via Zanu-PF: Fiddling while Rome Burns | The Herald October 26, 2013 by Nathaniel Manheru
Often, one feels throttled, really throttled. Throttled by a certain narrowness of thought so abundant in the political world. Throttled by easy judgment so fashionable in the political world.
For in that profound world, there are no round characters, only flat ones, mere vignettes far more superb than what Charles Dickens could ever fashion or portray. Everything comes in simple form, yielding to very simple meanings.
Indeed everything is reducible. What a simple world! That is why classification is so key to the methodology of politics, so key to political cognition! Maybe that is what Bretynbach meant when he said politics has a very limited vocabulary.
Very limited mind or intellect indeed, I would add! After all, it was the master himself — President Mugabe — who once confessed that unlike teaching — his real profession — politics gladly suffers fools!
Tearing into Zanu-PF
Last week I broke with tradition. I sank my harsh fangs and canines into Zanu-PF, mauled it badly for some of its senseless rules, most of them crafted more to beguile and convict than to guide, more to entrap than to inspire.
I gave examples galore, often dropping names and situations to illustrate my bitter points. For me, there was no ground where angels feared to tread.
By the time I was done with Zanu-PF, its torn flesh dangled red, weeping itself pale and dry.
But as events turned out, this proved such a bad investment. I got quite a robust response. Comments came in, initially languid and cryptic, later quite voluminous, sour and tasty.
From reflexive tributes I have now grown accustomed to, and all of which I never take for granted, the debate soon took more profound tones, which included searching comments, unsettling threats veiled as peremptory advice and admonishment.
Or simply gratuitous abuse meant to hurt. But all of that is every columnist’s delight, Manheru included. There is no feedback more accurate than an angry reposte, feedback more satisfying than an angry shout which itself is clear proof that you have engaged a real issue, ruffled a living tissue.
After all dead cells, however sharply pinched or pierced, never trigger a bodily recoil.
Mind no larger than tongue
But what I abhorred about the debate around last week’s instalment was a thinly veiled bullying streak that underlay it. Or worse, a stupid attempt to browbeat me out of free thinking.
Much of both came from commentators who are in the Party, my party-mates in other words. And the browbeating came in various forms, including the most arresting and debilitating one built around the loyalty card. Why are you raising these issues so likely to expose and embarrass the Party?
Why are you criticising the President, exposing the Vice President, in your piece? Who do you hope to please? Or some such drivel clearly indicative of a mind no inch longer than the hot tongue that carries and conveys its depraved thoughts.
I don’t mean to be nasty but please don’t seek to kill thoughts. Or their free expressions in the name of loyalty to Zanu-PF, in the name of protecting the Party’s dignity, in the name of defending it against obloquy and revilement. I lose my balance once such logic kicks in.
What does not help Zanu-PF
Zanu-PF has absolutely nothing to gain from senseless rules, malicious rules of double application, of entrapment. A Party of national liberation, it has no business being actuated by base thoughts or impulses, no business vindictively chasing little boys right back to their mothers’ cradling breasts.
A Party of struggle should never chase demeaning arguments, pursue mean altercations that hold it up to ridicule, indeed that rob it of its dignity and aura as a maker of our Nation. And of course a great Party must yield great thoughts, great ideas that lead. As indeed it did in its last Politburo meeting where the acronym ZIM ASSET was coined for our thoughtful economic blueprint which has given governmental form to the Party’s manifesto.
That is the temperament, the tempo of a great Party of great accomplishments.
You can’t wish for more. No you can’t.
And you give praises, unstintingly too. And that too spurs you to full revulsion each time the Party of such great deeds, greater thoughts, succumbs to below-par acts and performances.
Such as in the Kereke case which has now come to an undignified conclusion for the Party. Thankfully my great Party did introspection well ahead of the court judgment, something which mitigated the impact of this needless, preventable misstep.
Opposition criticism, an escape?
There seems to be a view — wholly mistaken and despicable — that Manheru’s remit is to attack the opposition solely, attack the two MDCs and anything, anyone, opposed to Zanu-PF.
I admit there is a lot that this column has done to uphold such a misconception. I apologise for it.
A mistaken view that my chief and sole purpose begins and ends with harsh words against the opposition. A mistaken view that my relationship with Zanu-PF — my Party — is one of unconditional love and support, which, by the way, is not wrong.
What is wrong, what would be wrong, is for anyone to ever think that my love and commitment to Zanu-PF translates to unconditional acceptance of all its ideas regardless, all its personalities regardless. A view that thinks Manheru is about excoriating the opposition only amounts to a diversion, some form of escapism.
You cope with and adjust to the failings of Zanu-PF simply by redirecting your rheum towards the opposition! You sweep the failings of Zanu-PF under the carpet by building and harkening the world towards an enormous heap of transgressions by the opposition. That way Zanu-PF looks handsome, infallible, too perfect to require correction. It is a wrong view, very bad propaganda, suicidal in fact, and Manheru will not be party to it.
Only striving for perfection
Like all human constructs, Zanu-PF is not perfect, will never be under any leadership however virtuous. But like all great institutions, Zanu-PF seeks perfection, which is why it must always be in a state of reinventing itself, in the continual state of self-interrogation and debate.
In history it made numerous errors, some of them huge and costly. This is why there was a major rethink of strategy after the 1966 Chinhoyi battle. While it is now a marker of our struggle, Chinhoyi as a case of costly sacrifice remains an unread subtext.
Errors, destructive ambitions, false visions and ideologies gave us the Nhari rebellion, Vashandi and others. But the greatness of Zanu-PF has never been its infallibility which does not exist anyway.
It has always been its ability to learn from and surmount past weaknesses, ability to introspect and overcome odds and invent new, filling thoughts as happened after 2008. See where we are now, owners of a four-thirds majority!
Zanu-PF’s ups, downs
And then a key point which many seek to duck: it is in its moments of undisputed and indisputable ascendancy and triumph that Zanu-PF is always at its worst and most fallible. It becomes reckless, very reckless. It becomes insolent, very insolent. It becomes indifferent to the people, most indifferent.
It becomes unthinking, most unthinking.
Indeed, it begins to pursue little, ignoble goals, all of them unrelated to its original winning grand plans. Yes, it begins to chase and pursue fleeing rats when its house is on fire.
Let’s go back in time, just a bit. 2000 was a disastrous year for the Party electorally. That setback made the MDC, gave it a baneful foothold in the national body-politic.
But Zanu-PF was roused by this setback. It fought back and the result was the pre-eminence of 2005. Like the proverbial frog that had defied all odds by beating solid the very cream which should have drowned it, Zanu-PF emerged triumphant, stolidly seating atop a lump of solidified cream — solidified by repeated beating — wiping a tear or two, preening its whiskers.
Tired and triumphant, it soon forgot that another trial was due in 2008. Before that trial, it reinvented itself as its own prime enemy, for having vanquished all, it did not have any outside of itself. Indeed 2008 came.
What a disaster it proved to be! Zanu-PF had been caught, masturbating. Distracted, it got walloped soundly. It had wrongly focused on Makoni: that lethal political red herring the Party had created for itself. It forgot the British, the Americans, the Germans, the Dutch, all of them intent on expunging it and its ethos of liberation.
Now go for each other
Thankfully it survived well enough to fight another day. But that survival was five long years of purgatory before it could redeem itself anew.
That day came in 2013. Of course 2013 is now, a moment of fine resurgence for a Party so sorely bitten once and thus twice clever! But only a moment, which is what makes this rise-fall, rise-fall pattern menacingly likely yet again.
And the big question is, to this momentary zenith — this four-thirds majority of July 31 — should we expect a 2008- like nadir as its patterned sequel? Should we begin to gird ourselves for a 2018 where the Party returns and sinks into another trough as in 2000 and 2008?
Mangoma of the MDC-T thinks so, adding all the MDC-T needs to do is to sit back and watch as Zanu-PF trips itself through failure, non-performance or fatal agenda displacement as it gravitated towards inane pursuits.
MDC-N thinks the same, stressing “now that we are out of the way, you guys can finish each other, one another for us. You are free to go back to your factions, with a vengeance too!”
We receive this as friendly advice, and begin to live true to these dire predictions.
Just clearing their throat
I have two sobering anecdotes for all of us who are in Zanu-PF, truly so. Last week the British sent into the country one of their own, some little servant of empire. He was very audacious in the few meetings he held with our officials.
The British position in respect of elections and sanctions has not changed, he said. Has not changed from what Secretary Hague said. And the hag said our polls fell short of British standards and thus would not pass. After all, Britain was still waiting for final reports of the AU and Sadc.
Bare excuses born out of a sense of impunity, of invulnerability of the strong and mighty.
He went further. We did not have to read too much into the lifting of ZMDC from “restrictive measures”, he warned. After all this was an old decision by the EU. Much worse, it is meant to ensure that Britain can monitor how Zimbabwe — its colony for all time — handles its diamond sales, its diamond receipts!
You see where we stand in the British scheme of things. Sanctions are not going anywhere. The British are not relenting despite July 31. Any concessions they might be making, or we appear to see them making, amount to a clearing of throat.
And another official is coming soon, largely to confer with the opposition writ large. I just thought you guys should know, you so happily wallowing in the triumphant result of July 31 before which all adversity, all enemies should melt away!
Tsvangirai alive again
This week Morgan Tsvangirai is back in England, home to his handlers. The pretext is some conference on non-renewable resources and how they are being exploited. It is a conference ostensibly hosted by an NGO, but of course we know who is behind it, and how all this reinforces the message from the lowly British official mentioned above.
True to form, the resurged Tsvangirai was sat among leaders of other African countries and was primed to indict Zanu-PF, Zimbabwe, its resources and how they are being exploited.
At no moment in his presentation did he make reference to the self-serving diamond lobby which has demeaned Zimbabwe, criminalised its use of own resources.
He verbalised the script which the British want, which the Americans hope to provide a basis for a new assault on the triumphant Zanu-PF.
Add to all that the fact that Chinamasa, the new Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, spent a whole two weeks in Washington, engaging the IMF, only to bring back more rules, more requirements, then you begin to see how dark, how evil the hour is.
The storm is gathering and only a snoozing Zanu-PF can regale itself with results of July 31.
Or demobilise its constituency through fractious politics, through inane fights and thoughts.
Unbowed and never to be defeated, the British are already looking beyond July 31, looking at reinventing the opposition, looking at rebuilding an atmosphere of engulfing defeatism and pessimism as happened in 2008. Such a national mood is hospitable to its politics.
Did you know?
My parting shot comes by way of the thoughts of one Vince Musewe. Each time he writes, he signs off as some economist based in Harare. As indeed he did three days ago in a piece titled, “Liberation war mentality stifling Zimbabwe”. I have followed his thought-racks, especially after July 31.
For a while he went into mourning, licking his weeping wounds following the trouncing of MDC-T, presumably his preferred party.
Today he seems to be twitching back to life, recuperating from a deep swoon.
Therein lies the significance of his piece. After parodying Karl Marx — and it’s a real parody — he boldly states: “The psychology and behaviours of the liberation struggle continue to negatively impact our socio-economic development.”
He adds: “I would argue that the political management structures, psychology and behaviours during the war are still dominant today in Zimbabwe. In fact, they continue to negatively impact our socio-political fabric, in a manner that can only be described as repugnant and retrogressive.”
And adds: “Our battle is therefore a psychological one. Zimbabwe’s politicians must be psychologically cleansed and emancipated from a past that rears its head at every corner and in every nook and cranny, a past that continues to inform the present to the detriment of social progress and the self-actualisation of many ordinary folk.”
I don’t think Vince must be feared. He is such a bad communicator to be a persuasive one. But he represents a good appreciation of the post-July 31 opposition in Zimbabwe. It is resurging, indeed beginning to reconnect with its existential mission of extinguishing the liberation ethos on behalf of overseas white interests.
Does it not beat one’s understanding that this Vince chafes about the liberation ethos and not about the colonial ethos which infuse his thinking, indeed which naturalises his own marginalisation in an economy he wrongly thinks is now owned by rulers from the liberation struggle!
This is what has been happening to Rome while Zanu-PF fiddles. That is what riles me. The forces of reaction are beginning to regroup while my Party is chasing little game. Manheru belongs to no faction, never will.
His pen belongs to Zimbabwe, which must remain free and indigenous, hopefully under a conscious and enlightened Zanu-PF which must continue to lead.
And which must always correctly characterise the moment we are in, the dangers that confront us, the battles we must fight, the tools we need to employ, the unity we must forge.
That is the hallmark of a liberation movement.