Ship-wreck democracy


Zimbabwe seems to be steering towards certain doom due to the leadership napping. The nation is at a crossroads with the political leadership clueless on what to do to salvage its pride. Political activity is at its worst state as men and women spend time frolicking with their selfish ambitions.

Politicians of all descriptions are finding space to express their wishes to succeed the politically comatose President Robert Mugabe.

There is chaos in the land. The sailing ship is heading to certain disaster due to the absence of sound leadership. The current level of political activity is not making the situation any better. There is no robust containment of the excitement and anxiety generated by the prospects of a presidential vacancy in the not-so-distant future.

Josiah Hungwe talks to President Mugabe (2) President Robert Mugabe, speaks to Josiah Hungwe (left), while VP Emmerson Mnangagwa and First Lady Grace look on. Mugabe has marginalised his colleagues and become the one and only power that many Zimbabweans have known since 1980. [/Caption]

The quality of political activity renders evidence to the assertion that Zimbabwe has reeled under despotic rule since independence. Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist and in the process denied his lieutenants the right to express leadership ambitions beyond those of village heads or village idiots. Now that everyone engaged in political activity has discovered his weaknesses, the flood gates have opened.

A quote from the Greek philosopher Polybius would be handy in explaining Zimbabwe’s current state of mayhem. Polybius likened political activity to a ship without a commander. He supposed that the ship’s crew could either have a fear of the enemy or a storm could induce the crew to be of one mind and to obey the helmsman with everything going well. The crew could as well recover from this fear, and begin to treat their officers with contempt, and quarrel with each other because they are no longer all of one mind, with one party wishing to continue the voyage, and the other urging the steersman to bring the ship to anchor.

The philosopher went on to propound that among the crew in this ship without a captain, some may let out the sheets, and others may haul them in, and order the sails to be rolled up. Their discord and quarrels consequently make a sorry show to onlookers and the position of affairs is full of risk to those on board engaged on the same voyage. The result often is that, after escaping the dangers of the widest seas, and the most violent storms, they wreck their ship in harbour and dock in the shore.

Zimbabwe is indeed a ship without a commander and the ship’s crew is showing a fear of the unknown. Power brokers and potential successors to the ineffective Mugabe are afraid to be of one mind in their quest to surmount the challenges of the raging storm. The crew in the succession boat are quarrelling among each other because the element of oneness has been compromised. Zanu PF comrades and colleagues in the opposition are working at cross-purposes. Some are willing to continue with the voyage to democracy while others want the journey to be ended as the fear of the unknown is so unbearable. Records of arguments in this regard are in the public domain for all to appreciate the magnitude of state of disarray within the sphere of political activity.

In his analogy of a ship without a commander, Polybius stated that some members of the crew may let out the sheets and others may haul them in making a sorry show to onlookers. In sailing, a sheet is a rope, cable or chain used to control the movable corners of a sail so as to determine the direction of sailing. When members of the crew argue on what action to take with the sheets, them the vessel may as well be on a course to destruction. The big boat that is Zimbabwe is on an uncontrolled cruise into a storm. This leaves the extent of the consequences of this wilful neglect of responsibilities to wild imagination. The rest of the population is left wondering what god they have been praying to for them to deserve these retributive and uncaring politicians. Zimbabweans can only hope that the ship they are sailing in will not be wrecked.

Why then should we attribute the current state of political activity to Mugabe? Why should someone whose tenure as a living entity is coming to an end have so much control on the future of the country? Why should Zimbabweans link the indiscipline and indiscretions of some politicians to one person only? The answers lay on Mugabe’s hard-handedness during his rule. He took over control of the State machinery and re-organised himself as the only legitimate political powerhouse in the land. He marginalised the rest of his colleagues and made mincemeat out of the opposition using violent repression. He became the one and only power that many Zimbabweans have known since 1980. He made his intentions for life presidency known by sending signals through intoxicated supporters who could not explain the implications of his wishes.

The zest and stamina that Mugabe once boasted of is gone. The ship he used to steer in whichever direction he wished is now almost a huge piece of wreck with so many people tempering with the helms. There is no way the ship’s course can be altered without a violent confrontation of the mutinous that is developing and to this Mugabe should be held accountable.

Woe unto us; hokoyo.

lMasola wa Dabudabu writes in his personal capacity.