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2015: Should we be so used again?

The year 2014 started on a somewhat auspicious note with corruption scandal after corruption scandal being released via the Zanu PF-controlled public media, but nothing came out of this.

CONWAY TUTANI ECHOES

The enchanted nation was taken for one big ride, we were strung along. It all came to nothing, absolutely nothing. It was all hot air.

In the normal scheme of things, hope dawns with the arrival of a New Year. You discard the negative past and take up the future with positiveness. But it seems Zimbabwe is carrying over the baggage of 2014 into 2015.

That national malaise of burying heads in the sand is deeper than ever. They are still talking poor, but living filthy rich. They talk African, but live Western. They talk socialist, but live capitalist.

I say so because what can one make of the eviction of poverty-stricken, powerless Mazowe villagers “to pave way for First Lady Grace Mugabe’s planned private multimillion dollar wildlife sanctuary project”, as reported in the media this week? One Zimbabwe, two nations?

Zanu PF should have heeded these words from Chinese revolutionary-turned-statesman Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997) before allowing Grace Mugabe free rein: “Young leading cadres have risen up by helicopter. They should really rise step by step.” The First Lady has stepped on too many toes in as short a time.

When will the casualty toll stop rising? This could prove to be the beginning of their ultimate downfall.

2014 was a year of disappointment for the opposition, which is now hobbling, and a year of gains for President Robert Mugabe, but at a very high price paid by the nation as, again, time, precious time, was wasted on partisan, self-perpetuating politics instead of being expended on real national issues of creating jobs and other effective measures of reviving the comatose economy.

Zanu PF believe their own hype, which is to our great misfortune. They have insisted on going it alone, but have only succeeded in crashing into a dead end, with the abyss increasingly beckoning. Said Deng in discarding founding leader Mao Zedong’s ideological rigidity: “Reform is China’s second revolution.” It’s not hyperbolic to say there is no chance in hell for reform with the same diehards in charge.

With the wisdom of hindsight, the opposition was overly optimistic going into the 2013 elections by grossly underestimating what they were contending with. The same with the electorate at large — you and me, all of us. Getting rid of a system was never and is never child’s play. The system fought back with a vengeance, using all the force at its disposal to ensure a complete lockout of dissenting voices.

Again looking back wiser, it is not a surprise at all that the same tried and tested dirty tricks and brutality were used to get rid of Vice-President Joice Mujuru and her faction last year.

Zanu PF has endured because it is prepared to stoop to the lowest of the low level without the compunction or guilty conscience that would restrain ordinary human beings from sinking that low. Average people won’t plumb such depths of inhumanity and ferocity.

It’s got everything to do with empty politics and nothing to do with practical economic sense. Why should 20% of farms be reserved for war veterans when the former freedom fighters don’t even make up 1% of the adult population? John Allen Paulos, in his celebrated bestseller Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, first published in 1988, argues that inability to deal rationally with very large numbers and the probabilities associated with them results in misinformed governmental policies, confused personal decisions, and an increased susceptibility to pseudoscience of all kinds, such as wild ideological notions or pro-Zanu PF academics Vimbai Chivaura, Tafataona Mahoso and Sheunesu Mpepereki’s crazy and rabid theories about the inherent evil in the white race.

When you live in an imagined past, that is exactly what happens: Your mythical past becomes your present, preventing you from moving forward. If people of different races and ideologies can only know the facts, the world will be a better place. Said Deng: “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.”

This innumeracy is being played out in Zimbabwe every day, with the glaring recent tragic example being former Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono printing money 24 hours a day seven days a week which led to the extinction of the Zimdollar. Or Mugabe saying: “No one could have run this economy better than me.” Leaders without a clear, more quantitative way of looking at their world are bound to lead their countries to disaster. While their pseudoscience completely feeds their political rhetoric and political narrative, it is totally divorced from practical realities.

Such leaders as we have create dependency among people which makes them feel superior. They have this urge to control people and have people look up to them. It’s a most narcissistic — not altruistic — thing to do. It’s about self-serving, not in the least selfless concern for the well-being of others. They rationalise, attempt to justify this by giving the spurious explanation that people are getting something out of it, even if that isn’t much, or not what the people wanted in the first place, or isn’t on mutual terms and has been “given” in a manner that allows them to “profit” from you.

Writes a blogger: “Users . . . will not care about the impact on you because they will continue using you until they’ve got what they want or you cut off their supply.”

Indeed, being used is something that — like abuse — can creep up on you and catch you unawares. So, should we be taken in again when these people come back or force themselves into our lives with false promises just to use us as political mats? When they come back to us, it has got nothing to do with our welfare, but everything to do with how the situation can work for them. It’s a strong bet that many of the villagers evicted in Mazowe this week attended the so-called Meet the People Tour rallies addressed by the First Lady last year, but they are now being treated shabbily.

So, with this wisdom of hindsight, surely we can’t be tricked again by the same characters this year — it’s time to even the score by cutting off their supply!

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