Zimbabwe: A time for introspection

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By Seewell Mashizha

Nelson Chamisa forgot the simple lesson about not counting your chickens before they are hatched, and suffered the consequences. His biggest sin was always taking so much for granted, especially the part where he said he was the only logical choice for president. Such conceit is unprecedented.

When I was growing up some boys were known to engage in strange courtship practices. These boys, literally, were bullies and threatened girls with annihilation if they turned them down. We have, since the formation, of the MDC in 1999 witnessed similar antics from it. Bereft of ideology and cause other than the removal of Robert Gabriel Mugabe and the attainment of power, the MDC chose to go to bed with the people’s erstwhile colonisers and traducers.

If anyone was in doubt about the origins of the debilitating economic and other sanctions unilaterally declared principally by the United States of America on Zimbabwe, they must have had their answer when the shameless trio of Dhewa Mavhinga, Tendai Biti and Nelson Chamisa travelled to Washington to seek an extension of the sanctions. This cannot have been out of love of the people or concern for their welfare. It was and has always been just about the attainment of power.

In the days that followed we saw Nelson Chamisa take ownership of the sanctions against his country at a rally where he told his audience that he was aware that they were reeling under ZDERA-imposed and other sanctions. He went on say that they needed to be patient just a little longer until August when he surely would be the president.

That was the clearest admission since Morgan Tsvangirai of being responsible for the sanctions that have hit Zimbabwe with a vengeance since their imposition. In years gone by, Morgan Tsvangirai had appealed to South Africa to cut off Zimbabwe’s complementary power supply from there.

The idea of appealing to the West to impose illegal sanctions on the country was to quicken the setting in of disquiet and disaffection,  a situation that could play out as a phenomenal loss of votes for ZANU-PF and, by the same token, a phenomenal gain for the opposition MDC-T. In simple terms the MDC was imposing suffering on the people in order to then come in as benefactors. They counted on the people never remembering who had asked for the sanctions in the first place.

The naivety of the MDC-A, and Chamisa in particular, is astounding. They really believe that the USA would immediately remove the sanctions as soon as they assume power. What they need to do is take a long, hard look at history and diplomacy before celebrating (if they ever assume power). The thing that would obviously happen is that the US would leave the instrument in place while they determine the extent to which an MDC-A regime would be pliable. And they would expect an MDC-A government to dance to their tune. Being the ones who pay the piper, the US would of course call the tune.

Nelson Mandela was classified as a terrorist in the USA long after the demise of apartheid in South Africa. George Bush Snr was director of America’s Central intelligence Agency (CIA) when Mandela was apprehended by apartheid police with the help of the CIA. In part this was the reason why Mandela chose to travel outside South Africa when George W. Bush was visiting that country. At the time, Mandela described America as a country ruled by a president who could “not think properly”. Chamisa is no Mandela. Not by a long chalk!

The MDC, in all its configurations, has always laboured under certain falsehoods. In the elections leading to the GNU of 2009, Tsvangirai had gone around telling rallies that the MDC had friends who would pour money into the country once he was in power. When he was sworn in as Prime Minister at the beginning of the GNU Tsvangirai promised teachers in particular, and public servants in general, that they would soon be earning real money. Of course this never happened.

Yet, even as recently as the 2018 harmonised elections, Tendai Biti was prancing around like a TV evangelist saying that friends of theirs would come in with endless supplies of money in drums and buckets once the Alliance attained power. Someone should have asked him what had happened to the fabled USD15 billion that Chamisa had been enthusing about soon after his return from the trip of shame.

Paradoxically, the USA expects unflinching patriotism from its citizens, no matter what. The kinds of things we have seen the MDC do over the years would be treasonous in America. In a 2008 article entitled “Even US laws would find MDC-T subversive,” Lloyd Whitefield Butler Jnr argued that the political behaviour of the MDC-T “…in calling for and supporting illegal economic and trade sanctions against Zimbabwe in an attempt to cripple its infrastructure and invite foreign military forces and corporations; just for a change of government, are acts of treason without question according to US law…”

In the US certain subversive activities are punishable by death, life imprisonment, harsh confinement and even prison without trial or hearing. The MDC has, since coming into being done a number of things that in the United States would have been treasonous. These are:

levied war against Zimbabwe through calling for sanctions; and also “adhering to the country’s enemies.

known and wilfully concealed intended enemy action against Zimbabwe.

incited, set on foot, assisted and engaged in a rebellion against legitimate authority in Zimbabwe.

been guilty of seditious conspiracy by variously scheming to cause to overthrow, put down or destroy by force through external military intervention, the Government of Zimbabwe…

sought the overthrow of the Zimbabwean government through people who knowingly advocated, abetted, advised or taught the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of Zimbabwe…

An impartial perusal of the misdemeanours listed above would find the MDC guilty as charged. Accordingly, Zimbabweans can shed no tears for an organisation which still has to indigenise itself convincingly and adopt the people’s cause in all respects.

Now that the 2018 elections have come and gone, the impending ConCourt hearing notwithstanding, it is time for all and sundry to introspect ahead of the elections of 2023. MDC-A urbanites and others deceive themselves about the rural vote. They choose to believe that rural voters are intimidated to vote against them.

Rural voters are the waters the guerrillas swam in like fish during the liberation war. They bore the brunt of the war. It is not surprising that they understand the revolution better and are ready and willing to defend it against the mercurial urban vote when threatened. These are the true sons and daughters of the soil who understand that land is the nation and the economy. They cannot be deceived with trinkets and wishy-washy promises of village airports.

It is time for the MDC-Alliance to fully indigenise itself and be less-concerned with processes and external audiences. To do that, its definition of who the people are has to change. By the people of Zimbabwe is meant all Zimbabweans and not just a partisan lot. Too often the Alliance’s definition of the people has tended to exclude anyone not voting for it. This is a deceptive and self-serving stance.

Both ZANU-PF and the MDC-A have their work cut out in the next five years. The presidential vote numbers clearly point to some kind of underlying conspiracy somewhere. How does a party secure a two-thirds majority and then concede so many votes to the opposition’s presidential candidate. That points to a still-fractious ZANU-PF.

Zimbabwe deserves better than she is getting thus far, if the shenanigans that we have recently been subject to are anything to go by. Long-time ruler Robert Mugabe threw all caution to the wind just before the elections. He did that with a pathetic press conference where he urged the electorate to vote for Chamisa.

Against the rules of the Electoral Law, Chamisa too held a press conference that ominously coincided with Mugabe’s and was in direct opposition to the requirement to stop any further campaigning 48 hours before voting. Mnangagwa had felt that he had to make some kind of response and did on his Facebook account.

Neither Thabo Mbeki nor Jacob Zuma could have done what Robert Mugabe did – throwing their lot with the DA, for example. Mugabe’s actions make nonsense of all his former claims of being a revolutionary and make him just another demagogue.

ED has the task of disarming the subterranean forces within ZANU-PF and will easily do so if he delivers on his promises. Chamisa, on the other hand, must mature visibly in the next five years and be seen to do so. Greater humility and less conceit will do him a lot of good. ZANU-PF and the MDC-A are the parties that are likely to be left standing in the long run.