The crocodile is dead

By Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

I am reminded of this tale. Once, there were these villagers who have been terrorised by a crocodile. So insidious, so powerful was this crocodile that there was no respite in the land. Things got worse when, after one flood, it acquired a mate. The mate was even worse, and their brood equally so.

Former University of Zimbabwe (UZ) student leader turned lawyer Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
Former University of Zimbabwe (UZ) student leader and lawyer Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

Every conversation in the village became about defeating this crocodile. Many tried, and failed. Many more perished. Still, everyone wanted to be the one that slayed the crocodile. It was said to be the most important pursuit, slaying the crocodile. Everything else about developing the village would come after the crocodile was taken care of, they agreed.

But one day, another crocodile emerged from the river. He inspired person, animal and bird in the village to converge and make common cause. It was he and his friends who finally defeated the evil crocodile and its family, with the support of the entire village.

But alas, that did not bring peace and harmony to the land. Soon, different narratives began to emerge. The crocodile was not really dead. The whole thing was a ploy by the killer crocodile to perpetuate the hegemony of the crocodiles.  And so on and so forth.

After 37 years of hurt, when the majority of our population has known no other leader than Robert Mugabe, it is excusable that his departure might seem so surreal as to even  be unbelievable.

However, some of our reactions have been downright unfortunate. When you hear people say, Mnangagwa is even worse than Mugabe, you have to cry for the Beloved country. I mean, honestly?

Are we, as a people, so damaged that we will seriously want to suggest that Mnangagwa, and not Mugabe, was responsible for Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, 2008 and every atrocity, murder, disappearance and rape in between? How does a Minister for the CIO bear more blame for the actions of 5th Brigade and not (a) their operational commander, (b) the then Commander of the Defence Forces, (c) the then Minister of Defence, (d) the then Prime Minister and (e) the then President and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces?

A cabinet was announced, and there was an outcry.  Dokora needed to go, we said, and he went. The Ministers were too many, and they were reduced to comply with the Constitution. And yet, we are told that Mnangagwa is worse than Mugabe? Really? When last did Mugabe listen to us, the people? Does anyone seriously think that if we had complained at Mugabe’s cabinet he would have cared? Did he ever?

The cabinet has too many military men, we are told. So what? Are military men and women not Zimbabweans? And is Zimbabwe the first country to have military men in cabinet? More than half the Presidents of the United States have had military service backgrounds. Closer to home, we have fewer military people in cabinet than South Africa, Botswana and Lesotho, the last two of  which have comparatively smaller populations than Zimbabwe.

What matters should not be a person’s military history, but that when they are put in cabinet, they leave their uniform and military heart in the barracks and serve as a civilian in a civilian government. What matters is that they be qualified. Gen Chiwenga has a PhD, earned, not honorary. Brig. Gen Moyo has a PhD, earned, not honorary.  In my view, it is a pity that only one of them, and not both, could be put in cabinet.

The new President gives a rousing speech about his plans for the country. Jobs, jobs, jobs, he says. Reviving the economy, he says. Employing measures to revive our economy, he says. Ending corruption, he says. All good things. Do we applaud him? Nooo.

Instead, we take issue because ‘he stole our ideas’! I mean, honestly? Zimbabwe needs all its citizens. We know what needs to be done. Clearly, so does the new President, because he is doing exactly what we think should be done. But, if we are going claim Intellectual Property rights on good ideas, are we saying we want him to fail? Do we not realise that if he fails, Zimbabwe fails?

Some villagers are not happy that the crocodile is dead. Instead, they want to argue that the crocodile is still alive. In fact, some even want to revive the crocodile. To what end? So that they might kill it themselves. Because to them, it was never about what village we create after the terrible crocodile was gone: everything was about being the one to kill the crocodile. Now that someone has gone and killed the crocodile, we want to deny its death because then our reason for being evaporates.

Mugabe is gone. We wanted that. Let us move away from wanting to be the one that got to remove him so bad that we fail to see the bigger picture: building the Zimbabwe we deserve.

President Mnangagwa has started that process. His efforts will only succeed with the goodwill and support of all Zimbabweans. Let us not fixate on creating pinatas that we might then slay and get our own renown. There is plenty of work to be done already, without going back to revive a dead crocodile just so that we get to be the one that killed it.

We need to stop creating phantom problems and get to work building this country. Talk of “Mugabe is gone but Mugabeism is alive” is just stuff and nonsense. Read Minister Chinamasa’s excellent budget statement and show me where you find this Mugabeism thing amidst all the cost saving measures and corruption busting initiatives and business/investment friendly proposals.

Vanhu, kwanai. Mugabe is gone. You might not support President Mnangagwa, but if you truly love Zimbabwe, you must be supportive of the pro-Zimbabwe things that he is doing. Criticise him for what he does as President, if he doesn’t listen but, so far, hasn’t he shown that he listens? He has refused to waste money on foreign trips going to inauguration ceremonies, the last one went to an Oceans conference. Rehoboam got advice which he ignored, to tragic concequences: our new President so far appears to be hearing us. Applaud that. And keep it objective.

The new President might not be the one some amongst us wanted, but the better Zimbabwe he is building is the one we all dreamed of. And as long as he is doing that, he deserves our collective support. He has already shown that he listens. We must show him that the messages we send him are objective and fair, not self serving and partisan. Otherwise, we risk messing up a good thing, just so that we remove Mugabe.

Because, hate to tell you this but it is true: Mugabe is gone.

Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

Optimistic Zimbabwe, going home.