Mobocracy, ‘dofocracy’ and the myth of new dispensation

“WE spoke and acted as if, given the opportunity, we would quickly create utopias. Instead injustice, even tyranny is rampant.” — Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

Brian T
Kagoro
Lawyer

Dofocracy/Domocracy

In Shona a dofo is a person that is dumb, dull or weak in intellect, a dullard, a dolt. Dofocaracy is governance by such people. If you add to such grand corruption, greed, brutality and the ability to mobilise thuggish elements within the coercive (formal and informal) apparatus, then you also have some sort of mob rule (mobocracy). This thuggish rule by dullards or madofo is “mobo-dofocracy” or “domocracy”. The looting is crass and the use of force crude, totally lacking subtlety and finesse.

The arrest or crude abduction of Hopewell Chin’ono, Joana Mamombe and countless other activists, aptly captures this governance without a clear ideological, ethical or values compass. It is governance by a Stone Age mentality that depends solely on who bears the larger stick or bigger stone.

There is nothing egalitarian about the policies and conduct of the elites that govern their families and us. The addiction of the state elites to factionalism and divisionism essentially means that different arms of state serve private or clique interests. Each functions based on the body language of the respective “chefs” that it is aligned to. The interchangeable use of force, charm and bribery reflects the ideological hollowness of the power elite.

Arrests of opponents are as much out of panic in the different elite camps as they are a means of diverting national attention from public discourse that is deemed harmful to the governing elite. In the recent past, we have seen attempts to delegitimise the leadership of the opposition, churches and civil society through the creation of a wide range of proxy, clientelist and alternative leadership. The country has absolutely no shortage of folks looking for limelight and who might cherish a well-remunerated assignment to be a nuisance to those that irritate those in power. After all, it is their democratic right to be used and abused for cash or promise of power!

Alas, the ethical compass is broken!

The post-coup dispensation in Zimbabwe is a sad story of squandered goodwill and opportunity. Different theories have been forwarded to explain the stillbirth of the so-called “Second Republic”. The epic failure of the post-Mugabe leadership means that we can no longer sustain the IMF (its Mugabe’s fault) mantra. The system is rotten to the core and the leadership is clueless.

The rot in our nation transcends Zanu PF. This question of ideological, ethical and values compass is one that we all must answer honestly. Not only do we need new names, but also we need a new counter-culture!

Nomfundo Mogapi, from the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, argues that there is pervasive wounded-ness (intergenerational trauma) in our society characterised by wounded individuals, families, communities and leadership. She argues that wounded leaders in turn wound those that they lead. Hence the predisposition towards collective violence and abusive behaviours in our politics. We must honestly ask, is our leadership traumatised (wounded) and how about ourselves as citizens?

There exists a self-evident disconnect between the leadership and the masses of the people. The legitimacy of the state and government is eroded each day by brazen elite, corporate and foreign capture. Our leadership lacks the visions to address this disconnect. They have run out of excuses to explain why they have failed to address the social, economic, political and generational aspirations of Zimbabweans. They are not concerned about the welfare or well-being of the Zimbabwean people. Most Zimbabweans now have to weigh the option of dying from the coronavirus or dying from hunger trying to socially distance or obey lockdown rules.

Zimbabwean nationalism is meaningless, its liberation rhetoric dangerous and anachronistic if it lacks a clear ideological and ethical anchor or compass. The continued politicisation and ideologisation of tribe in our national politics and economy is a sacrilege against the values of the liberation.
The agency of the Zimbabwean state is meant to be for nation-building, economic development, unification and organisation of society. A liberation movement and indeed a State liberated by the blood and sweat of peasants and workers cannot be reduced into a personal instrument for a few elites, a clique of recycled family or clan dynasties.

When they are caught with their hands in the cookie jar, they blame those who have caught them for lacking patriotism because they believe in the mantra “Silence, vakuru (elders) are eating!” There is no such thing as the divine right of the liberators to eat, to take, to use and to abuse! We all have a right to live in dignity, justice and with respect for our equal humanity.

Racial justifications of black idiocy

Section 3 of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Debt Assumption Act, 2015 states as follows:
“For the purposes of this Act —
(a) the prior debts of the Reserve Bank consist of the liabilities incurred by the Reserve Bank before the 31st December, 2008, that are itemised in the Schedule;

(h) the liabilities itemised in the Schedule shall, if the claims relating to them are validated and reconciled in accordance with Section 5, be regarded as prior debts of the Reserve Bank even if —
1. (i) the Reserve Bank had no power or capacity to incur the liability.”

When the Bill was being debated before parliament on February 17, 2017, there were two very important interventions by Innocent Gonese of the MDC and Patrick Chinamasa from Zanu PF. Here are excerpts of what they said in the debate:

Gonese said: “When you look at the issue of tractors, combine harvesters, disc harrows and other agricultural implements, the assumption is that, the people who benefited were meant to use those agricultural implements for stimulation of production. If they were so able to increase their production, they should surely be in a position to pay back for the value of the tractors, which were bought for them.

“Mr Speaker, at the time, the Reserve Bank was behaving like Father Christmas. … If we are to vote on this Bill, certainly Mr Speaker, those people who are direct beneficiaries must be precluded from participating in that vote because they are interested parties.”

Chinamasa (then Minister of Finance) explained it thus: “I want to emphasise that we are talking about monies borrowed by the Reserve Bank and not monies lent by the Reserve Bank. In other words, monies lent by the Reserve Bank are assets on the balance sheet of the Reserve Bank as they represent debtors … What we are taking over are liabilities by the Reserve Bank to creditors. Some of them were negotiated, others not negotiated.”

Whether one takes the view that the RBZ donated or loaned farm equipment, such a relationship does not make the beneficiary a creditor to the RBZ or the RBZ a debtor to the beneficiary of the farm equipment. This relationship — legally — ought not to have been covered by the RBZ Debt Assumption Act. The RBZ did not and could not have owed a debt to the individual beneficiaries of the farm mechanisation programme. We can debate questions regarding the political desirability, financial prudence or social benefit of the project later. The individual beneficiaries did not necessarily acquire immunity from legal action by reason of the passing of the RBZ Debt Assumption Act. They still owe.

Former RBZ governor Gideon Gono did not have the legal authority to give away state property. The taxpayer cannot assume liability for private benefits by Zimbabwe’s elites who have and continue to derive profit from such benefit. To argue otherwise, would simply be dofocracy. Even Chinamasa was wise enough to distinguish between RBZ assets and liabilities. The solution is very simple just #PayBackTheMoney!

The ghost of Rhodesia?

Governance expert Deprose Muchena, argues that “the colonial state was mostly an instrument of the landed white agrarian bourgeoisie”. Those most influential MPs at the time of the Land Apportionment Act of 1931 were farmers and therefore direct beneficiaries of the very laws that they passed in parliament. They were conflicted and unashamed. They legislated for themselves and by themselves resulting in the setting up of the Maize Control Board (later called Grain Marketing Baord in the 1950s); the Cotton Marketing Board, Tobacco Marketing Board, the Cold Storage Commission and host of other statutory bodies.

He argues further that following the Second World War, the Rhodesian industrialisation project equally benefited from the ascendancy of the urban white industrial bourgeoisie in Rhodesian legislature and policy circles. Such that the laws and policies passed between the 1930s and 1960s on agriculture, industry, labour and societal governance was geared towards protecting the interests of the white landed and urban bourgeoisie.

Development practitioner and executive director of Sivio Institute, Dr Tendai Murisa, argues that the white agrarian capitalist did not only make laws that benefitted them, they also got state funds just like their black successors — through the Agriculture Finance Corporation (AFC). A lot of the loans given to large-scale commercial farmers under Rhodesia were forgiven both by Ian Smith and Robert Mugabe as late as 1991.

Ironically, the Zanu PF government did not call up the loans owed by white commercial farmers in order to finance land reform, it forgave them. Experts argue that calling up the loans would have brought more land to the market.

That Zimbabwe has pursued some form of state capitalist model borrowed from Rhodesia — with all the looting methods — and dressed this up with left-wing rhetoric. Our post-independence black leaders — I mean the former revolutionaries — have merely replicated this Rhodesian model in a tragi-comedic manner.
You see this in the manipulation of the state, parliament and the judiciary for purposes of primitive accumulation by what Frantz Fanon characterised as “an unproductive” bourgeoisie. They appropriates the rhetoric of mass empowerment as a cover-up for grand theft from the War Victims Compensation Fund, the National Housing Scheme, the DDF Borehole Project, the Scholarship Fund, the Farm Mechanisation Input Scheme, etc.

They have poured billions of dollars into agriculture, mining and tourism with the intention of enriching a small political, bureaucratic, military or economic elite. They talk left and live and walk right. There is nothing revolutionary about these brazen acts of self-enrichment.

What shall we say?

Former Mozambican president Samora Machel was right in reminding us that “we did not get rid of white oppressors in order to indigenise black oppression”. Robert Marley’s song that, “until the philosophy that makes one race/class superior and another inferior, is permanently discredited or removed everywhere, there will be war”, revolt, mistrust and abuse.

Kagoro is a lawyer and political analyst. — Twitter: @TamukaKagoro77.

One thought on “Mobocracy, ‘dofocracy’ and the myth of new dispensation”

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