The politics of Sikhala’s Facebook ‘AIDS’ diagnostic kit

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Sikhala: “It’s a fact that Biti has AIDS. He wanted to kill one of the current MPs in MDC-T in 2008. I am going to be merciless on this”.
OPPOSITION politics in Zimbabwe always falls short because niggling issues that require a lot of fine tuning before they can reach the standards required to govern. The main criticism against the MDC inclusive of all its fragments is the lack of an alternative shadow policy strategy and their tendency to point fingers and to always oppose just for the sake of opposing without presenting solutions or suggestions. The issue of political immaturity is what has been holding Zimbabwe back in a lot of ways.
The political playing field in Zimbabwe is highly polarised, there is no consensus and there is inter-party and intraparty circumspection. There is an atmosphere of cynicism and criticism from the opposition on every decision made by the ruling party, even on clearly positive policies presented. The ruling party and opposition ideologies are miles apart but, for the sake of the development of Zimbabwe, both must engage in meaningful and constructive dialogue on national issues. It should not just be about opposing for the sake of opposing because this imposes limitations on execution of national programmes. There is need for a shadow strategy from the opposition and in some cases consensus on matters of national importance. There has to be a high level of maturity on the part of our political leaders for they represent all Zimbabweans.
“Tingaswera tichitevedzera zve AIDS dzana Biti idzo (We do not follow people like Biti who have AIDS). Do you think if I was such a sexual pervert like how your people created yesterday dai tisina AIDS saTendai Biti? We could have been looking miserable like him. It’s a fact that Biti has AIDS. He wanted to kill one of the current MPs in MDC-T in 2008. I am going to be merciless on this”.
This was the flowery rant from the Facebook wall of an opposition leadership aspirant, a party which actually believes it is the alternative to the ruling party to address the country’s many challenges. Job Sikhala who is in the MDC-T leadership ranks was venting his anger at MDC-Renewal Secretary General Tendai Biti. Sikhala went on to pour even more colourful and highly-charged expletives which cannot be repeated due their graphic nature.Advertisement

People do have a right to question the character traits of those who are intending on leading them and that is allowed. Remember when Tsvangirai was challenged regarding his relationships which became public because that had a bearing on his ability to lead the country. His character was being brought into question. But it is when people who are aspiring to office start engaging in online public displays of political immaturity as Mr Sikhala that you know you have genuine problems within some section of the opposition ranks.
In as much as I do not subscribe to Biti’s politics, the unwarranted and unethical attack on him leaves a very bad taste in local politics. In a country like ours where lives have been lost and families have been torn apart because of the ravages of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, for a public office aspirant to come out guns blazing and putting stigma right back on a disease which Zimbabwean society has worked so hard to demystify is just the highest level of political immaturity. The crude and rude remarks about AIDS had undertones that were an indirect attack on those within our society living with the disease and those whose relatives had been touched by the killer disease.
Sikhala refused to back down even when his ‘many followers’ questioned him and those who disagreed with him had more profanities hailed at them and reminded that he had ‘6613 followers’. There was a sense of over-stating own importance bordering on childish behaviour. The man was unrepentant and refused to concede that his views on AIDS were not indicative of leadership material and did not cast a very bright light on the MDC-T. The hope is that these are his own views and not those of the party he represents and speaks on behalf of as his remarks give the impression that the MDC-T, as a party, views HIV and AIDS as a disease of ‘sexual perversion’ and that those who suffer from the disease have no place in Zimbabwean society.
The honest truth is that, in Zimbabwe, millions have been affected by the disease one way or the other. The AIDS pandemic has ravaged lives in Zimbabwe and Sikhala ought to be respectful to those who have been affected and not ‘mercilessly’ mock them publicly. So what exactly is the MDC-T party position on AIDS which frankly is a national tragedy? Is it a disease of the promiscuous as Sikhala boldly claims or a national tragedy that has brought untold suffering to many Zimbabweans?
Politicians ought to be advocating and championing the rights of those touched by this unrelenting disease, instead stigmatising them further. The problem with some characters in the opposition is that they are still stuck in student politics activism and most likely never to come out it. They remain tainted by the naivety and immaturity of activism instead of taking the next step into the world of the mature of politics. These are the opposition figures who go round making fraudulent claims of violation of their own civil liberties yet they go on to publicly diagnose another man with AIDS on Facebook and threaten those ‘followers’ who found their utterances revolting.
This is one of the reasons why the opposition in Zimbabwe will always remain in the opposition ranks; because of this level of immaturity. You start questioning the whole leadership of the party for including such twisted characters in their national structures. The downfall of the opposition lies in the inexperience and immaturity of those in their ranks. With such juvenile antics, the boastful over-stating of own importance, the slander and the petty pickings on online public forums completes the disastrous jigsaw.
Many ‘followers’ of Sikhala were left in shock by the shallowness, the low show of morals and ethics and the irresponsible utterances by a representative of the opposition leadership in Zimbabwe. I could not care less for Tendai Biti’s politics but such shabby tactics by Sikhala of hitting below the belt are unacceptable, disappointing and disgusting to say the least. The man failed to rise above the lowly, the despicable and unethical politics of name-calling.