Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye: ED Mnangagwa: When Zimbabweans mistook brass for gold
By Luke Tamborinyoka
We are in the crucial month of November. Two years ago to the month, Zimbabweans across the political divide united and forced Robert Mugabe to resign after 37 years in office. In typical Jominian strategic execution, we mobilized ourselves in a huge mass, in a combined effort, against the decisive point and forced the dictator out.
Mugabe had become the decisive point—the nodal point, in the typical parlance of Jominian strategic thought. (Carl von Clausewitz calls it the centre of gravity). Apart from the House of arrest, there was an imminent impeachment motion, as the august house in its diversity morphed into a great mass of forces, in a combined effort, to decisively act on Mugabe as the decisive point.
Soon after we pastured out Robert Mugabe, with the nation still drunk in the hope that we were now under a truly new dispensation, I gave a chilling warning to Zimbabweans of their mistaken optimism on the incoming regime.
In November 2017, I wrote the following piece; giving the stark warning that we should not mistake brass for gold. I warned that Mr Mnangagwa and his incoming acolytes were not in any way an inspiring lot. Today—–as we suffer the ignominy of ED’s cluelessness and the plumbing depths of his incompetence—–remember I had warned you beforehand.
Today, I reproduce my treatise in 2017 in which I counselled the nation against investing any form of trust on Mr. Mnangagwa. The following piece, published under the headline “Where have Mugabe’s supporters gone?” was prophetic about this murderous and incompetent lot that is now (mis) running the affairs of the State.
ED Mnangagwa: When Zimbabweans mistook brass for gold
By Luke Tamborinyoka
It had to happen while I was right in the place of my birth. The time was six o’clock in the evening and, as if of significance, the day was Tuesday, 21 November 2017, exactly 10 days after the 52nd anniversary of The Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI).
I was at Chirodzero business centre in Domboshava, popularly known as pa Showground.
And then the radio blurted it out: President Robert Mugabe had finally resigned. This growth point in my area of birth suddenly burst to life—cars hooting, people shouting, touts whistling and vendors leaving their wares unattended.
I just felt numb, savouring the eerie scene around me in typical journalistic wonderment.
A vendor selling cucumbers suddenly developed a sudden bout of generosity and started moving around dishing these freshly fruits for free. That is how the news was received at this rural growth point, some 36 kilometers north-east of the capital city.
Barely an hour earlier, I had accompanied President Morgan Tsvangirai to a rally at Africa Unity Square just outside Parliament building in Harare. My boss had just been invited by the war veterans to address the burgeoning crowd, reflecting the inclusive atmosphere and the national convergence that had inadvertently developed in the country on the eve of Mugabe’s departure.
The euphoria and wild scenes of celebration that rippled in all the cities and rural growth points at the news of Mugabe’s resignation had a ring of irony to them. Mugabe had finally achieved with his departure what he had failed to do in 37 years of incumbency—he had finally united a divided nation. if nation-building is the immediate task of a newly-installed national leadership, then Mugabe ironically united the nation on the day he left office.
The kaleidoscopic atmosphere of people of all political colors charging into the streets and celebrating in unison was an unprecedented national marvel. It gave life to those sacred words in the preamble to our Constitution; “We, thepeopleofZimbabwe, unitedinourdiversity……….”
For a nation torn by hatred and intolerance, this was a marvelous scene to watch. This national celebration had been building up in the last hours of Mugabe’s tenure, starting with the massive demonstration attended and addressed by both ruling party and opposition leaders on Saturday, 19 November 2017 in Harare; a first in the history of the country.
Never again, one hopes, should one man and his family be allowed to capture the State to fertilize their profligate disposition; what with the recent reports of the former First Lady splashing scarce foreign currency buying plush properties across the world. The former President’s sons were a notorious lot known for wild binges and it is no wonder that the younger of the Mugabe sons, Bellarmine Chatunga, recently splurged US$60 000, buying a trendy wrist watch at a time whole families in the country are surviving on less than US$1 per day.
The country deserves to start afresh, even though, if the truth be told, the signs are not encouraging.
The army played midwife to this so-called new dispensation, having unconstitutionally held the President under house arrest for over a week. Moreover, some of the characters presumed to take over the running of country are not themselves without any blemish as they have been the cogs of Mugabe’s long stay in office.
I do not wish to dampen the nation’s carnival atmosphere through needless pessimism but the incoming lot also has a bloody past. Unless and until they take advantage of this new day to break away from their dark past, there could be no reason for celebration.
This could be a dim and unpopular view in a country drunk with hope amid this the euphoria of the departure of an icon-turned-villain. Yet this should be a moment for sober reflection so that as a nation, we don’t wander in the same terrain ever again.
Suddenly, everyone was against Mugabe and the man appears to have had no sympathizer in the country. For a man who claimed to have won past elections and whose rallies, including the ones held only a few weeks ago, were filled with mammoth crowds, one question still lingers unanswered: Where are those mammoth Mugabe crowds today?
Or is it a chilling realization that we could be a nation of hypocrites, who lie and fawn at politicians when we do not mean it? Had this man suddenly become so unpopular in a matter of days, even in his own party?
Judging by the huge celebrations and the impression that everyone was in the opposition, the question still remains; Where have the millions of Mugabe’s supporters suddenly disappeared to?
Why have all those chants of “Gushungo chete chete” suddenly turned into a sonorous national chorus of “Gushungo kwete kwete?
In one fell swoop, the man’s so-called mammoth support has suddenly ebbed into a shocking nothingness.
Lastly, let us not, in the drunken stupor of this euphoria, forget what needs to be done—poising the country for legitimacy, growth and prosperity.
It all starts with a leadership that can give Zimbabweans a reason to hope again.
Given the huge expectation of the man expected to take charge, one hopes that his unrepentant supporters who appear to have so much faith in him, including some prominent diplomatic missions have not committed the cardinal error of mistaking brass for gold!
In the meantime, help me find the supports of the one center of power, which early this week turned into the sole center of implosion.
Luke Tamborinyoka is the Presidential spokesperson and the Director of Communications in the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai.