WHEN Greek philosopher Plato wrote: “A hero is born among a hundred, a wise man is found among a thousand, but an accomplished one might not be found even among a thousand men”, he must have been referring to the late national hero Cephas Msipa, who died on Monday at a private clinic.
Editor’s Memo,Faith Zaba
With the passing on of Msipa, the moral voice in politics is gone. Msipa was the last man standing, amongst the few nationalists who spoke openly and frankly to and about President Robert Mugabe.
The former Midlands governor spoke openly without fear or favour and was one of the few people in Zimbabwe who would speak openly with Mugabe, criticise him and tell him that he should leave office.
He was a man among men, a cut above the rest. It would be an insult to try and compare him to the majority of charlatans in Zanu PF today and the bootlickers that have built a personality cult around Mugabe. Those never dare tell him the truth but instead give him the impression that he is the wisest person in the country and that he is indispensable while ridiculing him in private.
The only other people that dared challenge Mugabe in public or internally were the late Joshua Nkomo, Joseph Msika, Eddison Zvobgo, Solomon Mujuru and Edgar Tekere. In the recent past, Msipa was the only person that publicly spoke on the Mugabe’s cut-throat succession battle, which is increasingly becoming a threat to Zanu PF and Zimbabwe’s future. Only last month, the forthright Msipa in an interview with our sister paper NewsDay warned Mugabe about his use of brute force to crush dissent against his inept leadership.
“This time, Mugabe has to show statesmanship and rise above partisan politics,” he said. “He has to call his rivals or those opposing him and discuss Zimbabwe. Pride will take Zimbabwe nowhere, but to more suffering. It is not fiction that Zimbabweans are suffering; it is a fact that needs redress.
“This idea of selfish politics will not help at all. I have travelled and wherever I go, I am asked, is this the Zimbabwe you fought for? It’s not. We never fought for violent protests, we never fought for selfish leadership, but we fought for selfless leadership that putsZimbabwe ahead of personal interests.”
He added: “The people are not asking for things that are not genuine, they are demanding bread and butter issues and it is up to this government to respond to them rather than send teargas and water cannons.”
His remarks in one of his last interviews resonated with the sentiments of most Zimbabweans who have borne the brunt of Mugabe’s leadership characterised by cash shortages, company closures and massive job losses. His words will also find purchase with thousands of young Zimbabweans who despite having attained degrees are jobless and have been reduced to vending and touting.
Msipa’s death leaves a void that cannot be filled by the selfish praise singers who equate Mugabe to a deity so as it to enable them to loot resources and bleed the country dry with reckless abandon.
Some even scream tribalism and persecution when caught.
The loss of Msipa leaves Mugabe surrounded by those who go to the lengths of threatening to withhold genuine degrees because one has held up a placard to the nonagenarian leader that raises genuine concerns of the need of jobs in a classic case of crying more than the bereaved. There was no subject too tough for the soft spoken Msipa to tackle in advising Mugabe. He was a voice of reason as government officials expended energy on factional fights instead of finding solutions to the pressing economic problems.
“It’s a very painful and disturbing moment for people like me who sacrificed a lot for this country. We have been made spectators to this drama unfolding while the country is burning. People are dying of hunger, but leaders are busy fighting for power, and protecting their selfish interests. It’s very painful,” Msipa said in an interview.
Msipa’s death has robbed the country of a voice of reason that is desperately lacking in Zanu PF and government today. As Mugabe lays him to rest tomorrow, we hope he takes time to remember their conversation a few months ago when he offered help to resolve the succession issue. He also warned of potential bloodshed if he fails to deal with corruption in government.
May his soul rest in peace.