Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Hopewell Chin’ono: The political system in Zimbabwe is what needs to go not just individuals

By Hopewell Chin’ono

Good morning my dear friends, I have been reflecting like everyone else and I have realized that we are making the same terrible mistakes that we made with Robert Mugabe.

Hopewell Chin'ono
Hopewell Chin’ono

I say so because we targeted Robert Mugabe thinking that he was the only source of our problems, and yet as history has now shown us in the past fourteen months, Mugabe was only a member of a big society called ZANU PF.

We marched, danced and ululated when the military removed him from power and we even had historic “Selfies” taken with those soldiers for good measure.

It shows that we did not have a proper understanding of the relatedness of various state organs and ZANUPF and ultimately how they work together to create this painful economic misery that we are being subjected to daily.

Our problems are historical, so it is important to apply history lessons whenever we are trying to deal with them, otherwise we get lost in the maze of good English without substance, a very common Zimbabwean problem and tragedy of thought.

We are a very educated nation, we are book smart and yet not street smart at all, we are not wise and we should accept that reality and start applying wisdom if we are to get somewhere.

Most arguments that I read on social media are rooted in an utopian logic that is divorced from the reality on the ground in Zimbabwe, some even throw in the “but in America or England they do it this way.”

That alone shows how divorced we are from understanding how to deal with our specific crisis, for instance Zimbabwe was not won through making such irrational examples, the bulk of those who led the liberation struggle were not educated at all, but they applied wisdom to their cause and they won the bush war.

Morgan Tsvangirai, Nelson Chamisa, Thokozani Khupe and Arthur Mutambara went to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s November 2017 inauguration.

I clearly remember Mutambara saying that “…the Generals must be resolute,” he added that “…a woman is either pregnant or not, she can’t be half pregnant,” when he thought that the coup was taking too long to execute.

Truth be told, millions also felt that way especially after the Asante Sana moment, so Mutambara wasn’t alone in opining about the speed of events and in thinking that the removal of Mugabe marked a positive new beginning!

But what have we learnt from that six-day event of November 2017 that saw the demise of Robert Mugabe under the nose of a gun and military tanks in the streets?

If you fail to learn from your past then your future is equally doomed, we are failing to apply lessons from a recent past, just fourteen months ago.

Targeting General Constantino Chiwenga is showing a tragic failure to learning anything from our recent past.

Will the system change if General Chiwenga collapsed and died today? The answer is an emphatic NO

What you are up against is a system not an individual, individuals simply give identity to what is otherwise a system underpinned by corruption, nepotism and gross incompetence.

ZANU PF is not General Chiwenga and General Chiwenga is not ZANUPF, Robert Mugabe was not ZANUPF either and ZANUPF was not Robert Mugabe.

Failing to understand that reality shows that our education is also failing us badly, our analysts are also failing us as their explanations that are not drawing us to the real issues.

Our journalists, ME included are also failing to explain how the system works so that the citizens can make rational decisions devoid of misplaced analogies and irrational expectations.

But surely after Robert Mugabe’s removal and what we have experienced so far since his dramatic demise, common sense should tell us that the problem is not about a personality but the whole system of governance.

We have a serious chronic problem of corruption, incompetence and nepotistic behavior that is rooted from the top right down to the shop floor at the passport offices.

Assuming that all this is caused by General Chiwenga shows a disaster in how we think and process issues and also in our understanding of how government works, especially our very own government!

General Chiwenga like Mugabe and President Mnangagwa are mere faces that we see, but they are not the system, a challenge to analysts is to explain what the system is and how it works.

The problem is that most of our analysts are partisan in their analysis and they explain things in a way that advances their political objectives, so it is now left to REAL political scientists like Professor Eldred Masungunure to do a decent job in explaining issues in a meaningful way.

Behind General Chiwenga and President Mnangagwa exists a ruthless and cruel system that we thought was Robert Mugabe when in fact all Mugabe did was to play along to the façade of such thoughts in order to retain his individual powers and stay in office as long as he ridiculously did.

When he threatened the interests of the system or group, it threw him out, the same can happen to General Chiwenga and President Mnangagwa and our problems will still continue.

By targeting General Chiwenga, all you are saying is that you want an eloquent English-speaking oppressor, it gives a perfect excuse to those that gate-keep the system to convince him that the use of excessive force is correct because they will now be playing to his emotions.

Joice Mujuru was removed by the same system by simply convincing Grace Mugabe that she was a target of ridicule by Joice Mujuru, which is all it took for them to get Grace into a motion that saw the demise of the Mujuru camp as we knew it.

The system allows these leaders to do what they want as long as it is allowed to survive, it is a bit like a goblin (Chikwambo).

As long as you give it blood, a goblin will underpin your evilness, the day that you attempt to be your own man, it reminds you of the work it did for you, as what happened to Mugabe when he was pushed out when he thought that he could install his wife.

It is also important to refer to the Mutumwa Mawere story, he was built by the system and when he thought that he could be his own man, he lost everything and yet there are many like him still surviving as business people through paying homage to the system.

Targeting individuals actually strengthens the very system that is causing your economic problems and suffering because the system will pretend that the individual is actually the problem, this gives the system space to breath whilst you attack the Chiwengas.

This is why people within the system brief journalists giving them silly explanations that tie in with the conspiracy world that Zimbabweans have come to love, remember the coup stories last week.

The workers protest by the ZCTU that elicited the unrestrained military violence was effective because it did not target specific individuals, instead it targeted the system itself that is why it responded with such disproportionate ruthlessness.

The danger of making individuals the issue is seen in how for years many spoke of General P.V. Sibanda as the epitome of a professional soldier and yet when the coup happened, he was at the forefront of its actions and he indeed benefitted from it too.

General P.V. Sibanda defended the August 1 shootings at the Kgalema Motlanthe commission, he spoke on behalf of group interests, if you removed him today from his current position of CDF, the next Commander of Defence Forces will still say the same things in the same manner because of how they came into being.

Yesterday’s demonstration by the legal profession was an important occasion and cause because it spoke into how rotten our judiciary has become, but to personalize the issues on General Chiwenga missed the point.

President Mnangagwa was the Minister of Justice until Mugabe removed him in 2017 replacing him with the former CIO Director Happyton Bonyongwe, the current President built part of today’s justice system including placing some of the key individuals in their current positions.

He was Minister of Justice from day one when our laws were supposed to have been aligned to the new constitution, a document that is now six years old.

So assuming that General Chiwenga is the one exclusively causing the judiciary problems also shows how we fail to understand the relatedness of things, it is a tragic failure of analysis.

General Constantino Chiwenga and President Emmerson Mnangagwa are part of the system but they are not the system.

So my challenge to those analysts who are knowledgeable is to explain to us what the system is, who is the system and how does it work?

The system has funders that include powerful white businessmen, it has banks and legal firms that underpin it, that is why certain law firms did not participate in yesterday’s lawyer’s march.

Even the Law Society officers were not there because the society itself has individuals that are aligned to the system.

So that is why I found the ridiculing of Chiwenga’s style of pronouncing words very petty and an unnecessary distraction from focusing on a bigger and very immediate problem of people being killed, maimed and displaced.

The system has people in universities, in newsrooms, in boardrooms, in all political parties, in all strategic institutions, so let us think bigger and broader and not resort to focusing on minor issues in order to elicit a two second laugh.

Ultimately Zimbabwe’s problems will be solved by two things, a root and branch political and economic reform system or an uprising, when that happens, the citizen must be seen to have been dignified in their struggles in order to get the requisite international support needed.

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, which was launched to critical acclaim.

Oliver Mtukudzi wrote the sound track for State of Mind.
It was recently nominated for a big award at the Festival International du Film Pan-Africain de Cannes in France. You can watch the documentary trailer below.