via Zanu PF, MDC-T — Two sides of the same coin – The Standard April 27, 2014 with Tangai Chipangura
Events obtaining in Zimbabwe lately seem to point at a very sad scenario — that the country’s political space is being occupied by very selfish individuals that believe they are infallible demi-gods.
One of them has been sending his sharp axe flying everywhere, chopping down all attempts at questioning his continued stay in power.
The other has been doing the same, although in a less open and ruthless manner — smartly chopping short the legs of lieutenants that have for years been, quite politically correctly, angling for the throne.
These two men, President Robert Mugabe of Zanu PF and Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T, have openly told everybody that they do not want to relinquish power, even though it is clear as day that both men have had their day in office and need to give others a chance.
The effect of the hullabaloo, confusion and controversy caused by these two men’s selfish grip on power is terminally harmful to both their parties. Unfortunately, this handiende (I won’t leave) spirit was nurtured into the hearts and minds of these two men by none other than their own lieutenants and supporters — a result of the culture of deifying leaders.
It is tragic that African politics, as exemplified in Zanu PF and in MDC-T, is characterised by making leaders believe they are infallible little gods — a practice that turns otherwise good leaders into incorrigible dictators.
I have always wanted to remind people of a typical example of the danger of this political foolishness that makes leaders believe they are the Alpha and the Omega of the parties or countries they lead.
One fateful October morning, 33 years ago, Egypt’s third President Anwar Sadat who had been made to believe by a clique of bootlicking hangers-on that he was super-human — larger than life — was gunned down by one of his own soldiers.
The angry young soldier broke from the military parade that Sadat was inspecting, shouting obscenities and pumping bullets into the President’s heart. But, even as the bullets ripped him to pieces, Sadat still believed he had the authority to “warn” the young soldier: “Don’t do anything silly my son!”
His bootlickers had stupefied him into believing he was the last Pharaoh and therefore did not have to fear death. He collapsed, dead — grisly evidence of the consequences of arrogant impunity — horrid proof of what happens to leaders that blindly fall victim of hyperbolic praises and sycophantic flattery.
Such grim realisation of the folly of taking people for granted has been witnessed in various ways in history but then, power corrupts and corrodes the mind to a point where leaders become stupid.
This business of making leaders believe they in their persons, symbolise the party or country, transforms them into tyrants that become blind to danger, deaf to advice and impervious to common wisdom. It creates “brothers to the Moon and cousins to the Sun” out of mere mortals!
In the MDC-T we are told there is real fear of death among those that might show ambition for the party’s high office. Former Parliamentary Affairs minister Advocate Eric Matinenga recently said one willing contestant had confided in him that: “tiri muAfrica, unofa” (“we are in Africa, one can die for expressing their views”).
Respect and recognition of good work is acceptable everywhere, but we should avoid falling into the political bad habit of seeking personal favours from leaders by transforming them into gods or living legends or saints.
The late Idi Amin — that Ugandan despot — fell for this obsequious flattery until he believed he was his country’s messiah.
Closer home, we have numerous good-for-nothing political clowns in both Zanu PF and MDC-T that have sought to equate Mugabe and Tsvangirai to Jesus — showering them with hyperbolic praises.
The tragedy of such foolishness is that weak-minded leaders are so infected by this praise-singing and sycophantic flattery they begin believing they are indefatigable holy cows — not fallible humans who must account to the people that voted them into power.
This “dear leader syndrome”, according to one political observer, was the source of Julius Nyerere’s tragic economic ruin of Tanzania.
Nyerere’s Ujamaa economic policies (his slogan was “democracy is a luxury that we cannot afford”) dragged his country into an economic cesspit between 1976 and 1986.
The Tanzanians, led by praise-singing bootlickers, continued to shower him with praises, calling him “Mwalimu” — the wise teacher. Up till today, Tanzania, although now fairing better than Zimbabwe, is still struggling to recover from Mwalimu’s obviously unwise and toxic teachings!
We are free to call our leaders all sorts of comic praise names like “Cremora”, but as soon as we start telling fallible beings they are “True Sons of God”, “Angel Gabriel”, “second Jesus” or equating them to Biblical holy men “walking through the walls of Jericho”, or that they were “chosen by God”, then we must know we are heading for disaster.
We encourage our leaders towards dangerous hallucinations where they drag our countries to the dogs — dancing and laughing all the way!
In the case of the MDC-T, recent developments appear to point at the fact that leaders, from both ends of the opposing sides, Tsvangirai, Mangoma or Biti, no longer honestly claim to safeguard principles of democracy.
They can no longer identify with the working majority as they did during the party’s formative days and therefore can no longer articulate their point of view.
The same is true for Zanu PF which upon taking power in 1980, was the shelter for the once oppressed and the worker’s pillar of hope. It has now transformed into a home for insatiable, neckless fat cats.
While Zanu PF appears to be in a genuine leadership crisis where the party boss continues to want to call the shots — apparently up to the grave — the MDC-T seems to have graduated into a lumbering organisation or just another struggling opposition party with vague plans and inept leadership whose respect for democracy is riddled with bullets of tyranny.
The party, which had, before the 2013 electoral routing, appeared organised and mature, has reduced itself to petty individualism and shameful childishness.
Over-ambitious leaders attempt senseless coups while arrogant incumbent leaders react foolishly.
As for Zanu PF, people are sick and tired of being lied to.
Promising them jobs and a good life while busy plundering national resources and growing dropping tummies on the sweat of the povo will not pacify a restless and poverty ridden populace.