By Chido Makunike
SUPPOSE you were one of the tiny number of people who still believe that Zanu PF has any consistent ideology or stands for any identifiable principle. <
Suppose you were a politician, media owner or bureaucrat whose job or access to the privileges of patronage in a dead economy depended on singing the praises of Robert Mugabe and his nasty regime. Or, if you were a state propagandist employed solely to try to put a positive spin on anything that Mugabe and his regime did.
If you were any of these, your life and job have been made bewilderingly difficult by the haphazard and confused actions and statements of the Mugabe regime.
For many years now we have been told that the reason why the Mugabe regime’s reputation is so low is because of a Western conspiracy by countries “trying to reverse the gains of the Third Chimurenga led by the revolutionary Mugabe government to empower the landless black masses”.
The local arm of that massive conspiracy are the “black stooges” in the opposition movement and the media which has gone the same way.
But lately, we have seen an astonishing number and frequency of own goals by Mugabe’s repressive and incompetent regime. Its defenders have become fewer, less robust and less convinced by all the excuses for failure, and therefore in turn, even less convincing than they have ever been.
Let us consider a few of the many internal contradictions shown by the Mugabe regime as it fascinatingly implodes on itself.
As Mugabe’s right-hand men – central banker Gideon Gono and his official ministerial superior but in reality junior, Herbert Murerwa – ran around to pay off the IMF, Mugabe, their supervisor, was busy undermining them at every turn.
In a more hopeful time Mugabe had told off the IMF and declared that they could go and hang, to the cheers of the ideologues who stare at us from the pages of their columns every week.
With his back now against the wall, the economy’s strangulation more apparent with every passing minute, Mugabe has been stung by the humiliation of having to crawl back on his knees to the IMF he so loathes.
To assuage this latest of many recent humiliations, Mugabe dons his rhetorical “revolutionary” cap and goes to Cuba to bask in the glow of his hero Fidel Castro. Even as Gono and Murerwa jumped hoops and scrounged around high and low to gather just enough hard currency to avoid Zimbabwe being kicked out by the IMF, Mugabe was carping about how much he hated the IMF!
It was not the local “oppositional” or the foreign press that first highlighted the sad, comical inconsistency that Mugabe has been reduced to, but his own embattled propaganda machinery. Alas; irony of ironies, the great self-declared anti-imperialist bulwark, Mugabe, has now been forced to kow-tow to the IMF because he has brought his once-thriving economy to its knees!
If the IMF is the blunt instrument of neo-imperialist powers as Mugabe, Umdala Tafataona Mohoso and others never tire of reminding us, then Mugabe has delivered Zimbabwe to the doors of the wolf by his incompetent “running” of the country’s affairs.
Sekuru Mugabe and Umdala Mahoso, if you have any doubt about what I am saying, just ask Gono and Murerwa why they scrambled in the undignified way they did to pay off an organisation that you say is responsible for many of our problems?
Sekuru, Umdala, please find a “revolutionary”, Pan Africanist way to clear up the confusion of many Zimbabweans: if we paid this money voluntarily, what exactly is our position in regards to the IMF?
By George Nathaniel Charamba, can you quote any Saturday Shakespearean poetry or hurl any insults to explain all this?
If our arms were twisted by circumstances or more directly, to pay the IMF, what does this say about the “sovereignty” that Sekuru Mugabe has been shouting himself hoarse about for years now to justify his incompetence and brutal repression? Somebody please help me out; has my thinking faculties been clouded by the white neo-imperialists, or are there real, pitifully glaring inconsistencies here?
The symbolism of first visiting US-defying Cuba on his way to New York for a UN meeting was interesting. It was like saying: “My juniors may be running around bowing to international real politik by raiding our already depleted national coffers to pay arrears to the IMF, but look at me, I am still very tough rhetorically, I can still play to the gallery!”
But as shown by the disquiet at this tired old duplicity even amongst those who worship the ground Mugabe walks on, it is no longer fooling anyone. You know you are beginning to lose it when previous diehard supporters begin to ask what there is to gain from all this adolescent show of rhetorical machismo.
Cuba may have chaffed under Castro’s repressive heel for decades now and has definitely suffered from US sanctions against it, but it has certain areas of achievement to its name.
The provision of above average health services is one such area. Innovations in areas of agriculture are another. Contrast that to Zimbabwe under Mugabe’s tutelage, where the country is going backwards in every respect. Mugabe expressed pleasure at the prospect of mooching off Cuba’s proffered medical help, but had nothing to offer Cuba in return, except the rhetorical hot air that is his stock in trade that he uses to lay claim to still being a “revolutionary”.
While the real revolutionaries of today quietly find ways of improving the lot of the people, the surviving dinosaurs of yesterday cling to a pretend definition of “revolutionary” that they learned from romantic novels and movies. At least Castro knows how to retain the romantic, outward trappings of a “revolutionary”.
His long beard may be greying, but it sets him apart from looking stiff and formal, giving him a certain panache. I don’t know if Castro has built a gauche, obscene mansion in an exclusive suburb of Havana in lean times for his fellow citizens. I don’t know if he likes to be ferried in a French helicopter or luxurious German limousine at the same time that he claims to be an anti-Western revolutionary.
But the contrast between his being donned in “revolutionary” fatigues while Mugabe, the self-proclaimed African “revolutionary” was as usual bundled up in a conservative “imperialistic” suit like an English banker, was rather stark!
My heart goes out to the media policemen, permanent secretaries, ministers and foot soldiers of the Mugabe propaganda machinery.
Ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends, the hypocrisy and inconsistency of your principal makes your task of defending him increasingly, pitifully difficult and untenable!
* Chido Makunike is a Harare-based writer.