Tendai Manzvanzike Features Writer
TODAY’S harmonised elections are a highpoint in judging Operation Restore Legacy.
The watershed elections that have created so much interest in Zimbabwe, the region and beyond will see President Mnangagwa, battling it out with 22 other presidential aspirants.
President Mnangagwa affectionately called ED, who is contesting on a Zanu-PF ticket, has not left anything to chance.
From the very beginning when he was sworn in November 2017, his pledge was to ensure that Government opens up democratic spaces in order for citizens to enjoy their democratic rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
Never before have Zimbabweans enjoyed their freedoms and exercised their rights as has happened in the past eight months.
In order to protect the integrity of today’s election, President Mnangagwa continually emphasised that his Government will deliver a free, fair, credible and violence free election.
The peace dividend he underlined has seen many opposition political players campaigning all over, and it has also seen people freely expressing themselves.
Even after an attempt on his life just after addressing a rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo in June, there were no breaches to people’s freedoms.
So too on social media where fake news and hate speech abound.
He has allowed observers and international media to observe and report on the elections, within the confines of Zimbabwe’s laws.
So, eight months into the new dispensation, as people go to their respective polling stations today, we hope that they do so, reflecting on events that led to this day.
There is also need to reflect on events of the past few months, put on their thinking caps and ask: How do our votes carry forward what Operation Restore Legacy seeks to achieve? Since this election is the genesis of the Second Republic, are we exercising our rights responsibly?
On hindsight, it was unthinkable in the past eight months that ED would not only be the President, but also the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
It was the most unlikely scenario but, he is now the number one citizen of our nation, for the Bible says in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 3:1, (Amplified version): “There is a season (a time appointed) for everything and a time for every delight and event or purpose under heaven.”
Some think it’s a dream too good to be true, while others believe that they are living a prolonged nightmare.
Those in denial think that it’s nothing but a bubble.
These different groups should probably have a candid talk with a few Rhodesians who never thought that this country would ever be governed by a black person, as Ian Smith declared, “not in a thousand years”, for the Rudd Concession had given them a sense of entitlement that everything Rhodesian (Zimbabwe) was theirs.
When the voice of the people echoes and says we have entered a new era, it is surprising to hear some claiming that this new dispensation is going nowhere, and not just that, to see them remain captured ideologies.
This is a topic for another day, I guess, but who is President Mnangagwa, and what is it about him that made him land the top post in our land?
A lot has already been researched and written to make people understand who the man they will vote for today is.
For this writer, names and their meanings are always a good starting point. I looked up in the dictionary of names to see what his name mean, and this is what I discovered on the website everydayfamily.com
Emmerson means “brave; powerful”. They elaborate the name’s numerology saying, “Emmerson has a numerology value of 8 (fresh start) . . . meaning the following: power; ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something; political or national strength; might; the possession of control or command over others; authority; ascendancy; and, sacrifice.”
His middle Shona name “Dambudzo” means difficulty, complication or challenge. And Mnangagwa means, “You can but fight (me/us), but (it will all be in vain).
But it was Smith’s spymaster Ken Flower who in his memoir “Serving Secretly” published posthumously in 1987, who gives a bird’s eye view of the man who is now Zimbabwe’s President.
In the prologue featuring three personalities — Flower, ED and then Prime Minister Mugabe he writes: “On 25 May 1980, just over a month after Zimbabwe had become an independent nation, I received a telephone call from the Minister for State Security. “I think you should come to see me about a report made to the Prime Minister concerning yourself.”
“Half an hour later I was shown into the Minister’s office. After scant formalities he said, “The Prime Minister wishes you to know that the Commissioner of Police has reported to him that you have been spending much of your time recently trying to murder him.”
“Was I named? And if so, who else?’
“You were clearly named, and certain officers working for you.”
“The Minister was watching me closely and the thought flashed through my mind that I was then and there on trial for my reputation, perhaps for my life.”
“Does the Prime Minister expect me to defend myself, or justify my actions before him?”
“No, he merely wishes you to know what a colleague of yours has reported concerning yourself . . . Who else heard this report, and what do you intend doing about it?”
“I was present — no one else. The Prime Minister does not intend doing anything other than to advise you. And what, if I might ask, do you believe?”
“I was astounded, personally, that whites would want to shop each other like that.”
It’s like a thriller, where the author saves the best for the climax. It’s also unbelievable that this was Smith’s spy chief who had been at the epicentre of ensuring that the liberation struggle would be derailed, and “Rhodesians would never die”, although in reality the armed struggle claimed so many of them, leading to the talks at the Lancaster House in London.
But this conversation happening five months into 1980 reveals so much, especially if one cares to read between the lines and ask the hard questions: what does it mean now, and who is ED? He was 37 years old, but it is clear that Ken Flower was not putting on a show. The man was scared, and he saw into the future. He only mentions the Minister’s name half-way through the second page: “This was the gist of the conversation I had with the Minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa. My first meeting with him had been several weeks previously, in March, when I and the Armed Forces Commanders had gone to offer our services to the newly elected Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe.
“In a somewhat aloof though perfectly correct manner, Mnangagwa had said that I should continue in the post I had occupied for seventeen years, Director-General of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), to ensure that it was controlled professionally. He had added that he would provide the political link between the organisation and Government.”
Despite having been instrumental in infiltrating both ZAPU and ZANU and their military wings, Flower in his words says, this conversation was unsettling, but also “quickly dispelled any false image I might have had of him.”
Flower actually gives a hint why ED was not well-known since he hardly spoke. Most of us only heard his voice as Vice President when he started working on the Command Agriculture.
Flower says the little that he knew was that ED had in 1963 “switched from Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) to the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and had led the first group of Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) revolutionaries to be trained in sabotage . . . ”
This writer has deliberately used Ken Flower as a source because he had all the means — financial and otherwise to know ED, but he could not break the iron mask around him. Why, we don’t know? Maybe it was meant for us to reach this season.
Featuring ED in the prologue and the epilogue of his book mainly, speaks volumes of what he saw in the man.
In the epilogue he says, “I counted myself fortunate after Independence that Mugabe and Mnangagwa were content to keep me as Intelligence/Security Adviser and Head of CIO, although we had been so clearly opposed to each other. . . Only once did Mnangagwa pass me a written instruction outlining some of his thoughts on reconstruction . . . ” Now, thus far, the Lord has taken us. In the past eight months, President Mnangagwa made it very clear that Operation Restore Legacy was no child’s game, and those who want to remain stuck in the past will miss the train since it is moving with speed:
“I implore you all to declare that NEVER AGAIN should the circumstances that have put Zimbabwe in an unfavourable position be allowed to recur or overshadow its prospects. We must work together, you, me, all of us who make up this nation”, he said.
He also appealed to the people to bury their differences: “As we do so, we should never remain hostages to our past. I thus humbly appeal to all of us that we let bygones be bygones, readily embracing each other in defining a new destiny.”
Now that he is contesting in an election that should give him proper legitimacy, we also recall the song “Kumagumo kune nyaya” that means, “It’s not over, until it’s over.”