“To threaten to shed blood is, in fact, extremely dangerous: whereas to shed it is attended with no danger at all, for a dead man cannot contemplate vengeance, and those that remain alive usually leave you to do the contemplating. But a man who has been threatened and sees that he must of necessity either do something or be for it, has been turned into a real menace…” Niccolo Machiavelli.
Dinizulu Mbikokayise Macaphulana
THE gesture of my present article is on the death of God in Zimbabwe and the resultant birth of many Christs. I write also in defence of political stupidity as the fundamental capital of difference between a full life and death of a people as a collective.
In such dangerous historical and political times as those that Zimbabwe is going through, human beings escape lived reality and seek shelter in symbols, metaphors, religions and prophecy.
I write also about what happens in a country like Zimbabwe where there is an abundance of politics and a scarcity of politicians.
I refuse Cameroonian historian Achille Mbembe’s fundamental argument on the “post-colony” in Africa but I am persuaded by his description of how the libido and the appetites for sensual pleasures, together with massive eating and excessive buffoonery are bound to show up when the politics of a country are damaged.
A life of debauchery and licentiousness accompanies bad political climates.
Fundamentally, I write to argue that too much truth, too much fear of death and love for life is undermining many possible futures in Zimbabwe.
Whenever a 90-something year old does the job of a 40-year old, and seems in reality to be doing it so well as to suspend the need for the 40-year old to be present, something is bound to explode and break badly. The explosion and the breakage are not the serious danger. The serious danger is if there is no explosion at all, and no breakage.
Reality is subverted, the abnormal becomes normal and the people are doomed. Miracles, prophecies and wonders take over the scene, and most sensible people become foolish as foolery begins to make a lot of sense.
Suddenly one is either a politician who is failing in his impossible job, a prophet or a fool.
God is murdered in Zimbabwe in every way. The Bible is not only edited and re-written by inspired preachers. It is effectively replaced with new gospels of power, money and sexuality. Gold can rain on you any minute in Zimbabwe.
Suddenly power hungry and even foolish politicians get eloquent witnesses to claim how they are sent of God and not elected representatives.
Preachers and “Men of God” order women to strip and minister to their divine libido. So many churches spring up.
Christianity balloons everywhere, the Christ himself disappears and is effectively replaced by the Christs. From mass-murderers to mafia kings, everything is about God who is now so present in the land that in actuality he becomes totally absent as everything and everybody becomes a God in what they are doing.
This did not start now, it has been going on. Politicians long refused to answer questions and referred the questions to the ancestors.
Shrines gain new currency and become contested as sources of power. Enterprising healers fool even the most educated in the land, even promising to supply diesel from the ancestors and presidential delegations and ministers rush to the scene of miracle fuel.
Statues, monuments and other symbols of power become more important as real power itself continues to be elusive.
This is not even ancestor worship; the politicians want the ancestors to worship them.
The living are not honouring the dead by erecting statues and naming streets after them, it is the opposite – the living are using the names of the dead to decorate their own lives as heroes and legends.
When a supposed living hero honours his dead enemy he is saying if this “dead fool” can be this big, how about me the living legend?
As fuller life becomes scarce for the living, the lives of the dead become very important, symbols and signs begin to speak with unusual eloquence and more prophets and fools come up to be believed and followed.
Those who are supposed to die refuse to die, the expected future does not manifest and old-fashioned people present themselves as the future, monsters claim to be the real friends of the people.
The politicians stop lying as the people begin to lie to themselves, everything must be God’s will, the people say.
Those who have political power use it to harvest money and to access as much sex as possible. From their podiums leading politicians command women in their multitudes to their sensual service, equally from the pulpit pastors and preachers demand sex not in so many words.
God himself is suspended, the popular politician is a God and the charismatic preacher is a God and there is a scramble by faithful women to calm the politician and the preachers’ violent erection.
It is not only a popular opposition leader and a jailed pastor; the two are only unfortunate that their individual and private tragedies have become public knowledge. It is happening everywhere in the political organisations and churches. God has died, the Christs are in charge.
Mbembe talks about this “excess” and “lack of proportion” in the “post-colony.” In Zimbabwe those who earn big earn do so big as to eat on behalf of everyone in the country. Those who do not earn, earn nothing at all.
Here someone is stabbed to death for R5; there someone is killed for a debt of US$1.
These newspaper headlines of obscene earners and witchcraft stories have become daily bread in a Godless republic. The Christs are everywhere and they will get us.
In all this overwhelming religion that has arrested national imagination and that envelops everything about the country, one thing is missing – God.
Messiahs have also come; the saviours of the people are here. Messiahs are the deliverers who know on behalf of the people what is good for the people, you know you are in Zimbabwe when you here that an individual politician has defected from his party because the voters are thankless, so he is going to join the victorious enemies of the people to fix the voters!
Politics is no longer about any values and principles, but voters must listen to the Messiahs or face abandonment by the messiahs.
One myth that destroys Zimbabwe every moment is that Robert Mugabe will die tomorrow, or now and again the usual news that he will not die tomorrow but that he is actually dead already. Mugabe’s death is much-awaited death; by his comrades first, and his opponents next.
So important is this long coming death that it has become a politician itself. I believe now and again Mugabe himself does fan the rumours to keep energies away from his life and get zealots occupied about a death that is not there.
Yet there is a real danger, in actuality that Mugabe might die tomorrow, leaving no clear successor. The Zanu PF factions will fall on each other, dividing the army and security agencies, throwing the religious land into a civil war.
Zimbabwe might be Africa’s next unmanageable trouble spot. That possibility as vivid as it is does not become the most serious danger.
The ultimate danger is that Mugabe will never die at all. That in his biological death tomorrow or the day after, he will gain more life and become the worst of what he has been in his life. His grave will become a shrine and his name a religion, while his words will be recited as those of Mohammed and Jesus.
In his name, people will be killed and laws will be broken. For that reason, politics based on Mugabe’s anticipated death are dangerous and wrong.
Politics that rest on Mugabe’s life rather than death stand a chance of solving problems as a physically dead Mugabe might be spiritually and emotionally be more dangerous than the millennium menace that we are already dealing with. Things done in the name of a dead person – Mugabe – by self-serving zealots my turn out to be worse than the catastrophe he has already put the country through.
Another present danger is – picture this lucky prophet or politician (this is a land of politicians and prophets) who happens to assume the reigns as soon as the Mugabe of flesh expires.
The successor must prove to be bigger and better in Mugabeism, literally this person will seek to out-Mugabe Mugabe himself in the land of the religious. Even for a village product like myself and others who grew up fearing snakes, lighting strikes, witches and teachers, it is not difficult to observe that any projects, political and otherwise that are based on wished for disasters can very easily become disastrous themselves, because in the first place they are about disaster.
The danger of Mugabe becoming more alive and more powerful in death is a lesser danger than Zanu PF becoming more united and more powerful after Mugabe’s demise.
In other words, Zanu PF can become more of itself without Mugabe. Already the signs are there that the Wild West are looking closely at the feasible option of a reformed Zanu PF after Mugabe. The suspension of sanctions might not be telling half the truth but WikiLeaks revelations of meetings of Western ambassadors with Mugabe’s possible successors scream out the plans.
The present loss of support – financial and moral – for Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC-T by the West might not indicate it well enough but the sheer refusal of Zanu PF to be defeated has told the West a clear message of who the real, even if not the better puppet is. The West are good Machiavellians and deal-makers, and they don’t announce when they change heart.
The suspension of the larger part of sanctions, and removal from the list of targeted sanctions of a host of powerful Zanu PF leaders to the exclusion of Mugabe whose death is much awaited, must tell all of us something really telling about the future in Zimbabwe.
I have often told my students that it was a mean insult and disrespect for Slavoj Zizek to accuse Noam Chomsky of not knowing how the world works, especially after Chomsky had written an entire best-selling book titled: How the World Works. The message of how the world works is important to Zimbabwe in my view.
The West does not like investing their money where there are no gains.
The captains of empire pay for food and not for philosophy. I must observe now that it is possible that whenever Tsvangirai receives financial support from this and that donor he probably, not knowing how the world works, believes that the money is for the promotion of something called democracy in Zimbabwe.
And that Tsvangirai really does not know that in reality he is supposed to be a puppet of the West who is going to return to the whites the farms, mines and factories that Mugabe seized. The rulers of the world are not patient with puppets who don’t understand their job description.
I have said this before my students and drinking buddies, in the thickness of the season of the so-called Arab Spring, that time when the West sought to restructure the world after their imagination and interests, Tsvangirai disappointed his funders badly.
His only job was simply to announce a nationwide protest, and get a few MDC-T activists shot and Nato would have been in Marange diamond fields first and in Harare secondly in no time.
By now Tsvangirai would be His Excellency the President of the Democratic Republic of Zimbabwe, somehow.
It is failure, in the present world and how it works, to be a puppet who does not know or accept that he is a puppet and who does not understand his job, hence the troubles that Tsvangirai faces presently.
And that, not physically, but in actuality Tsvangirai has died. Whatever he can now say and do might just be to decorate his obituary: “Morgan” who is “More” is really “No More” in the present world.
Many who have counted the days towards Mugabe’s anticipated death have themselves died in many ways, well before Mugabe.
I remember in 2006, when over a cold beer I told a friend of mine who is currently a senior minister in government that Mugabe will contest the 2008 elections, the comrade laughed until his beer (a Windhoek larger) became warm, and warned me never ever to say that in public as it would ruin my public standing as an up-and-coming scholar.
It was unimaginable that Mugabe would contest the 2008 elections at his then age. It is a real concern of mine that Mugabe might, among other scary possibilities run Zimbabwe from his grave!
Macaphulana is a Pretoria based Zimbabwean political scientist and semiotician. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org