Zimbabwe: The dangers of politicism and egopolitics

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THE spirited search for Lucifer and other expelled angels has taken Zimbabweans so many years and cost them many lives and lots of spirit, energy and property. The Zimbabwean economy and polity have for so many years been defined by pain, suffering and death. Slowly looked at, the lucifer is not hiding anywhere behind dark clouds or somewhere in the dingy caves and fierce forests. The evil that is punishing Zimbabweans is in the open, in the thoughts and actions of visible and audible, tangible even, politicians.
I write this article to warn the protagonists and antagonists in Zimbabwean politics (ruling party and opposition) against the carelessness of allowing the present situation to degenerate into a civil war. I also write to warn Zimbabweans against semi-blind excitement about disorder, chaos and anarchy under the mistaken thinking that it will get our favourite leader to State House the following morning.
From the Hammurabi Code in 1792 to 1750 Before Christ, through the Divine Right of Kings era, Platonism of 427 to 347 Before Christ, and our own heritage from the ancient African sages, good politics are those that preserve rather than imperil lives.
My previous article, which warned about civil war, delved on the various enemy groups in Zimbabwean politics. Recent events have seen ordinary men and women, informal traders and hawkers, slowly but shockingly realizing their power, discovering that an angry and hungry populace can defeat the police and overpower the army.
Poverty, pain, suffering and death have brought, into the streets, Zimbabweans who don’t aspire for political office or support any party, but simply aspire for food, water and oxygen, basic bare life. And that is the danger. This danger proceeds as politicians in the ruling party and opposition pretend that everything is under control.
Bishops, Pastors and the many Prophets see visions and perform miracles and wonders but are blind to the most obvious evil that is ballooning towards explosion in the villages and streets of Zimbabwe. Our present thoughts and actions as Zimbabweans are not in any way informed by a true understanding of the true cost of war. The history of humanity is littered with stories of foolish men and women who propel themselves to war, winning or losing it, seeing the costs of it, get humbled and wise and run to negotiate, a little too late. Common wisdom and simple intelligence suggests that we look at the cost of war in advance, humble ourselves before we are humbled by the cost of defeats and the price of victory: Lost peace, lost property, lost happiness and many lives lost, and the death of a country.Advertisement

Politicism and Egopolitics
As used in this article, politicism refers to the careless and unwise thinking amongst politicians in power and outside that every problem is a political opportunity. In the populace, the media and the academy, the same politicism applies when we simply think chaos and war will catapult our preferred leader to power by the next morning and we will be happy ever after.
Egopolitics is also the simple and simplistic thinking amongst the gladiators in the ruling elite and the opposition that if chaos and war ensures our own group will emerge the victor; identifying victory with ourselves and loss with others only. Politicism and egopolitics as attitudes and frames of thinking tend to ignore the unhygienic business of war; they are both illiterate of the true costs of war.
The supposed foremost technician of power and war in the world, Niccolo Machiavelli, in the classic Art of War, counseled that “It is no mistake to take a position with words rather than deeds, because a mistake made in words will be corrected without loss and injury, the one made in weapons, ends with the peril, even of the commanders.” Including myself, Zimbabweans are justifiable angry after many years of misrule by the incumbent regime and poor leadership by the opposition, impotency and inability to deal death to the regime.
At this highest point of our anger, we need method and wisdom most. A warrior spirit- pure rage-is blowing across the country. Everybody, in the ruling regime and the opposition, is ready for true rampage and havoc. Victims cannot wait for the moment of bloody and sweet revenge. The paradox of the present warrior mood in Zimbabwe can be summarized in the irony of Mao Tse-Tung: “Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent.” Each group smells long awaited victory, sees light at long last in the tunnel, but the light could be a consuming inferno of fire and the victory our own crucifixion and burning at the stakes. Picture a flock of chickens celebrating the coming of Christmas, the day on which they will be slaughtered in numbers, cooked and eaten with sharp objects and hot spices.
It is important to formulate a problem statement and problem question to the present condition of Zimbabwe. In the ruling party itself, the opposition, civil society and the general populace, there is resolve, expressed and unexpressed, that the regime must fall for positive change to be realised. The fall of the regime will cost us the courage to face the very few but dangerous remaining armed loyalists of the regime. Further, there are many other factions and groups, all with access to money and arms that are spiritedly waiting to go for each other in iron and blood. There are also gun runners, black marketeers and mercenaries that are waiting to do war business in Zimbabwe. In justice, how do we change Zimbabwe for the better without going through the shadow of death, paying the dear price of war? Put in another way, that Robert Mugabe must go, is a matter on which both Lucifer and the Christ might be found in agreement, but if he must go, why should he go with many young lives, with the little remaining infrastructure, and with the country even?
The Geography of War
Many of us who believe that chaos and war, the excellence of disorder under the heavens are the way to go, do so in lack of appreciation of the cuts and curves of a true civil war situation.
If a civil war starts in Zimbabwe, there would be no two sides but many sides going for each other at once. Police stations and the courts will disappear and the rule of the jungle will proceed. Every man or woman with a gun will become a police officer, a prosecutor, a magistrate, a judge and an executioner folded in one terrible body.
With the law of the jungle in place, a civil war situation is that situation where the criminal who had always wanted to rob and steal, but feared the law and order, can now do so under the cover of a war. The sociopaths and the psychopaths, the murderers and the rapists that have always wanted to rule the hood, suddenly appear to rape, rob, murder and burn the communities, in the name of the war. Little bands of soldiers, police officers and intelligence details suddenly turn into true terrorist groups that plunder and pillage, armed men who answer to no constitution and are not held by any ethics. This is when mothers hear that an entire pre-school has been held by many strange and drunk gunmen who will keep the kids in their custody until their commander who was captured yesterday by another unknown group is released, when he is already dead.
Civil war is irrational. Schools easily turn into refugee camps with students, in their numbers, drafted, by force, into lawless militias. Civil war burns innocence. Refugees flood out of the country on foot, buildings burn and limbs and bodies of the dead litter the streets, with dogs and other scavengers feasting on human flesh in broad day light.
Those who witnessed Gukurahundi at its thickest will remember the sights of the family dog returning home clutching, between its jaws, a bleeding liver, not that of a bush buck or a goat, but of the father of the family in the next homestead, who would have been left unburied because the situation was too dangerous even for funerals. Towns would smell and death itself would walk about on two legs. Families, clans and other groups would be slaughtered genocide style. International mediation and intervention would come but too late. Bodies of big political leaders, those who do not flee, would be dragged in the streets by maniacally laughing and screaming hooligans of war, children of previously powerful leaders and their wives would be mobbed and beheaded in the streets. There would be nothing called home or family anymore. It would take another forty years to restore Zimbabwe to normalcy after a civil war.
In this case, South Africa and Botswana, already hosting more than enough Zimbabweans, will be forced to host many more millions. It is not worth it; life and the world are waiting for much better from Zimbabweans than a senseless sleep-walk into war. After the genocidal civil war, all who remain alive will be humbled, turned into fanatics of peace. The makeup and the geography of war, especially a civil war, is that of mass death taken to its limits. It is not as it happens in the movies.
The wisdom of Political Humility
Before every war there is excitement. The protagonists and antagonists and other agitators all speak from positions of excitement and sweet smell of victory at long last. But this is the time in Zimbabwe to abandon politicism and egopolitics and think and act from a position of vulnerability. Zimbabweans, especially the political leaders in the ruling party and the opposition should urgently be humbled by the prospect of war than wait to be humbled by the war itself. Before genocide breaks out, African leaders should by now be speaking to Harare in clear tones. The ruling party should lead by mobilising the opposition into urgent talks, time is not on our side, and these talks should produce a team of sober Zimbabweans who will work with Zimbabwe, Africa and the world in getting emergency economic and political help for the country that is already burning. The angry Zimbabweans that are already in the streets do not want to hear anymore speeches but want to see and feel hope now, or else the country burns, starting with very important people who are impervious to wisdom even as it knocks hard, through signs of chaos and disorder in the streets. Talks of parties, elections and power should immediately be suspended, that is the food of politicists and egopoliticians, what Zimbabwe needs now are humble servants, saviours and true liberators who pay the price of war before it comes. Politicism and egopolitics must fall!!
Dinizulu Mbikokayise Macaphulana is a Zimbabwean Political Scientist and Semiotician who lives in South Africa.