via Down with ‘loyalist’ chancers! November 15, 2013 By Conway Tutani Zimbabwe Independent
A RECENT internal development has exposed the ruling Zanu PF party for what it is – and what it is not. This had nothing to do with the much-reviled opposition or the much-hated West.
There was the revelation by pseudonymous Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru — believed to be President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba — that he had been threateningly criticised by some Zanu PF bigwigs for daring to oppose the party publicly. The pugnacious Manheru shot back, saying he was neither a coward nor a fool. “What I abhorred . . . was a thinly-veiled bullying streak that underlay it.”
This intolerance answers a lot of questions. Indeed, many people inside and outside the party have been bullied into silence. That is nothing new for those who dare oppose the system openly, but legitimately. This is a stark reminder that although people are not behind bars, they are not free.
“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 don’t mean to be nasty, but please don’t kill thoughts. Or their free expression in the name of loyalty to Zanu PF, in the name of protecting the party’s dignity,” wrote Manheru.
It is such misguided notions of loyalty and entitlement which has seen excommunicated Anglican bishop Nolbert Kunonga attempt and fail — thanks to the courts — to grab church property in the name of indigenisation.
Naturally, there is much to criticise about all parties. No party is infallible — but some parties are more fallible than others at some point in time. Zanu PF, having been in power for 33 unbroken years, gets most of the brickbats – that is logical. That is the downside of the upside of being in power. Books have to be balanced, schools have to be built, infrastructure has to be repaired, tax loopholes need to be plugged etc. The to-do list is long and growing longer as Mugabe admitted last week in his address to the party top brass.
“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?”
Manheru was reportedly taken to task. “And the browbeating came in various forms . . . the most arresting and debilitating one built around the loyalty card.”
In modern statecraft, no one — including the President himself — is or should be above criticism. There is only one invisible, immortal, infallible God. For that, Manheru, you are spot-on. Disabuse your comrades of such ignorant, self-serving, dangerous notions.
To put this into perspective, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been accused of being indecisive (ask party treasurer-general Roy Bennett); while MDC leader Welshman Ncube has been accused of divisiveness (ask MDC Matabeleland South women assembly chairperson Elizabeth Ndlovu). These are very much internal contradictions that cut across all parties and should not be discounted as disloyalty. Paranoia is not the solution.
Most neutrals will agree that the opposition has been no match for the wily Mugabe; he has walked all over them. But there is much to criticise about Zanu PF — and it has brought much of this upon itself through — as Manheru aptly put it — its “senseless rules, most of them crafted to beguile and convict than to guide”.
Indeed, Manheru, a lot of patriots, seeing the relentless State media onslaught and legal tactics against the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, feel the commission has been obstructed and frustrated; that it is not about legitimate concerns of fairness, but about attempts to thwart and subvert the role of the commission. They see this as manoeuvres to delay, postpone and ultimately halt investigations against top government officials implicated in endemic corruption.
Last month, Malawian President Joyce Banda fired Finance minister Ken Lipenga over the looting of billions of kwachas, the local currency. Any chance of that happening here? Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa, we are still awaiting the report on the alleged $6 million bribery demand by former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa from a Ghanaian would-be investor in the diamond mining sector revealed months ago. Does that show a clear and inspirational vision of a better future and a keen sense of how to achieve it? Does Mugabe have the nucleus of a good team to move Zimbabwe forward? There is need to ensure economic stability and shared prosperity.
Maybe it’s because the political model in Zimbabwe is inverted compared to others in the region. For instance, Banda, long before her active career in Malawian politics, established non-governmental and charitable foundations, all geared towards improving the lives of her compatriots, particularly women. In June 2012, not long after she got into office in that poverty-stricken country, Banda announced she would sell the presidential jet, giving this reason: “I must be the first person to set an example.”
But, sadly, there is a deficit of that in Zimbabwe. What we have, instead, is extravagance at the top with no cutting of expenditure to reflect the parlous state of the economy. Belt-tightening does not apply to the ruling elite.
We need leaders who combine the ethos of sacrifice and service with a passion for helping people; leaders devoted enough to public service that they accept earning peanuts compared with what someone of their talents and ability could make in the private sector.
No to chancers brandishing the “loyalty card”!