Zimbabweans are being psyched up for harmonised elections due later this year. That is the dominant message, along with the Biometric Voter Registration exercise.
So far the appeal from the ruling Zanu-PF party, in particular its leader and President of the Republic Emmerson Mnangagwa, has been for a peaceful, free and fair election. The election must be credible. He repeats the message against violence at every opportunity.
We don’t seem to be getting the same interest from the warring (pun intended) main opposition MDC-T party. That is, Morgan Tsvangirai’s party. They have a higher appetite for war.
The former MDC-T leader passed on in South Africa last week. But even before he breathed his last, the lust for power seemed to strip his three deputies of all human dignity —Ubuntu/Hunhu. We witnessed the base of their instincts — Tsvangirai was taking too long to die and they didn’t like it.
Finally nature took its course and Tsvangirai rested. The State had to step in after it was realised Tsvangirai’s body was likely to be desecrated by these un-African creatures who fought to be closest to his body, as if by this he would be able to anoint one of them his successor.
We were embarrassed and shamed as Africans, and the Government couldn’t allow the MDC-T circus to shame us all before the world — a nation which doesn’t respect its dead.
But it was not over yet. It was evident Tsvangirai’s name was being used for personal advantage. He was called a hero, a liberator, a doyen of democracy, a victim of Zanu-PF violence.
All to play on the people’s emotions rather than to honour the man, for we saw shameless leaders in Buhera nearly dancing on Tsvangirai’s casket as they sought to fit into his shoes.
Not to mention that the night vigil on the eve of Tsvangirai’s burial was turned to a saturnalia. Thankfully, it wasn’t us alone who witnessed evidence of this orgiastic profanity the following morning in the form of used condoms and other dirty linen that must have shocked all decent people who had gone to mourn Tsvangirai.
By all accounts, these were supposed to be youths honouring a hero! Youths who are telling the nation about a “generational” transition, presumably to a higher level of civilisation!
Youths seeking to be the face of this great nation! Thanks to Gift Phiri, youths who are desperate for a complete break with “oppressive traditional practices and customary codes”. You do this by having sex orgies at the funeral of your hero!!!
But they were not done yet.
The Daily News reports that the MDC-T supporters went on to loot bread vans. They also not only beat up the only elected party deputy president, “dissident” Thokozani Khupe; they wanted to burn her alive in the hut of Tsvangirai’s neighbour where she had sought refuge, as part of the grand send-off for their hero, a democrat who preached a divergence of political views. These were the inheritors of his “legacy” and this was how they were honouring him at his burial!
After the mayhem and a public show of who controlled the instruments of force and power in the MDC-T, we are told the party’s deputy national youth chairman, one Shakespeare Mukoyi, who, according to the Daily News, also heads something ominously called “Order of the Vanguard”, went to rescue a cowered and terrified Khupe and company.
Listen to Mukoyi’s words to the party’s Order of the Vanguard; “Cde Wamba dia Wamba (Nelson Chamisa) gave me an instruction. We know you have the energy and power to defend the principles of the party, but he has instructed me to tell you to release the party leaders who are inside that hut.”
He was reportedly “resplendent” in black military fatigues and a red beret. Like Jesus in the Sea of Galilee, calm was immediately restored after Wamba dia Wamba issued the order. He also ordered Mukoyi to investigate the incident by his “Order of the Vanguard”, which was obviously acting in defence of the “principles of the party”, and present a report to him in 24 hours.
The point of all this is this: there can never be honour among hooligans. Violence has already started in the MDC-T and it is naïve to expect them to be tolerant of party rivals.
Second, whether violence occurs among party members or with rivals political parties, violence remains a crime in this country; it is therefore not clear why the police failed to arrest those engaging in violence even if they wore black military fatigues, and threatening human life. Is there selective application of the law?
Ndebele girl and her honour
It’s going to be a bloody affair ahead: Chamisa’s hounds are ready to pounce and spill blood in the name of Cde Wamba dia Wamba — whether that has his blessings or not.
Interestingly, those that have been at the receiving end of the violence are not going down without a whimper. In fact, they may mount a comeback on a couple of fronts that will make for interesting dynamics.
Douglas Mwonzora insists that the extraordinary congress of the party will take place before the next elections — held any time from now — and this in contrast to Chamisa who gave himself a year at the helm.
“The extraordinary congress will happen, and it will happen before the general elections this year,” Mwonzora is quoted as saying.
“We want to return the MDC-T to constitutionalism and rule of law . . . We will not bow down to pressure from people who are scared of the law and party procedures.
“It will be a negation of duty on our part if we are to allow them to railroad us into accepting an illegal power grab that is anchored in violence.”
Which is what Cde Wamba dia Wamba is riding on.
As a lawyer, Mwonzora will be trusted to bring these matters to the full test of law and convention. The exercise will be long drawn and messy, setting the stage for yet another split of the party as different sides stake claims to properties, title, logos, insignia and party name.
We have been down that road before. On the other hand, it will be foolhardy to expect Madame Khupe to go down without a fight — she is fighting already and defied a living Tsvangirai himself.
In her scheme of things, Chamisa does not amount to much, and may actually be biting more than he can chew. She is standing her ground — and we saw her after the Humanikwa fracas: she was shaken, but unbent. Now she may as well take the war to Cde Wamba dia Wamba. She reveals her contempt for Chamisa.
“For goodness me (sic), Chamisa was unconstitutionally elected as a vice president and I want to put this record straight; when the president (Tsvangirai) appointed him, I was very clear to the president that I do not recognise him because there is no provision in the constitution which says ‘you can appoint a vice president,” she tells VOA.
“So as far as I am concerned, he (Chamisa) is your personal assistant. He doesn’t exist. But that same person is now coming back and trying to usurp powers using violence. I am not going to accept that!”
Then she draws our attention to the elephant in the room: the deadly gender and tribal dynamics of MDC-T politics.
“I want to stop that notion of saying a Ndebele person cannot be a President, of saying a woman cannot be a President. I want to tell them this very minute that even though I am a Ndebele girl, even though I am a woman, I can be a President.”
There we are!
She has just thrown down the gauntlet. Khupe will guard her honour as a woman and as a Ndebele queen. That means a lot.
At the very minimum, it suggests that she is willing to lead those who believe in the rights of the minority, real or imagined, amid populist power grab by Chamisa and his Order of the Vanguard.
We have formidable protagonists in this fight. Once again, the world will watch it burn, and some traditional allies have been taking receding steps from the arena because they don’t want to get their hands and bodies dirty.
Much worse, if, as is increasingly becoming evident, there is really nothing to take a risk for as the opposition is likely to lose elections anyway.
So much for Tsvangirai’s legacy!