By Hildegade Manzvanzvike
The holding of the harmonised elections sometime this year will be the highpoint for judging Operation Restore Legacy and the subsequent events that saw former President Robert Mugabe stepping down from office after 37 years.
This will also be the biggest test for President Mnangagwa, who will contest the presidential election on a Zanu-PF ticket, more so when he has made it very clear that Zimbabwe will deliver a free, fair, credible and violence free election.
Four months into the new dispensation, there is need for all and sundry to reflect on the events of those past few months, and to put on our thinking caps and ask: What is it that I can do for Zimbabwe in this new era? Instead of, What is it that Zimbabwe can do for me? Although the relationship is interlinked.
It is very easy to miss the mark, when one is so close to realising their dream, especially among some Zanu-PF cadres. Overzealousness can cost the party big time. When suddenly a country as small as Zimbabwe has more than 100 political parties, all claiming to contest the forthcoming elections, you realise that most of them are devil’s advocates, whose wish is to see ED’s fortunes wane.
The sooner the Commissariat department in Zanu-PF takes a fame stand on certain behaviours, the better.
We know that Mugabe called the shots in Zanu-PF since the early 1960s. He was among the nationalists that worked hard for the independence of Zimbabwe, and that came with power and privileges.
He never realised that one day he would be called “former president”, so too his wife former First Lady Grace Mugabe. But to everything, there is a beginning and an end. We can call them attention seekers; a selfish lot and self-centred, but these are people who lived like there was no tomorrow.
The spirit to control and even own Zimbabwe and its people is still reining supreme, but we know that soon and very soon they will calm down and realise that the baton stick was not meant for one person or family.
Even Ian Douglas Smith after declaring that not in a thousand years will a black man rule the then Rhodesia, had to give in. He did not do so quietly. The public domain is full of epithets and other schemes he tried, but it did not work.
The same with Mugabe. He should not be allowed to self-destruct the work he did for this nation for more than five decades. He must be made to understand that Operation Restore Legacy was for the common good, him included, and the nationalists and war veterans who brought freedom to this country.
To shred his legacy would automatically mean that we are complicit in shredding the legacy of our hard won independence.
This is why The Sunday Mail columnist Bishop Lazarus cautioned the Zanu-PF youths about the reckless abandon they displayed while chanting their party slogan and said: “Pasi naMugabe!”
Bishop Lazarus protested, “No, no, no! Let’s not fall into Jonathan’s (Moyo) evil trap. That is exactly what he wants, and we should never, ever give it to him.”
Because they were using the wisdom of his world, they nearly fell into the enemy’s hands. American fiction writer Mark Twain gives a good summation of handing oneself into enemy hands when he wrote in the 19th century: “An enemy can partly ruin a man, but it takes a good-natured, injudicious friend to complete the thing and make it perfect.” Both the former president and the overenthusiastic cadres in Zanu-PF were falling in the same enemy’s hands.
When President Mnangagwa’s mantra has become, “Zimbabwe is open for business”, the youths should not expend their much needed energy on an individual who is already out of the way, an iconic figure, who thinks that Zimbabwe and its people are his personal property, at the same time giving the impression that him, and him alone took ZANU-PF from the muddy places into independence. If he cannot lead it, then nobody else should, especially President Mnangagwa.
These are delicate moments for ZANU-PF and Zimbabwe. What makes it worse is that there is also a lot of intra-party fighting in the opposition MDC-T, as they are tearing each other apart for the top leadership position that fell vacant after Morgan Tsvangirai, who had been at the helm since 1999, died in February this year.
ZANU-PF can, therefore, ill afford to display the same, just because Ambrose Mutinhiri who attended the Extraordinary Congress that endorsed ED’s Presidency is now badmouthing the whole process, and forming an opposition party, endorsed by the former president.
Vigilance is the watchword. So, why make it look like the 94-year-old can regain the power he lost? That he has decided to back some opposition outfit and use his home as a party headquarters is neither here nor there.
And no one should lose sleep just because Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru and Thokozani Khupe of MDC-T have been to the Blue Roof mansion in Borrowdale Brooke. The private visit to South Africa last week is also neither here nor there. He wants to be felt.
If people are serious about the party, they should reflect on the blunder of making him Zanu-PF’s 2018 presidential candidate. They should check the Biometric Voter Registration statistics from its inception up to the time the former president stepped down, and how the numbers dramatically increased after that.
Zanu-PF must realise that they were faced with many scenarios: the 2008 “bhora musango”, spoilt votes and total voter apathy.
The writer is aware of a number of people, who had declared that they would only vote if forced to do so, but their vote would be their secret. Some were even saying they would not vote, because there was no revolution to defend. That’s the trap Bishop Lazarus is talking about: destroying Zanu-PF from within.
In Abraham Lincoln’s description, the behaviour of the criminal cabal that surrounded Mugabe and his family looked like someone swearing: “I destroy my enemy when I make him my friend.”
This is my final point of departure. Some schools of thought argue that the manipulation of the former president was through his young wife. An age difference of more than forty years means that in most cases you see life differently.
What has puzzled the writer is why Mugabe maintained such a strong relationship with Jonathan Moyo, who castigated his leadership, until he became part of the failed 2000 Constitutional making process. It was evident that the likes of Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwao were mere followers, but the person who called the shots was Jonathan Moyo. When was his Damascene moment?
The former president’s relationship with Moyo put him at loggerheads with his comrades-in-arms. What was it about Jonathan Moyo? As we analyse these historical dents, we realise that this affinity was reserved for people who at some point sold out.
Mutinhiri, it is alleged, at some point joined the Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe (FROLIZI, 1971) whose leadership included James Chikerema, George Nyandoro and Nathan Shamuyarira. The latter became Zimbabwe’s first Minister of Information.
Another close link is former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko. During the liberation struggle, as Cde Report of Zipra, he was appointed into the five-man Zimbabwe People’s Army (Zipa) High Command. When Zipa failed to achieve its objectives, Mphoko’s narrative is not that clear as some cadres do not portray him well.
For more than two decades the former president was viewed as a liability due to his principled stand on a number of issues of national interest. If that has been the thinking, what opposition party can he endorse so that it wins elections based on his endorsement?
What he is doing is what Oliver Mtukudzi says in his song: “Anobvongodza muto kuseva kweakaguta/Ichi nechichi ndechangu/Icho nechocho ndechangu!”(A spoiler)