Temba Mliswa’s interesting times

via Temba Mliswa’s interesting times – Newsday October 28, 2015

“May you live in interesting times,” is a Chinese curse. Almost all Zimbabweans are now aware of the menace of the old saying. And it is getting more interesting as the days go by.

Tapiwa Nyandoro

Given a chance, Temba Mliswa talks. Mliswa’s interview, as recorded by a local daily, had some interesting points. They are worth analysing by both ruling party and opposition politicians.

Correctly, he was disparaging, in his remarks, about the Zanu PF leaders kicked out of the party unprocedurally before, and at the December 2014 party congress.

“They should have stood for their rights and truth,” Mliswa argued.

“They should have supported their junior supporters, who were kicked out of the party first, and they should have contested the national by-elections that followed.”

That, of course, is true. But Mliswa has forgotten how the leaders held President Robert Mugabe in awe. How they literally worshipped him, equating him to the sun, the Lord Jesus, the Biblical Moses or Cremora! “A new sun never rises, until the other one has set,” Didymus Mutasa pompously declared.

In the interview, Mliswa boasted of the 4 000 votes he got in the by-election in his rural constituency, a stronghold of the ruling party. The boast is understandable, as he was battling against heavy odds in an uneven political landscape. If a united opposition performs at that level in the rural constituencies at the next general election, they could win the Presidency.

The message from the disgruntled electorate would have been loud and clear at the Zanu PF headquarters. It is the language Mugabe respects and the world expects. Only the Zimbabwean people can change their government.

In abandoning regime change as a strategy in Cuba and Africa and adopting engagement in investment and development, the American administration endorses this viewpoint. Let the economy of a country be the subject of debate, and everything else is (most likely) bound to fall into place.

By-elections must be contested, not boycotted. The MDC-T has also seen the logic behind Mliswa’s position, though it seems they needed a rebuke from a visiting American Congressman to see the obvious. Mliswa is right to ignore the next elections in 2018 as a significant date for the opposition.

Ordinarily that should not be the case. The economic meltdown, as evidenced by a widening trade deficit, virtually zero formal employment, net negative gross domestic product growth, unsustainable foreign debts, not to mention ever-rising corruption thanks to the decaying social and legal landscapes, call for the extraordinary.

Ask them, and the generals will tell you, you do not favour the enemy with choosing the time, date and place, let alone the assets for your next battle. If you do, you will certainly be routed. You attack when the enemy retreats and retreat if under pressure. You maintain harassment and continue probing for weak points.

Caught with their pants down, the Zanu PF elders perhaps needed to retreat and collect their wits. Now they may know, as Mliswa has concluded and revealed in the interview, that First Lady Grace Mugabe has descended into the political arena. She is leveraging her efforts on her husband’s iconic brand and (probably improperly) on national resources. The former is not illegal, it is natural.

Brand recognition is worth a lot in politics. The Gandhis of India and the Trudeaus of Canada are examples. And so are the Kitcheners of Argentina, the Bushes and Clintons of America and the Assads of Syria. Mugabe knows people “love” dynasties. “Why not exploit that weakness?”

As many a divorcee knows, familiarity breeds contempt. That is why the grass always seems greener on the other side. And contempt may be mutual in the ruling party. A lot of the people may have been together for too long. It may be the President’s wish to have a new generation take over the reins in Zanu PF and the country when he leaves office.

However, whether that will cleanse the party and the country of the scourge of corruption is moot.

Another debatable point that Mliswa raises in his interview is one of tribal or regional balancing in the presidium of the ruling party. Have Zimbabweans really sunk this low? And if that is the case, what are the prospects for other races and/or citizens with foreign-sounding names such as Ace Lumumba, Patrick Zhuwao or Mliswa of ever becoming a President in Zimbabwe?
In electing Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States of America have Americans of all races not taught this country a lesson?