HomeAnalysisWhy opposition needs the former fighters, Mnangagwa

Why opposition needs the former fighters, Mnangagwa

Last week, the leader of the smaller Movement for Democratic Change, Professor Welshman Ncube penned, for the United Kingdom-based website, an interesting piece titled Arbeit Macht Freit — Work sets you free.

Simukai Tinhu,Political analyst

The genesis ... War vets were earlier this year teargassed and sprayed with water cannons.
The genesis … War vets were earlier this year teargassed and sprayed with water cannons.

In this well-written piece, Ncube sets out an argument in which he admonishes those who are embracing the war veterans’ participation in the political change project. Indeed, the whole piece appears to be an expression of what I would consider as inordinate fear of the intentions of the 1970s liberation war veterans as they crusade against President Robert Mugabe’s presidency.

Lack of imagination has been one of Zimbabwe opposition’s main weaknesses. Indeed, after having been in bed with Zanu PF for four years, the opposition could not imagine Mugabe and Zanu PF rigging the 2013 elections. This lack of imagination explains why the opposition ignored numerous warnings from various angles and sleep-walked into defeat at the last elections.

Nor could the opposition imagine Zanu PF imploding at a time they had not envisaged, hence they are still waiting for it to implode; circumstances they hope will create a conducive opportunity for them to defeat Zanu PF. But the reality is that Zanu PF imploded in 2013 with the defenestration of former vice-president Joice Mujuru and her political tribe and the opposition failed to take advantage of that opportunity. The ruling party is not going to implode again and those waiting for that to happen will be dissapointed. Indeed, what you have today is pretty much everyone within the ruling party, the security establishment and war veterans regrouping around Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Similarly, Ncube’s attitude towards the war veterans reflects inability to imagine the unique opportunity that is offered by the war veterans breaking ranks with President Robert Mugabe and how the opposition can harness this important resource for its cause.

This inability to imagine is understandable. In his view, the moral cost for being sympathetic to the war veterans’ cause, let alone contemplating an alliance with them in the struggle against Mugabe’s presidency, is unbearable. In his article, Ncube cites the war veterans’ past history in which they have played a huge part in aiding Mugabe’s regime by crushing dissent and the opposition.

It is the myth that his cause is just and pure one and that of the war veterans evil, which underpins his morality plea. In other words, he is on the side of right and the war veterans on the side of wrong and the two cannot be part of the same. The involvement of the war veterans, who have killed and maimed innocent lives, also violates the purity of the political transition that he wants to see in Zimbabwe. The war veterans, instead of allowing democratic transition within the liberation movement, want to impose their preferred candidate, Mnangagwa, writes the professor.

But, in the imperfect world of politics, such thinking is misplaced. It does no good to invoke some allegedly superior opposition morality against some supposedly inferior superiority of the war veterans despite the fact that his and their causes are increasingly converging. This is trouble with equating politics with Judeo-Christian morality — indeed, Ncube does even cite verses from the Bible in his piece — it limits imagination and obstructs from pursuing what is practically achievable. The cause of the practice of politics, which is power, is lost in these moralistic

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  1. I think it is naive to believe the “war veterans” have suddenly discovered that the country is run by a kleptocratic elite. It is also naive to think they have devoloped a suddenly love of democracy rather than dictatorship. Believe that at your peril.

    The truth is that there is no longer anything left to steal with which to bribe them. They are voting with their stomachs, decades after ordinary Zimbabweans have been reduced to abject poverty – in order to placate these people.

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