By Kingston Ndabatei
THE death of music great and national hero Oliver Mtukudzi, while uniting a weary country at least for a few days, also exposed the abiding paranoia of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his administration, the opposition MDC has said.
Mnangagwa won a controversial presidential poll in July last year, piping opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa who rejected the result claiming fraud.
Chamisa failed with a challenge against the poll results at the Constitutional Court.
Since then, the political atmosphere in the country has remained febrile and worsened over the past two week after the government used lethal force to quell violent demonstrations against economic hardships.
With Mtukudzi having been declared a national hero, overzealous State agents then barred Chamisa from attending a farewell concert in the singer’s honour in Harare before another scuffle during the singer’s burial at Madziwa in Mashonaland Central.
MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume accused Mnangagwa’s administration of pettiness and paranoia.
The response by the government during Tuku’s funeral indicates a level of pettiness and paranoia which this administration displays in the glare of everyone including visitors. In their efforts not to be outdone by Chamisa they are undone.
“They cannot weep without asking how much tears Chamisa has produced. Every Zimbabwean has a Tuku story and for them to desecrate his burial like that shows their thirst for power knows no limits,” said Mafume who is apparently in hiding following the recent violence outbreak with police having indicated he is on their wanted list.
Reports claim that Chamisa was not at the venue, but his party secretary general Douglas Mwonzora angrily insisted that government security had stopped his party leader attending the Harare concert
Information Ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana accused Chamisa of being a “drama queen”.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said the ruling party had no time for the opposition leader’s theatrics.
Losing elections is not a measure of popularity and Chamisa lost elections last year,” said Khaya Moyo.
“When they claim we are afraid of his popularity we then really fail to understand. But really, we do not have time for his antics at the funeral of national hero Oliver Mtukudzi.
“It’s all hogwash, we are concentrating on reviving the economy and governing the country.”
Political commentator Sithembile Mpofu said, generally, all political leaders had been an embarrassment in the manner they carried themselves around Mtukudzi’s funeral.
“I think the way Zimbabweans, in general, handled the funeral left a great deal to be desired,” she said.
“There was little room left for us to discuss Tuku (Mtukudzi) and his legacy; we were left with varying sideshows, ranging from the bizarre to the ludicrous.
“There was information about Chamisa being barred from the event which later turned out to be an inaccurate account of events.
“Unfortunately, those who had initially put the story out were reluctant to correct their version.”
She added; “I believe it would honour Mtukudzi’s legacy if we behaved in a manner that left him as the only star of his show.
“He left us all with the wonderful gift of his music, he deserved better.”
Another political analyst Eldred Masunungure however, said the Mtukudzi funeral furore was only a mirror image of the toxicity in the country’s political environment.
It may well be that the cause of that attitude is the toxic nature of our politics and the partisan nature of our politics,” said Masunungure.
“The ruling party and the associated state security agencies interpret issues in a partisan manner; even non-political events including the funeral of a musician as well as the celebration of his life.
“The look at everything with security lenses and think of the political profit and loss of everything.”
He added that Chamisa had actually acted in a dignified and mature way: “I was pleasantly surprised that he handled himself in a statesman-like manner which I have advocated for.
“That I think he is progressively developing into a mature political leader.”