Morgan Tsvangirai’s death has exposed the breath-taking hypocrisy of Zanu PF politicians and their henchmen.
Candid Comment,Brezhnev Malaba
They were trying to kill him just yesterday, were they not? But today they conveniently pontificate over his coffin and call him a hero. Who is fooling who?
Robert Mugabe’s regime — which encompassed those who now posture as latter-day democrats — waged a brutally relentless war on Tsvangirai. The opposition leader was subjected to the most horrendous forms of violence, intimidation and victimisation imaginable.
And yet today they loudly proclaim him a hero. The stench of hypocrisy and the naked opportunism are sickening.
I am not here to praise Tsvangirai. He was no saint — nobody is. But I get suspicious when the same people who tried to throw Tsvangirai off high-rise buildings, cracked his skull with truncheons, plotted to condemn him to life imprisonment, concocted false charges against him, killed his supporters, and brazenly blocked his ascendancy to the presidential office after he had won the elections start leading a chorus of hollow praises in broad daylight.
It was all hunky-dory to see the Zanu PF mandarins reacting swiftly by issuing statements praising Tsvangirai. For a moment, the underlying message seemed to be anchored on unity, political amity and national cohesion. Full marks to them on that one.
But here is the problem: the expression of grief appears choreographed, opportunistic and contrived.
A visitor from planet Mars reading all these condolence messages from Zanu PF politicians would be excused for concluding that Tsvangirai was a darling of the tinpot dictatorship. We are talking of a man who defeated one of the most evil regimes on the face of the planet. They repeatedly rigged the elections and murdered his supporters but, against all odds, he outpolled them, proving why autocracy cannot survive forever.
As political scientist Ibbo Mandaza has correctly noted, although there can be no dispute as to Tsvangirai’s hero status, it would be a disaster if the very people who brutalised him over the years were to make political capital out of his death.
Are they now calling him a hero out of a genuine conviction that his immense contribution to the nation cannot be ignored? Or could it be that they are saying this for purposes of self-aggrandisement and political opportunism? The latter is more plausible.
There is no doubt that he is a national hero. However, this is not to say he must be interred at the National Heroes’ Acre. Far from it. There are many genuine heroes who were not buried at that shrine — including, for instance, an entire pantheon of Zapu nationalists whose final resting place is Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo. Authentic hero status is not granted by a group of self-appointed Zanu PF officials.
In the court of public opinion, Tsvangirai’s hero status arises from his commendable attributes: service to the nation; refusal to surrender to the forces of darkness; humility in the face of persecution; and his unbreakable bond with the average Zimbabwean.
A brave man, a defiant democrat, a people’s hero. Nobody can deny him his place in history.