ZPF: Enter the Super Tuesday party!

Nathaniel Manheru—
LIKE my favourite muzukuru always warns me: when you are among vultures, don’t die. I don’t know whether there was much forethought to Mai Mujuru’s party launch date: Super Tuesday! Maybe her schemers thought Zanu-PF would be distracted by a session of Cabinet. But for how long, if at all? To what advantage anyway? They never saw the fraught environment, never anticipated a hefty comeback. They, in other words, chose death amidst vultures. Henceforth, they have become a perfect morsel.

Together with Democratic Alliance
Much worse, the launch was also on the day the white patrician Democratic Alliance of South Africa was trying — abortively trying — to push through a no-confidence motion against the ANC’s Zuma. I emphasise Zuma’s ANC parentage because the futile act became a season for attacking liberation movements in the region, Zanu-PF included, if not especially. And of course a day later, ZBC would be holding its traditional birthday interview with President Robert Mugabe, Mujuru’s former boss, now political bete noire. What an environment for launching the poor woman!

President Jacob Zuma

President Jacob Zuma

What about connotations, Madame?
In the area of political communication, timing is as important as the message, in fact is part of the message. You are required to gauge the ecology of your messaging, required to gauge the overall environment within which your message is situated, is received and is set to be consumed and interpreted. It is the environment, of course among other factors, which will lend meaning to your message, meaning especially connotatively. And as always, political communication is hardly literal; it operates at a symbolic level, a level fraught with associations. And even where direct meaning is intended, connotations must be noted and dispelled. Otherwise, they are brought to bear on the message, creating the unintended.

Only from Zimbabwe!
At a very obvious level, picking on a Super Tuesday to launch a party, guaranteed the Zimbabwe People First of a remarkable fringe status in the world of global news. The day belonged to Trump and Clinton; it could never belong to Joice and her little ZPF. Even here in Southern Africa, the cynosure was the histrionics in the South African parliament, which is why all that Mujuru could only hope for was a crawl at the bottom of the news panel, a crawl soon to walk out of news. She got just that. Let no one at ZPF argue that her target audience was local.

It was not. In the previous week she had tried to yell for western attention through the Sunday Times magazine, using a right-wing journalist called Christina Lamb. Those of us in the media know who Christina is when it comes to Zimbabwean politics. Those in politics know her as Christina Lamb, OBE! Which tells you a lot about her connections with the British establishment.

And of course in that anticipatory splash, Mujuru tried her damnedest to appeal to British and western sensibility, a kind of I-am-the-girl-you-have-been-looking-for interview which makes right noises on land, private property, indigenisation, gukurahundi, re-engagement, human rights, democracy, etc, etc. Joice Mujuru sought to address the western world, only from Zimbabwe. Ours was setting and background noises. And the preponderant presence of western ambassadors at Meikles — yes Meikles — was quite telling.

Dr Mujuru

Dr Mujuru

Needing what she must destroy
What you then have is a communication nightmare, assuming she has a reflecting communications department. The day, the venue, the media, the message — all these sent messages quite contrapuntal to the intended. It gets worse when you factor in what exclusive interviews with the private press suggested on Joice Mujuru the person.

The line of questioning, the line of answering — both — fatly suggested she still labours under the Zanu-PF tag, groans under the dead weight of Zanu-PF history which will not go away. And it cannot go away ironically for her sake, quite apart for the sake of her critics who are multifarious. She needs the company of her late husband in her present and future struggles. She hopes to profit from his ghost. She thus needs the Zanu-PF she must defeat. By claiming that her membership is in Zanu-PF, it means she needs the structures of Zanu-PF, again needing the machinery she must destroy.

Much worse, the world stubbornly knows and calls her “Mugabe’s former deputy”, a tag which leashes her to the man and party she must now contrast, fight, and hopefully defeat. So, yes, together with the day, the venue, the media, she herself remains heavily connotative politically.

Unready on birthday
I ask myself how a party for so long rumoured as set for a launch in the infinite future picked on so bad a day, so fraught a moment. There was no hurry, no pressure. Or was there? Which tells us what about the new opposition leader? I ask myself why no forward-looking message was composed for Mujuru, composed by a party I want to believe chose its birthday.

She got bogged down on the relational question: what really happened between her and her principal, between her and her principal’s wife, the First Lady. She could not step out of that history, could not exorcise her Zanu-PF days, to give a contemporary message that talked to me and you in our circumstances. A very accommodative man asked me after the Super Tuesday presser: so what was the take-home? I was hard put for an answer. To which a passer-by quipped: her Zanu-PF-time wardrobe! But one no longer a perfect fit.

Mouth, asset, word
The paraphernalia leading to, and around, the launch raises key ideological issues for Mujuru. Those will not go away. Why did she want American circumambience? Why did she unveil herself through a right-wing British paper? Why was she worthy of supportive messaging from Oxford and from the International Crisis Group? What shaped her views on land, on indigenisation, on private property, ironically while bragging about so many chickens raised on land to which she wields no title, land “grabbed” by Mugabe? How will she reconcile her word of mouth and her word of assets? Just what is her world view? Her value system. Just who is Joice, against all else? That she struggled to answer these key questions before a captive media audience, one chosen and primed by her staff, presages greater challenges in the future when the question shall be posed for her from rival quarters.

And I thought she made the fatal mistake of obliging personalised politics, even having the temerity to describe Mugabe as “primitive”. Labelling Mugabe primitive while she — a Ph.D — struggled to read through a statement cast in such rustic style. So many questions. That did not leave an edifying impression. What that did for sure is to guarantee her of two formidable responses from husband and wife, both wielding voices that echo far and wide. Two days later, she got a foretaste, again thanks to her bungling communications outfit.

Taking off on broken wing
So all said, Joice is trapped in the past, in history, and cannot see the future, and exaggerates the present and its portents for her. I am just talking about Joice vs Joice, well before I raise odds about Joice vs Zanu-PF; Joice vs other opposition forces, and of course Joice vs Zimbabwe People Second, Third, Fourth, etc, etc. And for the last odd, you don’t need any clairvoyance. You just need a profile of the impossible personality mix which she has brought together in her hurried quest for numbers. Including well-known crooks, lumpens. An ill-fated eagle trying to take off on a broken wing.

But in very large measure, she incarnated the Zimbabwe opposition’s congenital weakness: a belief that an anti-Zanu-PF message is what kneads and galvanises opposition politically. And what a better illustration of this disease than a piece from Professor Welshman Ncube, just a few days before! Quoting Lenin, he posed the question: What is to be done? One girded for something professorial, something profound, but here is what came from the learned gentleman: “If we are to bring the misery of our people to an end in 2018 we must seek ways of building coalitions which exclude no one who, at the barest minimum is committed to seeing an end to Zanu-PF rule.

We might not even agree on what kind of government is to be put in place, guided by what policies after Zanu-PF is gone, but we must unite around the imperative of removing Zanu-PF from power and leave the post-Zanu-PF future to be fought over when Zanu-PF is gone. It might yet turn out to be a false revolution, but it is difficult to imagine how it can possibly be worse than this.”

Indulgences of omnipotence
Is that what is to be done? Is this the opposition we have, deserve? An opposition with a clear demolition vision, but totally blind to what to erect atop of the rabble it has created? Exactly the Libyan scenario where a rag-tag, foreign-controlled opposition comes together to destroy a standing state, only to come apart soon after, tearing a great nation to shards. And this is coming from a whole professor. My goodness! The trouble is to exaggerate an anti-Zanu-PF sentiment.

If truth be said, this is an elite sentiment, a non-voting elite fad, an Internet sentiment wrongly measured by repeated hits and comments from the same, few busy hands. The trouble is to confuse that little embittered pocket for the voting Nation. The trouble, too, is to exaggerate divisions in Zanu-PF, forgetting these are divisions which Zanu-PF can afford. What is more, divisions which have made Zanu-PF e-ready — elections-ready — and not enervated it the same way comparable divisions paralysed and continue to paralyse MDC formations. Divisions in Zanu-PF-PF amount to the indulgences of omnipotence, never the travail of the prostrate.

When the time came to call them off, the gods spoke and all was quiet. And now that Mujuru is launched, now that Zanu-PF has some nuisance to focus on, let us watch Zanu-PF at work. And the starting point is to feed the hungry multitudes, in the process turning adversity to advantage. But the message is very clear: an opposition that shows fatal weaknesses against a self-distracted Zanu-PF, can never hope to survive a Zanu-PF crouching for the kill.


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  • mt darwin

    Nhaiwe George Charamba, what has this to do with you. Have you finished advising Matibili and the killer ZANU. Don’t waste your time writing nonsense, noone will take notice of you. Wapedza here kutsigira lizard rako mnangagwa, you are next in line to be expelled ramba uchinetsana na Jonathan Moyo.

    • bodo_kwete

      kkkkk not lizardo but Dhakisi.

    • Jojo

      Spot on. The launch was a big event considering the acres of space she received in both public and private media. Why write about her party launch if it was a non event?

    • Max Chiks

      ha ha ha ha ha you have just noticed him

    • Tsano

      From all the arguments profered, I realise Gorge is wiser. The man is in a position where he has and must do what he is doing. Polítics is an art, its like a dance of opera music.

  • Zvichapera

    Unfortunately or fortunately, the people have brains to think. They do not need a complex analysis. Sing for your meal. Time will tell.

    • bodo_kwete

      Thank you. At one point I thought, oh he is now talking about Grace kkk. Timing of his message is a message to sisi Gire.

  • Luke Gwizo

    Kikikikiki hapana zvamanyora apa vaManheru Charamba. I would have thought you would rather give us a piece on the fate of your comrade Mutsvangwa and wife for the handei tione Prof seems to have put you to your place. As for mai Mujuru despite her lack of flamboyance in the Queen’s language her BUILD seems to resonate with what people on the ground need. Mugabe and his cohorts the likes of Manheru have brought us nothing but untold misery. The sanction mantra has been sold to us as the boogie man but alas how did Ian Douglas Smith circumvent that and managed to keep the economy going. Don’t tell me he had support from sympathisers because you certainly had from the so called East too Kikikikiki but now we are told diamonds were stolen straight from your principal’s mouth. Manheru please don’t play games with us povo. How can the our natural resources our land slogans etc just be turned into laughing stock by allowing thief’s from elsewhere steal those resourses for 10 years without you blinking an eye. Guys you have taken us for a ride for too long mhani.

  • Jongwe

    George I respect your democratic right, no matter how you try to please your boss in writing your articles, just bear in mind that the majority are tired of your party and there is nothing wrong with Mujuru forming her own party. By the way most Zimbabweans sympathize with her and expect a thrashing in 2018.

    • bodo_kwete

      …and if you are clever, jump ship!!

    • Strategic

      Assuming the rigging machine somehow gets jammed!! Unlikely.

    • Hleki we Zaka

      It is a near campaign to try and discredit Joice Mujuru and her new political party. We are tired of the trickstars in ZANU PF who are only busy enriching themselves and their close compatriots. The nation can not scratch their tummies because Nathaniel Manheru has eaten a nice meal out on the table buy Grace. Mujuru ndewedu. Kana tichinyura tonyura naye SE nyika te Zimbabwe.

  • samas

    Nathanael I for one ,I really appreciated the way she handled the question about the relationship between her and her principal.If it was the principal or the principal’swife,they would start shouting about how people go to witchdoctors to try and kill them.They will sink to the lowest of the low because they know how gullible people like me and you are.But Joyce showed maturity.For her to succeed she needs the local support.So all you wanted was for her to hit the headlines of CNN Aljazeera and sky news on the first day?She was once ZANU PF but that doesn’t mean she agreed with everything your papa was doing.Maybe that’s why they fell out only for your papa to lie to the world that she wanted to kill him.Did papa apologise,NO! One thing I don’t understand is why you are negative about her.If you don’t like what she has started,then sorry.She has a sound support base not from journalists like you.

    • bodo_kwete

      Thank yo! Jojo Manheru is very very scared, especially scared of Kasukuwere.

  • Mwana waMujuru

    I think its high time we all give each other space to exercise our democratic rights . Amai formed her own party and Im sure she has her own fair share of supporters saka handei tione nemujawo . Hapana zvekuda kuwisirana pasi nebad publicity . Besides its only a few of us who still take time to read this paper considering the Party we all know it supports . It seems the herald is a good arm of running the propaganda issues for the oldest party . Tone down the propaganda a bit and just be realistic

  • Tinotya

    Apa ndopasina zvanyorewa. She is no longer ZANU fullstop. Let her do what she pleases. We will vote for anything that is not Zanu Pf. Nomatter how hard you try to discredit her, people are gonna give her the benefit of doubt.

  • ZANU- PF chiwororo

    Divisions in ZANU- PF amounts to the indulgences of omnipotence…

  • The future

    nathaniel manheru is now finished,its clear you fumbled for a topic this week,i mean comparing with what is happening in ZANU Pf right now how bad can Mujuru be ,really ,bet you could have written a better piece if you had the liberty to attack your real foes ryt nw…..the G40 which we all know represent “better no Mugabe succession in his lifetime if Ngwena is to be president”,which is your secret frustration……what you and your cabal now face is a mortal threat,time has tamed you guys and its a pity you didnt make hay whilst the sun was still shining,whilst the millions of suffering Zimbabweans look at tomorrow with hope you guys look at it with fear,now you realize your biggest enemy has never been Tsvangirai or the British after all but it could actually be Mugabe himself ,who it turns out is you boss or it could be your own educated but foolish selves,i pity you bother and i understand why these articles are now therapy sessions for you

  • Mhandu

    If Manheri judges Dr Mujiru’s style in presenting a speech as rustic, no one can deny a widespread opinion that Dr Grace’s style is downright crude and oafish!

  • Major Mupfupi WeGogwe

    Semantic acrobatics .verbal dexterity or call it a fandango dance with words….whatever….we are tired of matibili , you george and whatever and whoever you represent be it a goblin or a reptile….

  • bodo_kwete

    I’m sure deep down in his heart, Jojo knows the truth but like the war vets, he knows that mugabe and his wife are ruthless.

  • bodo_kwete

    ..and we will be telling people where the food come from!! Right after the rallies…watch me!!

  • bodo_kwete

    Rai ngoma tiende.

  • bodo_kwete

    Unite ??? nani??

  • bodo_kwete

    If he is clever, he should jump ship. Same applies to Mutsvangwa. They should isolate Mnangagwa.

    • Chief Charumbira

      Why should they isolate Mnangagwa after his illustrious record in the liberation struggle? At least he fought gallantly to liberate Zimbabwe unlike those upstarts representing G40. Zanu has been destroyed from within while liberation stalwarts watch helplessly, save Chris Mutsvangwa who has stood boldly in the face of severe persecution from the G40 Crew.

  • Mart

    So Charamba chickened from sparring with the professor and is now attacking those without a forum to respond?

  • Rawboy

    Its squeecky bum time for mazanoids hey!

    Madam Mujuru is now a loose cannon big time.Who knows where her firery cannon balls bound to land?…..Im sure most of her allegations will be spot on.She was there hey!

  • Chibatamatuzvi

    “Jojo siyana nazvo ! Haiwaiwa Jojo unozofa! Ndakuyambira ….” just singing Dr Mapfumo’s song

  • gabarinocheka

    they chose death amidst vultures you included.well at least you have made the point very clear vulture I hope they will take note

  • shayanewako

    In 2018 Robert 94, been in power 38 years running Zimbabwe to the ground, decimating the middle class! Against Joice there will be no contest. Anyone standing on a ZanuPF ticket will fall.

  • guru

    This is a stupid and nonsensical article. This Nathaniel Manheru figure is totally out of context with modern trend politics and he must stop mixing issues which have no relevant substance at all. Mujuru has turned a new leaf in Zimbabwe by forming her own political party. At one point, she may have been an ex official member of Zanu PF. but that doesn’t mean one cannot learn and change from their past mistakes. If we take a closer look at our neighbours South Africa the likes of former ANC members Julius Malema of EFF and Mosiuoa Lekota of COPE, seem to doing well by trying to make Jacob Zuma’s ANC accountable to mismanagement of state tax payers money e.g. the Kandla money debacle and Marikana. They have also managed to work hand in hand with other opposition parties like Musi Maimane’s Democratic Alliance (D.A) to weed out corruption and nepotism that had rocked investor confidence ratings in S.A. The same applies here, we need a strong united party with new inquisitive leaders who can bring the much needed change for the future of our country and the next generation to come.

  • Blackwave

    Its you who is full of shit…

  • Blackwave

    Manheru charamba stop this madness…leave mai mujuru alone…noone has asked u for an opinion on her or her party. She is simply exercising her right which is not a crime. We are sick and tired of your hogwash that you keep spewing week in week out without ceasing. You are quickly losing relevance and its just a matter of time till you are in the dustbin. Why are u not commenting on your friend’s expulsion from the zany party…

  • Kennedy Khombo

    I admire your strong analytical skills and command of the queen’ s language. Unenge wakakokotedza fundo mdara iwe.

  • Kufandada

    Manheru,Mutsvangwa did Bite the Dust,beware Jonathan Moyo is watching you.
    Joyce Mujuru did nothing to deserve expulson from ZanuPF.Leave her alone to contest for political landscape fairly and squarely,Afterall she fought for this right and for this country.Thula.

  • Ngazviende mberi

    Pamberi mberi naJoice Mujuru!!!!!!!
    My Joice is my choice.

  • yowe

    Nhai George wakatadza Jonathan apa wapane zvimwe! YOWE you a singing for your supper shuwa.

  • Nsindamanzi

    President Jacob Zuma picture here looks very nice. I like it.