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Grace Kwinjeh: Is the G40 our Political Messiah?

By Grace Kwinjeh

Former President Robert Mugabe’s death has robbed the G40 faction he and his wife Grace were aligned, a figurehead and a mentor.

Grace Kwinjeh is a journalist and and women's rights advocate.
Grace Kwinjeh is a journalist and and women’s rights advocate.

Under scrutiny after the death of the 95 year old strongman, is the staying power of this faction, its ability to ward off the current political pressure and make a mark on the political scene.

It has been suggested elsewhere that the youthful G40 faction, has the political gravitas, enthusiasm and political insight to not only dislodge long time nemesis President Emmerson Mnangagwa from power, but to also eclipse the MDC Alliance on the political scene.

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While I am not privy as to the basis of such a conclusion, my own little experience in Zimbabwe’s opposition politics, has often proven that the environment is more sophisticated for mere rushed at conclusions, especially those based on the fortunes of a dead man, who no longer has influence over the levers of power.

Notwithstanding, however, that Mugabe in the end was also a very difficult brand to sell, both as a Pan African who gave black masses land and as a liberation war hero, given the stinking poverty he left the country in.

Both hotly contested credentials, that add no value to opposition politics, diminishing any posturing that claims to be defending his legacy as a campaign platform.

However, it should be noted that, historically, this kind of thinking is not new among those who leave Zanu PF entering opposition politics, after a fall out.

The complex prevailing situation is such that the military /war vet, state / Zanu PF party conflation dimension, is a significant impediment they too must contend with and perhaps to account for why these individuals are unlikely to make a dent on Zanu PF’s hegemony, notwithstanding their previous high profiles in the party prior to being dislodged.

Indeed, history will give you a long list of many Zanu PF politicians who have hit the opposition ground running, seemingly armed with all the tools and know how to dislodge the party they once belonged to.

They immediately morph into vocal champions of human rights and democracy.

These politicians are often of the naive disposition that by joining the opposition they become born again, all past sins forgiven, granting them immunity from political and economic crimes, invariably placing them at par with veteran opposition politicians who have lost all to state terrorism and plunder, under their blissful watch.

A point that has always made me wonder as to their sincerity in joining opposition politics, which seems more about settling old political scores than any real ideological narrative or basis to truly free Zimbabweans, as each of their efforts comes to naught.

Question, should Mnangagwa step down as Zanu PF leader today, will the G40 remain as audaciously opposed to their former party?

Past experience as I mentioned above, necessitates me to start this honest conversation, because of the unparalleled, painful investments, we have made into this struggle.

Our lives will never be the same again, to allow ourselves to be bamboozled or diverted over agendas we have no control over or know little about.

Among these experiences, include memories with long time friend, I still admire very much.

As many will recall, political stalwart Margaret Dongo, fell out with Zanu PF chefs leading to a brutal tug of war over contesting in the Harare South constituency, she lost the battle, later stood as an independent candidate and won the seat in 1995.

Dongo tried to form the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats, (ZUD), refusing to work with trade-unionist Morgan Tsvangirai, who she viewed as a political novice, with little liberation struggle experience to dislodge Mugabe from power.

A conclusion arrived at notwithstanding the emotional investment that the pro – democracy movement had already made into her profile and political fight against Zanu PF.

Another notable and more recent example is that of Joice Mujuru.

Mai Mujuru then the country’s Vice-President suffered persecution in Zanu PF as tensions mounted as to who would succeed Mugabe, a widow left on her own, after the death of her powerful husband General Solomon Mujuru, she was expelled from the ruling party in 2015.

Again, like those before her she made a heroic entrance into opposition politics, enjoying the limelight, endorsement not just of the local community but some international donors who viewed her, a war vet, senior politician, as a fresh face that would galvanise opposition politics and remove Mugabe from power.

A feat they had prematurely concluded now ailing Tsvangirai had apparently failed at.

Again that moment of excitement for Mujuru didn’t last for long. I do not need to go any further.

The irony is not lost in that Mujuru is joined by now also widowed Grace, her previous tormentor, both presently at the mercy of the same political forces, that outfoxed them in the complex power struggles within Zanu PF – the Lacoste faction.

There are more examples.

As I write political temperatures are high, a medical doctor Peter Magombeyi is alleged to have been abducted, went missing for several days in which he was severely tortured, now hospitalised and is apparently being refused access to further medical care outside the country.

The government through its various mouth pieces has denied the abduction allegations, claiming instead that there is a Third Force at play.

Third Force narrative is reminiscent of South Africa’s history during the apartheid days, used to describe shadowy groups that were responsible for violent attacks against civilians, interestingly, just like Zanu PF the ANC has also in the past accused the same shadowy ‘Third Force’ elements for the 2008 xenophobic pogroms.

Yet, this so called “Third Force” seems to operate in a vacuum, with no geographical territory under its control, hence it follows, no prisons, police force/militia enforcing its rules or law or defending its claims to exist.

Should we consider it then that Zanu PF the state has constructed the “Third Force’ narrative to describe and caricature its rivals in the G40 and the broader opposition movement permitting its dark functionaries in the Military/Intelligence/Security services?

Zimbabweans are wounded and hurting, to allow any further social experiments with their lives.

We watch if indeed the G40 are going to be our political messiahs. For now it is not yet Uhuru.

Grace Kwinjeh is a journalist and and women’s rights advocate.