MyTurn with Tichaona Zindoga —
One of the local dailies yesterday carried quite a humorous story about how Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Mandi Chimene, who is also leading a faction of war veterans, threatened to beat up War Veterans’ Minister Cde Tshinga Dube.The story is so graphic in detail it is both humorous and depressing at the same time.
It is as tragic as it is comic.
A friend-politician who is in the United Kingdom said the story had made his day.
Yet you can guess it is more like proverbially laughing at your own grief in a hopeless situation.
Which the country is pretty much in mortal danger of.
But we have to recount the story for the benefit of those people who may have missed this tragicomic piece of news.
According to NewsDay, and we hope they indulge us retelling their story for a bigger audience, Cde Dube accused Chimene of threatening to assault him for allegedly siding with a rival faction of the freedom fighters led by Christopher Mutsvangwa, before she unleashed a sangoma on him.
It is said Cde Dube was in Mutare at the weekend with Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi and his permanent secretary Walter Tapfumaneyi.
As the formalities of the meeting went, Chimene allegedly made threats and unleashed an agent of dark arts on the poor minister.
“While I was giving my welcoming remarks, she stood up and said she was going to beat me up. I told her if she did that, she would be arrested,” Cde Dube is quoted as saying.
This reportedly happened in full view of other dignitaries.
Continued Cde Dube narrating his ordeal: “So when we were leaving the venue, her sangoma started performing some rituals on me, burping uncontrollably and my wife said I should not respond, but just to tell her (Chimene) to read Psalms 23 vs 1 to 6, which says ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want and so on and so forth’. I looked at this man burping at me pitifully and I said this is the highest level of madness.”
This bizarre incident is somewhat corroborated by Minister Sekeramayi.
“I just heard that there was a sangoma, who was doing ‘hirririi tata hiriririr tata’, after I had gone. Those other issues, I have nothing to say,” Cde Sekeramayi is quoted as saying, before breaking into laughter.
Mirthless, tragic laughter
This is ridiculous.
The “hirririi tata hiriririr tata” business is not funny at all.
Ask Cde Sekeramayi himself: there is nothing really funny about what is happening among the country’s war veterans, itself a mirror of the fractured relations in the ruling party Zanu-PF.
You laugh at an act of like this Chimene voodoo but you spit afterwards because it leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
It should be said here and now without equivocation, fear or favour that what is happening in Zanu-PF – reflected in the mini war at war veterans – is disgusting as officials in the ruling party are spending much time and energy fighting among themselves.
Many out there are not seeing anything good coming out of the fights that have nothing to do with the general well-being of the country but are ego-driven wars by individuals jostling for power and control of the ruling party.
These protagonists have an underlying death wish for President Mugabe and have been seeking to position themselves for, and after his demise, even when professing undying love for the veteran leader with one corner of the mouth.
The wars that we have seen in recent years and nowadays and months are veritably ugly and dirty.
Chimene’s alleged shenanigans are just a tragicomic sideshow.
We have seen and heard about plots being hatched at farms and at hotels.
It is no longer a secret.
Factionalism is playing out so blatantly, so nakedly and so shamelessly to the grotesque proportions that it has become.
Everything has become blurred and lost in the dark, billowing smoke of factionalism: even self-confessed thieves have now sought convenient cover behind the clouds of factionalism.
It is one stroke of luck that we have not seen blood on the streets.
Perhaps it is too early to count the stars.
Meanwhile, it is a self-evident fact that scant attention is being paid to real bread and butter issues at a time when national confidence is low and there is confusion as to the direction the economy is taking.
There is scant assurance that a united ruling party is willing to set aside personal and parochial differences to steer the economy to stability and progress.
Which is what people really lose sleep over.
Instead, they are confronted by a group of people whose primary focus appears to be first secure power over their internal rivals at whatever cost.
The next thing will be plunder and patronage.
Let us be clear on that, again without fear or favour.
We are tired of this show.
It is disgusting.
The country is moving nowhere fast.
This “hirririi tata hiriririr tata” business is an expression of that huffing and puffing going nowhere fast.
There is this image doing rounds on social media.
It depicts a grotesque image of what appears to be a car which you cannot point out where it is facing as it has multiple facades.
The cynical have compared it to Zimbabwe. A Malawian friend claimed it as theirs.
You tend to laugh at this grotesque image.
But it is not funny.
It is like an evil, confusing spell.
People need their lives – and direction – back.
Leaders should begin to inspire confidence that there is life and direction beyond personal, parochial, tribal and egoistic considerations.
The war vets question
It would be remiss not to comment about the war vets question which has in fact been lost in distractions such as the Mandi Chimene’s voodoo antics.
Zanu-PF should be careful.
War veterans constitute a significant demographic and dynamic in the ruling party.
The ex-fighters have been a strong mobilising force for the ruling party since independence and from the look of things, they are still capable of doing the same.
That is, in spite of the emergence of a generation of youth.
Ordinarily, these two generations must mix – the one, a carrier of institutional memory grooming the other in spreading and regenerating the revolution espoused by the younger generation.
The transition could have been seamless.
However, there seems to have been attempts to separate these two generations of Zanu-PF with an implied intent of expending with the older generation.
This attempt has not only been ill fated but also patently foolish as a huge chunk of war veterans has still active political, social and even economic lives.
Illustratively, war veterans who went to war at 20 years in 1975 are an average of 60 years and a good chunk is within the bracket of five years younger or older.
Now, these people cannot be ignored or cast away as a demographic.
Equally, they should not have allowed, as some have done, themselves to think that they somehow own the patent of this country and have some super rights that do not accrue to all others.
Zimbabwe is bigger than any individual or groups.
Rather, Zimbabweans should work together in different roles to show the organic nature of the revolution.
But there has been a dislocation.
Zimbabwe, and the ruling party in particular, stand to reap bitter harvest of the dislocation and disunity in the country.
This cannot be good.
At worst, a rapture and dislocation within the ruling party can amount to a national security threat.
The present and continuing factionalism in the ruling party should be seen in this light and steps should be taken to arrest it before it damns us all.
One thing is for sure, this “hirririi tata hiriririr tata” business is not funny at all.