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Tafi Mhaka: Gwara Gwara with Bobby Gushungo, Biti the Sage and headmaster Cross

By Tafi Mhaka

Bobby Gushungo is the granddaddy-o of the original Gwara Gwara. But Bobby Gushungo didn’t invent the Gwara Gwara. Oh no: he simply improved the obnoxious dance which big, African men have indulged in for decades.

Thokozani Khupe, Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri
Thokozani Khupe, Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi did the Libyan Gwara Gwara with a pair of cool shades on and a fantastic bevy of beautiful Revolutionary Nuns who doubled as his bodyguards and sex slaves always in tow.

Congolese strongman Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga did the central African Gwara Gwara brandishing a wooden walking stick – carved with the figure of an eagle at the top and a signature leopard-skin hat.

And in Malawi, “His Excellency the Life President of the Republic of Malawi, Ngwazi Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda” (yes, I know, that takes a few short breaths to fully enunciate), did the Gwara Gwara with the aid of sophisticated British outfits, a juju-filled flywhisk and a curvaceous mistress called Cecilia Tamanda Kadzamira.

But the Gwara Gwara has never ceased: Colonel Gadaffi is well and truly alive in the brutal chaos that Libya represents today: civil war, racism, tribalism, sexism and state corruption.

And Libya – minus wealthy Christian clergymen, like United Family International Church leader Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, who purportedly visit traditional healers in the dead of the night, only for ungodly advice and God knows what else they might need to conjure religious wonders, and an immoral teacher who sodomises a form three pupil at the Seventh Day Adventist-run Anderson High School in Gweru – epitomises nearly everything Zimbabwe is afflicted by right now.

That is the Gwara Gwara way of life: the rules, the constitution, party constitutions, law and order, safety and security, mean nothing when an ostensibly urgent cause, such as unseating Bobby Gushungo, develops.

Constitutionality counts for zilch when subtle cravings to outfox Crocodile Dundee and General Smith and Wesson Chiwenga, or anyone else for that matter, grow overwhelmingly strong.

Bobby Gushungo went Gwara Gwara on Joshua Nkomo, Edgar Tekere and Simba Makoni and nearly did a last-minute number on Eddison Zvobgo. Now, as MDC Alliance “leaders” and supporters trash Thokozani Khupe, a bass thumping, Omunye-like, Congolese, Mobutu-style witch-hunt and ethical execution is truly on, and it likely won’t end well. 

Mobutu, whose full, sycophantic name, translated into English, read “the all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, goes from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake,” hanged former Prime Minister Evariste Kimba Mutombo and ex-ministers Jérôme Anany, Emmanuel Bamba and André Mahamba in front of a 50 000 strong lynch mob in Kinshasa in 1962.

And Banda, the medical doctor who had been schooled to save lives in London, reportedly staged a car accident, near the border with Mozambique, after forces loyal to him had tortured and shot to death four cabinet ministers, Dick Matenje, Aaron Gadama, John Sangala and David Chiwanga, over factional politics. That is how the Gwara Gwara works: it allows no dissent and takes no prisoners.

And although Khupe has not experienced this level of madness, an angry, calculating lynch mob is attempting to dehumanise her and strip her of any credibility.

It is a senseless and heartless move that Bobby Gushungo perfected to the hilt. All his chosen opponents and challengers to the party leadership faced extreme ridicule in the government media and court of public opinion.

(Umdala Wethu allegedly went into exile dressed as a woman as he fled Bobby Gushungo’s hit squads.)

So, unsurprisingly, MDC Alliance officials and followers have begun to Gwara Gwara on Khupe like Colonel Gadaffi and the Revolutionary Command Council is in town.  

Biti the Dumb Sage claimed: “Anyone who fails to see that we are done with the succession issue needs to see a witch doctor. Tsvangirai gave us Chamisa and that automatically means that he becomes the presidential candidate who will face Mnangagwa and his junta. It’s done.”

And Headmaster Cross chipped in with, “The support for Chamisa is overwhelming. That is over. If Khupe persists she may be disciplined or lose her membership. All other leaders have accepted the inevitable.”

What is it with public personalities visiting and listening to witchdoctors who claim to have the abilities to extract oil from rocks and predict futures?

And what is with public representatives and ridiculous absolutism?

Simon Muzenda famously said, “If Zanu-PF selected a baboon as its candidate, you should vote for it.” 

Now, while Bobby Gushungo’s frail shadow recedes into the background of the national stage, fresh, super active silhouettes of the longtime strongman have begun to shine in the dark theatre of the absurd electoral field.

That’s because the Gwara Gwara is a contagious condition, and Biti the Dumb Sage and Headmaster Cross have caught the nasty bug, all so willingly, and so have the masses that have abused Khupe for so long.  

She has been characterised as silly, selfish and highly fortunate to be MDC-T Vice-President. Even if she owes her authority to a stroke of good, political luck, or pitiful misfortune: why can’t the long time deputy to Morgan Tsvangirai, follow in the footsteps of former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan – a man who flourished on the opportunities chance offered – and carry forward the groundbreaking mantle of becoming an “accidental female president” should the MDC Alliance win the next election?

Can’t the alliance rally around Khupe as a presidential candidate and push whichever outstanding polices they have for Zimbabwe around her? It is not as if Nelson Chamisa’s an irreplaceable political genius in the making.

And the morality of who is right, what is proper, should Khupe be sidelined for good, will always evolve into a disgusting contest where numbers count for more than common sense.

But the dishonest morality of the majority alone can’t make a wrong right or less contentious. Like Mobutu, Banda, Gadaffi and Bobby Gushungo before them, Biti the Dumb Sage and Headmaster Cross hold distorted views of democracy, and flaunt magnificent notions of intellectual superiority that don’t make the sun shine in rural Chegutu.

It is such a pity that people who hated (or pretended to abhor) the manner with which Mugabe ruled for so long, have such contempt for Khupe and lust for power, and that is the Gwara Gwara nonsense that destroyed Zimbabwe a long time ago: a lack of belief in diversity in governance and shifty dependence on gender and tribal gerrymandering tactics and populist Gwara Gwara gibberish.

Should Bobby Gushungo not return for one more twisted dance in the spotlight, bright sparks like Biti the Dumb Sage and Headmaster Cross, seem willing to shake their unashamed behinds in rhythm to his shady, Godfather style of logic, and unquestionably, Gwara Gwara all the way to fabricated emancipation.

Which is why Libya, a nation blessed with Africa’s largest oil reserves and a small population of six million people, can’t get things right almost 7 long years after Colonel Gadaffi was executed by Misrata rebels: the Gwara Gwara democracy Colonel Gadaffi bequeathed to Libyan people through 42 years of tribal and cultural nonsense has incapacitated any hope of normality.    

And ever wonder why, the DR Congo, with all of its valuable natural resources, can’t hold a decent election, provide for its people and enjoy a period of prolonged peace and prosperity? It’s the Gwara Gwara tribal trash Mobutu introduced in 1962 that has forced the nation into a feverishly murderous tailspin.

Ever wonder why Malawi, 24 years after Banda lost an election and went into exile, is still suffering from economic mismanagement and corruption? It is the politics of tribal machinations and a limited, reluctant democracy built on outdated cultural practices that stifle development.

Yet, with our unstable democracy floundering under the grip of cultural suffocation, people grumble on about the number of parties vying for space in a democracy.

But nobody has asked the glaringly obvious question: why do so many voters and candidates like Nkosana Moyo have such little faith in the ruling party and MDC-T?

The answer?

They don’t want to do the Gwara Gwara.