Tag Archives: Zanu PF

We Don’t Need Another Hero.

it’s been a phenomenal two weeks in the country of my birth, Zimbabwe. The events of the last fourteen days across the country have caught everyone unawares. From the initial demonstrations at Beitbridge border post on June 20th when SI 64 was first implemented to the burning of the customs warehouse and closure of the Zimbabwe and South Africa border for the first time in over a century, media and government were at a loss to explain what had changed in the mood of the country. Little did they know more was to come.

Hardly two days after relative order was restored at Beitbridge, Monday saw running battles between police and Kombi drivers across parts of Harare as the latter went on strike in protest against traffic police corruption. Police deployed their standard tactics only to be met by an emboldened resistance that saw reports of them being beaten back by enraged protestors. As the day went on pictures emerged of excessive police force along with increasingly violent resistance.

In response to the burning of the Beitbridge customs warehouse, Minister of State Security Kembo Mohadi, who is from Beitbridge, exclaimed:

“We are very much disturbed. Why should the South African businesspeople try to influence our policy formulation? They have their own laws and we don’t meddle. It is sad that they chose to mobilise our people against the Government. The burning of tyres during demonstrations is foreign to us and we suspect a third hand is involved in the chaos that rocked Beitbridge town on Friday,” 

Mohadi also blamed the police for being unprepared leading to the army having to be called in. The police, for their part, have been consistent in  cracking down viciously at any sign of protest but have at times appeared at a loss when confronted by protestors who are not scared of them anymore. Instead, they have now started to look for the ringleaders of these protests, another old policing tactic.

Now whilst the police and government try to get control of the situation the media have been excitedly keeping the world informed and as is their nature, trying to find that unique angle to differentiate their coverage from that of the competition. The irony is, many are as confused about this new wave of resistance as the state, and like the state, have resorted to classic theories to explain what is going on. In this effort, they have identified an ideal leader who fits the desired profile in a Harare pastor, Evan Mawarire.

Mawarire has risen to prominence over the last few months after a series of Facebook videos of him venting his frustration at the state of the country resonated with fellow Zimbabweans inspiring others to share their stories of frustration. His use of social media to galvanise people has been nothing short of phenomenal and he has attracted other equally talented and frustrated Zimbabweans to his cause under what has come to be known as the #ThisFlag citizens movement. Collectively they called for a stay-away on Wednesday 06 July which saw the country come to a virtual standstill and protestors in running battles with the police in Harare and Bulawayo. Following on this they have published a list of demands and are threatening a second stay-away next week.

#ThisFlag is now the ideal one-stop-shop for publishers looking for a ready-made media package for anyone wanting to know what’s going on in Zimbabwe today and its all here on social media, or so some local and international media would have us believe. It is at this point that I become wary. The last week has seen all sorts of people claiming credit or being assigned blame for what has in reality been a collective effort who’s time has come. The MDC-T’s Obert Gutu was quick off the mark after Wednesday’s stay-away to claim that this was only possible because of them, an act that was roundly condemned across social, digital and print media.

Now that the dust has settled, the state and media alike, are looking for ringleaders of the protests, albeit for different reasons. The state so they can put an end to the protests, the media so they can find new heroes and villains to replace the tired characters of the seemingly eternal Zimbabwean political soap opera. Why shouldn’t they? This formula has worked marvellously for both of them in the past. Only problem is, this time around what’s happening in Zimbabwe does not fit this mould. This is popular resistance against a political system that has failed Zimbabweans for too long and now seeks to starve them. I don’t know where started but it certainly was not on social media and it certainly was not on July 01, Zimbabweans have been frustrated a damn long time and have been using various means to just get by in spite of a state that has continued to make life harder for them.

Recent moves by the state, notably the introduction of bond notes and S I 64 have been the most brazen of a number of unpopular moves going back as far as 2000 or even 1980, depending on who you speak to. All these own goals have seen Zimbabweans from all walks of life saying they have had enough, from advocates to vendors to taxi-drivers to pastors to journalists to students. Every Zimbabwean who is not benefiting directly from the patronage system that is our government today has had enough and are finding means of expression, no matter where they are. In Bulawayo youths who I saw growing up were arrested for demanding Mugabe must go on Wednesday, they are out on $40 bail each. A few weeks ago a woman wrote of how she lost her child to an inept health care system. Two people who have been creating platforms for Zimbabweans to communicate with and develop each other tweeted about how they were interviewed by the police about their activities in the same week. People are sharing their dissatisfaction with the state and they all need to be heard, to position some as heroes this early in the night is to set us all up for failure. We are all important and we all deserve support.

The world wants to tell us social media has become a new frontier in the battle for a normal life in Zimbabwe and in response the state has threatened to control social media, even allegedly disrupting the internet during Wednesday’s stay-away. Barring social media or the internet entirely will not put food in peoples’ bellies or bring back lost children. It won’t restore the tens of thousands of jobs lost annually, let alone the millions ZANU promised during the 2013 elections. Employees are only as loyal as their last paycheque and in Zimbabwe regular paycheques have become increasingly rare. As the state & media look for heroes and villains a country demands a return to normalcy so they don’t have to ever again read in a WhatsApp message about a relative dying in a hospital because there was no water.

We don’t need another hero in Zimbabwe, our history is riddled with them and since 1980 their legacies have been used to control and cajole us. We need all our stories to be told and a responsible government that values the life of every citizen.

Smoke & Mirrors, Lessons from the elective congress that wasn’t.

The much-hyped ZANU PF elective congress finally took place last week in Harare from Tuesday to Saturday and there was no shortage of fireworks throughout. With the frenetic talk of factions in recent months many expected a showdown like never before but in a move to preempt this the outgoing politburo recommended that rather than elections the First Secretary appoint the new politburo and this was approved by congress. This gave President Mugabe sole discretion to appoint his two vice presidents and second secretaries, the national chairperson, the heads of departments of the politburo, the committee members of the politburo and the deputies to the heads of department.

President Mugabe was expected to announce these appointments on Saturday night but in another move to possibly keep the peace he said:

“I could not rush to choose people. I would want time to look at the new names, new people that have come into the central committee and see which hands we could put to the politburo,”

“…I haven’t seen what the provinces gave us. I don’t want to rush it, so be patient. By mid next week, by Wednesday or Thursday, we will make an announcement. We will let you know because we cannot go far. We will have to choose the two vice presidents and the chairman, and the secretary, one who is in charge of our secretariat, the job Mutasa was doing.”

In a week where everything seemed to be going right for the first couple as they secureed their leadership positions in ZANU PF and in effect Zimbabwe, this would have brought finality to internal strife that has gripped the party in recent months. There is much speculation as to why he did this ranging from his advanced age to him wanting to enjoy the extended grovelling by those seeking appointments. I have another theory.

The President now effectively has sole control of ZANU PF’s decision-making structures which means the party’s fortunes rise and fall with him now more directly than before. Once appointed every politburo member can now rightly claim they have been directly appointed by the President and that they speak on  his behalf. As they are no longer voted for who is to say that anyone else’s authority beside’s the President’s will be adhered to going forward? The politburo itself may now be of little meaning as a decision making body. President Mugabe may be wondering if, by appointing the wrong people to key positions how will he control them considering the alleged coup plot that has caused such ructions in the party? This may explain why throughout his speeches on Saturday President Mugabe continually emphasised service to the party and the nation saying at one point

“I want to say thank you. I know I am not greater than people. As a leader, I am your servant, . . We must treasure and take care of Zimbabwe.”.

Maybe realising the delicacy of the task President Mugabe said he needed more time to consider politburo and presidium candidates. Now I am not sure, but I assume the ZANU PF constitutional amendments do not allow for the central committee to review politburo appointments made by the President. ZANU PF has guidelines for who is eligible to contest which post based mostly on experience but this has been rubbished by the unopposed election and subsequent appointment of Grace Mugabe as Secretary For Women’s Affairs without her having held any prior position in the party. This is not to mention her vicious attacks on various senior members in previous months without being challenged whilst she was still an ordinary member. This apparent suspension of the rules can only make the pending appointments more difficult and less predictable. President Mugabe is famous for taking his time to make seemingly key appointments and I would not be surprised if come Friday there is still no decision on the politburo, presidium and the vice presidents, remember second Vice President John Nkomo died in January 2013 but his replacement is yet to be announced.

It is not unreasonable to think the events of the last week have left an old man drained and he needs time to come to terms with the fact that he has, amongst other problems,  a potential constitutional crisis on his hands with a Vice President he has publicly accused of treason but has taken no action against. These events have also brought about the realisation that he is surrounded by people who no longer take his word as gospel but now merely pay him lip service. Considering how he went on at length about the liberation struggle only to be passed a note from his wife saying he should wrap up, is President Mugabe now realising just how out of touch he is with the relative youths in ZANU PF leadership? The liberation struggle was such a simpler time, you were either with or against the movement, nowadays there are factions within factions and unparalleled intrigue.

It could be too that the purges of the last two months finally took their toll on him. Despite the lack of blood so far, these events remind me of Stalin’s Great Purge of the 1930s where family members accused each other of treason and the allegations got more fantastic by the day. Jacob Mudenda took the allegations against Vice President Mujuru to new levels with this gem

“This plot involved some among us, under the leadership of then Vice-President Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru and her cabal of senior politburo members, who had been enticed by the Americans and some Europeans with promises that they would pour billions of dollars into Zimbabwe once they succeeded in allying with the opposition formations to oust Zanu PF and its iconic President and first secretary from power.”.

Not done yet Mudenda went on in classic purge mode to encourage the accused to repent and ask for forgiveness before evidence is produced against them. The accused are yet to respond.

With power games at such a high level it is not unusual for the protagonists to continue communicating via back channels whilst in public they excoriate each other. Consider that Vice President Joice Mujuru has only made one public statement and along with her co-accused did not attend congress. Whilst President Mugabe and others publicly heaped scorn on her throughout the congress it is significant that she is not currently in jail considering the seeming seriousness of the allegations against her and others. I would wager that the President is weighing his options as any punitive moves against VP Mujuru may weaken his position. President Mugabe is a master of isolating threats and the best way to do this right now would be to retain Joice Mujuru whilst whittling away her perceived support base effectively making her a lame duck VP.

Being the obedient party cadre that she is, VP Mujuru has kept a disciplined silence and not challenged the first family on their allegations against her. My guess is this is part of a plan for a post-Mugabe white knight campaign for the presidency. As others fall over themselves to make accusations, denials, threats, insults, retractions and counter-accusations, she is the only one who has not descended to this level, making her relatively clean. I imagine VP Mujuru sees the current situation as unsalvageable and could wait out the next few years till elections whilst those who have hounded her tear each other apart. It is much easier to fight a battle on one front against a tired enemy than the current situation where brazen attackers and accusers abound. Already the ranks are thinning out with some perceived candidates for the vice presidency retiring from the race.

President Mugabe may have won this round but the battle for the presidency is far from over and time is not on his side. Despite ZANU PF and the state media’s declarations as to his abilities and inferences to his immortality, the signs of age were there for all to see on Saturday with him making a number of notable gaffs. If the congress taught us one thing it is that the race to state house will be won by the one who bides their time, not by shock and awe tactics which fizzle out into hot air.

Dr. Amai Goes To Rome

After two weeks of highly publicised speeches across the country, zero babies kissed, a billion air miles by presidential helicopter, daily front-page coverage and ten million tonnes of maize later Zimbabwe’s First Lady Dr Amai Grace Mugabe, as she is now known according to state media, appeared for the first time in public with her husband President Mugabe on a trip to visit His Holiness Pope Francis at The Vatican.

This has surely put to bed all the speculation about wether our dear leader supports Dr Amai’s ambitions, whatever they may be, but that’s a story for another day. It was just the other day that all religious leaders leaders with any shred of association to the ruling party beat a path to Dr. Amai’s Mazoe mansion, sorry, orphanage, to pour their blessings upon her whilst she in turn showered them with platitudes and Mazoe. Prior to and since the press has regaled us with quotes of Dr. Amai’s many conversations with God and possibly other spirits leaving us in no doubt she is, as they say these days, a prayerful woman.

Now with Dr. Amai apparently being imbued with all the abundant Godliness in our beloved Zimbabwe, she has gone where no other Presidential aspirant has gone before, to His Eminence himself, God’s representative on Earth no less, Pope Francis. Maybe I’m just a conspiracy nut but if I was one of those tithe-seekers who had braved the sun and the dust to lay my hands on Dr. Amai’s fair head when summoned two weeks ago I would be wondering, ko how far?

VanaMadzibaba and others who thronged Mazoe so recently must be wondering is there no ZIMASSET in religion? What of indiginisation? Was their blessing of Dr. Amai not enough that she had to go all the way to Rome to receive communion from that church that now wants to marry homosexuals?! Even going to see T.B. Joshua would have been better. Surely Dr. Amai had gone there navaMugabe to convince His Holiness that this is not the way and since the bishops have postponed their discussions on homosexuals it is proof enough of Dr. Amai’s growing influence. No? Prove it.

Another community that must surely be questioning Dr. Amai’s first international trip since her anointing is our beloved diaspora. Logic follows that as “your Mother of the Nation” her first trip would be to the millions of “children” living in South Africa and the UK. As the unifying force that she is, imagine the hundreds of thousands that would come out to show their truest feelings for this symbol of regeneration, peace and unity?

An FNB stadium, coincidentally already orange like Dr. Amai’s beloved Mazoe Crush would reverberate to the sights and sounds of vana vevhu there to see only her, oh just the thought of it makes my eyes water. What more at Stamford Bridge, the only blue stadium, because you don’t want to confuse the children with a red stadium like The Emirates, Anfield or Old Trafford, full to capacity? Not to forget the shopping, I’m sure Comrades Chiyangwa, Zhuwaou and her other backers can afford to extend Dr. Amai every luxury during such a trip were it to happen.

I think this is an opportunity for inclusion of the diaspora that is going begging. Sanctions you say? What country would deny a mother the opportunity to see and speak to her children? Even Obama had a mother wani and Amai Obama would understand.

I keep fingers crossed that the the Meet The People roadshow organisers here this and take Dr. Amai to every corner where there is a Zimbabwean yearning to hear her message and express their true feelings to her in person.

Tose kunaAmai!

When Political Wills Trump The Peoples’ Will.

We Zimbabweans like to make much of our high literacy levels as a towering achievement in our development as a nation. Detractors like to remind us that this high literacy is exactly the reason why we are where we are, we Zimbabweans are simply too clever for our own damn good. I have resisted blogging about the events of the last week until the results of the elections had been formally announced and judging by the torrent of news and views out of and about Zimbabwe, I was not missed.

President Mugabe will rule over Zimbabwe for another term whilst Morgan Tsvangirai must now spend probably the next five years in court fighting for that same right. He will not win. If we’ve learnt anything from the Zimbabwean legal system, it is that it is uniquely attuned to the political whims of the ruling party so even if Tsvangirai and others do get a day in court, barring extraordinary circumstances, this case will be dragged out till it’s outcome is irrelevant. If the complainants win, it will be another pyrrhic victory to add to a long and unimpressive list.

That said it is a sad realisation that Zimbabwe’s people have once again been used for political gain by the few who’s only desire in life is to rule over us. This last election was typically Zimbabwean, campaigns of little substance focused on the character flaws of opposing candidates, their family members and their parties, devoid of political or economic substance along with manifestos filled with promises no party has any intentions of fulfilling.

What has become clear to me is that the entire electoral system is broken. The candidate selection criteria and processes in every single political party were fraught with problems from the outset. Claims and counter-claims of imposition of candidates by party leaders abounded leading to an unprecedented number of independent candidates running in the elections having been disillusioned by back-room politics in their respective parties. Some former MDC-T independent candidates even went to court for the right to use Morgan Tsvangirai’s face on their campaign material.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Registrar General’s Office (RG) are the key institutions in Zimbabwe’s electoral process.  The RG is responsible for registering eligible Zimbabweans as voters, producing and maintaining a current, credible voters’ roll. The voters’ roll is probably the single most important document of any election anywhere as it contains vital information for determining the credibility of the election process. Fact is, without it, an election is simply not possible.

ZEC is responsible for carrying out the actual processes of an election, producing ballots, demarcating constituencies, assigning polling stations, accrediting observers, ensuring the security of the entire process, ultimately tabulating and certifying the results of the poll.

Both the RG’s Office and ZEC have acknowledged they failed to meet their mandates citing various logistical and financial constraints. The whole world now knows they failed, what is yet to be proven is just how extensive their failure actually was and what impact it had on the elections, early indications are that it was extensive and severe. Some yet to be adequately substantiated allegations include:

  • Video footage of allegedly under-age voters with registration slips bussed in to cast votes at a Mount Pleasant, Harare, polling station.
  • A million people in urban areas unable to register to vote due to a difficult and short registration process.
  • The bulk of the 750 000 voters turned away were in urban areas.
  • A rural constituency purportedly processed voters at the rate of two per minute over a twelve hour period in 15 polling stations without a single spoilt ballot.
  • The voters roll contained over 6,4 million registered voters in a country of less than 13 million people and a majority population under the age of sixteen. A glaring statistical anomaly.
  • The voters’ roll has more than 350 000 registered voters over the age of 85 and of these 109 000 are over 100  with one former soldier aged 135.
  • Various constitutional requirements for the carrying out of an election were simply ignored making the entire exercise illegal in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Notably the period between proclamation of the election day by the President and the registration period for voters and public inspection of the voters’ roll.
  • The Southern African Development Community (SADC) did not want this election to go ahead but were powerless to do anything when the party principals insisted on going ahead as each was certain of victory.
  • As at today Zimbabwe still does not have an independently verified voters’ roll.

Considering all the mounting evidence of irregularities, how can anyone hide behind the claim that “there is no such thing as a perfect election” as the SADC and African Union observer missions did on Thursday and Friday last week?

I may not be an electoral or constitutional law expert but one does not need such expertise to tell that this election was neither procedural or fair. The politicians failed Zimbabweans by ensuring such a flawed process go ahead. Zimbabwe has been here for over thirty three years and is not going anywhere, so, whose interests are best served by a rushed and flawed election? Certainly not the interests of the entirety of Zimbabwe, this was political expediency at it’s absolute worst.

The politicians wanted to get rid of their competition in parliament after five years of a fractious forced marriage mischievously called the government of national unity. SADC and the AU want to be rid of the Zimbabwean crisis and needed an election to achieve this. Is it a coincidence that the AU’s head of mission, Nigerian former President Olusegun Obasanjo is one of the early architects of attempts to resolve the Zimbabwe problem along with the current AU chair Dr. Dlamini-Zuma who was then South Africa’s foreign affairs Minister?

If as according to today’s City Press SADC tried to convince the MDC-T to not participate in the elections why did they not go public with their reservations? Instead Lindiwe Zulu, a member of the SADC facilitation team to Zimbabwe, was publicly rebuked for airing her reservations about the Zimbabwe election process days before votes were cast. I doubt President Zuma or any other SADC leader would survive if they conducted an election in the same manner that they have allowed it to happen in Zimbabwe

It is my view that anyone who thinks this is in any way a resolution to the Zimbabwe crisis, considering all that has happened is a fool, it has simply prolonged the misery.

My hope is that when Tsvangirai and the MDC-T go to the constitutional court to file their grievances over the election, the whole world will come to know what really happened here and the people of Zimbabwe will never again allow themselves to be used for selfish political purpose. In the meantime the MDC-T would do well to come clean to the nation on their role in this “farce” as they have called it because by participating in the election they accepted there was a certain level of “farce” they were willing to go along with.

Image

Some useful links: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjDzqU-itgA

http://www.thezimbabwean.co/news/zimbabwe/67465/zim-election-official-resigns-over.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4I1elpcO_4&feature=player_embedded

http://zimbabweelection.com/tag/voter-roll/

http://www.zesn.org.zw/images/statements/ZESN_2013_Harmonised_Election_Preliminary_Statement_01_August_13-1026hrs.pdf

http://www.citypress.co.za/politics/sadc-told-morgan-tsvangirai-to-withdraw/

Done It Again by Eddie Cross. http://www.eddiecross.africanherd.com

 

Don’t Call Me Mfana!

At 37 years of age I am still confused by the need older people seem to have to refer to me as mukomana or mfana, both meaning boy. Do they think it’s a term of endearment or do they feel some subliminal obligation to put me in my place, that being below them in the patriarchal hierarchy that is, for lack of a better term, African society. This happens in just about every kind of interaction imaginable and I can’t think of any situation where such a reference would be anything but derogatory.

I consciously don’t do it to men younger than I am because I know how much it pisses them off too. Where it is most irritating is when it happens in professional situations, there you are trying to get through a meeting, taking or giving instruction and it gets thrown in like some random slap in the face to wake you up from any illusion that you were being taken seriously. At what age does one graduate from being called mfana, does it ever happen? I grudgingly take it from my father and older relatives but beyond this family circle should I have to  tolerate it?

Time for real change

President Mugabe is on record referring to his cabinet and party executive as boys girls numerous times in both Shona and English. There are many stories of these same men and women literally grovelling at his feet, one minister has proudly acknowledged going as far as to sign his letters to the President, “Your ever obedient son Obert Mpofu”. Good for him if that works for him but is this really what or who we are? Recently Prime Minister Tsvangirai publicly castigated the MDC T youth leader Solomon Madzore for allegedly inciting violence, in warning him and the youth league, the PM said ” manje vapfana vangu . . ” (now my boys . . ). Now besides the fact that Madzore, in my opinion did no such thing, where does the man who claims to represent change get off referring to a senior party member as a boy, at a rally no less? Madzore has been in and out of jail for his party numerous times in the last two years and still has cases pending linked to party activities and this is the man you name and rebuke in public whilst calling him “mfana”?

With this kind of prevailing attitude from our political leaders its then no surprise that they may have limited appeal for many between the ages of 18 and 40. On January 28 this year Minister of Youth Development, Indiginisation and Empowerment Saviour Kasukuwere was in Bulawayo to meet the youth and talk to them about government initiatives to empower them. He did not have an easy time of it as they expressed their displeasure at government intransigence on these same initiatives very clearly. Is this lack of commitment to the youth symptomatic of the practices I alluded to earlier? I believe it is and with these practices so entrenched in our society what hope really is there for true youth development in Zimbabwe? Are the over 60s who run this country willing to change their ways or genuinely hand over power to a more vibrant  and attuned generation?

How to treat the youth (vote) right

Now I know this is an oft trotted out comparison but I believe it is incredibly relevant to this discussion. Barrack Obama’s 2008 presidential run is often cited as having changed the way political campaigns are done around the world. Countless analysts have identified the community organisation strategy as the secret weapon that won him the election. His campaign team composed of the greatest number of such youth volunteers ever assembled and they delivered. Recently whilst in South Africa President Obama held a town hall meeting at Johannesburg University’s Soweto  campus with youth from South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, at no time during that meeting did I hear him refer to them as anything but young men and women or ladies and gentlemen. I am a keen Obama watcher and at no time since 2007 when he announced his bid for his party’s nomination have I ever heard him refer to his campaign team as boys and girls.

The mutual respect evident in that first campaign saw the youth volunteers come out swinging for President Obama the second time around ensuring a comfortable win and second term in office. This is non-existent in Zimbabwean politics and society at large, the youth are simply expected to do their duty. They are not seen by the politicians as a voting block who must be wooed despite making up the majority of the population.

Beware the ghosts of March

Whilst I don’t have the statistics, I would wager that those under 40 make up the bulk of Zimbabwe’s voters yet the messages coming out of the campaigns do not seem to be particularly relevant to them. For how long can politicians expect to continue with the same strategies every election and keep a dynamic electorate interested? During the Constitutional Referendum in March this year much was made about the poor voter turnout and many asked if Zimbabweans had not become disinterested in politics. I have not seen these questions being asked now that the elections are here despite the chaos of the voter registration exercise and the disastrous special voting for civil servant earlier this week. At the time of the referendum there was talk that the youth had not come out in their numbers and this voter apathy was a worry for the coming elections. Jump to two weeks before harmonised elections and what has been done to bring the youth to the ballot box? Very little from what I can see. Instead we have candidates continuing to treat them as their children and in some cases, private militia, moving through areas coercing people to attend rallies or to keep other politicians out of “their leaders'” constituency or ward. Youth voter apathy has not been properly dealt with and politicians might be in for a rude surprise come July 31, then again, I could be wrong.

In my ideal Zimbabwe no-one will manipulate the youth or anyone else for that matter in this way and mutual respect will reign supreme in all our dealings with each other. So Mr, Ms or Mrs Candidate, if you want my vote, don’t call me mfana!