By Hopewell Chin’ono
Not long ago I warned about the dangers of coalitions built on political convenience and not values and ideological leanings.
I warned that such coalitions bring unsavoury characters onboard whose main purpose will be at variance with the greater goals and values that drive the main political party’s agenda.
Before my ink has dried, the warnings are now manifesting.
There is a group of disgruntled former ZANUPF supporters and king pins like Edmund Kudzayi, who fought so hard to delegitimize and ridicule the MDC-T and its leader before they were shown the door out of ZANUPF.
As Oliver Mtukudzi said, you can take someone out of a place, but you can never take that place out of them.
These former ZANU PF apparatchiks’ main contribution to the Alliance is to deploy the same tactics they used whilst in ZANUPF, to lie, to create false narratives and to play dirty.
These are the things that were never part of the mainstream MDC when it was founded, they were alien to its reasons of formation and its political culture.
In fact, they were part of the reasons why the MDC was formed, to fight the vestiges of tyranny and all its cousins.
One of the most enduring legacies of Jonathan Moyo is the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which was enacted to close media space, intimidate journalists and shut down dissenting voices in the media.
It saw many journalists driven underground, lose their jobs and media houses that reported the way Moyo and his coterie in ZANUPF didn’t like were bombed as happened to the Daily News.
Today his surrogates like Edmund Kudzayi are trying so hard, though with dismal failure, to achieve the same objectives of AIPPA by using dirty tactics of lying and spreading malice against journalists.
Another tactic used by ZANUPF was to attack its adversaries by exposing theirs sexual lives, they did that to Bishop Pius Ncube and Morgan Tsvangirai.
Today, the same tactic is being used by these ex ZANUPF rejects in the name of the Alliance.
This toxicity will not end with Priscilla Chigumba, it will now become part of our political culture, because it has now been used by both sides without equivocation, so by extension it is now acceptable.
H Metro will be spoilt for choice.
What the opposition must realize is that the election will take place in nine days time and after 30 July’s 24 hours, if they lose, they will now be at the mercy of ZANUPF.
They will not have a leg to stand on if the same tactics are used against them, considering that the ruling party of the day will have information on what we all do through state security.
The Alliance supporters are cheering on Kudzayi today because they are desperate for anything that can delegitimize Chigumba, who they see rightly or wrongly as an impediment to their dreams.
I personally have NO appetite in knowing who sleeps with who as long as they are competently doing their jobs.
If they are incompetent, then I will attack their incompetence not their private life, if at all it is true.
The attack on journalists who write analytical pieces that the likes of Edmund Kudzayi don’t like, is a new low fo those in the opposition.
This is because it is being done in the name of the Alliance and its silence on these attacks legitimately suggests a tacit endorsement.
To any reasonable mind, it is a sign of things to come if the side Kudzayi is supporting wins.
That thought does not do any good to the Alliance.
Morgan Tsvangirai must be turning in his grave because if there is one thing he respected, it was press freedom.
There are times that he didn’t like what I had personally reported when I was still with eNCA, but he would call me to his home and we would sit with his press secretary, James Maridadi, and engage respectfully and with dignity.
Journalists are not there to appease political parties and their audiences, they are there to report and reflect on what will be happening in society.
Those reflections assist society to engage with itself and refine its thinking. If our job was to write what you want to hear all the time, then there would be NO reason to have journalists.
The intolerant behavior of trying to shut down opinions you don’t agree with is barbaric, undemocratic and NO different to Robert Mugabe’s take that the press is an unnecessary nuisance.
Society must know that by aiding and abbeting this social media thuggery and intolerance, they have rebooted to 1980 and following the same rule book and manual used to creating Robert Mugabe the intolerant and repressive monster.
Journalists like Tendai Dumbutshena who reported inconvenient truths in the 80s were picked up by the state security agencies and Mugabe’s supporters cheered on.
They were called enemies of the people and supporters of Ian Smith. History has had the luxury of showing us where that kind of unrestrained intolerance leads a nation to.
The MDC Alliance has a right to chose its partners including NPF, but as journalists and citizens, we also have a right to interrogate its decisions and express our views without fear of being lynched!
If Robert Mugabe’s successive governments failed to silence me, I don’t see how a Facebook and Twitter troll can succeed.
However it is not about me, it is about what it does to how we engage with each other.
I know that if what I wrote was inconsequential, the ZANU PF rejects wouldn’t waste their precious time on creating a litany of lies, spread malice and attempt to silence me.
We need robust journalism that questions all political actors without fear at all.
If I don’t agree with what you wrote, I should simply respond respectively with an alternative and not confirm Trump’s attitude that Africa is a shit hole.
Some even go to the extent of asking me why I am writing. How can you ask a journalist why they are writing?
Journalists are like a type of beer, patrons chose what they want to drink. Don’t attempt to shut down a brewery and create a monopoly.
As the great journalist Water Lippmann said, it is altogether unthinkable that a society like ours should remain forever dependent on untrained accidental witnesses, the better course is to sent out into reporting a generation of journalists who will, by sheer superiority, drive the incompetents out of the business.
Let all ideas make their way to the market place, citizens will make a choice.
We as citizens must chose whether we want a nation where we can all freely express ourselves or whether we want to continue with Mugabe’s legacy of press repression, intolerance and verbal abuse.
Hopewell Chin’ono is an award winning Zimbabwean international Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker. He is a Harvard University Nieman Fellow and a CNN African Journalist of the year. He is also a Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Africa leadership Institute. Hopewell has a new documentary film looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe called State of Mind
Hopewell can be contacted at [email protected] or on twitter @daddyhope