Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Tinomudaishe Chinyoka: The products of our toxic politics are there for all to see

By Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) is, for want of a better description, our state pension provider. It’s compulsory to join, in fact right at the beginning, a certain now-famous lawyer challenged NSSA’s compulsory mandate and lost his constitutional application. Every employer must register their employees and deduct their contributions.

Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
Tinomudaishe Chinyoka during an interview on eNCA

Of late, NSSA hasn’t been flirting full colour page adverts in the newspapers with the message “we care for you” and encouraging people to pay their contributions every month. It is common cause that it is the employer, not the individual contributor, that remits money to NSSA.

I think that these adverts are a waste of money. Perhaps not at the level of buying an expensive shopping mall and razing it to put up a gravel car park, but still expensive. Yet, when l expressed this view, someone replied “Mnangagwa wako iyeye…”.

True, the Presidency is powerful, but l don’t think it extends to determining advertising copy. Or even deciding on an ad campaign. Yet, this person has supporters who agreed with his ‘argument’.

We have lost the ability to look at situations, any situations, with objectivity. Instead, we are become imprisoned in the narrow lanes of our political allegiances. We talk yes, largely freely, but we are prisoners to our assigned viewpoints.

The other day after a press debate with a member of the MDCAlliance, l asked him if he believed half the things he had been saying. Before he answered, he laughed. Then he said “I was listening to you talk and l thought ‘this guy thinks I am talking to him, instead of my supporters.’” He then proceeded to say “had I said what I really think, I would be accused of selling out and be dumped.” With a straight face.

Those supporters are to blame. It is they that have created these narratives. They have given their leaders an alibi, because they have pandered to the extremist viewpoint in their party. To be with mantle is not to see that which is in the national interest and support it no matter who originated it. Instead, it is to see which will gain the most applause on Twitter or at rallies and do that.

The very political party that extols itself as democratic is currently in the throes of demonizing one of their own for daring to challenge the ‘Dear Leader.’ Without any hint of irony the party’s Organizing Secretary speaks of a potential challenge against Chamisa in the same tone used by the Inquisition against alleged blasphemers.

The politics of insult, which we have made mainstream, has unintended consequences. We are caught in gridlock with no clear pathway against western sanctions because someone refuses to concede defeat. Not because of any good faith belief that he won an election, he know he lost, but because such a concession would spell the end for him.

We have people who do not support the very same sanctions that are affecting their lives. But you will never hear them speaking publicly. Not because of any pseudo masochist tendencies, but because of the quest for political survival.

The toxic nature of their politics can be seen in their rhetoric. In their increasingly violent and militant positions. In how they eviscerate those within their membership that dare to preach moderation. In how they have sharpened the knives against Mwonzora. In how they will support Dr Labode’s booboo about lowering the age of consent to 12, because she is one of their own. Despite most of them not agreeing with her.

It is a politics that circumscribes what their leadership must stand for without regard to whether or not it is sound policy. A politics that places blinkers on reason and promotes militancy for the sake of it.

It is a politics that cleverly translated terrorist terms to Shona so that they escape censure. Take ‘kudira jecha’ for example. In English, that phrase means one thing and one thing only: sabotage. That’s the meaning. However, someone who stands up to say ‘let’s sabotage the government’ can rightly be arrested and charged with treason. But, if one says ‘toda kudira jecha’ they get no word spoken to them in anger, despite it being the same thing.

It is not too late to alter course. The opposition needs to know that those they egg on towards extremism might one day get a crack at holding the whip.  What will be their incentive to govern differently from how they attained power?

They say that when brothers fight to the death, strangers will inherit their property. That is already happening. While Trump can gleefully extend sanctions against Zimbabwe, a motivated person could target Sen Corey Booker in his campaign against a crowded Democratic Party and garner free publicity that way. But we are forced to pay lobbyists to try and stop something that would just take a policy shift on the part of our own brothers.

Better yet, a motivated person who sees that their ‘kudira jecha’ mantra was causing untold suffering to the people would stop this hemorrhage of precious resources. Except that such a person appears to not exist anywhere in the world. Certainly not in our current state. Our politics has become too toxic for moderates. Even this article will attract tones of insults and references to the position of Prosecutor General. For no better reason than that we have lost the ability to debate.

That, is a pity.

Tinomudaishe Chinyoka