By Luke Tamborinyoka
Tomorrow, November 21, marks exactly three years after Zimbabweans across the political divide united in support of a coup that forced Robert Mugabe to resign after a tenuous 37 years in office.
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 my fellow countrymen of their misplaced optimism on the aptitude of the incoming regime led by Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Just after the coup , with Zimbabweans still going crazy in their grossly misplaced excited frenzy ahead of ED taking over the seat of power , 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 and performance and electoral illegitimacy —– remember I had warned you beforehand .
Memory is always a fertile ground for deep reflection. I reproduce today my treatise, first published in November 2017, in which I counselled the nation against the drunken stupor and the misplaced faith in Mr . Mnangagwa , who today , together with his cronies , are fleecing the country dry through unbridled and wanton acts of avarice and corruption .
In November 2017 , with the echoes of misplaced national excitement still reverberating across the country after the fall of Robert Mugabe , I wrote the following piece warning you , my fellow citizens, that in ED , you were simply committing the cardinal error of mistaking brass , if not clay , for gold!
Mistaking brass for gold
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 my beloved 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 out these freshly fruits for free.
That is how the news was received at this rural growth point in my home area, 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 achieve for all of his 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 and poignant meaning to those sacred words in the preamble to our Constitution; “ We , the people of Zimbabwe , united in our diversity ……….”
For a nation torn by hatred and intolerance, the unity across the political, racial and ethnic divide on the day of Mugabe’s departure 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 in Harare on Saturday, 18 November 2017—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 partying and 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 given the nature of the characters itching to step in..
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, such as Emmerson Mnangagwa, are not themselves without any blemish as they have been the cogs of Mugabe’s wickedly tenuous stay in office.
I do not wish to dampen the nation’s carnival atmosphere at this hour through needless pessimism but the incoming lot equally has a bloody past. They will most probably have a bloody future. Unless and until they take advantage of this new day to break away from their dark past, there could really be no reason for celebration.
This could be a dim and unpopular view in a country drunk with hope amid the euphoria on 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 if not worse political terrain ever again.
Suddenly, it seems as if everyone has always been 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.
My fellow countrymen, let us not—in the drunken stupor of the moment—forget what needs to be done. And that is positioning the country for legitimacy, growth and prosperity.
It all starts with a leadership that can give Zimbabweans a reason to hope again.
Given the optimism around the person of Emmerson Mnangagwa, 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 grossly misplaced their faith.
Indeed, Mnangagwa’s record and credentials are not impeccable and Zimbabwe could be committing the cardinal error of mistaking brass for gold!
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 when he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Political Science at the University of Zimbabwe.
You can interact with him on Facebook or on the twitter handle @ luke_tambo.