HARARE – The campaign to instil a presidential adulation in Zimbabwe has taken many forms ranging from describing former president Robert Mugabe as an angel to the opposition MDC’s “Save chete chete” slogan when referring to its leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
While it should be noted that this is a cult that has flourished from the top and has always been imposed on supporters of both Zanu PF and MDC, the recent inauguration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa saw his supporters do him one better, promoting him to a deity.
Coming against the background of a military intervention to aid his rise, Mnangagwa’s supporters see his throne as a place where the gun, not God, is deity.
While war veterans who were Mnangagwa’s foot soldiers in the battle to succeed Mugabe regretted the fact that they had made a cult of Mugabe which saw millions of dollars being forked out to print regalia and posters to shoot anyone else down and exalt the person of the president, the same is being perpetuated in the new president’s name.
Party regalia emblazoned with Mnangagwa’s name has since been acquired including caps with the Lacoste label.
During the struggle for mastery in Zanu PF in which Mnangagwa emerged triumphant against his G40 faction rivals, his camp went by the moniker Team Lacoste.
Zanu PF Harare provincial chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa took his bootlicking to another level when he gave welcome remarks to the party’s extraordinary congress on Friday.
“ You led the tripartite of the army along with General Constantino Guvheya Nyikadzino Chiwenga and Zanu PF. Shumba Murambwi (Mnangagwa’s totem), Shumba ye Chirumhanzu, tinoda kuti mutonge imi, murambe muchingotonga, muchingotonga, muchingotonga (We want you to rule for ever and ever),” Masimirembwa fawned.
On his part Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu who famously signed off his communications with Mugabe by saying “your most obedient son” likened Mnangagwa to the biblical Joshua who is “as soft, as tender as an African mother’s love” notwithstanding his nickname — Ngwena.
Realising that his supporters were taking apple-polishing to dizzy heights, Mnangagwa himself had to restrain them deploring the singing of songs that idolise him.
“The praise song I desire, if you were to sing one, is that of our National Anthem and those from the liberation struggle, not for me, no,” Mnangagwa said.
First to observe this Mnangagwa deification though was Gokwe Nembudziya MP, one of his renowned key allies during his persecution by the Generation 40 (G40) faction — Justice Mayor Wadyajena.
Last month the vocal legislator slammed Zanu PF officials and opportunists as they stampeded each other to get Mnangagwa attention ahead of his announcement of Cabinet.
“Those falling all over each other pledging loyalty to President ED are just brutes playing meek. If you really are principled, there’s no reason to bootlick, your conduct should speak for itself.
“We’ve seen the danger of personalising governance and gate keeping a national figure,” Wadyajena vented his anger on micro blogging site, Twitter.
Mnangagwa’s veneration has also been amplified using Jah Prayzah’s hit songs Mudhara Achauya and Kutonga Kwaro which upon their release stoked political controversy but has become almost an anthem at Zanu PF functions.
In the run-up to the launch of the album, Mnangagwa’s supporters cheekily renamed the album “Kutonga Kwaro Garwe” (The crocodile’s reign)
Mnangagwa is nicknamed the Crocodile owing to his liberation war record as a member of the Crocodile Gang.
When Zanu PF supporters sing along to the song they will be gesticulating using their palms the way a crocodile catches its prey apparently referring to how Mnangagwa dealt with the G40.
Government departments and parastatals have also been significantly influential in the seeming urge to institutionalise the Mnangagwa cult through oversubscribing the public media deifying him through congratulatory messages.
The trend had, however, been set by former Psychomotor minister Josiah Hungwe who described Mnangagwa as a son of man well before he became president.
Asked to introduce Mnangagwa at a party in Zvishavane, Hungwe went into overdrive, showering the then vice president with colourful adjectives and likening him to “The Holy Son of Man”. He said his rise was planned by God.