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Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye: Chasing goats while the nation burns

It has been a goat week!

We all knew this regime has a penchant to grab and expropriate farms, companies and other huge property and capital equipment. But bemused Zimbabweans were shocked to learn that Zanu PF had an equally huge appetite for even small village projects.

It all started when a well-known Zanu PF thug Taurai Kandishaya threatened to violently grab prominent journalist Hopewell Chin’ono’s goat project at his rural home in Murehwa.

Kandishaya has previously flaunted his pictures while standing besides Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa and we can only legitimately speculate on where he got his instructions.

Kandishaya wildly claimed that Chin’ono had abused a Zanu PF goat project that was meant to benefit villagers and for that reason, party youths would violently reclaim the goats.

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But Chin’ono explained out his personal project and even published receipts to show that he had personally imported 35 Boer goats from South Africa.

After his poignant presentation in Geneva on the precarious human rights situation in the country, there is certainly no prize for guessing why Chin’ono was being targeted by the regime.

Vintage Zanu PF. The onslaught on the journalist and human rights defender was only the tale of Zanu PF doing what it knows best. A leopard being faithful to its spots!

The Shona people’s goat witticism

I have not for a minute bothered to probe why a whole government would go after a village goat project. The month of November is called Mbudzi in the vernacular Shona language.

For me, ever since he ousted former President Robert Mugabe in a coup in November 2017, Mnangagwa has always been a “goat” President.

Since then, ED has always been part of the goat discourse in the country. His Presidency was violently birthed in the month of the goat and there is little wonderment why the goat spirit would follow him throughout his Presidency. Indeed, ane mweya wembudzi —the goat spirit.

Cheeky Zimbabweans have even wheeled out a photograph of a daring goat tampering with Mr Mnangagwa’s 2018 campaign poster pasted on a wall. While others allege that is where Mr Mnangagwa’s feud with goats began, I posit that it all began when he violently birthed his Presidency in the month of the goat!

Like any other tribe or people elsewhere in the world, the Ndebele, the Shona, the Kalanga, the Ndau, the Tonga and all the other tribes in this country have clever polemics, rich idioms and witticims that are steeped in their respective cultures and languages.

In this goat week, dear reader, I will take you through the Shona people’s goat witticisms and try to relate them to the goat theme of this week!

Mbudzi kudya mufenje hufana nyina is a Shona proverb that literally means a goat inherits its grazing and browsing traits from its ancestry.

Figuratively, the proverb means that one borrows their behaviour from their ilk; that in all manner of what we do, we follow the traits of our clan and totemic predecessors. Never mind his wild claim to be fronting a “new” dispensation, Mnangagwa, in all manner and habit, is just but a scarfed Robert Mugabe.

Indeed, Mbudzi kudya mufenje hufana nyina. Mnangagwa is just but a Robert Mugabe, only a bit worse. The penchant to grab and loot people’s private property has always been deeply ingrained in both Mugabe the master and Mnangagwa the protege.

Mugabe grabbed the Kondozi Estate from Edwin Moyo. He grabbed Shabani Mashaba Mines from Mutumwa Mawere. He even grabbed a wife, Grace, from her former husband Stanley Goreraza before posting the latter outside the country on a diplomatic assignment.

Similarly, Mnangagwa grabbed the MDC Alliance party headquarters, the party’s grant money, the parliamentary and council seats and even the party name and donated them all to pliable surrogates. Now he is going for a village goat project in Murehwa.

For all the pretensions that he is new and he is different, Mnangagwa is just but a Robert Mugabe on steroids. ED is a confirmation to the Shona polemic that mbudzi kudya mufenje hufana nyina as he and Robert Mugabe appear to have been hewn from the same political stone.

In keeping with the Shona people’s goat witticism, Chin’ono did well by laying out the true facts with supporting documents. In Shona, they say mbudzi kuzvarira pavanhu hunzi nditandirwe imbwa .

Indeed, a goat that gives birth in public wants the same public to help ward off potential predators. And the citizens obligingly came out guns blazing on social media while others drove to Hopewell’s village in Murehwa to help ward off the Zanu PF predators. At least for now, the goats are safe.

It was renowned African author Chinua Achebe who said a man does not chase rats when his house is burning. In our case, a man does not chase village goats when his house is burning.

For a whole ruling party and government to preoccupy themselves with Chin’ono’s personal goats while the Zimbabwe dollar is plummeting on the real currency market is mere child play— kutungana kwembudzi .

The Shona idiom kutungana kwembudzi or the fighting of the goats figuratively refers to trivial matters. Given the collapsing government services in all sectors and the low morale among civil servants, the government’s preoccupation with Chin’ono’s goats in Murehwa is akin to prioritising trivia. Kutungana _kwembudzi .

In the Shona culture, all men who did not make meaningful contributions at the village court or the dare were sent to skin the goat— kuvhiya mbudzi. As an assignment, skinning the goat as part of the preparation of a meat relish for the attendees to the dare was a task for the not-so-serious characters.

Skinning the goat was an assignment for those who added no value to the meeting so that they would leave serious characters to deliberate on the grave matters affecting the village and the community.

Perhaps Zanu PF’s fixation with Chin’ono’s goats was their own excuse to leave all the grave national issues to Nelson Chamisa while they concentrated on skinning Chin’ono’s goats in Murehwa.

Zanu PF may have chosen to relegate themselves from the national responsibility that has outgrown them so as to concentrate on the trite matters befitting their aptitude! They may have chosen to go kunovhiya mbudzi while leaving the serious matters of State to the attention of equally serious characters.

Who knows, Zanu PF may have chosen the cultural way to abdicate by opting, out of their own volition, to skin goats rather than be in government.

But even if you have chosen to abdicate by opting kunovhiya mbudzi , you don’t just skin other people’s goats without permission, or by falsely claiming the goats belong to you.

If Zanu PF had politely pleaded with Hopewell, I do not think my dear bother would have denied them a goat to skin while more serious characters outside this dead party attended to the grave matters affecting the nation.

You should have politely asked for a goat to skin, you stupid people. We would have graciously allowed you to leave for your much-wanted goat-skinning assignment. Mbudzi dzevanhu!

Luke Tamborinyoka is a Zimbabwean citizen from Domboshava and an interim deputy champion for Presidential Affairs in the Citizens Coalition for Change ( CCC ). You can interact with him on his facebook page or on the twitter handle @ luke_tambo.