@Jamwanda2 on Saturday: Coming home to roost? Nelson Chamisa and Sengezo Tshabangu

@Jamwanda2 on Saturday

Some little-known god called Tshabangu 

Homo sum, humanum nihil a me alienum puto.

What a fast-paced week it has been! Even the most agile minds have had to play catch-up. I am not referring to events in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, tragic and globally reverberating though these may be. Rather, I am referring to politics here at home, politics of home. What adds to the enormity of these politics is that the main actor has been some solitary and little known man, one SengezoTshabangu who appears to hold our whole portion of the Earth in his tiny palm. At least for now. When next anyone says, I will Tshabangu you!, sit up and listen. Tshabangu has run the roost, now he rules it, unchallenged like a true king.

Terrible Infant

Triple C — Tshabangu’s butt — disowns him, in spite of images which overwhelmingly suggest indeed he is one of them. Zanu PF, into whose lap Tshabangu is repeatedly and expediently flung and tossed, too renounces all paternity, whether biological or social. Whose child is Tsabangu then?

The civet cat in their den

Hopewell ‘Mbudziyadhura’ Chin’ono swears Tshabangu if Triple C, adding Chamisa knows as much, and a lot more. He adds that Tshabangu is a scion of vicious internal dissent right inside Triple C, dissent caused by Chamisa’s well-documented leadership deficit. 

Hopewell urges Chamisa to tell his followers the truth; he further exonerates Zanu PF, adding the ruling Party is happily catching catfish in troubled waters. Who wouldn’t, he cynically adds.

Negative capability

Meanwhile the victim of this all-round filial disowning — Tshabangu — grows stronger, larger, more famous with every rejection or parental disavowal, yet his visage daily showing that indeed he is a true chip off the reluctant and coy Triple C block. 

John Keats would have called it “negativity capability”: where an actor faces adversity with equanimity, and even grows by it, while augmenting agency and direction. I am getting a bit opaque; let me get back on rail, and communicate with less rhetorical flourish.

Anyone, anywhere, anytime

In his brief time in national limelight, Tshabangu has wreaked havoc in Triple C, robbing those who claim to own and run it, of any pretensions to agency. Triple C is in paralysis. To date, Tshabangu has recalled several Triple C Members of Parliament, plus a handful of Triple C councillors, mainly in Bulawayo. 

He threatens to recall more, leaving everyone in Triple C battling angst or uncertainty. Since the first batch of recalls, no one in Triple C pretends to know or control their own political lifespan. Tshabangu can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime, for any offence.

He spares no rung

Everything about the phlegmatically mum Tshabangu — he has just opened a Twitter/X handle, possibly for damage assessment and delight — everything about him points to a bigger game, one in which he shows he is unflinching, and means to stop at nothing short of the ultimate rung. 

He seeks nothing short of a complete upset of the opposition, including and principally burying Nelson Chamisa, the man who claims to be Champion-in-Chief, as well as self-proclaimed leader of Triple C. His deft moves suggests octane legal intellect behind him, driving him.

So short a silly letter

Tshabangu has already given notice for a Triple C Congress, in which all of those he has recalled are automatically disqualified. It is the response from Triple C which is most revealing. 

Chamisa has written a letter to the Speaker of Parliament, exhorting him to ignore Tshabangu’s recall letters, and urging him only to receive and send letter to his address. 

He pleads for prompt responses to any of his communication directed at the Speaker’s Office, all in the interest of good communication. Fairly civil piece of communication, but one decidedly ill-advised invite to the Speaker to act ultra vires the law, standing rules and orders.

Level One of several

The law, the rules, deny the Speaker any such discretion which Chamisa, in a fit of stress and confusion, ascribes to him. The Speaker merely administers requests for recall; he does not adjudicate on their worth. 

The reasoning is straightforward: he can’t adjudicate over what the law or process never invite him to initiate! Our law reserves the prerogative of recall to political parties to which affected political figures belong, finish! 

Why Chamisa wastes time setting a mousetrap hoping to catch some stupendous, lumbering elephant, no one quite knows or understands. May be yet another dash of constructive ambiguity: actor playing victim. Actor recoiling from the blowback he has triggered. But all that is level one.

Court action with no respondents

Level two needs some background. A self-comforting theory Chamisa and his acolytes have happily circulated, is making Tshabangu Zanu PF’s induced birth and baby. Self-comforting because that exculpates Chamisa from any malfeasances, while painting Zanu PF darker than the Devil himself. Level two has taken Chamisa to court, to which all democrats are wont, for arbitration. The case is pending. Except nowhere is Zanu PF or/and FAZ, cited, much as Chamisa’s preferred narrative makes both authors of Tshabangu’s alleged mischief. Why not cite both, so they are put to their defences?

Courting Street action

Level three suggests Chamisa’s own lack of faith in level two, namely his court action. He is threatening street action, starting in Bulawayo, hoping for some snowballing effect politically, to swallow the whole country in chaos. 

This would then internationalise the imbroglio in his Party, but with Zanu PF as the evil part of the piece. SADC would be forced to intervene; AU to worry; EU to hector the preceding two to do something “about Zimbabwe”; America to lean on everyone, including the UN, to uphold its cultivated “crisis narrative” leading to some intervention, hopefully. 

I say level three suggests lack of faith in level two; it does. Why would an appellant precipitate unlawful street action before his case is heard, his plea weighed and decided on? Anyway, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, ZRP, has declared the intended action unlawful, causing Information Minister Muswere to warn Triple C of a dire response by the authorities, on the side of law, order and constitutionality. 

I will ignore attempts by Triple C supporters — mostly outside Zimbabwe and, by that fact alone, perfect non-actors – to instigate defiance and violence.

Set aside the recall law!

Level four is fresh as I write: Triple C has just released some unsigned statement demanding the suspension of the law on recalls, pending debate in Parliament on its status vis-à-vis the Constitution. 

Optimistically, the statement says thereafter, the law must be struck off, suggesting Triple C has debated already, and debated for Zanu PF too, to then reach a consensus the law is ultra vires the Constitution! 

Triple C debates and wins a motion it has brought before a Parliament from which it is disengaged, and in which several of its members have been recalled, leaving Zanu PF with a fortified majority! 

As all that is taking place, the recalls stand reversed, even without Tshabangu, Triple C’s interim Secretary General, lifting a pen or pencil to rescind his letters to the Speaker! 

Where this leaves the court action by the same Triple C, whose heads of arguments say nothing about the constitutional status of the recall law, no one in the lawyers-laden Triple C has said or is prepared to say. 

But some dissentients say all this is “a mess”, “amatope” or “kindergarten politics”. There is no shortage of expletives.

Zimbabwe’s “authentic opposition”!

But there is a portion in the unsigned statement which is quite interesting. After declaring in very strong language that Chamisa and Triple C defeated President Mnangagwa and Zanu PF respectively, the statements laments Zanu PF efforts at using recall law to destroy “Zimbabwe’s only authentic opposition”! This, it seems, suggests Chamisa and his Triple C have now admitted they lost the harmonised elections, thus becoming Zimbabwe’s “only authentic opposition”, a position they now tenaciously seek to assert and defend through all of the four levels of response listed above. Could this obliquely suggest a graduated climb-down? Time will tell.

By-Election on December 9

I say events are moving at some vertiginous pace. They are. In the meantime President ED Mnangagwa — as State President — has already proclaimed December 9, 2023 as the date for by-elections arising from all recalls so far. We have two paradoxes. 

One, a Party that has voluntarily disengaged from Parliament – the Triple C – is fighting tooth and nail to have its recalled members back in the same Parliament it has voluntarily disengaged from. 

Additionally, the same Party wants its bete noire, Zanu PF, to suspend the law on recalls pending fresh debate in the same Parliament it has disengaged from, or from Courts it does not have faith in, or which it approaches with dirty hands. 

Two, Zanu PF which has vehemently stated there won’t be free elections post-August 23 Harmonised Polls, finds itself facilitating some mini-harmonised election by lawful proclamation, thanks to Tshabangu, the bad child thrust into its lap by a fastidiously caring biological parent called Triple C! Amazing twists, all-round!

Anticipating political developments

Gentle reader, I have tried to carefully and tortuously follows the maze of weeklong political developments which very few anticipated. 

I happen to be one of the few who foresaw them, leading to my tweet on 22nd August — a day before our polls — at which I predicted bloodletting on Chamisa soon after his inevitable defeat by Zanu PF. 

Many in Triple C refuse to see that tweet as a child of sheer political clairvoyance; they prefer to see the tweet as proof enough that I infiltrated and got embedded into their Party on behalf of Zanu PF, which Party I belong. It is a dubious honour I welcome with relish and aplomb.

Nothing human is foreign

Which gets me to the Latin adage with which I opened my piece. I hope that you, my Gentle reader, had not hastily accused me of pedantry and exhibitionism. 

The Latin adage translates to: “I am human: I regard nothing human as foreign to me.” The adage is attributed to some playwright of comedies who lived Before Christ (BC). His name was Publius Terentius Afer, Terence for short. 

What attracts me to him is that he was an African Roman playwright taken into captivity by his master, Senator Terentius Lucanus, who made him his slave under the Roman Empire. The master educated him, but soon got impressed by his exceptional intellect that he freed him, whereupon Terence took to play-writing. 

It is said some of his plays inspired Shakespeare, the English bard, thus suggesting Africa’s own son influenced Shakespeare’s writings. History barely records this English indebtedness to Africa which is routinely stereotyped as a Dark Continent.

My friends in Triple C hate it when we discuss goings-on in their Party. They think we are interfering and get fired with indignation. They want exclusive monopoly over their fine mess, their sins most foul. Yet they enact their politics in open, public space. 

Well, I have news for them: We are human: we regard nothing human as foreign to us! We shall comment, laugh, scoff but never commiserate with them. 

They charge, even allege against the other, often with reckless and senseless abandon. Yet they flinch, wail, when brickbats come. 

The villainy they teach, we shall execute. Chamisa shall, will, be an object and subject of public scrutiny and commentary, whatever the level of indignation his bigoted supporters may muster. 

The donkey does not care, more so in respect of a character who not only aspires to lead this great Nation, but who actually puts that aspiration into practical action and pursues it concretely in our political space.

Have the chickens now come home?

Why does this great Nation allow a man who systematically destroys and negates democratic practices in his own party, against his own comrades, allow him even the smallest space to futilely seek or aspire to national leadership? To create what dispensation in the unlikely event he wins? 

Do we have to commit fate and matters to Providence? When will it make sense to this Nation to demand that anyone aspiring for highest National Office must first deposit proof and instruments of democratic practice begot by his own party, followed and enforced in his own political home? 

A Party Constitution; Party elective procedures; proof of elective structures and incumbency. Is that too much, nhai MaDzimbabwe? What if Chamisa had prevailed in the just-ended plebiscite? 

What monster would that vote have let loose upon this society? 

Thankfully that didn’t and wouldn’t happen. In place of a serious contender, all we have is the midget Shakespeare lampooned in the following, memorable line: “Now does Authority hang loose upon him/Like a giant’s robes on a dwarfish thief!” Regai ndiyende kumasese!

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