The pain of having troglodytes as leaders
By Mutsa Murenje
Without much skirting, first and foremost, I would like to convey my sincere apologies to you, my dear readers, for depriving you of something to read last week. This was due to circumstances beyond my immediate control. I know there are many of you who are always looking forward for something to quench your thirst. As a student, I am sometimes faced with competing demands.
If it were possible I would delegate. But, as you may know, there are certain things that cannot be delegated. For instance, it is impossible that a mind can be borrowed, neither can it be lent. Some things demand that they be addressed by the individual concerned. And so, I am this week examining the pain of being led by troglodytes. These are people of degraded, primitive, and brutal character. Such are our leaders no wonder why we haven’t achieved much in the almost 37 years that we have been independent from Great Britain.
I was an infant when the Gukurahundi atrocities were committed against the people of Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces in Zimbabwe. Those who authored such atrocities are living freely and enjoying whatever it is that independence brought them. These are the people who claim to have freed us from colonial rule and bondage. They have rewarded themselves with comfort and deprived us all of human dignity.
We are being violated from every angle and it is because we have uncaring leaders. All they think about is their comfort and that of their relatives and friends. What of us who wield no political power and authority? We don’t matter to them. They are happy for as long as they have dominion over us. These are the troglodytes. The kind of leaders that don’t belong to the modern times in which we live.
The people of Matabeleland and the Midlands have physical, emotional, and psychological scars inflicted upon them by the brutal and evil regime of dictator Robert Mugabe. Decades have passed without any acknowledgement of the atrocities. Nobody has accepted responsibility and no apology has been given. Prospects that these fellow Zimbabweans will receive justice dwindle with each passing day. That unity and peace are important for our collective development cannot be overstated. But, should we be honest with ourselves, is it possible to unite a nation divided along tribal lines in the face of past injustices?
What hope is there for the people of Matabeleland and the Midlands? What hope do we have for the people of Manicaland and some Mashonaland provinces that have yet to realise the benefits of a postcolonial, independent Zimbabwe? Our leaders have failed us and we should do something about it. We might have tried to do something about it but perhaps we should do more for us to realise our liberties.
I understand that Vice President, Phelekezela Mphoko, has accused opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of partaking in the Gukurahundi atrocities. I don’t seek to speak on Tsvangirai’s behalf because I believe he has an able spokesperson in the form of Luke Tamborinyoka. Besides, Tsvangirai isn’t an infant that he would need someone to speak on his behalf. He has been moving around the country speaking to the people thereby indicating that he has the ability and time to set the record straight.
In spite of all this, I need to remind our leaders that the accused, Morgan Tsvangirai, is said to be a war deserter. War deserters are also said to be cowards. I fail to understand where a coward would get the courage to commit such a heinous crime as Gukurahundi. If indeed such a coward suddenly got the guts to do that then we would want to understand the circumstances under which he did that.
Mphoko has also claimed that Tsvangirai attempted to assassinate the late Father Zimbabwe, Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo. Again, only Tsvangirai can answer this. We cannot answer on his behalf. I feel though that Mphoko is attempting to divide our people along tribal lines. There can be no doubt that the Movement for Democratic Change enjoys support from the people of Matabeleland.
It isn’t right to gain political mileage through outright lies. We need responsible leaders who are honest. We mustn’t play with people’s minds and feelings. The Gukurahundi atrocities remain unresolved. Mphoko may be old but there are those of us who are still young. We don’t want our people to be divided on the basis of Gukurahundi that we had nothing to do with.
As caring and responsible people, we seek justice for Gukurahundi victims so that no one will again use this for personal political advantage. Opposition parties should also take note of this. Never use Gukurahundi for political gain. What we expect from you is to fight for the victims to be compensated for their losses and to feel that they are also Zimbabweans.
A recent development that is also worth addressing is Evan Mawarire’s return from his brief exile in the United States. Before his departure, Mawarire had started a movement, ThisFlag, that received immense support from the generality of the people of Zimbabwe. As expected, he also had his adversaries. What cannot be denied however is that Mawarire united the people when his movement took off. He was admired and loved.
We gave him the support that he needed because we felt he spoke about issues that affected us as a people. His movement lost steam the moment he left Zimbabwe. He did so for his safety and that of his family. But in political life, such rationality has limited application. The people expect their leaders to suffer with them. You cannot lead people from a comfort zone when your people are deprived of the same privileges you are enjoying. This is a warning to elites in our opposition movement. You need to suffer with the people. Your experience and their experience mustn’t be different. It is only when you speak the people’s language that you will be taken seriously.
Zanu PF’s persecution of political opponents should be resisted with all the might in our systems. It is wrong to treat people in a cruel and unfair way just because their political beliefs differ from yours. It is such behaviour that can as well result in yet another Gukurahundi. We don’t want that for our country. Mawarire never sought to overthrow a constitutionally-elected government. Neither did he urge people to use violence. He has been consistent in preaching peace and non-violence. Some might not want to admit it but he might as well be our ‘inconvenient hero’.
As for oppositional forces, do away with elite political coalitions. Your interest in political positions stinks and expect not to receive any support from us as long as you have parochial political minds. Your involvement in politics should enhance our lives and not enrich you at our expense. There is need for self-examination. What do you hope to achieve by being in politics? Is it for fame or service? We are tired of being led by brutal leaders. We now seek people who understand our challenges and are willing to do something about them.
Joice Mujuru has expelled key founding members of her party, Zimbabwe People First. It has been reported that the expelled members had strong links to the ruling party, Zanu PF. In turn, the expelled members retaliated by also expelling Mujuru, accusing her of having dictatorial tendencies. As an outsider, I have little knowledge of the goings on in Mujuru’s party. However, because the party seeks relevance in our political space, we need to understand why opposition parties cannot keep the unity. Will they be able to unite the nation when they can hardly unite a few individuals in their own parties?
In conclusion, “What’s past is past, nothing can change that. But the future can be different if we choose to make it so. We have to cultivate a vision of a happier, more peaceful future and make the effort now to bring it about. This is no time for complacency, hope lies in the action we take” (Dalai Lama). I pray that we will not replace troglodytes with other troglodytes. May God help Zimbabwe! The struggle continues unabated!