EDITOR: This is the last part of Dinizulu Mbikokayise Macaphulana’s ‘Grace Mugabe, Baba Jukwa and the Olympics of Power in Zimbabwe’ article.
I ARGUE that there is all this legal and political noise in Zimbabwe concerning the Baba Jukwa entity because those who created the creature have lost control of it as it has assumed a life of its own and chosen to align with the aspirations of some people of Zimbabwe and a certain group within Zanu-PF.
Most of us with strong rural and village backgrounds will remember one or two stories from the village about those who bought or manufactured goblins, notorious creatures of the dark arts of witchcraft and sorcery. The power and wealth seekers who use goblins have a tendency to send them to torment opponents and to steal money and other valuables. Goblins are supposed to be creatures of a programme who are loyal and who stick to instructions religiously.
Once in a while, some goblins begin to enjoy their personal power, believe in themselves and start making unsanctioned appearances and in the worst of circumstances they forge alliances with the enemies of their owner and begin to torment him and make ridiculous demands such as being allowed to sleep with his wife or children. There are many ways in which the Baba Jukwa entity resembles a goblin that has gone rogue.
If we look carefully, very carefully, the Baba Jukwa entity was created as a tool to pre-empt the opposition and usurp its support toward and after the elections of 2013. It was created even to take away the victory from the opposition if it won the election. This entity claimed to have been a Zanu-PF cadre that had decided to join the people of Zimbabwe against “my party.” It claimed to have many militants and soldiers on standby to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe are not robbed again and that their vote would not be stolen. For that good reason this entity became just what Zimbabweans needed, armed security for their popular vote.
The opposition was excited about this entity to the extent that they became assured of its support and that it would secure their victory after the election. The entity kept the opposition assured by praising them here and there, and warning them of this and that.
Now, here is the plan, if the opposition had won the election, a group of Zanu-PF strong ones were going to make an appearance and an announcement about themselves as the Baba Jukwa element and demand their share of power from the opposition with part of the army and some security elements on their side. The opposition were going to be forced to share power, in reality with Zanu-PF again.Advertisement
The explosive disclosures of Zanu-PF’s murderous secrets were meant to buy credibility for the entity among Zimbabweans who are fed up of Zanu-PF, and also to present the entity as part of the opposition, but in reality the element remained a die-hard Zanuist that wanted to buy space in power if the opposition happened to win, this entity was a kind of Zanu-PF plan B, if other election strategies did not work. This entity was going to be a Zanu-PF without the name and the sins of Zanu-PF. In truth, this entity is huge; it had the capacity to seize power in Zimbabwe if Zanu-PF lost the election. It had effectively set itself up as a middle force between Zanu-PF and the opposition. It was designed to ensure that Zanu-PF, a core of it, does not lose power even if it loses the election.
Only if Zanu-PF lost the election, Zimbabweans and the whole world were going to see what a massive creature this was as individuals and groups came out to claim the name and demand their share of the newly found power, soon enough it was going to appear that except for a few individuals that would fall by the side, the new government was to be dominated by Zanu-PF characters once again. The Baba Jukwa entity was a kind of parachute for some Zanuist to eject themselves from the crashing plane. This was an intelligently made creature whose job was to kill Zanu-PF and still keep some Zanu-PF politicians in power as part of the new victorious establishment.
Picture a number of Zanu-PF insiders seated in a room saying ‘we are Zanu-PF, but we are fed up of our party’s sins so we are confessing all the sins of our party, we are now part of the opposition.” After the election these insiders will say “we did the dirty and the dangerous job of killing Zanu-PF, we are so many, we have soldiers, police, the intelligence and we need so much power in the new government, we lay these terms and conditions, or else we render this place ungovernable.” As things stood, these Zanu-PF insiders were going to be the new heroes of Zimbabwe, their national and international support was going to be amazing. Songs were going to be sung and poems recited about brave Zimbabweans who from the belly of the beast managed to rescue their country from collapse.
However, when Zanu-PF won the election, the entity which was created as a plan B election tool had suddenly become jobless, but it remained powerful and dangerous as it had mobilised so much Zimbabwean and even world following. It had grown too big and had begun to enjoy its own popularity as an entity. The mistake, if it is a mistake, that the entity made within Zanu-PF, was to change allegiances, it abandoned those who created it and got bewitched and mersmerised by a political project of the opponents of its creators.
Those who created it, knowing its talents and its power got alarmed and sought to destroy it by whatever means and to destroy those that have adopted their creature and appropriated its massive power for themselves. The people that created the Baba Jukwa entity are angry people, the young among us know that red anger that one gets when he brings a trophy girl to a party, as soon as the party begins in earnest, the salacious thing begins to dance with one’s worst rivals and gives one not even a wink of attention as she hugs and kisses with one’s enemies. While in romantic circles this has led to many crimes of passion, in Zanu-PF it has resulted in the recent poetry of anger and power that we have recently witnessed.
A legitimate question to ask is, why then are those who created the entity not naming and shaming it? This is a tricky creature. They cannot name it without destroying themselves in the process. The only thing they can do is to blame it on their enemies within the party as the owners and creators of the entity. As it happens in the village, the besieged owner of the goblin that has gone rogue, as soon as it starts haunting him, or exposing him to the public, he quickly blames it on jealousy neighbours as witches that have set a goblin upon him.
What we are having in Zimbabwe is a gigantic illusion where those who secretly created the Baba Jukwa entity are now publicly claiming to be hunting for it. Attempts will be made to get those who adopted the creature to pay the price of creating it but this will not really work as the creature has created some of the most improbable and very powerful allegiances within the Zanu-PF, military and intelligence establishment. Some of the traditionally powerful politicians in Zimbabwe who were tipped to rule are now but shadows and illusions of power as the entity, in its emphatic silence, takes a firmer grip of the chains of power and control within the party and the country.
Another reason why this creature is difficult is that it was created from the start in the realm of the intelligence, in the secret state. It was built in such a way that it can fizzle into thin air or destroy itself and leave no trace. Those who interacted with it were given room for plausible denialability. For that reason, many of its organs, the individuals that form it are not known to each other. It is a spooky creature that can throw around decoys and other disguises to keep investigators busy. It is like witchcraft where individuals will accuse each other of it without providing reasonable evidence to secure guilt or innocence. It has become, in Zanu-PF, a stick with which opponents beat each other. Anyone who does not like another accuses them of having links with the entity or of being the entity itself.
Can we bid farewell to Monsters?
Clearly, from the Grace Mugabe political intervention to the Baba Jukwa saga, Zimbabweans in Zanu-PF and outside are engaged in the fierce Olympics of power. The country is enveloped in conspiracies and counter conspiracies, individuals are jostling and bargaining for power. Others are proposing power sharing while others seek to seize power by any means necessary. The question dear reader is: exactly what power is there to be seized or shared in Zimbabwe?
From where I am standing, we have personality and partisan contests parading themselves as national struggles for freedom. As things stand, any clique that might seize power in Zimbabwe will be victorious but it would leave out many powerful aggrieved and angry cliques that will soon launch their own war against the victors. How can we penetrate the illusions and establish a debate on power and the future in Zimbabwe? There is need to depart from the politics of monstrosities to that of a collective future.
Dinizulu Mbikokayise Macaphulana is a Pretoria-based Zimbabwean Political Scientist and Semiotician: firstname.lastname@example.org