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Modern Day Feudalism

THE Zanu PF merry-go-round is not letting up.There is no doubt that First Lady Grace Mugabe’s apparently meteoric rise in politics has torched a storm.

CONWAY TUTANI 

From virtually nowhere, she now straddles the Zanu PF and — by inevitable extension — Zimbabwean political battlefield like the mighty Goliath.

It has been virtually plain sailing for her with those fingered as resisting her ascendancy promptly and publicly labelled sellouts from the quisling Abel Muzorewa era or accused of wining and dining with the “evil” MDC-T and Western embassies. I

f a neglectful and abusive husband drives his wife into the arms of another man, can you really blame her? These party members have taken more than enough abuse and disrespect.

But the media should not become unwitting tools in this witch-hunt. Referring to “treasonous schemes of his colleagues” as one newspaper did in a comment titled Mugabe must fire plotters, urging — or, more precisely, egging on — President Robert Mugabe to purge those perceived to be against his continued leadership is irresponsible — unless, of course, this was said tongue-in-cheek, in a subtly mocking way, not openly sarcastic.

All the kudos to the paper for pulling out such a clever device of using the system’s language and tone against itself!

But suppose they meant it, is it treason in the first place?

What has been happening is nowhere near the legal definition of treason, which is as follows: “Attempting to overthrow the government of the State to which the offender owes allegiance; or betraying the State into the hands of a foreign power.”

Nothing like that has happened even though they are trying to make a mountain out of the most tenuous links between their party rivals and the United States Embassy to paint them as spies for the American “enemy”.

If we are going to be that loose about the meaning of treason, then anyone can accuse anyone opposed to them of treason. They could set them up for a sting operation the same way they nearly tricked MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other MDC leaders Welshman Ncube and the late Renson Gasela into treason in 2003.

It’s now their turn to shoulder the burden of the persecution and entrapment that the opposition is routinely subjected to.

And the prerogative to fire is not Mugabe’s alone as it is within the rights of other party members to remove him should they feel justified to do so.

Former British Prime Margaret Thatcher was toppled from within her own Conservative Party in 1990 before her term was up. So was former South African President Thabo Mbeki “recalled” from office by the ruling African National Congress at — incidentally — the party’s conference in 2009 before his term was up.

So, it’s neither treasonous nor unprecedented to remove a leader mid-term, laying to rest Grace’s argument against the “plotters” that they have no right to call upon her husband to step down after only a year into his five-year term.

Mugabe himself and five others — including the late Enos Nkala and Maurice Nyagumbo — voted to depose Ndabaningi Sithole from the Zanu leadership in a prison coup in the 1970s.

That said, intrigue is certainly second nature to Zanu PF. If they were as good in economic planning as they are in plotting, conspiracy, scheming, machination, trickery, double-dealing, unscrupulousness, underhandedness, deviousness, subterfuge, two-facedness, deceitfulness — call it what you may — then this country would be the most developed and prosperous in the region and even on the continent.

Last year, they conspired to hold elections without the voters’ roll and got away with it while the opposition, the region and the whole world looked on in total wonderment.

In 2008, they conspired to make the presidential runoff a one-horse race after pummelling opposition supporters into submission and silencing regional bloc Sadc with strong and loud reminders of non-interference.

The greatest cost to Zimbabwe has been in lost opportunity after lost opportunity.

They will stop at nothing — including setting aside morals and breaking the law — in the relentless pursuit of their ambitions. They do not respond to threats. They make them.

So, they could still pull out something out of their voluminous bag of tricks in this whole Grace affair. Now, she is about to pull off a coup from virtually nowhere. Of course, these carefully laid-out plans could unravel in an instant. The pursuer could become the pursued.

But it’s unbecoming of some supposedly war-hardened, brave former freedom fighters to make a beeline to pay homage like that to an individual who has never — to the knowledge of the public — fired a shot in anger or even accidentally. How times have changed! Now they face isolation and humiliation. This could be a disastrous turn of events for them.

What they are being put through is something else. It’s infra dig. It’s beneath dignified conduct for adults to feel compelled to declare their loyalty to the First Lady in such a public show to gain favour. What does this say for democracy? This is a throwback to the pre-colonial, pre-industrial feudalistic era of the vassal-lord relationship.

A vassal is a man who entered into a relationship with a lord to whom he paid homage (oath of allegiance) and fealty (sworn loyalty) in return for protection and often a fief (income). Was this envisaged in 1980?

People need to think outside their political compartments and determine whether there is any purpose, value or direction in what they are being made to do — which is nothing less than modern-day feudalism.

 

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