Tichaona Zindoga Political Editor
It is often said that naming is a means of control by human beings over other humans, places, animals and endless phenomena.
Sune Borkfelt of the Institute of Language, Literature and Culture, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark, notes in a paper that: “The act of naming, which is arguably the most basic representation of something or someone . . .
“As European explorers could do the inhabitants of other continents a disservice by representing them in certain ways, so we may do favours or disservice to places and beings (human and non-human) when we name them.
“A name is a representation and can therefore potentially carry all the values, ideas, perceptions and conceptions carried by representations and have the array of potential consequences, which can ensue from representation.”
In “The Power of Names: In Culture and in Mathematics”, Loren Graham, Professor of History of Science Emeritus Massachusetts Institute of Technology, weighs in saying: “A common concept in history is that knowing the name of something or someone gives one power over that thing or person…‘naming’ something or someone is seen as the exertion of dominion over that thing or person.”
It should come as no surprise that thus far in the beginning of the year, there has been a flurry of efforts to give a name and identity to the year 2016 by anyone and everyone – from the church and politicians right down to the streets.
By purporting to name the year, various actors have been seeking to influence events, or otherwise create an agenda for the year through the power of their words.
How so powerful will he that convinces us all that this will be a year of a certain dispensation, and we all see that unravelling!
This is why we should all wish those trying to set the national agenda the best of luck.
But for watchers of politics, there is one thing that has been curiously amiss.
We have not had declarations about this year being claimed by political parties.
Well, we could grant that Zanu-PF is the ruling party and will be looking to “consolidate people’s power through Zim-Asset”, which was the theme for its annual conference last December.
The opposition MDC-T is lacking in inspiration and it is assumed it has little choice but continue sleepwalking into the year, being thoroughly out of its depth.
But what about People First, the outfit that we are told is led by Joice Mujuru, former Vice President and second secretary in the ruling party Zanu-PF?
One would have thought that after many promises of an imminent launch of the party that the outfit’s spokesperson Rugare Gumbo fed one grovelling newspaper throughout 2015, this year would be the year in which it would be declared as the “Year of People First”?
There was a New Year’s statement produced and covered by the same pliable paper on January 1.
It carried no bold declarations.
It carried no whiff of what the same fawning paper likes to call “dramatic entry onto the political scene”.
Something is definitely wrong with this so-called People First project, and it should not surprise anyone that this year it will be exposed for the hot air it is.
President Mugabe late last year called it a myth.
Others see in it just hot air.
The truth, though, is that it is something in between – something that is like the proverbial liquid drops of mercury.
But it won’t amount to much – and there are several reasons for it.
First, because the supposed leader of the project is a clueless plain woman who is not noted for strokes of genius in terms of conceptual or strategic thinking.
Many people may be tempted to think that her silence is golden, but those who have known that the treacherous, putschist game that she has been at the centre of since the days of her husband, has not actually belonged to her but those that sought to control her through the bedroom, through commercial interests and now as a shelter following the fallout with Zanu-PF.
The latter category of rent-seeking individuals has actually been feeding day in, day out poor Daily News with promises of an imminent launch and “surprises” which did not happen in a whole year.
One can tell they are doing that more for their personal egos which have been badly hurt.
A good prediction is that they may grow tired of it sooner or later, frustrated by the inaction of the plain woman – the way Temba Mliswa did.
In fact, this brings us to the hitherto unexplored fact that Joice Mujuru needs “massive handholding” more than what former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell thought was necessary for Morgan Tsvangirai.
Joice Mujuru has been hand-held all her political life.
She has lived under the shadow of her crafty husband and her benefactor and teacher President Mugabe who appointed her as minister in 1980 when she had bare literacy and careened her all the way to the second most powerful position in the land.
Today, after President Mugabe disappointed her because of her treachery, she is being hand held by the likes of Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa.
As Western donors move in with their purse, it will be business as usual for her.
The other compelling reason why the so-called People First will not amount to much, if ever, is because it lacks ideological and organic grounding, being an outfit of Zanu-PF rejects who are just bitter, the bitterest of them being the faces behind the outfit now.
A second tier of the supporters of Joice Mujuru are disgruntled supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai who see in her an alternative.
They believe her liberation war credentials and her “motherly” figure are sufficient attributes for national leadership.
Only this rings hollow, her not being the most astute of fighters that this country has seen – and there are many who are her superiors in wartime rank – and that claims of her being a mother figure can be disproved easily because of her noted material greed and lack of communal development even in her own backyard.
It has to be noted that as we speak, her supporters are divided because of the lack of ideological glue and have never been reconciled in their respective pasts as Zanu-PF and MDC-T respectively.
This shall soon bear out.
Lastly, Mujuru’s chances would be greatly enhanced in the event of a coalition with the opposition.
However, this is not likely to happen soon, or anytime this year, because of the ego barriers between the two camps as to who may lead such a coalition.
For its part, the pre-existing opposition is right in being cautious about a mythical outfit supposedly led by a tainted woman, both of whom do not, as of now, have a tested constituency of their own.
Mujuru and her hand-holders should be aware of this, that is why in their statement to their lapdog media they did not declare this the Year of People First, or some such, and as usual chose to waft in the air like the wandering spirits that they are.