A response to Zoe Samudzi’s article “Thirty-six years of Mugabe and why he remains” that appeared in NewsDay Zimbabwe, 10 February 2017
Source: Mugabe’s earnest supporter – The Zimbabwean 13.02.2017
Samudzi exhibits that intellectual smugness that epitomizes the banality of evil. She gives succour to dictators like Mugabe who crave justifications of their heinous crimes. She constructs a ‘binary’ between support for Mugabe’s narrative and the West to defend his use of terror against his own people. But Gukurahundi was neither anti-colonial nor anti-Western. It was the systematic terrorisation of innocent civilians to crush ZAPU. The slaughter of 20,000 people is a statistic. The goring with bayonets of unborn babies from the wombs of young women who had been raped are the ‘memories of lived experience’ of survivors. So, too, is the herding of men, women and children into huts and then burning them alive. Perhaps that is what Samudzi considers to be an “under-discussed relationship between the President and the people of Zimbabwe.”
And, if the land issue was such a unifying politic of Black resistance to colonial rule, why did Mugabe and his revolutionary party wait 20 years – the equivalent of five US Presidential terms – before addressing it? It was because the land narrative and the Third Chimurenga were cynically re-invented to smash the MDCs imminent threat to his rule – or, to use Samudzi’s pretentious jargon – a President who “continues to instrumentalise that legitimate legacy to self-confer a lifetime mandate, one not contestable by election defeat.” The forced displacement of 200,000 farm workers and 1.4 million people under Mugabe’s ‘land reform programme’ are statistics. Those men, women and children who were ruthlessly dispossessed of their livelihoods and homes most certainly have ‘memories of lived experience’ under Mugabe’s rule. And where was the Western threat, except in Mugabe own self-serving narrative? The subsequent collapse of agriculture and the perennial hunger of millions of vulnerable Zimbabweans may be another “under-discussed relationship between the President and the people.”
Since most people in Zimbabwe today were not even born before Mugabe took power, Samudzi has to rely on the “the intergeneration transfer of memory” of life in Rhodesia. But since the level of employment and income in Zimbabwe are now lower than under colonial rule, many Zimbabweans now tend to re-evaluate their parent’s ‘lived experience’ before Independence. What is truly visceral for many people is not an unknown past, but the trauma of their ‘lived experience’ in their daily lives under a regime that has bought them nothing but violence, corruption, poverty, hardship and misery. Only a woolly-headed academic like Samudzi would characterise the reduction of graduates to street vending as “extra-State informal labour”.
The irony is that Samudzi, who considers herself a first generation American of Zimbabwean descent, has the temerity to speak of Zimbabweans ‘lived experience’, when it is blindingly obvious that she has not the slightest notion, nor cares, about the suffering of her erstwhile people under the Mugabe regime. She even has the gall to promote and publish her baleful beliefs.
But, hey, if Grace can graduate with a doctorate; why not Zoe?