THERE are a few visible parallels between the March 29, 2008 election and that of 1980 which ushered Zanu PF into power.
The UANC led by Abel Muzorewa had been in office and was enjoying considerable support in the urban centres. They confidently held the-mother-of-all rallies at Zimbabweâ€™s ceremonial home of politics in Highfield.The four-day gathering was dubbed the Huruyadzo Rally. Translated, huruyadzo means â€œthe biggest of them allâ€ which was Abel Muzorewaâ€™s slogan. The rally rightly lasted four days. All the boys born during the four days at the rally were named either Abel or Tendekai or both, Abel Tendekai being the Bishopâ€™s first names and the super patriots being what they are named their sons Abel Tendekai Muzorewa as the first three names. Girls were dutifully named Janet, The First Ladyâ€™s name.
For those living in towns, it was beyond imagination that the Bishop would lose an election to guerilla leader Robert Mugabe. The little bit they knew about the guerilla leader was negative information broadcast on national radio and television.
There were special programmes like â€œUmwe Anotiâ€ on the vernacular radio station whose purpose was to portray Mugabe as a communist terrorist who had no respect for the rule of law and as such would just take the country back to the Dark Ages. In response to all this Mugabe said he was unmoved by that criticism and was quite aware of the misinformation being spread amongst Zimbabweans. He however said he was confident that one day the world would know the truth about him and the war of attrition that Zanla and Zipra were waging against Ian Smith.
True to the guerilla leaderâ€™s prediction, Zanu PF polled 56, PF Zapu (Joshua Nkomo) 20, UANC (Abel Muzorewa) 3 and Zanu Ndonga (Ndabaningi Sithole) 1. That was 70%, 25%, 3,75% and, 25% respectively. Someone within the rank and file of UANC should have been kind enough to tell the Bishop that he was way past his shelf life and that it was time for the liberation movements to usher in a new political dispensation.
Â Interestingly history is on the verge of repeating itself. Morgan Tvsangirai has since 1999 been in the trenches of opposition politics telling Zimbabweans not to worry about the falsehoods being spread about him and his party. He has had no access to either radio or television which are both government controlled. Simba Makoni is telling Zimbabweans the same about himself and the Mavambo initiative. Both men have left President Mugabe and Zanu PF to say what they have to say about the opposition, March 29 will set the record straight. In 2000, who in Zimbabwe except maybe Tsvangirai himself and a handful of faithfuls would have imagined that a party formed barely half a year earlier would almost beat Zanu PF a party that had been in existence since 1963.
TheÂ Zanu PF party manifesto â€” of potholes, empty supermarket shelves, inflation upwards of 150 000%, 90% unemployment, a shrinking foreign investment base, dereliction on once highly productive farms, a population of over three million disenfranchised Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora â€” has gifted the opposition all the support they currently enjoy.Â If the police should want to arrest anyone for wanting to â€œdonateâ€ the country back to the whites as President Mugabe says, they should arrest the runaway inflation, the non performing parastatals and the corruptly cancerous RBZ.Â
Forget Morgan and Simba, forget Gordon and George. President Mugabeâ€™s number one enemy is the countryâ€™s state of the economy as carefully authored by successive archaic and narrow minded policies deeply rooted in the Zanu PF imagined war against the British and the Americans. Once a respected orator President Mugabe is now delivering speeches that are devoid of depth and substance.Â Apart from calling Morgan Tsvangirai a stooge of the British and Simba Makoni a sellout, Mugabe does not have much else to say. It should not have been allowed to end this way.
In 2000 the ruling party used the land redistribution manifesto and the Professor Jonathan Moyo coined â€œZimbabwe will never be a colony againâ€ clichÃ©. Both are now tired and boring and any man who attempts to use them in the 2008 plebiscite does so at the peril of their own embarrassment.
There is not a single Zimbabwean that has ever spoken against the spirit of land redistribution. It was the chaotic manner, hence the term jambanja, with which the exercise was executed that all Zimbabweans including the progressive forces within Zanu PF itself had a problem with. Land redistribution was the correct thing to do, but done at the wrong time by the wrong people and the result naturally is at variance with the aspirations of the country. Jambanja literally translated means chaos devoid of order, transparency and accountability.
The Professor Mandivamba Rukuni Report, the Dr Charles Utete 1, 2 and 3 reports, and the Flora Bhuka Report all attested to the chaotic manner in which land redistribution was carried out. Today the level of dereliction on the farms and the mere fact that Zimbabwe has been reduced to a net importer of maize from Malawi, yes Malawi and Zambia, is testimony that all is not well on the farms.
Â I am yet to hear of a country where every cabinet minister, deputy minister, permanent secretary and all senior party officials are commercial farmers. This is a certain recipe for disaster. The erstwhile gentlemen in the military have weighed in with a dimension that smacks of hypocrisy and narrow mindedness both at their worst. Seeing that their benefactor President Mugabe stares defeat in the eye, they have proffered a thinly veiled coup dâ€™etat threat by hinting that they will not salute anyone not President Mugabe.
Â Why I find this particularly nauseating is that in 1980 at Independence when most of these soldiers from both Zipra and Zanla were attested into the Zimbabwe National Army, they saluted and took instructions without incident from General Peter Walls.Â
Yes, Peter Walls who a fewÂ weeks earlierÂ had been commander of the Rhodesian forces which were responsible for the bombing of Nyadzonia, Freedom Camp and many others which resulted in the deaths and maiming of thousand upon thousands of black Zimbabweans. I find it sad that one Zimbabwean
brother finds joy in saluting Peter Walls, and yet sees problems in saluting a black compatriot whose only â€œcrimeâ€ is holding a political opinion divergent to that held by the status quo.
Ken Flower was on the other hand in charge of the Special Branch under Ian Smith and was again head of the Central Intelligence Organisation in independent Zimbabwe. Ken was as white as white can get and like Walls was a descendent of the British. Security agents on both sides of the divide saluted and took orders from him with zeal. How hypocritical can black Zimbabweans get?Â
When you salute a President, you are not necessarily saluting the individual but the Office that he or she holds.Â That is why when they cease to hold the office; they also cease to enjoy the salute. Itâ€™s that simple.
Maridadi is a Harare based political activist and freelance journalist.