By Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
At some point, we need to talk about Tobaiwa Mudede. And sadly, I think that point is now. After his stunt of whipping up a fictitious STOP LIST to deny Violet Gonda a passport, the man just has to go.
Now, l do not have any thoughts on Violet Gonda’s reasons for leaving Zimbabwe when she did one way or another. In fact, l have only ever met her twice, both times while she was doing her work, and while I thought one of her questions to me was unfair, l don’t think a journalist that lobs softballs to her interviewees lasts very long in the job.
But, and here is the thing: she is a Zimbabwean.
By birth. There are a few people who have become Zimbabwean by marriage or other immigration routes, but by far the majority of us have this inalienable privilege: the holders of a right which can never be taken away. We are Zimbabweans, by birth. As is Violet Gonda.
The trip to a registry to get a passport should be a formality for those of us that are citizens by birth. Yes, some old crone has turned what is in effect a department of clerks into the most fearful fortress of incompetence, rudeness and bureaucratic mayhem known to mankind but, if you are a citizen by birth, you can’t be denied a passport. It can’t.
Especially now when we now have a President that serves the people, respects, follows and defends the constitution of the country. It can’t. Alas, you would think that, but you would be wrong.
Tobaiwa Mudede is Registrar General. In other words, at the top of a whole pile of clerks and other pen-pushers who record births, deaths and other such routine events, he sits at the top. Sounds big, but it isn’t. In the correct scheme of running a Civil Service, it’s a Director level post, much removed from Principal Director or Undersecretary. Despite what Tobaiwa Mudede has done over the years, arrogating to himself powers and influence, the post is not one that gives the holder a right to make decisions on our constitutional entitlements. It does not make policy.
And l posit that he knows this. A statutory body, and any holder of a statutory position, knows full well that their authority comes from the four corners of the statute. With his pretensions to reading, Tobaiwa Mudede knows that there is nothing in the law that mandates him to run a STOP LIST. So, why tell a renowned journalist that she was on one?
Tobaiwa Mudede is not stupid. There is no way that he did not realise that his decision would make the headlines. And it did.
Which leaves only one possible explanation: that was the plan all along. To embarrass the President. To derail our country’s re-engagement process. There is no other explanation for this stupid decision outside of the G40-destabilisation matrix. The leaders of the cabal might have been removed, but their lackeys remain. We saw them during the election, telling voters “vhoterai ini, but paPresident moona zvokuita.’
If for one minute we allow that there is a number of journalists out there that are on a STOP LIST, there would be only one person responsible for it: Jonathan Moyo. He was the person that persecuted journalists in his crusade to create a Mugabe empire, and who now pretends to be some kind of born again democrat.
We know that Jonathan Moyo has been on a bender about how the absence of a cabinet means that all ministers are no longer in a job. Knowing that there is no substantive Minister of Home Affairs appointed, Tobaiwa Mudede must have done this to goad Obert Mpofu to act, so that those in his corner can trumpet another ‘illegality’, like the recently announced Commission.
The new President is working day and night (now l know!) to bring the country back to the rule of law and a culture of rule by the people and service by their leaders. His efforts will come to nought if we have vestiges of the old system acting as if citizen entitlements like passports are something that’s within their power to give or withhold. For God’s sake the guy is just a glorified clerk.
It would be all too easy to say Tobaiwa Mudede erred, but he didn’t. He acted deliberately to bring embarrassment to the President. He knew exactly what he was doing. He knows there is no government policy to run a so-called STOP LIST. He knows full well that the President would never sanction such a list. He knows that anything that he and Jonathan Moyo cooked up when they targeted the likes of Lance Guma and Violet Gonda would never stand up in front of this President. He knows that the existence of such a list would be a policy issue that he has no power to originate.
Deploying such a list on a journalist with such an international profile was primed to achieve maximum damage. Staying fixated on an untenable position in the light of universal condemnation and statements by the outgoing Minister of Home Affairs that he didn’t know anything about such a list shows the political motive behind his actions.
President Mnangagwa is trying to fix a broken system. He will not succeed if those partly responsible for breaking it stay in positions where thy can do further damage. Violet Gonda is a citizen, by birth, and deserves her passport. But, this is bigger than Violet. It is about our country and its servants breathing in a new culture, a new direction, a new dispensation. Clearly, Tobaiwa Mudede is incapable of being an ambassador of the new dispensation.
Tobaiwa Mudede has got to go. Simples.
Tinomudaishe Chinyoka is now an Advocate practicing from The Temple Bar, in Harare, and a member of Zanu-PF