by Tawanda Madamombe
To anyone who has followed Africa News Network7’s recent airings, it appears no particular definition can be drawn from the situation in Harare, except to say history is in the making. Zimbabwean political space is completely polarized to toxic levels.
Of these airings,one in particular leaves a lot to be desired, that is the 26 August slot just after the Harare’s violent demonstrations. The interview had Acie Lumumba , Morelife Maputure, Lovemore Chikucha, Jealousy Mawarire, Mutumwa Mawere and some other representatives of civil and political groups as panelists.As the programme aired live one could not help but wonder(subconsciously or impulsively), whether one of the panelists would grab the other by the throat or slap them. One of the primary causes of these angry outbursts apart from the assertive hosts was Mutumwa Mawere, who with his soft spoken declarative tone, poked suggestions and comments which made his fellow Zimbabwean panelists seem like layman.
To someone who doesn’t know Mawere and has never heard of his history, this is just an ordinary man practising free speech and expression, nothing else. Not only does Mutumwa apologize for the the president, Robert Mugabe,he even goes on to attack the very thing that the opposition was advocating for that day, that is electoral reforms. Mawere then undermines the route being taken by opposition parties to achieve democratic reforms.
“I think when you look at Zimbabwe today, there are many people who may not actually understand what the problem is. You have a government that was elected and that is running its term. There are people who want to remove it and instead of waiting for the elections they would want to change the government through electoral reforms or through demonstrations, whatever it is. Some people have flags, some people are just frustrated.” Mutumwa Mawere
In 2013 the once celebrated business tycoon made headlines for striving to acquire identity documents from the same ruling party government that he now viciously defends.It doesnt take a rocket scientist to note that the ruling party is selective when it comes to ballot casting.It has succesfully managed and profiled voting patterns to its advantage,even at the expense of the constitution.Only after going to the constitutional court did he manage to vote.Who cares which party he voted for afterwards,but one thing is certain,the ruling party was not so keen to have his one vote in the ballot,and did everything in its power to try and prevent it.If Zanu pf could put so much effort in preventing a provision in the constition on his own voting rights,would it not be true that there are, presently,a lot more like him,disenfrenchised by the same electoral system that he now defends?.Is it not common knowledge that people in Mudzi go through the headman to cast a ballot,or that some are assisted to vote as visually impared just because their loyalty to Zanu pf is questionable.
Now to the shocker,the man tells the whole world that Mugabe is not a factor in Zimbabwe’s woes “Imagine even the title of this programme is “Anti-Mugabe”. Mugabe is just one small guy in Zimbabwe. His head cannot contain the aspirations of 14 million people yet you talk about Mugabe as Mugabe is equal to Zimbabwe. Mugabe is a prisoner. He has been a prisoner for the last 36 years in State House. He is not capable of knowing whether it’s raining in Masvingo or in Harare. He is just an ordinary human being that we are now glorifying coming on studio to talk about one man, demonstrating against one man. You are only talking about one individual and this individual does not have the freedom that we have to walk around and yet he is so poisonous that we spend our time, studio time, one hour devoting to one guy with just two ears and between that is just a small brain.”
For one to claim that a single man cannot single handedly cause the suffering of millions of people would be a silver plated justification to many historical and present figures.Talk of Hitler,Napoleon,Assad,Museveni,Mao to name just but a few.If Hitler can be absolved from the massacre of millions of jews and the general outbreak of World War 2 then surely Mugabe can lay the same claim in the Gukurahundi massacres. Surely who would link his policies to the mass suffering of Zimbabweans.Mao wouldn’t want to be left behind with his Great Leap Forward programme which killed millions of Chinese with hunger alone. A whole list of dictators around the world would evade questions about accountabilty of their actions.
He even goes on to ask Itai Damara’s younger brother if he has been affected in any way by Mugabe on the same programme. His argument ,centered on the premise that since Mugabe is one man,he cannot have any effect on the quality of someones mindset.Surely had he lost his own sibbling in the same way his sentiments would be better,that is if he is human.
To a person who doesn’t know Maweres history as a beneficiary of Zanu pf system these may come as random comments.However of note is to realise that the same system that broke his stake at Shabanie mine is the system that got him there in the first place.He was never at odds with the ruling party for being a vehicle in the its corrupt centers,but personal affairs,hence he owes everything to it.It is common knowledge that association with Zanu pf means a lot of opportunities,business opportunities.
Surprisingly enough,this is the same man who once wrote an open letter to billionare Nigerian ,Dangote,advising him against investing in Zimbabwe.Top of the reasons he gives for his advise to Dangote is that Zimbabwe does not uphold the rule of law.Again a question resides in my mind,”what has changed about the legitimacy of Zanu pf now?”. If Zanu pf cannot maintain legitimacy in business affaires,can the same not be said about electoral reforms.
One also has to be well versed with the ingoings in Zanu pf to understand this change of tone.The succession issue in Zanu pf raises suspicians as well.Several people have taken that route of scavenging through Zanu pf, talk of the Energy Mutodis and Acie Lumumba. Could it be that Mawere is counting of the ascendence of vice president Munangagwa to the throne. Afterall the two men have a history together in the mining business of which Mugabe is a stumbling block.Who gets to benefit if the electoral system doesn’t change,afterall Mugabe ‘s advanced age is good enough for the vulture factions waiting to succeed him.
Whilst one cannot judge someone based on their political affiliation alone, it is the argument that a person raises in support of a particular object that arouse scrutiny. In this case,one would have to decide whether to see Mawere as protecting his interests in ZANU pf or as having been brainwashed himself by its propaganda. Either Mawere is insulting the intelligence of those around him or he is simply being arrogant.
Another argument from Mutumwa is that Mugabe was democratically elected!. This he couples with the reasoning that Mugabe can do as he pleases until his term expires. In the meantime the President can do as he wishes. He cannot be questioned until his mandate expires,even in protests. He can also tilt the system to his favor as in ZEC, nobody can question that since it is his mandate.Again,absolute contradiction of democratic principles, especially coming from a suspicious apologist! Who doesn’t know that in a truly democratic nation people question their leaders.
Following one of Maweres arguments one would also like to know the specific periods in which Zanu pf was democratically elected.Was it during the 2008 six weeks that results would not be announced,or during the 2000 elections which were equally filled with voter intimidation,vote buying and widespread rigging?.1980 up to 2000 insults the intelligence of any reader of this article to talk about. Very few still have the memory to relate to the countless methods of voter rigging employed by the ruling party. It still remains, one still has to watch out for opportunists out there!