NOTHING can transform a desert into a wetland, except rain. Changing an arid political and economic landscape requires the will, commitment and determination from those carrying the mantle to redeem the country’s lost hope.
Becoming an icon is not thrust upon citizens — achievements speak for themselves. President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF must immediately realise that surrounding themselves with puppets, parroting opportunists and clueless sympathisers masquerading, either as opposition or religious leaders, will not resolve the contentious bread and butter issues dominating every talk among many Zimbabweans who are finding it difficult to afford a decent meal per day.
The daily struggle for survival strongly demands a pragmatic approach rooted in national interest, not piecemeal lipstick and self-enriching measures.
Zimbabwe’s history provides the country’s leaders with a moral lesson. Those willing to learn (but not greedy individuals) can borrow from events that preceded the current dilemma. The 1979 internal settlement, which sought to establish Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, failed to yield desired results because it was premised on fictional thinking and falsehoods. The agreement, detached from the demands of the majority that had borne the brunt of the liberation war was quickly abandoned for it was not all-encompassing.
Former Southern Rhodesia prime minister Ian Smith and UANC’s Bishop Abel Muzorewa faced stiff resistance from guerilla fighters fronted by liberation movements, Zanla and Zipra forces. This was until critical political players in the form of former president Robert Mugabe and former vice-president Joshua Nkomo, among others, with the backing of the erstwhile colonial master, Britain, dragged Smith to the negotiating table at Lancaster House, a development that eventually led to the country’s Independence in 1980.
This historical narrative should have been an eye-opener to Zanu PF and Mnangagwa, who wittingly and constantly derive solace, as well as gratification from being surrounded by political novices, hell-bent on lining their pockets while ordinary Zimbabweans continue to wallow in abject poverty.
The unfolding events, where Mnangagwa incessantly denies Zimbabwe is in a coma, preferring, however, to call Western sanctions the enemy afflicting his endeavours to resuscitate the nation’s lost fortunes, without tackling essential facets derailing the economy, in the form of corruption and lootocracy, are driving, at an alarming pace, the nation into global oblivion. These seriously anti-development and undemocratic tendencies spreading their tentacles across various sectors of the society are in the long term creating a volatile environment suitable for rebellion. Remember hunger and anger co-exist.
Muzorewa’s dream of becoming the first black prime minister was doomed from the outset simply because he did not appeal to the suppressed and hungry black masses, who were also significantly the cornerstone of the struggle against the repressive regime of Smith. The same predicament based on the “I-am-the-boss-even-if-you-don’t-like” attitude, has shattered, probably beyond redemption, attempts by the current post-coup regime to portray itself as reformist. Thriving on coercion and brutal force, its approval ratings are incessantly on a downward spiral.
Confidence in Mnangagwa’s government is, without doubt, hitting rock bottom on a daily basis. Hence his “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra had no takers.
Since assuming power from Mugabe in 2017, Mnangagwa has ensured he surrounds himself with trivial political players under the banner of Political Actors Dialogue (Polad).
The so-called grouping of opposition parties seems, in earnest, to be a band of the President’s backing vocalists. They unite to churn out boring hymns that not even the angels of satan will listen to. Their message is hollow and their proposals are morally undignified since they represent no-one except themselves.
Beyond this political establishment, Mnangagwa, in a brazen attempt to hoodwink the masses that he subscribes to his campaign message that “the voice of the people is the voice of God”, has dedicated his time to attend several church gatherings and prayer meetings. The latest one being the Zimbabwe Interdenominational Council of Churches’ conference held at the National Sports Stadium on Saturday.
Interestingly, all the prophets, bishops and pastors who organise and/or attend these congregations stampede to eulogise the President, of course, for personal aggrandisement, especially to acquire free land and get the much-needed unfettered free will to collect tithes from the already pauperised and mentally malnourished congregants.
Probably singing praises for political leaders exonerates them from paying “corruption fees” to the powers-that-be.While church leaders claim Mnangagwa was ordained by God to lead Zimbabwe, they ironically remain mum on why the economy took a nosedive since his ascension to the presidency. Also, while they try to bond their praise-singing to the Bible, they always remain silent, for example, that while King Ahab and his ruthless wife Jezebel were surrounded by hordes of Baal (false) prophets, it only needed one true prophet of Yahweh, Elijah, to pray for the rains to end the drought that had wreaked havoc in Israel for several years.
With men of the cloth hobnobbing with the political elite and pretending Zimbabwe is on a path to recovery, when in fact it is stuck in a dark hole, are they not buttressing social injustices perpetrated by the cows of Bashan, which the Biblical Amos aptly decried? This could be a reincarnation of the prophets of Baal who support the rich for amassing wealth, while the poor are being financially choked. Only fools can in unison agree to the valid but unsound philosophical argument that a plane is a carpenter’s tool; 707 Boeing jet is a plane and therefore 707 Boeing jet is a carpenter’s tool.
From these gatherings, some of the so-called men of God are even timid to tell the truth — that the prevailing situation is pathetic, ruinous, detrimental and unsuitable for human habitation. They can hardly tell Mnangagwa and his government in the face that they have dismally failed to feed a nation that looks up to them for survival and that Zimbabweans do not deserve to be silently led to the slaughter like lambs.
And stealing the limelight at the last gathering of churches was leader of Deeper Life Ministries, Bishop Roderick Mukusha, who said MDC leader Nelson Chamisa must accept defeat, even if the election was rigged or not. Did he infer throwing democracy into the dustbin, twisting the will of the people and rendering elections in Zimbabwe sterile and a useless box-ticking exercise? Someone with the mandate to lead citizens to a better Zimbabwe must naturally rubbish this mindset, but Mnangagwa appears to be a faithful follower of this fallacy.
After narrowly winning the 2018 August presidential election, he has shown no appetite in meeting Chamisa, his major contender, to seek a permanent solution to salvage the imploding economy, choosing to erroneously believe that choruses venerating his “eat vegetables” discourse makes him a great statesman, in the mould of other dictators like Idi Amin, who took pride in calling himself the “conqueror of the British of empire” at a time Uganda was boiling with discontent.
Church leaders, like those in Polad, besides eyeing vast tracts of land for free and joining the gravy train of looters, are proposing nothing new except the exhausted, obnoxious and outlandish replication of the 1979 “drink-and-forget scenario”, where groupings of nonentities deceitfully thought they could opportunistically smuggle themselves into higher offices through the back door against the will of the masses, whose votes cannot simply be wished away.
Sadly, this hogwash narrow-minded support is getting acres of space in the state-controlled media, when the country is faced with a political timebomb characterised by, inter alia, hemorrhaging healthcare system, education in the intensive care, soaring unemployment, lawlessness taking its toll through nurturing and promotion of machete gangs (rebels in the making), basic commodities no longer affordable, eroded salaries becoming a mockery to workers, day-dreamers in the form of Finance minister Mthuli Ncube proclaiming abundance of wetlands in dry arid desert, Zupco buses transporting hungry and disemboweled employees to a few remaining operating firms, cash disappearing from banks but awash on the black market. This speaks volumes on the state of the economy.
Instead of bragging that there is no need for an external mediator in pursuit of a better Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa must realise that his jokes to the oppressed are disgusting. The struggle for survival cannot be equated to a theatrical tragedy showpiece that ends when the stage curtain comes down. Real politicians do the best to ensure the majority can have decent lives. He can achieve this by borrowing from the country’s historical template.
After all the struggles that had beset national hopes for development, dialogue proved the inevitable solution. This engagement is not for single-minded personalities, sharing monolithic discourses and positioning themselves to siphon resources to build mansions for themselves — it has to be robust engagement of stakeholders that can unlock international community’s financial support.
In 1979, when the liberation struggle had reached its peak, the Lancaster House talks delivered Independence. In 1987, when Mugabe and his crew had massacred the Ndebele-speaking people in the Midlands and Matabeleland Provinces, Nkomo, for the sake of saving lives, resolved to dialogue with Mugabe to end the catastrophe marked by mass killings that claimed approximately 20 000 innocent lives.
In 2009, after the scourge of hyperinflation and instability, former MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai drank from the same cup with Mugabe to establish the Government of National Unity, leading to the improvement of livelihoods for many citizens who had become hopeless.
Come the 2018 general elections, Zimbabwe was again dragged into the mudslide, with the endless tussle between Mnangagwa and Chamisa derailing opportunities that were knocking on the country’s doors in the aftermath of the November 2017 coup. These two main political actors must inevitably find each other to move the country forward.
As for Polad, the nation is wasting its precious resources on fruitless endeavours. Without taking bold political steps, Zimbabwe is fast-becoming another Somalia. It is time to realise the barren land desperately needs rain to be fruitful again.
Nyoni is a Zimbabwe Independent sub-editor. He writes in his personal capacity. — firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com