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VP Mnangagwa and ‘Yes Mr President’

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YES Prime Minister is a satirical British sitcom that was transmitted by BBC Television from 1986 to 1988. The sitcom followed the events of the premiership of Jim Hacker after his unexpected elevation to Number 10 upon the resignation of the previous PM.
It is now almost 35 years since the election of President Mugabe initially as Prime Minister and subsequently as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe. There is a no doubt that President Mugabe is a man of flesh who cannot be presumed by any rational person to rise above the limitations imposed on any human being yet the events of the last few months would seem to suggest that he possesses superior powers over other human beings.
There are two versions of the man that seem to be at play i.e. one projected by Hon. Didymus Mutasa, former Secretary for Administration of the ruling party, and the other by Hon. Mnangagwa, the current Co-VP of both the party and government. Both gentlemen have known or claim to have known President Mugabe for a very long time. Hon. Mutasa, who is now outside the Zanu PF bus, believes strongly that the man, President Mugabe, has been hijacked and, as a consequence, the party has also been stolen by a power hungry clique.
In an article entitled: “Mutasa fires back,” published by the Daily News on 18 January 2015, Hon. Mutasa is reported to have said that no one could expel him from the “real Zanu PF” and vowed to do everything to “rescue” the party from the brink of collapse. Both Hon. Mnangagwa and Hon. Mutasa are in agreement that by real Zanu PF, they both mean President Mugabe whose personality and character has subsumed the party. Like the rank and file membership of the party, the glue that keeps them together is the person of President Mugabe. So when reference is made to Zanu PF, what is implied is that the party is synonymous with the person of President Mugabe.
It is self-evident from the unfolding events prior to and after the 6th congress of Zanu PF that both Hon. Mutasa and Hon. Mnangagwa and the constituencies they represent within the party remain loyal to the President Mugabe as an individual. Mutasa regards the 6th Congress as a “gathering of criminals” and the outcome as illegitimate and invalid.  Some would argue that this is a self-serving position as it would have been unlikely that he would have arrived at this conclusion if President Mugabe had intervened in his favour as has been the case before.Advertisement

Just because he finds himself outside the bus, he poses the question: “I want to know which Zanu PF they are talking about.  Is it the Zanu PF after congress where they are members of, or which came to being after the 6th congress?” fully cognisant that it is the same party of President Mugabe and nothing appears to have changed except the fact that a few of the crew members have been thrown outside the bus by the person they thought they knew and were close to. Indeed, Hon. Mutasa has reasons to believe that he knows President Mugabe better than many people yet in this last instalment of the long march, it would appear that President Mugabe has turned his back on him and his fellow accused.
Hon. Mutasa makes the point that: “If it is that, I am not a member of that. I am a member of Zanu PF which goes up to the 6th congress and they cannot expel me from that and because they are not anymore members of that Zanu PF,” as if to suggest that Zanu PF has ever been a living and thinking entity outside the ideas and choices of its leader. In fact, some may rightly question Hon. Mutasa where his newly found moral principles were when others were given yellow and red cards in the name of the same person.
It is significant that notwithstanding the fact that Hon. Mutasa would not find himself like a barking dog outside a moving gravy train if the Great Leader did not consent to the actions, he still affectionately refers to the Leader as his political father and that the same President Mugabe who chose to keep driving the Zanu PF without Hon. Mutasa & Crew did not reserve a seat for Hon. Mutasa in recognition of his loyalty to him. To Hon. Mutasa, Hon. Mnanagwa is a beneficiary of theft and the real Zanu PF is one in which he remains President Mugabe’s confidant and a passenger in the cockpit.
The narrative of President Mugabe takes a different spin when told by Hon. Mnangagwa who in his farewell speech to party supporters in Chirumhanzi-Zibangwe, his former constituency, effectively sealed President Mugabe’s legacy as a “tyrant” who wants to be associated by sycophants. He is reported to have said that: ““Some of us never questioned authority; we remained loyal to President Mugabe (Robert) and the ideals of the party. When we were assigned to various posts, we never complained or questioned but we just said yes sir until today. Those who complained; where are they now?” suggesting that President Mugabe is allergic to alternative ideas and choices.
Hon. Mnangagwa confirmed a causal connection between his elevation to the position of one of two VPs of the state and party and his loyalty to the person of President Mugabe. He made the point that loyalty to President Mugabe has worked magic for him, a point that seems to have escaped Hon. Mujuru & Co who evidently mistakenly assumed that Zanu PF and the person of President Mugabe were two separate and distinct personalities.
It is Hon. Mnangagwa’s version that: “Some of us never questioned authority; we remained loyal to President Mugabe (Robert) and the ideals of the party. When we were assigned to various posts, we never complained or questioned but we just said yes sir until today. Those who complained, where are they now?”  He specifically draws a distinction between loyalty to President Mugabe and the ideas of the party as if to suggest that in practice such a distinction exists.
What is clear to Hon. Mnangagwa and not to his former colleagues is that the ideals of the party are the ideals of President Mugabe. In making this point, one then has to recognise the futility of any legal or moral challenges to the wishes of the Great Leader for even if Hon. Mutasa were to succeed in asserting a perceived right that may have been injured by the manner in which Mujuru & Co have been removed from the leadership positions of the party, it cannot be said that such a ruling by any court could be enforced in the party of Yes MEN.
Indeed, Hon. Mnangagwa as an obedient son of the Leader, who also is the father to Mujuru & Co, knows better that complaining or barking like a wounded dog will not assist their purported cause. In fact, the First Lady, made the same point as a warning to Mujuru & Co but evidently they assumed that they knew President Mugabe better than what was the real case. Hon. Mnangagwa makes the point that he knows President Mugabe’s character and personality having worked with him since 1962.  It is significant that he is reported to have said: “We responded to the assignments by just saying yes sir and did the duty as assigned since 1962.”
Although President Mugabe is a smart man, it cannot be said that he is a perfect man who needs to be surrounded by YES MEN especially when regard is had that under his watch, Rome has been burning and the visible signs are there to be seen even by his YES MEN. Hon. Mnangagwa also makes the point that: “We have ministers and deputies who were recalled last year because they wanted to put Zanu PF into their own pockets … Zanu PF is a big institution, it cannot fit into your pocket.”  It is common cause that Zanu PF only should exist through its members yet in this case a suggestion is made that by Zanu PF one means President Mugabe.
With one Great Leader, Zanu PF as the recent events have confirmed is not a big institution but an extension of the personality and character of its undisputed leader.  In fact, what Hon. Mnangagwa implies in the above statement is that it is suicidal for anyone to attempt to fit President Mugabe into their pockets as evidently Hon. Mutasa is attempting to do by saying that he knows the Leader better than the people he accuses of hijacking him.
With respect to the republican values that inform the Zimbabwean constitution, Hon. Mnangagwa, a lawyer by training and presumably the Chief Legal Advisor of the Leader, remarked that:  “Let me just tell the youths here, in Harare, we have a road between Zimbabwe House and State House; if you are on that road, you would think it is easy to turn to any of the places or to enter them, but let me just tell you this, a journey to China is shorter than getting into State House.”
In fact contrary to the assertion of Hon. Mnangagwa, the promise of independence was precisely to make the road to any destination including the highest office in the land easy and convenient to traverse. By insinuating that the journey to China is shorter than getting into State House, he is effectively making a case against President Mugabe’s political morality.
In a republican democratic constitutional order, the equality doctrine is a fundamental building block and any person who assumes or deludes himself into thinking that there can be a person of flesh who can rise above others in a manner that excludes others effectively cannot be regarded as a democrat. It is not clear why patience and perseverance is required to complete the trip. In the recent past, we have seen unlikely persons like President Obama and even President Zuma assume the highest offices in the land only because of the absence of YES MEN in their countries.
With YES MEN, change is not only an unwelcome development but goes against the grain of what is desirable for when YES MEN surround a Great Leader, the leader automatically becomes a hostage to gossip and even distorted reality. Independence promised a government of the people, by the people and for the people and certainly not a government of the LEADER & his Crew, by the LEADER & his Crew, and for the Leader & his Crew.
When Hon Mnangagwa said: “It needs perseverance and being loyal to the party,” he really meant loyalty to the Leader for the party does not have eyes, ears, legs let alone the capacity to know who is loyal and who is not.  It is self-evident that Hon. Mnangagwa means that for one to aspire to be a leader the people do not matter but loyalty to the incumbent does matter and more significantly can be rewarding.
Hon. Mnangagwa also made the point that: “don’t be fooled that it is easy to get into State House, it’s very far,” when in truth and fact, the legacy of President Mugabe, the successor to an oppressive system, ought to be the opposite.  In South Africa, the last 21 years of democracy have produced four leaders and even Hon. Mnangagwa must agree that this is healthy for any democracy. Independence promised political pluralism and the attendant diversity of ideas yet it is the considered opinion of Hon. Mnangagwa that democracy is an inconvenience and stands in the way of ambitious political actors.
I have no doubt that President Mugabe whose views on governance and democracy are well known, would have a problem at being labelled a dictator when he has steadfastly maintained that he is a product of the will of the people and not a creation of political intrigues and manipulation. The record will show that President Mugabe as Hon. Mutasa knew him before the 6th Congress believed that no leader must be clothed with powers to anoint his successors and in actual fact, the amended Zanu PF constitution undermines the values, principles and policies that made Hon. Mnangagwa and Hon. Mujuru & Co belong to the same political family.
It cannot be disputed that Hon. Mnangagwa’s legitimacy to be a VP flows directly from the personal choice made by President Mugabe and, therefore, his relevance will expire when the appointing authority vacates. This poses the question as to the relationship between the VPs and the party when regard is had that at the last congress, it was only the relationship between the President and the party that was affirmed.
It is self-evident that only President Mugabe could keep the warring Zanu PF factions in the same bus but now it would appear that he is no longer willing to be the glue that keeps the factions together and in so doing has created a new super faction premised on the Great Leader Principle with all its inherent dangers.