential questions. But that is what war does to all, regardless of age. Don't start it. Or to allow it started for you by those you naively think stand for your interests and your warped rights. They don't, they have never done so in human history, as the Syrians now know at huge, irreparable personal and national costs.

Rhodesian war recall
I saw war, played some marginal role in it. Still in that limited role, I witnessed its brutal, gory side. It is not nice. No one runs ahead of it, save the one who died yesterday. Both at Makumbe Mission and at Mt Selinda, I lost schoolmates, boys and girls I sat next to in class. In my own home, in my own village, I lost relatives, and had the unsavoury experience of picking up pieces of human flesh from a delicate life torn by instruments of war. The sickening stench in the morgue as you retrieve bodies of loved ones. The smell lives with you for a long while, easy to bring back whenever death is mentioned. Not these mild scenes our photographers capture here in Harare when a restrained police rubber truncheon deservedly falls on some falsely brave back. Or when the same journalist who goads society towards conflict gets caught up in a mild melee. The exuberance of a generation that can bow out of this life without ever seeing a decomposing body in a reckless sprawl, its evil, blood-besotted grin, its bulging eyes meeting your tender eyeball, pupil pale, eyelid dry and without a blink. My fellow students at Makumbe Mission in Buhera will remember that fateful night Rhodesian soldiers forced us to look at a corpse whose head had been shattered by bullets, without blinking, to teach us a lesson on what becomes of magandanga. At least I was a bit old, not the young Form Ones transfixed to such horror. That is war: ugly scenes enough to win you and your country prime slots on global networks belonging to countries that will have provoked the conflict in the first place. You lose a life; they win footage, gain a colony, make a name. Zimbabwe beware!

One Chris Chenga
Chris Chenga, the man-child from a generation I thought was lost! Last week this young accounts graduate penned a reposte to my piece published a few weeks back, which excoriated graduates who will not give this Nation the 2 million jobs it has invested in, and through them. He pulled a hefty argument, placed me in my proper place, namely a dark corner where humble pies are eaten. The gist of his complex argument was to exhort graduates — his peers — to align their skills and expectations to what he termed the socio-economic trajectory of the country. I thought he was being inanely verbose, until I reached the pith of his argument. Simply, he read skills and expectations against the changing times, the evolving industrial status of Zimbabwe, coming to the conclusion that the "industrial evolution of the country (no longer) warrants the level of job entitlements" which lucky graduates of early independence could profitably nurse. "Technology has significantly decreased the value proposition of many professions, let alone for graduates who have just shown an ability to grasp theory . . . Many graduates really have no industrial justification in terms of skills contribution to demand jobs. They have no desirable value propositions to offer the economy." All that spoke to the facilities of the graduand, the fresher in the work-a-day world.

Watch the political economy
But he went further: "In terms of political economy, a country's workforce in any generation should be informed on where along a nation's socio-economic trajectory it finds itself . . . For instance, graduates in Zimbabwe 20 years ago were justified to demand jobs soon after graduating because there was a substantial base of industrialists to assimilate new entrants into the economy. However, this industrial base was disproportionately leveraged on foreign ownership and control. Our chosen national ideology crafted a destiny in which this industrial imbalance was meant to be restructured." The new normal is that of an indigenous industrialist — you and me, us, he added. This killer point situates the graduand in broader times within which legitimate expectations must be hewn. And it also redefines the role of the State, namely to craft and make for an environment that sires the indigenous industrialist who must provide jobs. And Chenga gives specific examples of such facilitation, but without exculpating Government for its shortcomings, principally its undue paternalism in an era it should have re-crafted the curricula to sire a generation of practical graduates who must create jobs, not look for them.

The grasshopper and its legs
My heart lifted after reading the piece from this youngster. Not in vain, not in vain, I sang, happy that the many harsh responses I had got belied the tough, but important message I had slid through. My mind raced to the gown-ed graduates playing a ball of rolled plastic bags, all in protest. My seething anger assuaged, for I then knew these were the bad apples ejected out of a good basket, thrown into the dusty playing field to rot. Something else crossed my mind. The national broadcaster had shown us some angry Zimbabwean resident in South Africa packing pistols with which to start a war here, and with which to overthrow the reigning constitutional order here. That gave a new twist to Chenga's argument: not just the bane of theoretical tools that don't create jobs, but also poor tools that cannot do the job! What an innocent generation that thinks a pistol for robbing an innocent motorist in South Africa can be a veritable tool for bringing down a whole government! We call it the self-spiteful anger of a grasshopper that breaks its legs in protest.

What technology has borne
Let's keep Chenga's argument in focus: graduates who go beyond theory, with eyes fixed on demands of the evolving socio-economy, and Government facilitating. That sounds like a winning template, one evenly distributing responsibilities. But to add, from the how-not-to-do-it example of our cyber-terrorists, let's add appropriate tools/technology. Chenga ably handled the preceding variables. I want to deal with the last one, hewn negatively from these miserable terrorists squatting in the cyber. The world has evolved tremendously, evolved in the direction in which power and decisions are de-centred, well away from big establishments. In my own world of competence — journalism — this evolution has created a new situation where publishing ideas has been de-institutionalised. Unless you are like me — an old fashioned hack — you don't need a Zimpapers to publish and circulate your ideas. There are new means, new, more effective and hard-to-suppress platforms. The sooner the Zimbabwe Government gets that, the better for itself. It is downright folly to seek to abolish the Internet; all you can do is to harness its huge potential, while investing in tools of policing it for safe usage by the citizens. The Internet is here to stay, and a whole generation has come to regard it as food and drink, as its wherewithal. You are likely to get away with snatching a morsel from the mouth of a yuppy, than snatching his or her cellphone. Simply, that is the way matters are, the new personality which technology bore for us.

Maggots or humus?
As with the Internet, so with many other socio-economic processes, industrial ones included. Technology has proved a formidable enemy of industrial behemoth, a faithful ally of small men, small women, inhabiting cells and backyards. The industrial plant has shrunk to a cubicle, reducing overheads, increasing outputs. Getting it is an e-Mail and a tweet away. Setting it up is now a DIY, do it yourself. Entry barriers are now broken and zeros are now heroes. Yes, technology — not death — the leveller. And this is my point, nay, my anger with my countrymen and women. So-called graduates ones especially who read about everything except that small sentence which says "society does not owe you a living anymore; it has paid it, settled it already." And here we are Zimbabweans, harnessing mighty energy kutamba bhora remapepa, agitating against might-be bond notes, not strategising for the job we don't have by harnessing technology and its possibilities. And here we are Zimbabweans, tweeting our lives away, never jobbing our lives in. And here we are Zimbabweans, googling pornography, never technology. Yes, here we are Zimbabweans, always holding the wrong end of the technology stick. We see maggots where others see humus, we expert muckrakers!

Proverbial mother crab
Our sense of technology has not gone beyond the Internet. Hurray, Internet the leveller! Not that Internet is a bad thing, far from it. But simply, it has not done good things for us. The good things it does for other peoples, other nations. We use it as diversion, play. Not work. Not a tool of production; maybe of re-production. We use it to circulate messages of terror we cannot even do, execute, we angry cowards abroad. Use it to scald and enervate the national spirit, to castigate us as a-good-for-nothing people whose alibi is always a truant politician, a "bad" Government, Mugabe. Well, if the politician is truant, dribble past him then, into an industrial backyard, woita zvihuta. If government is inefficient, well, do efficient things under its inefficient nose. It won't smell anything anyway. Surely a government that does not do, as is alleged, is a government that does not stop anyone who does? The trouble is we are the proverbial mother crab spanking its young one for walking sideways. A grousing nation in denial, always heavily scapegoating.

Educated, but not smart
A Nigerian friend put it so well the other day: you Zimbabweans are very educated, maybe the most educated Africans on the continent. But you are not smart. You think reality is neat, always found in a row, with stop-go signs everywhere for an orderly flow and ebb. Come to Lagos, watch our traffic and what you need to do to reach your destination. You are always waiting for that little, short window of opportunity, then boldly taking it, to surge ahead. The road is the most apt metaphor describing a people. Here your orderly traffic points to national stupor, sorry! He gave an example of a film his team needed to shoot, a film incorporating scenes of thunder and lightning. But this was the season of the dry harmattan. "You know what we did?" No!, I roared back in better English. "We took an old man — a welder — at nightfall. As his rod touched metal, we had flashes of lighting written against the wall, and the result was a blockbuster." I immediately remembered Chinua Achebe and his collection of Essays, Morning Yet On Creation Day. In one of his essays — my favourite — on the use of English language to express and convey African thoughts, he says: Is it not true that the Negro, denied his musical instruments by his white slaver, seized a saxophone, blew it like it had never been blown before, and the result, was it not jazz? Looking back at me, you, us, I notice we don't need to blow the sax like never blown before – but to blow it as always blown, for the way is now clear. And the result, is it not two million jobs?


Source - the herald
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