How far are we from the madding crowd?


WHILE Grace Mugabe’s recent no-holds barred public utterances have been revealing, any sober minded person will be left with more questions than answers and a conclusion that we are not far from the madding crowd.


In the previous week’s instalment, I made an observation that Joice Mujuru’s silence could be paralleled to Martin Luther King Jr’s stabbing incident where doctors observed that had he so much as sneezed the blade that remained stuck on his back could have poked one of his main arteries open leading to his death.

Mujuru seems to be politically living for now given that she has been silent and no one knows what will happen should she sneeze.

But that is not my brief this week.

My agenda is to make us rethink about certain salient issues that are fundamental to the being of this already tattered country.

One has to question why does anyone who has been involved with corruption need to apologise to fellow citizens supposedly equal before the law when, if Zimbabwe was a sovereign and democratic State that Zanu PF claims it is, there are police and courts of law that could address these issues?

Information deputy minister Supa Mandiwandzira argued a few weeks ago that Zanu PF brought human rights to Zimbabwe.

If indeed these human rights are universal why then do we need to apologise for corruption? Corruption interferes with the functioning of the democratic systems and citizens’ lives and therefore needs to be dealt with ruthlessly.

Failure to use due processes speaks to a broader problem that Zimbabwe has plunged into. We have been slowly letting down the integrity of national institutions to an extent that we have allowed mediocrity to interfere with those institutions that must be protected by whatever it takes.

For example being a Zimbabwean academic is now an embarrassment to fellow international scholars who jokingly ask if we could organise degrees for their relatives or friends.

We have had situations where Noczim fuel or Grain Marketing Board grain disappear and have treated these with little regard, but there are certain institutions that need to be protected at all costs like our academic institutions.

Another important question that we need to ask ourselves after we sober up from the current overload of (un)necessary information borders on the calibre and the integrity of Zanu PF’s Women’s League and the role of our sisters, wives and mothers in national politics.

Do we have a generation of sisters that can hold their own in national politics through advancing agendas that protect the girl child, boy child, man and woman in society without in-fighting?

I refuse to view women politicians as those who advance women’s affairs, but we need women with power and intelligence to deal with health, economy, policy, technology and power issues in society.

Politics has been argued to be a dirty game. Some dismiss this and argue that politics is a clean game but with some dirty players.

It is scary when we have a situation where women, who have hitherto been a minority in Zimbabwean politics climb onto the political stage as dirty players.

We may boast of a female deputy president and a female Prime Minister in the Government of National Unity, but that is all we have had and, at the moment, we do not wish for more.

We watch with amusement as Zanu PF women destroy each other instead of building each other up. An urgent question that needs to be asked is how will we run our political parties’ portfolios, especially in Zanu PF, that deal with women after the current foretaste?

Of course Zimbabwe’s politics have been hallmarked by argumentative engagements, whether internal or international, such that diplomatic engagement has become a foreign political practice especially to our Zanu PF government which seems to operate on threats and coercion.

One friend suggested that Mujuru and Grace must meet, discuss, forgive each other and kiss. But I guess the magnitude of the differences between the two is now like darkness and light.

If indeed Grace who always reminds her audience that she is the First Lady means it then she needs to act the part.

One would have expected her to reach out and be diplomatic — ironing out differences with whoever is on the wrong side. Just like a president in a functional society, the First Lady is supposed to be a unifier.

While supporters cheer and jeer during these no-holds-barred performances there are some ordinary people and political commentators that dismiss the First Lady’s utterances.

In as much as there might be merit in what she says, we tend to sympathise with Mujuru’s predicament not because the accusations are false or true, but the merciless manner as the drama unfolds.

One expects our sisters in politics to be supportive of each other and speak truth to power instead of reducing political activity to public shouting and insults that not only reflects negatively on individuals involved, but compromises the collective name of women in politics.

In gender studies when we map out how society views women we always come up with descriptions like “caregivers”, “irrational”, “argumentative” and “dramatic” or “attention-seeking” among a host of others.

All these stereotypes are not necessarily true, but when someone tries to fit into them and does so perfectly then we need to worry about the future.

It might be good for Zimbabwe that Zanu PF’s toxins are now destroying it from within, but the fact that we have women playing a central role in this is painful.

It is painful mostly because Zimbabwe has not done much to advance and uplift women political-wise. Of course we may say we have 35% women representation in parliament (and most of them if not absent are silent), but we need to worry that we have 11% of them in cabinet.

With the current trends, it is difficult to imagine a certain crop of women in cabinet or in key leadership positions.

Of course it seems we have three women who might determine the destiny of Zanu PF in December provided Mugabe does not pull a shocker on us.

Of course their private interests are at stake, but the fact that Zanu PF has factions and these women have chosen to fight it out even though mostly men stand to benefit in terms of political power is problematical.

In a situation where there is no credible and strong opposition, one would wish for a reformed Zanu PF whose leaders need not hide behind women or factions but come forth and state their agenda. Otherwise their silence and leaving it to some cantankerous women to fight it out suggests to the nation that we are indeed not very far from the madding crowd.

Shepherd Mpofu is a media studies and journalism lecturer at Nust. He writes in his personal capacity.