Exorcising the ghost of silence

Elliot Ziwira @ The Book Store
MARTIN Luther King Jnr once remarked that: “The greatest tragedy of our time is not the few who have destroyed, but the vast majority who sat idly by.” The great human rights advocate and unifier Mahatma Gandhi observes that: “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes,” and yet still idealist Hall Lancaster maintains: “Getting fired is nature’s way of telling you that you had the wrong job in the first place.”

It is through the philosophies of the great men of letters cited above that the concept of silence and its bane on regeneration and progress will be put to scrutiny, as we await the outcome of the closed door negotiations in the corridors of power. Much has been obtaining within the ranks of the revolutionary party, ZANU-PF, for some time, especially in the past few weeks.

Squabbles are not peculiar to ZANU-PF, as they have all but relegated the opposition MDC to the annuals of history and political oblivion. The outfit has sloughed five times in its 18-year existence, but this did not at all avail the much needed rejuvenation that comes with sloughing.

Sloughs as sloughs should not be expected to reboot or make any meaningful impact on their own, or even go through any metamorphosis that will usher in a new ideological philosophy; neither can they be adorned into their old source. Such is the tragedy of political turncoats; and the revolutionary party has its fair share of political turncoats.

ZANU-PF has not been spared this scourge of fly-by-night knights in shining borrowed armour since the liberation struggle. Like any progressive family, the revolutionary party has had its fair share of conflict, emanating from its ideological framework. After these squabbles the party has always emerged stronger than individuals.

Factionalism and internal in-fighting were always known to be in existence, some individuals were known to be formidable fiefdoms with the nerve to call the mountain to their abodes, instead of them going there; their centres of power, real or imagined, were ensconced in the belief that no one would dare raise a voice against them.

They were sacred cows who could not be milked; even to feed the starving masses, but could go to the veldt to graze willy-nilly and confine other cows to the barren periphery of their existence. These demi-gods could wantonly disregard revolutionary tenets and derail national projects, through shameless graft, chicanery and self-aggrandisement, much to the detriment of social, political and economic progress.

Because of their clout; premised on the politics of subterfuge, these demi-gods, as posited by Jung (1964, 1989), could impose their cronies on the gullible masses and force them to vote them into office. Yet, yes gentle citizen, friend and countryman; no one said anything about it. Where were all the dissenting voices gone? Subdued into silence? Silence! Whose silence, to what end?

In an interview whose excerpt was published in The Sunday Mail, in 2014, Munyaradzi Huni was implored by the late national hero, Cde David Karimanzira, not to publish his feelings about Rugare Gumbo’s divisive and deceitful inclinations until after his demise. It took his death for the nation to be enlightened on the former ZANU-PF spokesperson’s shenanigans; not that he is the only one to be tainted after expulsion from the ruling party, no. In a Manichean world, you are either with us or you are an enemy; and being a foe means expressing divergent views.

Since the inception of the opposition MDC, avaricious and power hungry political zealots in the revolutionary party were known down to the grassroots, yet all seemed fine as long as they were up in the political echelons of the party; they could scald the nation’s feet and expect it to hobble forward. Some were behaving like mafia dons, moving around with vicious hired thugs to silence all divergent views in the wake of their destructive trails.

They were protected and expected to remain protected by the public media, which they conceitedly called “our own” in the full glare of the suffering masses, who could easily see through their folly, but could not find the voice to shout them down. They could espy dwarfish men in giant political robes usurping the revolution and running away with it, as if they owned it or were bigger than it, but they could scantly put a word to their hollow feelings inside.

Yes, gentle reader, it is true that the freedom to make mistakes is a constitutional right, which should be guarded jealously, as Mahatma Gandhi pointed out, but what happens, then, if that right becomes a train of mistakes that ends up infringing on others’ rights? If people cannot learn from their own mistakes and those of others, what right do they have to protect such freedom?

“Silence is golden,” the peace-loving Zimbabweans would find solace in the adage, yet silence is known to beget silence until this silence echoes in the crouching mountains of poverty, hopelessness and frustration with such violence that drowns the ears, as Franz Fanon (1967) puts it, decolonisation is violent; so is suffering. There is no violence that beats suffering and hopelessness.

With research indicating that 65 percent of our youth suffer mental breakdowns as they seek the elixir from the quagmire of unfulfilled dreams, in alcoholic beverages and drugs, should we remain silent and expect a golden handshake from it?

Some with ulterior motives may frown, but it took the graceful voice of the people’s army, led by General Constantino Nyikadzino Guveya Chiwenga, to halt the cascading silence in the corridors of power, which has reached such deafening crescendos; the silence that was stalking the ruling party in an attempt to cripple it from within. His timely intervention and the ungagged media, especially the print media, gave a voice to the suffering masses who for long have been content to exist in mediocrity and resigning their lot to fate.

Inspired, the masses are conscious of their rights, not to remain silent, but to speak their hearts out. The suspensions, expulsions and booting outs could not just be allowed to go on unchecked; and enemies of the people, who saw it fit to eat the national cake on our behalf, could not be allowed an easy exit to paradise.

The liberation war as depicted in Alexander Kanengoni’s “Echoing Silences” (1997), Shimmer Chinodya’s “Harvest of Thorns” (1989), Thomas S. Bvuma’s “Every Stone that Turns” (1997), Freedom Nyamubaya’s “From Dawn to Dusk” (1985); and “That Special Place” (2003), was everyone’s struggle, as many sons and daughters of the soil perished, or suffered psychological trauma for the Motherland’s dream. So why then should other animals be more equal than others, as the monstrous fish of prey swallow the smaller fish, and relegate them to the shores where they eke out an existence on non-existent algae?

When a spade is called a spade and not a garden tool, as the people’s army has done, then all the other tools will also brace themselves for exposure. All the heinous crimes perpetrated on the physical, emotional and economical discourses through political deification, if proven, should be brought to book.

Now as the negotiations go on, and the revolutionary party takes stock of the long journey it has travelled in its quest to liberate the Motherland, our Motherland, from the colonial yoke, the nation waits with bated breath for the dawn of a new era; an era of truth, selflessness and exposure of folly without fear or favour. The scriptures indeed tell us in Proverbs 27:5-6 that: “A public correction is better than hidden love. Trustworthy are the bruises of a friend, excessive are the kisses of an enemy.”

We are done with politics and to respond to a Cabinet minister who, at a Herald Business breakfast, in 2014, posed the question: “Do we eat politics?” We say, No, Cde, we do not eat politics. We have known politics for long to be conscious of its malnourishing diet, therefore, it is our great expectation that the issues discussed will not only usher in a new breed of cadres with the suffering masses at heart, but will extricate us from the economic quagmire that we are engulfed in.

The ghost of silence laid bare by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, the people’s revolutionary army, should be exorcised for the good, not only of the party, but the nation at large. As the party takes stock and reflects on itself, those found offside should face the music, because they were in “the wrong jobs in the first place” and we should not be expected to vote ignoramuses to run our precarious affairs and steer the ship that they had deliberately navigated to perilous waters, back to safety.

We have lost faith in soothsayers and charlatans who throw bones and chant incantations for our demise and purport to deliver us from the same. Long live, the People’s Party! Long live, the People’s Army!

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