Mujuru & Co: What public profit in Zim’s speculative political business?
By Vivid Gwede
The former female guerrilla fighter is now out seeking a political comeback after being part of the class that has been exclusively ruling Zimbabwe for 35 years, including 10 years as a Vice-President.
There are rumours she has the support of some service chiefs in her bid to get a promotion to the State House.
Well, nothing would have been amiss had the country enjoyed healthy progress during the time she was part of the train, including some years as the only deputy.
For now, Mujuru seems to be subtly avoiding combining forces with the supposedly ‘weak’ and ‘clueless’ old opposition. In fact, it looks like she is fishing back into the political body from the shores, the erstwhile jettisoned opposition politicians and Zanu-PF rejects, who had washed up to the waterless beach.
There is an increasing political intrigue among watchers: maybe she is just trying to build a following for bargaining in an eventual opposition coalition, or trying to fashion a standalone party. Who knows she might succeed in the latter and realise her ultimate goal! But it is not a stroll in the sunshine.
Whatever the case, sense of real change simply gets tortured by such a crowning development (pan intended) where she becomes the President, all the ‘who is who’ of Zanu-PF hurriedly crowding back into the ‘familiar’ tent of the ‘new’ government.
In fact, we have been told part of People First remains firmly logged in Zanu-PF? How big? How reformed? How “people first” or people-centred? There remains a mammoth question mark. Then again Simba Makoni had a similar claim that ended in little joy some years back. Why should we emphasise these seemingly innocuous details of political identity and heritage? Here is why.
Succession in Zim, or Zanu then Zim by default?
How the whole nation of Zimbabwe has been bogged down this far, taking sides with her in a political suspense of succession in Zanu-PF – which is what People First and Post-Congress Zanu-PF are – beats my Bantu head.
As if we have no other solution to our problems, except by those politicians, who authored them, as long as they can quickly claim new (intangibly) identity.
Let’s face it, Mnangagwa and Mujuru, regardless of who is where now, might be where tomorrow (as Mnangagwa might also be kicked out) are both scalp-deep part of the governance record that burdens Zanu-Pf.
Vendettas between them were bred far from the proverbial madding crowds in the same ivory tower they want to rule, not even that these are new duels being a public intra-party story since 2004, stretching a decade now.
An essentially in-house quarrel, which has just spun out of the walls and doors of Zanu-PF, but firmly remains within its yard and durawall. One of its many asides of the yarn of the tyrannical regime, and certainly not last. Because Mujuru might as well bounce back in-house, yes, during her political life, regardless of her own protestations to the contrary. For now, she has to find a semblance of followers to garner political weight to throw around, and bargain with in Zimbabwe’s highly speculative political business? Also at the same time making a public gamble for the ultimate price if it is within reach.
Whither the political enclave?
A labour think-tank, Ledriz, in its political economy book, Beyond the Enclave, talks about the dual nature of Zimbabwe’s politics, inherited from colonial time, which comprises of a small privileged class, and the rest who are excluded.
We have to look at whether she brings a substantively new narrative away from the predatory politics of “elite sovereignty”, or elite state capture. Is she not part of the “enclave political class,” which has excluded the majority from the benefits of independence?
Let’s subject this question to contextual scrutiny. We have heard that she has the support of the security forces. Well, the same security forces, which must be apolitical, but have refused.
So is there a man (now late), who cast a timeless spell on Zimbabwe? Former Army General, Vitalis Zvinavashe, said on behalf of the security forces, who are inseparable from the party-State, towards the 2002 elections that no one, who has not been to the 1970’s liberation bush war will rule Zimbabwe.
That post is a strait jacket, to paraphrase him. If claims of security forces support for Mujuru are true then there is an important sub plot. It is as if Zimbabweans are now being asked to ‘democratise’ within the ‘straitjacket’.
Whether Mujuru, or Mnangagwa, or anyone with Zanu-Pf links wins the succession duel, it will benefit the elite state capture scenario in the context of Zimbabwe’s enclave political class? It is the same class, which has reportedly given Mujuru assurances (while it remains ensconced in the captive state) in her opposition schemes, but remains gatekeeper to other opposition pretenders. Why?
How true also is the claim that Mujuru will dislodge Mugabe from an opposition launch pad at all? First, her support is not assured, untested.
Second, is it itself not a contradiction, then, in that she was removed by Mugabe – the only precedent we have – and, if this has also to be factored in, has no democratic background because she couldn’t stop political violence in her then Mashonaland strongholds.
Truth be told
People First has a big bone (big fibula) to chew with its scheming former party colleagues, and yearns an opportunity to strike back, not that it primarily wants a ball with democracy as that is not patently evident in the time before her expulsion, nada.
Yet, opposition politics as they stem from genuine popular grievances have been about positive reordering of social forces. The moniker “People First” is merely a calculated one for the political market.
Well, People First is a Zanu-Pf faction.
The irony is that outfit might get voted for its closeness to, and for being quintessentially Zanu-PF, for being part of the repulsive political system Zanu-Pf has fashioned.
Yet being voted in a desperate effort to end a Zanu-Pf kind of poverty-spawning governance, whose epic violation is privatisation of the national security and other institutions such as Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), including public social welfare aid programs as part of its enclave politics.
Her strength, our fears
In fact, to say Mujuru has those connections to the military is to abrogate the whole democratic concept of civilian rule, is to endorse securocratic tendencies.
It is to accept the sneaky 11th commandment, which was not there on the people’s original liberation covenant, whose motto was that the politics controls the gun, not the other way round. That Zanu-Pf distorts the meaning of that concept to the result that it is a predatory clique, who privatise the people’s army is against the revolution.
Liberating the mind
Doubtless, for the past 36 years, Zimbabwe badly needs a collective cerebral overhauling analogous to that of Ngugi waThiongo’s decolonisation of the mind – democratisation of the mind.
Deconstructing rather than continually constructing undemocratic thinking means people must insist on total democratisation.
Any notion that only those in Zanu-Pf or are linked to it, can govern Zimbabwe must be deconstructed. There is no reason why a Welshman Ncube, a Morgan Tsvangirai, a Biti, a Madhuku, a Mangoma, a Dabengwa, or any other party leader yet to be known for that matter, cannot theoretically lead, or be saluted by the security forces. Maybe, the glass ceiling for everyone else except for the ‘chosen ones’ from the war, like a hymen which is the secret cause of national barrenness, must be broken. Surely, a new nation must be born.
Why save the fox?
There is an African folklore, where a traveller was coaxed by an ensnared fox, which begged to be saved, he was eaten in the end.
The seasons of struggle fatigue are the seasons of cutting corners, wanting easy victories. The struggle for a new order is at the verge of being hijacked by people, who already have enough political dirt for a lifetime.
The same story which happened during the government of national unity, which has made Zimbabweans come full circle to another crisis now in a matter of six years.
Zanu-Pf is factionalising probably to death, but its opposition nemesis used to easy distraction and standing on inexplicably weak legs, happily wants to untie the ensnared fox through a People First leadership or speculative deal.
Before knowing it, the opposition message has shrunk to this talk about a fathom unity that may, or may not materialise, allowing a nondescript quantity in the form of People First to eat into the opposition territory.
‘6 upside down is 9’
A jocular saying in isiNdebele language goes, “isame same 6 lo 9’’ (Six is the mirror image of nine).
When the 9 of previous Zanu-PF cadres is reflected in the mirror of the opposition political plane as People First it looks like 6, a different number. But when reflected back into government, will the 6 not turn back to 9?
What would change if People First cadres lead a government on their own, or in a coalition with other opposition parties?
What this means is that Joyce as the centre of gravity in the opposition coalition, will obviously have everyone in the coalition government at her beck and call. The security forces will want their pound of flesh from the kill.
In the period Post-2018, if all are granted their wish, we will be celebrating the former Acting President, now President.
There has been change, they will say probably. How much? One might ask then. The answer will probably sound like “some much” because it can’t really sound a confident “so much”. Like Bob Marley famously said those who run away from a fight will have to fight another day.But the possible emergence of new contradictions might still buy time.
Perhaps, dare I rub it in, like with the GNU!
Where do people come first?
To be fair to Mujuru, there are rumours (which are just that) that she was cosy to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) cause for transformation. But of course outside that party, there were a lot of people who did not witness this.
If one chooses to throw cynicism into the mix, change of mind and manners, damascene moment for People First seems to come, when it is forced by expulsions?
When State farms have been privately hoarded in twos, threes, fours, fives, etc. Certainly, not in ones!
When the War Victims Compensation Fund is finished. When Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO), the first intergrated steelworks company in Sub-Saharan Africa has gone bankrupt, and off-loaded thousands of workers into penury. When there are no more diamonds!
Then change will come by many of the same hands that probably wrought the destruction?
It will be, for those former Ministers who will return with Mujuru in the ‘new’ government, as the witty ones said long back, ‘ALOOTA Continua’! Maybe things will change, yes, only maybe.
That happens when people wish be ‘put first’ by the same minds, comrades, and hearts that for years put them last, except with all due credits, during the war.
We all know, it is a merciful world. Of course forgiveness is part of life, but not forgetfulness, as they say.
Confessing to be Pope
Does a sinner confess, publicly kiss the crucifix with loud sounds, when it is hoped that there will be a vacancy for a Pope?
And confessing to become the one who will rule Vatican! Will the Catholics long on their knees, says Amen?
But, from opposition party HQ to opposition party HQ, from bar to bar, Whatsapp group to Whatsapp group, pressroom to pressroom, we already canonise the converts, and hand them papal regalia. As surely as the sun rises from the east, time will tell, and time alone.
Vivid Gwede is a Zimbabwean fond of writing about people’s struggles. He is a former Student Union Secretary General at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST). The writer’s views herein expressed are expressly his.