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Chinyoka on Tuesday: Demonstrations are for student politics, not national issues

By Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

My best friend lost a family member this week. She travelled to the funeral, to places I have never been. Not by choice, because in fact, I long to know Uzumba and Maramba and Pfungwe in the same way that I know Mberengwa, the land of my fathers.

Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

On the way, driving in the early morning sun, she would have passed hordes of engineers, doctors, chemists and other luminaries, on the side of the road carrying they little book bags going to the primary schools that a prescient government education policy created, their future careers known by the creator, theirs the task to but dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s”. 

This is the same sight that greets me as I drive down Boterekwa, past the beautiful rural home to the right just before Musasa, the turnoff to ChaChaCha – long have I wondered at the famed cultural conservatism of our forebears given that they named a whole place after a dance, but that is a story for another time.

Amidst the people going by their chores, the green and yellow shirts are hard to miss. Or the dresses made from maZambia, the President’s visage distinct on each one. Be it on the road north to Maramba, south to Siboza or east to Mufiri via ChaChaCha, you don’t go a mile before you see a son or daughter of the soil proudly wearing the regalia that, more than anything, marks one as a Zanu PF supporter.

A long time ago, when university meant payout from government and a lot of drinking and carrying on, making t-shirts with different slogans was our thing. I recall how once, at the International Students’ Festival in Trondheim, Norway, my white shirt with the message “Title Deeds Kumusha” vexed AG’s and excited my Serbian, Burmese and Kenyan friends alike, and how l enjoyed explaining the meaning.

That was 1994, long before vekwaSvosve reclaimed their traditional lands in what was to become the Final Chimurenga. We wanted land reform now. The lands after Boterekwa was farmland, belonging to some absentee farmer who just happened to not be black. We were squashed in the sandy loam soil areas where farming was an act of faith, and poverty something you lived with amicably, in case it killed your spirits with stress.

That was a time, a long time ago, when we thought that government owed us more money as payout, and a student leader’s success was measured in demos. The more demos you led, the more successful you were.

As my best friend drove by the new areas, with schools and future luminaries of this country enjoying their stroll to school, as the trees bend to let the sons and daughters of Africa pass, she saw what l see on the journey past Boterekwa. Hope. Hope for a future that will be better, it’s foundations firmly planted in the access to land which a caring government has guaranteed.

They announce ZEC registration campaigns at funerals, kunhimbe, pasi pomupfura muchimwa mukumbi, in schools, kuma gully. The people come for community fellowship, many proudly displaying the green and yellow regalia of the true President: it’s not a party meeting but it sure looks like a celebration.

This is the Zimbabwe of reality. The Zimbabwe that knows that no matter how hard things might be, they cannot be worse than the alternative. And, what is that alternative?

Ever since the Zinasufication of the MDC, when every student leader that ever passed through college bar the few that know better has become the new leaders of what was a workers’ party, there is a retreat to the past: to student politics. Success is measured by that tried and tested yardstick, demos. 

It is therefore not a wonder that Nelson Chamisa calls a fast for a week, claiming that they will have a Jericho moment, then invites his supporters to an orgy of anarchy. The Bible l read must be different from his, because Jericho fell on its own after seven days. Clearly, had there been a true Jericho, it should have fallen after the fast. The Israelites did not call a demo after their seven days.

Bereft of ideas, unable to comprehend the obvious, student leaders who have taken over a grownups’ organization feel that they can only communicate through causing mayhem. So they bastardize religion and invite their friends from the foreign press to come watch as they seek to plunge the nation into chaos.

Driving down Boterekwa, or up to Maramba, witnessing the new take over the farms which had been lodged in our land, witnessing the silent but obvious support for a trusted President, it is obvious to see why the student leaders will never succeed: Zimbabwe is way past student politics.

Zimbabwe has hope for the future, as seen from the future doctors, engineers, chemists, etc, that you see on the road each day trudging to their ECD centers and primary school.

The demonstrators will fail. God is not in it.

Tinomudaishe Chinyoka is a Harare based lawyer and member of the ruling Zanu PF party