OF HOPE AMONG ILLUSIONS
By Patson Dzamara
Saturday the 18th of November 2017 shall forever be remembered as the day which inscribed an indelible feature in the history of Zimbabwe. On that day, an entire nation conspired to run away from Satan in order to seek refuge in and surrender its soul to Lucifer.
After enduring 37 years under the morbid rule of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabweans from all walks of life converged demanding Mugabe step down as their President. It was surreal and unprecedented. For the first time since the attainment of independence, Zimbabweans were able to freely express themselves in unison.
A coincidence of agendas
The path towards this momentous Saturday was littered with curious landmarks which most people overlooked while raptured in euphoria. Anyone who dared to highlight the landmarks was labelled an anti progress agent. I was not spared that label because between Satan and Lucifer, I chose none. The nation was ready to cross over. Nothing else mattered and nothing was allowed to stand in its way.
What most people failed to pick was the fact that actions which culminated in the historic happenings of that Saturday were not emanating from the same premise. There were two agendas at play and one agenda used the other as a means to an end.
As far as the national sentiment or agenda was concerned, Mugabe in all his forms had to go. Sly power mongers in the form of defense forces generals, Mnangagwa and his crew saw that as an opportunity to augment their political and factional agenda. They steered the nation towards a precarious and fallacious conclusion that once Mugabe the person is removed then a new Zimbabwe would have been birthed.
Gullible and desperate for change, Zimbabweans believed and rallied behind these power hungry desperados and their warped narrative. Consumed with a burning desire for a new Zimbabwe and paying less attention to what was really happening, Zimbabweans essentially joined their voice to that of this power intoxicated bunch in a spirited fight to remove Mugabe.
Erroneously and naïvely, Zimbabweans thought that whatever was happening was being done for them. Very few actually perceived that they were aiding a power manoeuvre which had nothing or little to do with them. Most had concluded that the moment they patiently waited for was finally delivered to them on a silver platter.
Surprisingly and regrettably, not many questioned why all of a sudden the chief cornerstones which had sustained Mugabe’s grip on power had suddenly turned against him inclining towards them. Not only that, not many deciphered the critical difference between the people’s agenda and the defence forces agenda. The people’s agenda was motivated by a desire to gain freedom from dictatorship while the defence forces agenda was motivated by a desire to gain power for themselves and their friends.
But again, all that didn’t matter to many for as long Mugabe was removed. In fact, anyone who dared to pose such pertinent questions was told that we had to take one step at a time and that Rome was not built in a day.
The rise of false hope and illusions
On Tuesday the 21st of November, Mugabe eventually gave in to the pressure and he resigned. His resignation was welcomed with massive celebrations across the country. This was the moment most Zimbabweans had fervently yearned and waited for.
When the news broke, I was driving past the parliament building and the commotion caught my attention. There were many people who were waiting for the impeachment outcome in Itai Dzamara Square (Africa Unity Square). I too joined the wild celebrations but sadly, a few minutes into the celebrations I broke down and wept like a baby when I remembered my brother Itai. I retreated and spent that entire night in bed while almost everyone was celebrating the fall of Mugabe.
I can safely conclude that this development led to the rise of hope among illusions in most Zimbabweans’ minds. If it is anything worth to be classified under hope then it was false hope. To many, that was it. A new Zimbabwe had been delivered to them through the ‘help’ of the defence forces.
The most painful experience I endured in all this was being told happy new Zimbabwe by my fellow country men. I even attended prayer sessions where some excitable pastors told people to praise God for a new Zimbabwe. Something in me kept on impressing that it was not yet a new Zimbabwe and I always made it a point to register that whenever I had an opportunity to do so privately or publicly.
Several of my friends and relatives in the diaspora asked me whether I thought it was the right time for them to return home and my answer was always an emphatic no. I was adamant that removing Mugabe the person did not mean an automatic death of Mugabe the system. It was just a moment of false hope and illusions.
The emergence of pseudo heroes
While the bizarre happenings unfolded, an extremely flagrant precedence was set. Some very strange pseudo heroes emerged. The defence forces generals, soldiers, war veterans and Emmmerson Mnangagwa emerged as heroes. In fact, Chiwenga earned himself a sexy nickname in the process. Some started calling him General bae.
Well, if my girlfriend had called him that or if she had posed for a selfie with soldiers, that was going to mark the end of our relationship.
For successfully wrestling power in an unorthodox and unconstitutional manner from Mugabe, these individuals became heroes. For as long they removed Mugabe, nobody seemed to care about any other aspect. To many they were/are heroes who brought freedom but I persistently repeated that Zimbabwe had been called upon to make an impossible choice between Satan and Lucifer.
I am still wondering how posing for photos with soldiers or in front of tankers was decoded as a sign of freedom by my fellow country men. The irony is shocking and disturbing. The excitement of the moment blinkered most from what was really happening.
I shudder to conclude that very few of my country men really knew what had hit us at that point. That was the beginning of an undesirable journey towards a military state, of course with the aid of a meticulously positioned soundtrack from some camp called the military touch movement. That gifted voice also rode on the tide and yes most concluded he is the man of the moment.
The epic entrance and branding of Lucifer
After Mugabe’s resignation, ZANU – PF quickly installed Mnangagwa as its new leader. It was a quick transition from Satan to Lucifer or from fire to fire. Mnangagwa returned from self imposed exile to an anticipating nation. On the 25th of November he was inaugurated as the new President of Zimbabwe at the National Sports Stadium.
Mnangagwa’s inaugural speech was prolific. He told Zimbabweans what he knew they wanted to hear and that did the job. That speech caused most fence sitters to incline towards him. Even his critics gave him a thumbs up for that speech. It was an epic entrance.
As soon as Mnangagwa’s presidency began, a massive branding exercise was set in motion. He seems to have invested in agenda setting gate keepers especially on social media. They have been working overtime to brand him, including creating falsehoods and it’s working as evidenced by the number of people getting hooked and hoodwinked.
Lucifer is being projected as God – a man of principle, discipline, and action notwithstanding his compromised past and present. Anyone who dares to speak anything against him is trolled and many have succumbed. Recent political developments around the world reveal that social media has revolutionized the political terrain. It must never be underestimated. Indeed, if not careful people will end up thinking that Lucifer is God.
The glorious fall of Lucifer
After all the cosmetics and the romance of new found artificial love, our own Lucifer, Mnangagwa was flying high. He had been presented as a Messiah and even those who were initially indifferent were now willing to give him a chance.
Just like the Lucifer in the Bible, we knew it was a matter of time before his glorious fall. Fortunately, for some of us who have been projecting that curve much to the dismay of most of our country men, vindication came early. Last night Mnangagwa announced his cabinet. Everyone was looking forward to see what the cabinet would look like.
For some reasons I consider strange considering the optimism and vote of confidence Mnangagwa had received from Zimbabweans, he chose to erode that with his first major act as President. He appointed a very weird cabinet made up of the same old, clueless and tired faces who helped Mugabe to run Zimbabwe down. He did that despite the fact that Zimbabweans’ hunger for change had forced them to give him the benefit of the doubt even though he really doesn’t deserve it.
Unthinkable and overambitious as it may have been, most Zimbabweans were prepared to make it work and give their nation a chance to move forward. By appointing an uninspiring cabinet of failures and thieves, Mnangagwa has quickly climbed down from the artificially inflated Messiah pedestal to the Lucifer pedestal where he belongs.
Mnangagwa’s cabinet has only two women and no single youth. Perhaps he appointed this cabinet due to the limited timeframe available before the 2018 elections. The timeframe narrative is valid but that still doesn’t undo the damage done by this move. It will take a lot more for Mnangagwa to undo the damage done by this move and return to anything approaching his earlier popularity.
Going forward, it is too early to write Mnangagwa off. This own goal he scored has just trimmed him back to his actual size. He has a lot to prove and he has an election to win in 2018. He will do anything maybe including killing to retain power.
The opposition has been serendipitously given a new lease of life and it must be utilized to the fullest. More work has to be done. Aluta continua. A new and better Zimbabwe is possible in our lifetime.
Patson Dzamara is a leadership coach, author and analyst based in Harare.