COLUMN: MARY REVESAI
The ivory tower dweller and the affable author
Professor Jonathan Moyo, himself a former spin doctor in Mugabe’s regime, has dealt adequately with the attempts by Zanu PF apologists to mislead the public by presenting rebuttals to Tekere’s claims that are designed to portray Mugabe as an infallible being who never falters in anything he does.
It is this sanitised portrayal of Mugabe as a demigod is line with the delusions of grandeur that appear to have plagued the Zimbabwean leader throughout his political career, which his sycophantic bootlickers now want to force down the nation’s throat as the only objective truth.
indignant intolerance for alternative views expressed by those who were
in the thick of things during the liberation struggle, actually vindicates
Tekere’s “we have created a monster” thesis. If attempts
can be made to launch a full scale smear campaign against Tekere simply
because he has recorded his version of events as he recalls them, what
chance is there for the rest of the people to be allowed to enjoy freedom
of speech and expression?
Personality theorist Erich Fromm, said of this form of authoritarian control: “In one way the person makes others totally dependent on himself or herself so as to have absolute power over them. A second sadistic expression goes beyond ruling or dictating to others. It involves exploiting others by taking or using anything desirable that they possess -- whether material things or intellectual or emotional qualities.”
Mugabe considers it infra dig to speak for himself even on such an important issue and therefore exploits people who depend on his political patronage to defend him. But most of these people were, unlike Edgar Tekere, not there when the events they are disputing took place.
I have not read Tekere’s book, but it is clear from the snippets that have been published in various media that in contrast to the attempt by Mugabe’s spin doctors to paint a picture of him as a larger-than-life figure who has never put a foot wrong, the author is self-depreciating and ever ready to admit his human weaknesses. It is vital that accounts of the liberation war are presented by real people who can still identify with the ordinary men and women who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of their sacrifices made.
More than anything else, the Tekere book saga highlights Mugabe’s detachment from and disdain for the people of Zimbabwe. In most democratic countries, a leader confronted with such a questioning of his political credentials would be obliged to look his people in the eye and calmly reassure them by telling them his version of the truth. He could do this either in a television or radio broadcast or he could call a special press conference to clear the air and answer questions. The release of Tekere’s to me has demonstrated beyond doubt that this is too much to expect of Zimbabwe’s ruler, who will be 83 next month. Because his main focus is to remain in power at any cost, rather than serve his people, he never drops his guard. He must be perceived as being infallible and invincible at all times.
Indeed Zimbabweans hardly know the man who has controlled their destiny over the last 27 years as a human being. He has gone to extraordinary lengths to remain aloof and insulate himself from the people he claims to have sacrificed so much for. He does not do ordinary human things that could enable him to empathise with the rest of the people. The commonest image of the Zimbabwean leader in the public consciousness is of a stern, fist-waving and slogan–shouting authoritarian. He maintains this rigid and dry approach even when delivering eulogies at Heroes’ Acre.
It is a dichotomy that a man who claims to be so loved by his people that they are prepared to speak on his behalf even with regard to his war credentials needs harsh laws to thwart any criticism of himself. I refer here to the General Laws Amendment Act which makes it a criminal offence to insult or undermine the authority of the president. This act was recently tightened to increase the fines and custodial sentences for violators. The question is why a man propagandists are so anxious to portray as larger-than-life would be threatened by the musings of ordinary people?
If Mugabe has been so resolute and unwavering in his dedication to serving the people, why is he after 27 years in power still so afraid of his subjects that he needs bodyguards and a mile-long motorcade wherever he goes? Most leaders who truly love their people take every opportunity to mingle and interact with them. They kiss babies and never miss an opportunity to chat with ordinary folk. But the message conveyed by Mugabe’s motorcades and harsh insult laws is: LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH.
Given a choice between such a stiff, sanctimonious and uncommunicative ivory-tower dweller and a humble, self-effacing, spontaneous and affable Edgar Tekere, I would choose Tekere every time. The acrimony displayed towards Tekere by Mugabe’s people shows they know I am not the only Zimbabwean who would feel this way.
It would not matter
an iota whether Mugabe was initially reluctant to join the liberation
movement or whether he was anointed leader by freedom fighters at Magagao
if his track record since then vindicated him as a democratic and just
ruler devoid of any dictatorial and tyrannical tendencies. He and his
people are so touchy because they know this is not the case.
Mary Revesai is a New Zimbabwe.com columnist and writes from Harare. Her column will appear here every Tuesday
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