Zimbabwe towards 2018: With clowns as leaders, buffoonery rules

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THE past two decades have shown us Olympian heights of fatuity in Zimbabwean politics. The kind of political fatuity that Zimbabweans have seen has been a combination of petty buffoonery in parliament by people like Zanu PF legislator Joseph Chinotimba and dangerous practical jokes played on a large scale with grave and far reaching consequences.
Most Zimbabweans still have in mind pictures of shoeless top officials of the ruling party making libation, kowtowing and clapping in adulation for non-existent purified diesel that was supposed to ooze out of rocks in Chinhoyi. Other pictures however, show a ghoulish fatuity, performed by people that I classify with Stephen King’s ‘Pennywise’ sadistic clown, appearing funny but dangerous. These clowns are exemplified by people like Zanu PF legislator Melody Dziva who was recently quoted as having said Zimbabwe has no poverty and “If there was poverty in this country we would be seeing dead bodies all over”. I could not help but groan at these utterances.
Other camouflaged but dangerous court jesters are people like Walter Mzembi who recently exposed his grandiose delusions by claiming that Zimbabwe could host the 2034 FIFA football World Cup. The list of clowns extends into the boundaries of opposition parties – we have heard in recent days of the opposition leadership’s nostalgia for binge drinking in Rhodesia; apparently beer is their most precious memory of the forgettable colonial era. From some of this foolery in Zimbabwean politics we can definitely extract at least a modicum of laughter.
The unfortunate part of Zimbabwe’s political circus is that it is performed at the expense of the millions of desperate people, most of whom have exhausted all avenues of escape from the ongoing political leadership madness in the country. It seems to me that an increasingly stolid Zanu PF leadership and a languid opposition have teamed up to make a mockery of the thousands of young people who cannot find jobs after finishing tertiary education, of people falling ill from drinking untreated water, of many others dying from lack of medication in badly equipped hospitals. These problems could apply more to the ruling party, but the unforgivable sin of the hitherto main opposition leadership’s foolery has been the dashing of an oppressed people’s hopes for change.Advertisement

Let’s take Mugabe’s recent remarks that the economy is on the recovery path, which he made at the 2014 President’s Medal Shoot Competition. Maybe he thought he was making a joke, but this shows that the man takes people for granted. Signs are there for all to see that economically, the nation is being tossed from the frying pan into the fire. This of course echoes remarks from his toady party members like (dis)honourable Member of Parliament Melody Dziva and the loquacious columnist Nathaniel Manheru. Dziva is reported to have said that Zimbabwe has no poverty, her indication of poverty being dead bodies on the streets.
Manheru’s recent op-ed contributions have advocated for the total destruction of industry in Zimbabwe in order to ‘prove’ that the country earned independence. What brainlessness! The solutions forwarded by the clowning Manheru like his proposed “creative national planning” are as vague as his story is confusing. Extending to Mugabe’s ‘rival’, Tsvangirayi, every breath, and every demeanor of his, at least in the past few years, makes us doubt his ability to help clean the Augean stable that Zanu PF has made of Zimbabwe.
Instead of progressive politics of recovery and reconstruction, Zimbabwe has moved into a phase of ‘mind diversion’ politics and this kind of politics seem to require psychopathic people in positions of power. The current crop of political leadership is functionally insane and they seem to be in their mental state and political positions by design. It is no surprise that Walter Mzembi, one of Robert Mugabe’s “best ministers”, seems to suffer from delusion of grandeur, something evident in his recent remarks that Zimbabwe is capable of hosting a FIFA World Cup, and very soon. Mzembi like his boss has a fondness for extravagant ‘carnivals’ which some call beauty pageants. This is a spiteful penchant in a country full of problems affecting the majority of its population and that need urgent attention.
Quite interesting in all this, is that Mzembi, Dziva, Manheru, Chinotimba among others and their counterparts in the main opposition leadership, that is currently being challenged by the ‘Renewal Team’, have succeeded in keeping the nation preoccupied with their petty foolery, while they help themselves to mansions, multiple farms, and expensive holidays and medical treatment in faraway countries. Because of these clowns Zimbabweans have been distracted in much the same way street performers distract people waiting for their turn in a bank queue in Harare. And because of these political clowns Zimbabweans are still waiting for a ‘next time’ that will never arrive, unless some radical measure like renewing political leadership is taken.
We know very well that Zimbabwe’s problems do not lie in the lack of ‘entertainment’ and that jesters do not belong anywhere close to positions of power. The problems that Zimbabweans are facing are quite grave and there is no room or time for confusion. The country is reeling under the burden of a dysfunctional economy, the state has been a pariah state for far too long, millions cannot wait to get out of exile and return home. All this cannot happen when those in power are experts of ‘carnivals’, denial and destruction. It is time to be serious with our leadership.
Melusi Nkomo is a Ph.D candidate in Development Studies in Switzerland. He can be reached at