Mugabe is no turncoat

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MUCH as Zimbabweans might have wondered whether the word ever formed part of his vocabulary, President Robert Mugabe has been talking tolerance and urging African leaders to shun tribalism.

This has left Mugabe watchers wondering whether the leopard had indeed changed its spots and instinct since joining the axis of tribalism that formed the Zimbabwe African National Union in 1963.

Zimbabweans should be wondering whether the posture he presented before African leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia the other day was nothing but an attempt to palliate the painful reality of his isolation which has widened and increased even among his closest contemporaries at home, in Africa and abroad.

The palliation feat was designed to present him as a leader on the same wavelength, if not better, with the rest of Africa’s democrats. But Mugabe’s character of intolerance gives a lie to the character he attempted to claim for himself in Addis Ababa.

Let us go home and see how tolerance is the least of his and his ruling party’s virtues.  Encouraged by his uncompromising character, some people have even claimed him as their god of reason.

The French, during the revolution, claimed a prostitute as their god of reason, giving themselves licence to launch a reign of terror that shocked the world and set France back for centuries as a leader in the world.

In the weeks leading to the July 31 2013 general elections, Munyaradzi Kereke defied Zanu PF’s demand for him to stand down for the party’s official nominee in Bikita West, thereby laying himself open to the worst kind of political abuse I have ever had the misfortune to witness.

Zanu PF pulled out all the stops to assassinate his character and incriminate him, even attempting to have him removed from Parliament.
This shocked the Duma people of this constituency and of course the rest of the people of this country..

The Duma people decided to kick the sitting MP out, refused to vote for Zanu PF and Kereke won a thumping victory.   

But Zanu PF is a calculating lot of shameless opportunists in every respect. The irony of Kereke’s victory ended last week when dusty drums that had never sounded joy since those traumatic days were pulled out to celebrate Kereke’s return to the ruling party.

But I can humbly, without sounding pompous, tell Zimbabweans with all the authority of an observer of political trends of long-standing, that Kereke’s star to a ministerial post has been set in motion.   My own trumpet bloats my own ego  that Kereke is headed for a ministerial post.

Here is the reason: Mugabe is hopelessly isolated and short of people he can trust.  After the unscented brawl that has cost many people his favour and lost him qualified manpower in all areas of his administration since December 2014, he desperately needs fresh blood.

If the low quality deadwood of the likes of Shuvai Mahofa, the great survivor from the days when she was a member of Bishop Abel Muzorewa’s Dzakudzaku militia while some of us were risking our lives collaborating with freedom fighters, it must be clear to all that  Kereke cannot be by-passed.

In the aftermath of the Great Purge during which Oppah Muchinguri traded her job with Grace as the party’s women league boss and her subsequent appointment to a ministerial post in the education sector, her eminently qualified predecessor, Olivia Muchena, was demoted and now sits in the shadows of power of the ruling party.

The girl from Manyika Bridge, after all, can now add other unearned attributes to her Mona Lisa face. The country’s teachers are not impressed and are demoralised.

After trying to purge the party of dissidents accused of plotting his removal from power by unlawful means, Mugabe has found some of those who remained as loyalists cannot in fact be trusted.

His recent remarks about Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa revealed more than was expected.  During the liberation war I worked as a travelling salesperson, selling school stationery in the vast Victoria province (now Masvingo) where Zanla forces were fighting the enemy.

My workmates in the book store in the centre of what was Fort Victoria called me the terrorist. They could not understand how I survived being blown up by landmines or being shot up by Rhodesian forces. But I often stumbled on reports on the horrors of war.

In Bikita West there is a school named Mpamawonde which I visited to sell my goods. According to local reports, six old women were accused of practising witchcraft and murdered near the school in 1978. The villagers were ordered not to bury their bodies.

One of them was a Kereke whose son, an ardent supporter of the liberation struggle and member of Zanu PF, was a teacher at Berejena, a Roman Catholic Mission in Chibi where he had narrowly escaped death when Sellous Scouts attacked the mission.

When he was heard about the massacre, he determined to go home, bury his mother and face the consequences.

I do not know if in fact, the old woman who became one of the victims was related to Munyaradzi Kereke. And there is no telling if Kereke’s electoral victory in Bikita West resulted from a backlash.

But last week the Duma people of Bikita West celebrated a resounding victory against intolerance when their son was readmitted into the ranks of the ruling party as its representative in the mountainous constituency.   Let sanity prevail!

But Zanu PF has some hard lessons to learn. One of them is that political opportunism is not a virtue,  nor is the use of gutter tactics and coercion. Kereke suffered worse at the hands of the ruling party.

In February 2004, Rino Zhuwarara was approached by a man who demanded to know why the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation continued to fan hatred among Zimbabweans by preceding its news cast every morning with a reminder that the Nguni people cast its Shona victims into the pool in the Chinhoyi Cave.

When the man asked Aippa boss Tafataona Mahoso for comment, he mumbled, grunted and swallowed.  He still believed Johannes Tomana was the only lawyer in the country who understood media law, not the only one who was willing to defend that obnoxious piece of legal instrument of oppression and suppression.

“If you do not remove it,” the man threatened, “I will write to the president and complain”. When Zhuwarara recovered from the shock of realising how much lip service was being paid to the cause of nation-building, he explained that removal of the offending statement could not be done just like that. “Give me time I will remove it.” Two months later it was gone.

It may be gone but Jonathan Moyo and the evil of tribalism in high places live on.

But did the man believe Mugabe would have ordered removal of the offensive pre-news statement?

During the 2006 Mugabebirthday celebration in Mutare, the head of State shocked the country when he disowned the Gwebu people in Buhera as “not our people”.

Absalom Sikhosana, the long-serving president of the youth league, was among hundreds of people from Matabelelannd who listened as the president disowned their tribe.

The Gwebu people who came from Esigodini, invited by one of their number who worked in Buhera in the 1920s, are a law-abiding community. Why did they have to be told by the president they do not belong?

A reflection how deep-seated tribalism is under the Zanu PF regime is shown by denying Joshua Nkomo the honour of having a street in the country’s capital named after him. As far as Mugabe and his government are concerned the man they have dubbed umdala wethu is nothing but a provincial leader.

This honour was reserved, among other international figures, for the likes of Kwame Nkrumah. One may be excused for wondering just what this man did for our country that Nkomo did not do. Has he been given this honour because Mugabe married his late wife Sally?

Leopold Takawira, the late Capricorn Society executive who was shunned by all Pan-Africanists, like Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda, was given the civic honour of having one of Bulawayo’s marvelous streets named after him.

This is the same street that forms the route of King Mzilikazi Khumalo’s entry into Bulawayo. The street is a historical monument and the king’s statue should stand on it.  Zanu PF claims to be a Pan-Africanist organisation while at home they practise naked and blatant tribalism.

The State-funded Presidential Scholarship, whose administration is shrouded in secrecy, benefits only members of the axis of tribalism, the three tribes that formed the party in 1963. This means you have to be a member of the party to benefit.

When the other day I said only history would tell what hold Moyo has on Zanu PF, I was wrong. I stumbled on the answer in my sleep days later. Should man live for money – even dirty money for that matter – only?

Moyo, by his action, says yes. To compensate for his losses, he got the plum job in the business to mislead Zimbabweans.

You do not need to have principles to get his type of job. The ability to spin propaganda is all that counts.

Joseph Goebbels did not prepare Nazi Germany for the shock of losing the war.  Zimbabweans are not being prepared for shocking scandals in high places that are poised to rock the country.

Only Mnangagwa gave a foretaste of what is coming the other day when he said those who do not conform will be killed. Just like that.

Email: jkmaphenduka@gmail.com, cell: 263772332404