The Other Side: Nathaniel Manheru
Zvasekuru vangu VaTsvangirai vakomana? Kungozvitsvagira mabombodzi nemarehwarehwa padunhu! I don’t know what went behind the MDC-T scenes, leading to the appointment of two other vice presidents, over and above Thokozani Khupe, the pots and pans vice president. I am not curious to know, for that concerns their party and their members. Come to think of it, the two new appointees are likeable characters, educated ones too, who have acquired quite some profile in national politics.
- There is method to Tsvangirai’s madness
- Tsvangirai violates MDC-T constitution
- Knives out for Chamisa, Mudzuri
- Tsvangirai elevates Chamisa, Mudzuri
- It’s here: The Tsvangi-exit moment
True, one may be young, too young perhaps, but in terms of party politics, he seems the proverbial chick that will grow into a sprite cock. Mudzuri on the other hand kept his cool amidst repeated adversities, all of them wrought by a hostile leadership.
Frankly, I have a very dim view of Thokozani Khupe. She has not been able to be the glue to hold together Bulawayo, only small Bulawayo. How is she expected to be the glue that kneads a whole party? And when Tsvangirai was away on sick leave, her rolling addresses were a little lower than pedestrian, thick dour unable to rouse even the most excitable. You cannot present her as a national figure, let alone pit her against Robert Mugabe, the Zanu-PF 2018 presidential candidate.
Good management of party politics includes guarding against public flare-ups such as we have seen in MDC-T. Good management of party politics means keeping conflicts under control, subterranean. For it is in the nature of political fallouts to be nasty, very nasty, feeling a whole wash-line with between-sheets dirt. This is what is happening now in MDC-T, and the party’s opponents are busy studying the fault lines for strategic decisions.
Clearly Khupe is unhappy, very unhappy to have colleagues in the second echelon of leadership. She would rather she was alone, becoming a presumptive successor to Tsvangirai thereby. Too daft to see, that unhappiness suggests she looks forward to Tsvangirai’s demise, feeling the new appointments amount to snatching a succulent piece of meat from her salivating mouth. She is now receding into tribal and gender arguments, further alienating an already fractured Bulawayo and national vote. Already fractured by her and her divisive leadership qualities.
Obert Gutu is unhappy, very unhappy given that Chamisa, his bete noire, has ran past him by administrative fiat, emerging as his boss. The rivalry between the two Masvingo home boys is legendary, with Chamisa joining the law school to prove that what Gutu and Mwonzora can do, he can do better. For the two had ganged up, inviting a brutal comeuppance on Chamisa in the last congress.
Like a good politician, Chamisa did not go or tumble down; he descended to grassroots levels where the people are, leaving his two lawyer-opponents flying high, higher, airy but rootless. As I write, he has a stranglehold on the MDC-T youth wing, and enjoys good chemistry with the general membership, he and Mudzuri.
By contrast, Gutu and Mwonzora are patrician politicians, only needed after activist police arrests, or when a monological expletive against Mugabe has to be summoned, composed and bleated. They lack grounding on terra firma, the way Chamisa and Mudzuri do. Both Mwonzora and Gutu are unhappy, and have been bad-mouthing Tsvangirai through deep media throats. And given their unimaginative communication skills, you can trace their footprints. That is the trouble with people with a limited vocabulary.
The legal challenge against the appointments purportedly done by “ordinary members of the party” amount to too obvious and open a trick to fool anyone. The two have sponsored it. But it also invites the courts into what is supposed to be in-house party matters. Hardly a clever way of solving problems, or building public confidence in readiness for 2018. And in quite some cold, cruel calculation, Welshman Ncube, every inch a spent force, chooses to pass by Save, asking how he has woken up! It heightens the leadership angst, does it not?
Kuraira nhaka here?
Back to asekuru. He has chosen to hide behind a decision of the MDC-T highest body between congresses. We have never known him to subordinate himself to any such body in the past, never known him to have his will subdued by such niceties. Not even the party constitution restrains him. His days in Government did not suggest a person inconvenienced by any such documents, whether big or lesser.
Except where an appearance of doing so conferred some modicum of political expediency, some score against his opponents. So let us put aside this seeming external compulsion to his leadership. The reasons must lie elsewhere, and elsewhere is where we now go. Whether he likes it or not, the appointment of two senior aides reflects minimally on MDC-T, maximally on him and his state of health.
And as if to confirm it, he left for South Africa soon after. Kuraira nhaka here nhai Save? Inadvertently, he has communicated a sense that he is not coming back, at least back to lead MDC-T into 2018, at most in this life. Psychologically, he has encouraged the general membership to think past his leadership. He has bowed out, in other words, created not just a caretaker structure, but one that places all contenders on the same start line. The race has been announced and need he be surprised with the jostling?
But he has done it in a very reckless manner. He leaves the party to be split around tribe and region, with speculation even tracing his blood line to Bikita, to the Chamisas. That is obviously fatuous nekuti mwana weVuhera wakakura muruwa rwekwedu, tichimuona.
But who cares about that in politics. Fiction often becomes fact in politics, and he should know that as a politician. The forces which this mukuru has released are deadly, sure to drown his party, not least leading figures in it. It is a poor valediction.
Two million jobs for?
One voice that keeps coming into my eardrums with irritating shrill is the demand by the hashtag generation for 2 million jobs promised by Zanu-PF in 2013 polls. Even the MDCs have joined in demanding those jobs as if Zanu-PF owes them a living. You want a two million job output from a minus vote input? Who did you vote for? And why should a Zanu-PF Government govern to your benefit?
Spare me that nonsense about national good. What is that? The goal of winning a tenure is to multiply it a thousand fold, to augment it by doing good to those voters sitting on the fence. Your obligation is to your constituency, which is why Zanu-PF is single-minded in serving its voters. And Zanu-PF attracted more than two million voters whose unmet needs are its preoccupation. Not MDC-T supporters, in their diminishing numbers. They don’t matter to the Zanu-PF calculus. They only matter to Tsvangirai and his MDC-T. But that is not my focus. Why would I ever focus on those ones?
Sumptuously in Sandton
My real focus is on people like Pastor Mawarire and many graduates who demand jobs, demand a wherewithal from Government. The pastor, I am told is now living in sumptuously in Sandton, well provided for. By? He who could not raise money for his children’s fees? Failed fatherhood mutating into frothy heroism? And what better message of failed fatherhood than to be adopted by the high and mighty of Sandton?
I even heard of some unemployed graduates who mulled a demonstration, demanding to be addressed by Professor Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development. And the subtext was quite clear: you sent us to your tertiary schools to eat big book, now give us a big job for a big morsel for our big stomach.
He who gives or grants you food for thought, they argue, must also provide food for the stomach. Some even carried placards that said they were graduate vendors! Really? This hard-up society sends you to school up to university level, equips your mind with tertiary skills of your own choice. After four good years at university, you graduate to great pomp and pageantry.
The family is happy, with mothers strapping machari muchiuno ululating “nhasi nhamo yapera”. Then a great denouement follows: you wind up walking the streets, unemployed. Or milling around vendor stalls exhorting this or that indifferent passer-by to buy your smuggled wares. In good English too! Or, Promise Mkwananzi-like, you become a serial agitator, yelling at adamant citadels of power you cannot move and that never hear you, for “two million jobs”. Finding common cause with magrade 8 asina kana kuenda kuchikoro. Babanguwee Nhuka, Mukonde!
With all that vast knowledge?
Key to university education is building survival skills, equipping you with living skills as a human being. You learn about society: how it comes about, how it evolves, how it sustains itself through sheer industry and ingenuity, indeed how it grows and develops. You go through many civilisations: how they launched themselves and how, without ever evolving creativity, declined and were surpassed.
Or how they thrived into a great future by hybridising creativity, pilfering from other societies. You even learn about our past: how higher, more advanced scientific societies spilled over their borders to conquer and enslave us. To underdevelop us. Are taught how we recovered our poise, turning the tables against the invader.
Yes, you are taught processes, industrial and scientific processes, by which man meets his needs, attains fulfilment and happiness. How value is created, commodified and traded. All that, you are taught in these advanced schools. So you wind up a vendor? Wind up a serial agitator? Demand 2 million jobs? From whom? From the very society that niggardly spent on you?
Why a house of hunger still?
Is it not fair for that society to ask of you: where are the two million jobs we invested in you to create for your less fortunate brethren, dear Mr graduate with a very small “g”? To ask: why are you crowding out your less educated brother on vendor stalls, you educated son? To further ask: where is the fire we sent you to steal from the gods for a warmer heath for the whole family?
Yes, to ask insistently: why is this still a house of hunger after all those books you chewed, books and apparatuses we procured for you at such great expense? You who exhausted family and Government savings at the expense of your sister and brother who today look up to you for succour? Where are the blessings of education, the morsel and meat you bring home after such a long sojourn in the forest of knowledge? So many questions. So many to be saved. So many sacrificed for you to go to university.
The land that was tired
I write like one who has been to university. A beneficiary of society’s collective investment and sacrifice. I, too, looked for a job, found it and looked after it when it lasted. But I remained restless. Zimbabwe had come. We had become a free people, independent and sovereign. I had helped in the fight against the white man. I would never suffer the ignominy, serf-like, of kneeling before the same white man I had fought to plead for a job.
Or burden the very society that paid so handsomely for my tertiary education. Adventitiously, I looked at the six hectares my family had worked on from the 1930s when they circuitously relocated to Buhera, running away from the assaulting BSAC following the demise of Chiwashira, our great grandfather. By then the land was tired. It had raised generations, right up to my own. It was still expected to raise my children also, against ever diminishing returns.
By own bootstraps
But studies in development administration and business economics had taught me how wealth is created from shoestring, how wealth, not money, was the fulcrum upon which society balanced. How bowels of dead earth can be turned into gold. History had also told me that the white invaders who moved up North hoped to gain fortune from mining.
Until they got interrupted by the 1896 war of national resistance, they tracked the veld, scaled up hills and mountains in search of minerals, the second El Dorado they dreamt about. None materialised in the end. Until one day the white man decided the real resource available was the fertile land, and the cheap African labour that needed to be subdued.
Then started a massive program of dislocating African communities, relocating them to poorly soiled areas in favour of whites. Agriculture developed, prospered into the famed Rhodesian plantocracy. The founding generation of settler Rhodesia, history warned, was a farming one. I took that to heart, I the graduate citizen. Once demobilised from the invading army, the white invader, typically riff-raff, never agitated for a million jobs. Never. Rather, he raised himself by own bootstraps. Great Nations, great civilisations, are created not by job-seekers, but by wealth-creators. Was this the missing lesson which these our vendor graduates dissed?
A man who does not travel beyond the village . . .
Armed with that knowledge, I reasoned with my family, agreed to turn that sandy land into fowl runs for raising broilers. I set up eight runs, each carrying 6 000 birds. I went to banks, unaided, and borrowed. I am still struggling to settle that debt. But I am not a vendor. I am not an agitator.
I am not demanding 2 million jobs. Quite the contrary, I employ and support 23 households, positively impact another fifty by way of downstream activities. I have no time to ply the streets shoeless. Or to accost the politician who does not owe me a living. Or go back to Government that has done its part. Ask for Professor Moyo whose part is done.
I send my children to good schools, nematoto, chicken droppings. I bought a farm – never received one — nematoto iwawo. I hold title deeds to that piece of land, a product of my own sweat, not from leaning on any politician. Or blaming, or stoning them. Not from a job, itself a poorly rewarded encumbrance. Each time I see people hashtag-ging lockdowns, I see the folly of idleness, of wasted investment.
And I know that after that brouhaha, they will want to eat. For the stomach knows no lockdown, less so of an unimaginative graduate inducted into middles-class eating habits. I thought the in-thing these days are start-ups? Obama’s Yala nonsense is about start-ups, is it not? Everywhere start-ups are what are creating jobs, not political parties. Start-ups led by graduates. What a different discourse it would have been if this was the driving idea?
What a different demand those depraved graduated would have been making to their Government? The Party, through its Government, educates you to university. You come back the following day — a graduate through and through – to ask in better English where are the 2 million jobs? Maybe it is because this Government has been good, too good for our own good.
It has looked after us so well, served us a hot meal in bed. And we don’t know in full adulthood that a man who does not walk beyond the village ends up marrying a sister. No wonder why the curse of endless drought is upon us. We bearers of the fool, the fool, the bigger, educated fool.