The head prefect’s bad company

via The head prefect’s bad company – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 2, 2015

You are as good — or as bad — as the company you keep. If you want to know the kind of character a person is, just look at his friends.

Conway Tutani

Look at Zanu PF. We were made to believe that all would be well in the ruling party after the expulsion of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru and, as they put it, “her cabal” for allegedly plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe. For such serious allegations, Mujuru and her allies would have long been dealt with severely. And with her out of the picture, Zanu PF would now be at peace with itself. It was Mujuru this and Mujuru that with Council of Chiefs’ president Chief Fortune Charumbira even going to the extent — ridiculous as it is for a supposedly adult and degreed person — of accusing her of somehow causing the drought in the last summer cropping season.

With the wisdom of hindsight, Mujuru should consider herself now in far much better company. Indeed, for too long she went along to get along with these characters, but most of the time she didn’t look and sound like vilest part of the regime. Yes, she got her hands dirty, but not bloodied like some of her erstwhile comrades. She can, at the most, be only guilty by association. Yes, she had to be forced out, but, as I see it, it was coming because her side was beginning to murmur reservations about the direction the country was being taken. The political rabidity was simply not for her.

But no sooner had Mujuru been booted out did more turmoil erupt in Zanu PF, with her accusers turning on each other viciously. Now they are busy sending each other death threats via cellphones. This is in itself a serious crime and the originators can be traced unlike in the onslaught against Mujuru where no shred of evidence was provided regarding her alleged plot.

There is this arbitrariness and roughness at the core of Zanu PF. It’s mostly about “turfism”. It’s about pushing each other out whenever and however. They will always get one over you because they lack basic decency. This crudeness belongs to the pre-democracy era. Zanu PF, on the one hand, and democracy and order, on the other, are total and hostile strangers.

But one would be led to believe that President Robert Mugabe is a stickler for democracy after listening to his eloquent and articulate speech in his address to the United Nations General Assembly this week when he spoke about a “new world order”.

The distinct impression is that he has been the wronged and persecuted party at the hands of superpowers, Western superpowers specifically, for his “sin” of being a genuine democrat, and that, as a result, Zimbabweans are unfairly and unjustly paying for that.

No right-thinking person would dispute that reform is needed at the UN, particularly as regards the veto powers of the five permanent members of the Security Council.

Granted the Security Council was established in a different world order altogether, but before lecturing Western superpowers about a new world order, Mugabe should be talking about a long overdue new democratic order in Zimbabwe. Otherwise, it’s hollow and hypocritical to ever suggest a more representative and equal UN when he denies the same at home; when, over two years after the Constitution was ratified, it is far from being implemented with over 400 laws still to be aligned to the supreme law. There has been disregard of the letter and spirit of the Constitution. Like the five permanent members of the Security Council, Mugabe has veto powers in Zimbabwe. The only — but stark — difference is that the Security Council’s veto powers are de jure (according to law), while Mugabe’s powers are mostly de facto (not sanctioned by law).

It is this arbitrariness that has made Zimbabwe a pariah State. We all saw this during the so-called fast-track land reform programme when they made and changed rules as they went along whereas with the Security Council, at least they have rules of engagement. That is why the Security Council, imperfect as it is, has been largely effective in its mandate to prevent a global conflagration of the proportions of the two World Wars of the 20th Century.

The nation could have turned the corner years ago, but for this tendency or obsession of making a virtue of being hardline for the mere sake of it. This uncompromising adherence to firm but failed policies has been the wreck and ruin of Zimbabwe. The regime reverted to its old ways after the expiry of the Government of National Unity in 2013, look where we are now — in the cesspit.

Furthermore, because of the nature of geopolitics, the five permanent members of the Security Council make political trade-offs with non-members like Zimbabwe to advance their common positions on issues. At least in that way there is some democracy and, as a result. predictability and stability, which two vital elements are sorely lacking in Zimbabwean politics as seen in the raging succession wars in Zanu PF where there is total silencing and exclusion of dissenting voices. Mugabe got his time on the podium at the UN, but does he extend that favour — nay, right — to Mujuru to express and defend herself? No at all.

Mugabe also made reference to Western powers as “self-anointed prefects of our time” over their drive to universalise gay rights. Well and good because this was not envisaged when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was made by the UN way back in 1948. Some things’ time has not come and/or will never come.

But the irony of it is that Mugabe himself is so prefectorial at home. Everyone in Zanu PF is at his beck and call. No one dares criticise him openly. Doing that is politically suicidal especially in these explosive times in Zanu PF. Ministers are constantly reminded that they serve at his pleasure. His word is unquestioned and final.

This makes Mugabe the head prefect of Zimbabwe with all the attendant excess baggage — including the hangers-ons, chancers and opportunists who are taking down the country with him.

That is bad company to keep.

●Conway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email:



  • comment-avatar

    hypocrisy is mugabe’s base currency
    the man is incorrigible