By Tafi Mhaka
On 17 December 1961, Joshua Nkomo helped found the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), a political organisation dedicated to the establishment of an independent multiracial state. But, before Umdala Wethu, the son of a preacher and cattle rancher from Semokwe Reserve, could have led a gargantuan struggle against the Rhodesian Front, God caused a major split within ZAPU and later presented the people with Gushungo and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU-PF) in 1963.
Whatever happened to transpire in the violent, turbulent and volatile struggle for freedom – including a devastating car bomb in Lusaka that killed Herbert Chitepo and a fatal road accident that claimed Josiah Tongogara in Mozambique on the eve of independence – God backed Gushungo wholeheartedly and gave him excellent health and long, precious life. So when Nkomo, a humble, true man of the people, one who could have defeated a long-held, populist tendency to vote along ethnic and regional allegiances, offered his services to the people: God rejected Umdala Wethu, resoundingly, and chose Gushungo and tribalism instead.
The people lavished praise on Gushungo, rejoiced, ululated and danced to the sounds of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and the Wailers at Rufaro Stadium on April 18, 1980. God had led them to the promised land of physical and spiritual fulfilment. All was well in the land of plentiful minerals and brown rich soils – so well that, within three years of gaining independence, Gushungo, with vicious, surprising and unflinching resolve, unleashed the Fifth Brigade on unarmed masses who lived in Matabeleland and Midlands.
Gushungo, working hand in hand with Ngwena, Perence Shiri, Sydney Sekeramayi and Enos Nkala made an elaborate and concerted effort to annihilate ZAPU support throughout Matabeleland and Midlands. God watched the bloodcurdling onslaught from afar, but said nothing and did nothing about the Gukurahundi bloodbaths. So life went on without the deceased villagers who had died for the unrivalled ascendancy Gushungo craved.
Yet, who knew what about the now bewildering Gukurahundi crusade? Did Dr Bernard Chidzero, the world-renowned economist and former finance minister, know anything about the Gukurahundi exterminations? Did Dr Dzingai Mutumbuka, the architect of the celebrated post-independence education system, have knowledge of the Gukurahundi massacres?
Zanu-PF worked in an ambiguous and perplexing manner. Along with an authoritarian Gushungo commanding a privileged gang of self-styled socialists, God had blessed the ruling party with principled men and women who should have prevented violent excesses, corruption and electoral shenanigans and challenged the menace of elongated, sycophantic rule – but history shows most good men and women in Zanu-PF did nothing when the people needed strong and sober minded leadership and carelessly helped nurture a dangerously populist beast which God couldn’t control.
God gagged progressive substance and critical discussions within Zanu-PF and promoted weak leaders who harboured ghastly inclinations for power and wealth. God let the people down when they needed help the most.
The people loved Sally Heffron; but God called her home early and replaced the Ghanaian-born philanthropist with Grace Marufu: a grumpy woman who regularly exhibited wild, delirious insensitivity and lavish foolishness when she was the First Lady.
God expelled Edgar Tekere and Simba Makoni from Zanu-PF but made room for Elliot Manyika and Border Gezi and nobody complained until youths from the ‘Border Gezi training camps’ started harassing and assaulting innocent civilians.
God banished Joice Mujuru from Zanu-PF and women, who have long been repressed through patriarchal machinations within the bitter bosom of the body politic, sang, danced and ululated for Gushungo and his henchmen, much like they always did on his return from addressing the UN General Assembly in New York.
People danced to endless corruption scandals all so willingly and denounced the economic violence inflicted by black devils only when they were in the aching, private discomfort of famished rural households and dilapidated urban spaces.
Nobody could stop Gushungo and company. Out of misguided respect for the moneyed and militarised Zanu-PF elites and well-founded fear of unruly elements within the partisan security forces, God invented a new class of very special representatives and people obligingly coined an endearing term for the elites who have been destroying Zimbabwe on their behalf: Mashefu.
Typical rich, arrogant, male and middle-aged and suffering from godly and delusional airs of fanatical entitlement that would make Idi Amin, Donald Trump and Kanye West extremely proud, Mashefu and their blessed offspring and close and distant relatives believe that they somehow deserve the best accommodation, best education money and best things in life, well ahead of the general welfare of the people.
People speak glowingly about the wealth and palatial homes Mashefu have, oblivious of the duplicitous morality and repulsive irony behind the glaring presence of rich full time civil servants in a third world nation. Driven by the spiritual need to find heroes to praise and worship week in and week out, people build Mashefu out of flawed individuals, such as Gushungo and Ngwena, plainly unaware of how lowering ethical and moral standards for political ends is a dangerous and impoverished business throughout the world.
While Mashefu eat well, live well and look well – all the time, the timid majority must make do with living rough and holding onto high hopes born out of long-winded conversations on how another New Zimbabwe” is in the political and economic pipeline.
Mashefu bend the rules all the time and punish “dissenters” of all kinds. Mark Chavunduka experienced the physical wrath of Mashefu when he published details about an alleged coup plot to remove Gushungo in 1999. With hindsight, Chavunduka may have been beaten and tortured because he had stumbled upon the origins of Operation Restore Legacy.
But God abandoned Chavunduka when he desperately needed help. Yet, at around the same time, people would stand up for Mashefu and kill for Zanu-PF. People would (and still will) kill morality for Mashefu and support brutality and repression.
People will defile humanity for Mashefu and curse Dudu Nyirongo on Twitter, because of her womanhood. But, God is forever silent, or forever supporting such patriarchal rubbish.
God did nothing when Terence Mukupe assaulted a 58-year old man over money he was not entitled to. God stayed silent when Zanu-PF hooligans stoned Mai Mujuru. God vanished when a group of MDC-T gangsters attempted to harm Thokozani Khupe in Buhera, Manicaland. God abandoned Itai Dzamara, Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika.
But God is continuously spewing hogwash on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. While dusty streets rumble with calls for physical change, God is busy preaching the gospel of sedentary madness and hapless inactivity on Twitter and gunning for sombre nods of characterless validations: worthless likes and retweets.
While Zimbabwe withers with the despairing need for solid transformation, a new God is selling redemption, commercialised spiritual joy and first-class tickets to Heaven. And while extreme poverty escalates and the diaspora swells with new, young and old would-be immigrants, a new God is accused of raping women and claiming he can perform miracles and prophesy the future.
A new God is as soft as wool. A new God is as rich as mad. A new God is as murderous as Omar Al-Bashir, the architect of the Darfur genocide. Yet the people love God and forget about how Godfrey Majonga lost his mobility.
Still, I wonder, when the voice of the people is the voice of God, what does God really think about the immeasurable injustices Zimbabweans have witnessed and suffered since 1961? Who will God vote for on July 30? Forgive them not Zimbabwe – forgive them not.