Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye: Of an unlucky nation and the Presidency as a straight jacket
By Luke Tamborinyoka
Today is Friday the 13th, that day again!
Friday the 13th is generally referred to as an unlucky day. And the fear of the number 13 has even been given a scientific name—- triskaidekaphobia.
In keeping with the inauspicious nature of Friday the 13th, today I reminisce about how unlucky we are as a nation not only because it is the week that we lost popular comedian Gringo and the famous socialite from my rural hood of Domboshava, Genius Kadungure, popularly known as Ginimbi. Rest in peace, Mhofu yemukono .
Today, this Friday the 13th, I humbly exhort us a nation to collectively reflect on our gross misfortune to be saddled with this caricature of a President , even if the so-called President pilfered his way into the seat of power!
Today—Friday the 13th—marks the slow end of an unlucky week in which our schools opened by being closed, with this inept government having no plan whatsoever to resolve the legitimate grievances of the country’s teachers. The crisis in the country’s health sector is now over a year old. The basic social services sector comprising Health and Education remains virtually closed.
The mantra that Zimbabwe is open for business is now a vacuous and trite assertion because the country definitely can’t be open for business when it is not open for basics such as health and education. The two sectors are simply the very heart-throb of a nation.
Yet for Mnangagwa, it’s business as usual when our health and education sectors have virtually ground to a halt.
The monumentally abnormal situation in which we have non-functioning health and education systems is not even triggering any panic button in these corridors of stolen power.
Indeed, we must reflect hard on how unlucky we are as a people to be saddled with this inept and corrupt lot that is not only smuggling the country’s abundant mineral wealth out of the country.
For this lot has equally smuggled away our happiness and dignity as well.
Indeed, we must also take time to reflect on that infamous statement of 9 January 2002, when the command element of our uniformed forces issued their infamous and grossly unconstitutional statement to the effect that the Presidency was a straight jacket.
On the eve of the 2002 Presidential election, the then Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, Vitalis Zvinavashe, infamously said service chiefs would not salute anyone without liberation war credentials.
The statement was effectively a coup against Morgan Tsvangirai, who I am certain won the disputed plebiscite. It is instructive that the verdict of our late icon’s court challenge of the 2002 Presidential poll is still to be delivered, 18 years after the contentious ballot.
Two years into the stolen tenure of this caricature of this our President given to cheap and dry jokes, Zimbabweans wish to state categorically that the Presidency is indeed a straight jacket, albeit for very different reasons from the treasonous utterances of Zvinavashe.
Forget the dry parody and many other laughable comments from this caricature of a President—-utterances that are no longer comic anymore. It is now very clear, to every rational person, given ED’s vodka-tinged dry jokes, that we have an unhinged man holding the levers of the State.
Early this year, Mnangagwa astounded the nation when he publicly boasted that he had constructed a state-of-the-art mortuary in Kwekwe and promised a ‘prize’ to a bereaved family that was going to be first to place their relative in the mortuary.
“ I constructed a state of the art mortuary with 12 bays , very cool inside . I told people in Mbizo that there is price for the family that brings its dead first ,” Mnangagwa said, with a straight face.
This was a dead joke–deceased humour, literally speaking. The Presidency is a venerated office the world over but under Mnangagwa, the office has hit a new low. It takes a lot of effort and unparalleled incompetence to surpass Mugabe’s record but even the murderous and repressive Mugabe was not this inept.
Apart from his Kwekwe mortuary rant, Mnangagwa generally has a witchly disposition as shown by his strange affinity for death. This is the man whose government killed people on 1 August 2018, in January 2019 and is now posthumously promising every dead civil servant the equivalent of US$500. For him, the only good civil servant is dead one and all government employees must now literally smile all the way to their graves.
Mnangagwa’s arid jokes (dry is an understatement), makes a compelling case for the invocation of Zvinavashe’s invective.
Indeed, the Presidency is a straight-jacket. The Presidency must be a people-centric citadel that concerns itself solely with dedication and selfless service to the people. The people of Zimbabwe will not countenance a leader who not only is corrupt and has a blood-soaked legacy but who mounted a coup, is competently incompetent and is given to dry jokes that are no longer a laughing matter.
The plumbing depths of ED’s incompetence have tainted the image and reputation not only of the office and institution President but of lawyers as well, perceived in some political circles to be a profession synonymous with towering competence and high aptitude. Indeed, the Presidency is a straight-jacket and anyone given to cheap parody that is often in bad taste should be banned from ever occupying the highest office in the land.
ED has bastardized Presidential standards, even by the lowly coup route that ushered him up the rungs of political power. With the mortuary joke, one can tell that the man is simply a death merchant, an unstinting peddler of human blood, hence his jovial reference to a mortuary as if it were a five-star hotel!
Should a people get prizes for losing one of their own? With a prize for every corpse in the family and a huge windfall for every dead civil servant, is this man trying to incentivize death and murder?
With this scarfed idiocy in the Presidency, Zimbabwe has simply hit new lows.
And now he claims all allegations of corruption against him, his cronies and his family are all part of a dastardly crusade of name-dropping by criminals. He claims to be innocent and that all those implicating the First family in corruption scandals are name-dropping to avoid the spectre of justice.
But how does one drop anything that has already hit rock-bottom, names that are already lying prostate—-bruised and heavily tainted on the country’s political canvass?
Mnangagwa’s government is simply serving no purpose for the country is on an ignominious auto-pilot. ED’s inept government is as useful as a condom on a convent.
Well, at least a genuine convent.
Friday the 13th—today—is the appropriate day to reflect on what we have done as a people to deserve this mediocrity at the very apex of our nation.
Well this being the month of November, the month of political miracles and tectonic movements in Zimbabwe, who knows what the coming weeks might hold for us?
Luke Tamborinyoka is the Deputy Secretary for Presidential Affairs in the MDC Alliance led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa. He is a multiple award winning journalist who was once elected and served as the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists.
Tamborinyoka also served as spokesperson for almost 10 years to the country’s democracy icon, Morgan Tsvangirai, until the latter’s death in 2018. He is an ardent political scientist who won the Book Prize for best student when he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science at the University of Zimbabwe.
You can interact with him on Facebook or on the twitter handle @luke_tambo.