By Tafi Mhaka
The Trevor Ncube of old boasted strength of character. In an opinion piece titled “Only a third way will fix Zimbabwe”, which was published in South Africa’s Mail and Guardian newspaper roughly 17 months before former President Robert Mugabe’s forced resignation, Ncube expounded on Zanu-PF’s fundamental incapability to resolve Zimbabwe’s long-standing economic and political challenges. A blunt and principled Ncube warned that Zanu-PF liberation war veterans wouldn’t ever bring about substantive change.
“It is reckless to have any faith that a political stalwart will emerge from the shadows of Zanu-PF and fix Zimbabwe. Such faith underestimates just how hopelessly out of touch the generation of liberators is,” opined Ncube. The Alpha Media boss unfairly dismissed the MDC as a viable political alternative and instead advocated a “third way”, a fresh political way of life that would shun “Zanu-PF’s politics of corruption and murder”.
Ncube also pointed out that Zanu-PF had become “increasingly violent and repressive” and the state had “harassed, detained and even killed” Zimbabweans and established “a broken society” which marginalised our “sisters, daughters and mothers”. This was Ncube at his ruthless, insightful and journalistic best – an intrepid commentator and publisher whom progressives had come to respect over the years.
‘Karma karma Chameleon’
But Ncube’s candid conversation about introducing “clean hands” in Zimbabweans politics all but dissipated with Mnangagwa’s unorthodox ascension to the presidency. With Mnangagwa reaping the undeserved spoils of a ZDF orchestrated bloodless coup, gone was an urgent ethical and material imperative to introduce “fresh faces, untainted by the shenanigans of the past,” in politics.
Gone was the noble call to empower an immensely deprived and despondent generation of unemployed Zimbabweans youths whom Ncube described as “unburdened by colonial baggage”.
Gone, too, was an intelligible and progressive-minded media man who had built a rock-solid reputation working for the Financial Gazette and publishing independent newspapers.
A new and improved and “born again” Trevor Ncube had metamorphosed into a swashbuckling enabler and defender of Zanu-PF’s ghastly labyrinth of electoral shenanigans, violent repression and ZDF torture, rape and extrajudicial killings.
Ncube had nailed his molten moral fibre to Zanu-PF’s haemorrhaging mast without displaying a modicum of the public shame such a painful betrayal of progressive values rightfully deserved. His chameleonic discourse included speaking publicly and endorsing mythical claims about ZDF commanders helping ordinary Zimbabweans to reclaim Zimbabwe.
Ncube all but demonstrated just why Mugabe’s repressive ways didn’t draw widespread regular condemnation from all quarters. The old man from Zvimba always boasted rich unapologetic backers, spiritual enablers and religiously sycophantic enablers who forever conjured a semblance of virtuous normalcy while Zanu-PF’s warmongering comrades inflicted considerable pain and damage on the fabric of Zimbabwean society – from Gwanda to Muzarabani to Honde Valley.
From the Enock Kamushindas of the business world to the Anglican Archbishop Nolbert Kunongas of Zanu-PF’s depraved influence-peddling world, well-heeled and articulate enablers have endlessly helped to breathe devilish life into murderous, democratic illusions.
Dancing on the desecrated graves of tortured souls
Maybe Ncube has forgotten how ZDF soldiers tortured Standard editor Mark Chavunduka and reporter Ray Choto at Cranborne Military Barracks in January 1999 for publishing an article on an alleged coup plot against Mugabe? The torture included beatings with fists, wooden planks and rubber batons, the use of electric shocks to the body and genitals, and having their heads wrapped in plastic bags and submerged in water tanks in a torture method branded the “submarine”.
Sounds brutally similar to human rights abuses committed recently by ZDF soldiers, right? Yes, no? Yet Ncube can’t be bothered to draw simple parallels between Mnangagwa’s murderous longing to clamp down on dissent with Mugabe’s repeatedly violent actions against human rights defenders and Morgan Tsvangirai’s ZCTU stayaways and demos in the 1990s?
Ncube can’t (or stubbornly refuses to) draw straightforward similarities between Mugabe’s violent despotism and MDC Alliance supporters and activists held incommunicado, beaten, tortured and killed by rampaging ZDF units during and after January’s fuel hike protests on the orders of Mnangagwa?
Maybe Ncube hasn’t heard all the “regime change” hogwash Mnangagwa shamelessly spewed on France24 before? That’s because we just haven’t heard Ncube publicly condemning Mnangagwa, ZDF commander Valerio Sibanda or ZNA chief Lieutenant-General Edzai Chimonyo for myriads of human rights infringements like he used to do not long ago. We haven’t witnessed Ncube exhibiting a morally just and upstanding passion for democracy and human rights.
Perhaps Ncube, in his faith-based wisdom, is willing to give Mnangagwa the benefit of highly unlikely doubt? Perhaps Ncube is willing to leave these murderous matters to an all-conquering metaphysical authority to decide on? But what would God have to say about ZDF soldiers, as reported by the Guardian, raping women?
What would God have to say about riot police, as reported in substantial, depressing detail by Amnesty International, fatally wounding Elvis Saidi, with live ammunition, at Chishawasha Flats in Mbare last month? Saidi’s sole crime was a heroic attempt to save an old woman and her defenceless baby from suffocating from teargas during a bullet laden ZDF attack on unarmed civilians.
Buried in Marondera on January 20, Saidi’s sad demise illustrates why we must remain wary of brash enablers like Ncube generating a false, self-serving moral equivalence between Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF’s dubious messianic agenda and the MDC Alliance’s shortcomings and failings simply to vilify a progressive thirst and push for genuine democratic transformation.
Saidi’s premature and violent end demonstrates why we must remain apprehensive about wealthy facilitators attempting to establish insubstantial jingoistic political paradigms constructed on revolting distortions. And now that he’s thrown in his lot with the comrades ordering Zimbabweans to be shot to death, we should forever remain suspicious of the fallen Trevor Ncube.