By Obediah Mazombwe
IN one gigantic step backwards, President Mugabe on Heroes Day suddenly lapsed into vitriolic vituperative against the opposition MDC, referring to the party as “enemies” of Zimbabwe.
With a mixture of truths, half-truths and non-truths, the president reversed an emerging trend towards reconciliation and accommodation among the polarised Zimbabweans. He sought to stir up in his audience feelings of hatred towards members of the opposition MDC.
Yet Mugabe made massive personal sacrifices to free this country and its people. He sacrificed a promising teaching career, the joy of living with his wife and daughter, to go to the bush and lead a vicious war of liberation.
Here is a man who only a couple of weeks earlier had raised the hopes for peace, security and prosperity for millions of suffering Zimbabwean souls in our rural areas, our cities and in foreign cities where they are exiled.
I believe millions of Zimbabweans, Zanu PF and MDC, black and white, young and old, fell in love with the Mugabe who told guests at a luncheon in Harare that Zanu PF must listen to what the MDC has to say and the MDC must do likewise. The Mugabe who is reported to have looked at a luncheon table occupied by MDC legislators and said: “I may be an old man but, I am ‘your’ old man.”
The president, indeed all Zimbabweans, must stop referring to those who differ with them as “enemies”.
In politics we have people in “opposition” to each other. We have political “opponents”, we have “contesting” political parties. We have “rival” parties. We do not have enemies.
Enemies are “opponents unto death”. Enemies seek to annihilate, decimate and eliminate each other. Contestants seek to “win”, to “beat”, to “triumph over” their rivals, not to bring their lives to an end.
Imagine someone saying Dynamos Football Club are enemies of Caps United Football Club. Can a husband who has quarrelled with his wife declare her an “enemy”? If he does so then there is no marriage left to talk about.
By the same token, one political party in a democracy cannot declare its rival party an enemy, otherwise you have no democracy worth talking about.
Clearly, to the extent that Mugabe’s reconciliatory stance after the opening of parliament was genuine, the president has since been won over by Zanu PF “hardliners”.
There is emerging in Zanu PF an increasingly powerful lunatic fringe, sometimes erroneously referred to as the “New Guard”, made up of technocrats brought into Zanu PF as non-constituent MPs, supposedly to bring greater light into the party. The lot has brought greater darkness instead.
They are accelerating the hijacking of a once glorious nationalist party into a mercenary, opportunistic, despotic, get-rich-quick movement, while keeping up pretenses of a nationalist, pan-African people’s party. They promise the people a future heaven on earth, even as they die daily from famine and disease.
As these “hawks” try to out-Zanu Zanu and out-Mugabe Mugabe, they insist that Zanu PF has now conquered the MDC and almost has everything wrapped up. They do not see the need for Zanu PF to talk to the MDC until the latter are ready to capitulate.
This Zanu PF clique believes all they need to do is maintain repressive legislation, relegate opposition to the status of national “enemies”, and let the police, the army, the CIO, and various Zanu PF militia do the rest.
They believe that way people will be cowered into accepting their lot as unavoidable and allow the “leaders” to loot and pillage national resources under the guise of people’s schemes.
For this clique it is important that there always be “enemies” to blame for their failure to bring about any meaningful improvement to the lives of suffering Zimbabweans.
One would have thought that Zanu PF and Mugabe had learned the folly of labelling opposition as “enemies” from what has transpired regarding the late Joshua Nkomo.
Today Joshua Nkomo’s life is commemorated as exemplary. He is referred to as “Father Zimbabwe” and a music gala is held every year in his honour. Yet when he was in opposition Nkomo was labelled an “enemy”. At no time did Nkomo ever “repent”.
In his Heroes Day speech, Mugabe went on endlessly about the need for Zimbabweans to observe the values and principles that were promoted by our fallen heroes.
He made the point that those who were diverting from those values and principles were betraying the cause for which our fallen heroes laid down their lives. Here Mugabe is largely correct and his comments fair enough.
However, can anyone really claim that the MDC has betrayed any of the values that drove the fallen heroes to fight and die for this country? The key issues that drove the nationalist fighters, including Mugabe himself, were the desire to achieve self-rule and self-determination by the black African majority, the determination to repossess land and livestock that the colonialists had militarily and unjustly dispossessed the Africans of and the desire for justice and equality for all persons.
In its earliest operations and in the kind of personalities the MDC surrounded themselves with, the party did create the impression that it was open to influence and manipulation by persons and groups whose interests may not have been reconciliable with those of Zimbabwe’s majority.
However, I would attribute all this to political ineptitude rather than a conscious decision to subvert the Zimbabwean interest. The MDC’s shortcomings do not discount the many valid points they have made especially concerning Zanu PF corruption. Nothing they have done or not done qualifies them to be classified as “enemies” of Zimbabwe.
Obediah Mazombwe is a lecturer in Languages, Literature and Media Studies at Zimbabwe Open University.