A SOUTH African-born woman who was a young teenager struggling with early effects of puberty in 1980 has suddenly risen to become a serious contender on Zimbabwe’s political landscape. Not long ago, charlatans, sycophants and thugs including Jabulani Sibanda and some unprofessional generals fronted state cameras and appeared in a plethora of media threatening Zimbabweans that a person without liberation credentials would never be allowed to govern Zimbabwe. At the same time, Zanu PF zealots and hoodlums taunted those with moderate education saying “a teaboy can never be president”.
Fast-track to 2014, a typist born the same year that Ian Smith’s oppression culminated into UDI and is believed to have struggled dismally with “O” Levels has suddenly become a central player in the leadership matrix. Criss-crossing the country, “attracting” huge numbers of blind followers and some that are force-marched, the tempo has incredibly changed to “Amai ndizvo”.
Can goal posts change so fast without repercussions in this beautiful country between the Zambezi and the Limpopo? Which liberation war did Grace fight in? How many helicopters did she shoot down? Did she ever attend a pungwe? What genuine education does she possess? Will generals and war veterans allow this opportunist to prevail? If yes, why? If no, how?
For a very long time, Zimbabweans have been yearning for a new generation of leaders and a new dispensation but in vain. Ironically and rather ominously, Grace Mugabe recently told a rally that she was now a grown-up who could also take on any leadership position. One wonders if she belongs to the same party that has fiercely resisted the emergence of a new generation of leaders for years, opting to stick to the so-called old guard that has been systematically recycled since 1980, her own husband doing the recycling!
Is the unfolding drama confirming what some of us have always suspected; which is that President Mugabe has literally turned Zanu PF and the country into his private enterprises and would rather succeed himself directly or indirectly than let any “stranger” take on the mantle? Why are “war veterans” so quiet when an “outsider” without any liberation history is about to take over their party? Of course, they are a bunch of hypocrites and opportunists whose survival revolves around singing praises for the master, Mugabe’s wives, to borrow from Margaret Dongo.Advertisement
Are we carelessly and cowardly allowing Zimbabwe to turn into the North Korea of Africa without anybody raising a finger? Yes, like any other citizen, under normal circumstances, Grace would be free to aspire and contest for any political office. That she is connected to the ruling family cannot be justifiable grounds for disqualifying her. India, the world’s biggest democracy, once experienced the leadership of one Gandhi after another. Nevertheless, this was done in a framework of genuine democracy not borrowing a disastrous template from North Korea which is what Grace and her faceless or at least spineless backers are about to deploy.
Hillary Clinton is contemplating fighting for the American presidency and no one is raising an issue over that because she will have to fight it out on a level playing field and win or lose fairly. Playing succession politics and ceding leadership to a spouse in the bedroom is not only undemocratic and uncouth but a recipe for total disaster. Lack of internal resistance to the imposition of Grace Mugabe exposes the politics of hypocrisy and opportunism that has characterised Zanu PF for a decades.
Some Zimbabweans who were singing praises for Joice Mujuru not long before the entry into politics of Grace, the unlearned doctor without any proven clue of what it takes to write a thesis, let alone what it looks like, have suddenly redirected their praises. “Amai” used to be Joice Mujuru in Zanu PF circles. Now this reference is associated with Grace Marufu. Speaking to some die-hard Zanu PF supporters, some of whom can hardly afford a decent meal a day, one gets the impression that anything that looks, sounds or smells like Mugabe, even if it’s from the zoo, will receive support from the band of blind followers.
This reminds me of some economies where one can triple their chances of job interviews in one week simply by changing one’s last name from Chamunorwa or Ndebele to Smith or Williams without changing the content of one’s curriculum vitae. Given the naivety of Zanu PF supporters and the docility of Zimbabweans, even Chatunga, despite his academic shortcomings, could be our president one day.
Wasn’t it in 2004 when Mugabe urged Joice Mujuru to aspire for higher office? While I’m not doing any lobbying for her, the natural question to ask is; what has changed? The answer is hypocrisy! If Mugabe wakes up one day to say his preferred successor is Chinotimba or some other buffoon, his supporters will make a supersonic about-turn and and start chanting slogans in support. ZUPCO buses will start displaying the image of the chosen fool, what a nation of confused clowns!!!
ZANU PF must get over its obsession with the Mugabe brand that has evidently destroyed one of Africa’s most promising economies if the country is to have a fresh start. As Grace rightly argues, now is the time for new leaders but she is certainly not one of them. Hence, she must be rejected together with her party.
Moses Chamboko is a pro-democracy activist and Interim Secretary General for Zimbabweans United for Democracy (ZUNDE). You may visit ZUNDE at www.zunde.org or email email@example.com