@JAMWANDA2 ON SATURDAY – Opposition: Theatrics of discursive fixity
Motion of a gyroscope
If Zimbabwe’s opposition has any philosophy, it is that of immobility. Bodily and conceptually. Their worldview resembles a gyroscope: spinning about an axis, but firmly within a changeless frame! Indeed a case of movement without progress or linearity.
In short, fixity. What we have is an opposition without any discernible ends; one caught in a time and inter-generational warp.
When only colour changes
Successive changes in leadership —whether properly done or untidily usurped — leads to no substantive aims, goals or changes. Colours maybe, cruder forms of same dictatorial style certainly, but ever the same at core. Let me leave this for a while, to pay tribute to Britain’s sovereign who has just deserted this life and earth out of which she carved a demesne on which the sun never set.
I do not know where she now is, this great potentate of woman imperial power. No one says with any degree of certainty where great potentates who leave this life they bestrode like giants ever go. Or if at all they are judged by the same standards which lift or condemn us, we mere mortals.
A sovereign who dies
Queen Elizabeth The Second is dead. Long live the British monarchy. She passed on after a 70-year long reign, a good ten years longer than I have so far lived. That means from 1963 when I burst forth from my mother’s womb, she had already done a decade with the diadem on her head, and the imperial sceptre in her tender hand.
I was thus born into her reign, and made her darker subject at birth, willy-nilly. Like sovereigns, colonial subjects are also born, they are not made; they follow Fate, they do not elect to join this or that Empire.
Ever for Queen, Empire and God
Even when Ian Douglas Smith carried out his constitutional putsch, on November 11, 1965, the dead sovereign’s shadow still loomed large in my life, for another fifteen long, hard years, during which more excesses were meted against me and my ilk, all in the name of striking a blow for Christianity, Civilisation, Commerce and for the Queen, whom the British God kept saving, until sometime yesterday when she is alleged to have breathed her last, according to the British announcement.
Even after Independence, and before we opted out of the Commonwealth, she still enjoyed some hold over my little life, however tenuous.
The story of Uncle Tazvishaya
Some war broke out in 1939, pitting several European tribes against each other. It dragged in Americans, themselves transplanted Europeans, after the bombing of their Pearl Harbour by the Japanese, the only non-western tribe in that inglorious war.
My father’s brother, named Tazvishaya, or “We-are perplexed”, at birth, and later renamed Mudhibhisi or “dip-tank attendant”, in recognition of his peacetime vocation after this European tribal war, had been conscripted and actually fought in that war.
Luckily, he survived it, having borne arms for the British King, and served in British Burma and Malaya.
Rewards from the King
Many more Africans did, from the then colonial Southern Rhodesia, and from other British colonies in Africa and beyond. They fought for God, King and Empire, a forced triumvirate which demanded their sacrifices, sweat and blood as colonial subjects, in return for nothing bigger than a bicycle, a zobo watch and, on good fortune, some menial job as a colonial messenger or colonial veterinary dip attendant.
The British sovereigns, whether in succession or through associated mighty legacy, had thus this peculiar personal relationship and impact in our family life. Babamukuru died when I was already a grown up, in fact already a married man.
A journey of agony
Quite frequently, certainly several times a year, I ply between Mutare and Chipinge. My late elder brother, Obedinigo, taught at Clearwater, itself a school serving an Estate by the same name in Chipinge. It is owned by some British absentee heavies he worked for but never met, right up to his end in this life.
Both of us had been born and raised as subjects of, and under the reign of, the now dead British Sovereign. My brother left some small, ten-hectare plot close to the Estate, which I have kept productive ever since his demise, and which I continue working on until his children gather enough interest to assume ownership.
So I go there quite regularly, certainly at the start of every season, and more frequently to tend whatever crops I will have committed to that piece of Zimbabwean earth, now fully liberated from its previous absentee British landlords.
Same sacrifices, different rewards
The stretch between Mutare and Birchenough Bridge takes you past two mountainous agricultural areas you see from the Highway, which used to be exclusive to white farmers. These are still named Burma and Himalaya, both named after a country or some feature in the Far East, respectively.
My heart sinks and boils with rage each time I drive past. Babamukuru’s fellow combatants in that tribal war who were of Caucasian stock, but had no connection with this country absolutely, were shipped in as emigres, all to be rewarded with generous stretches of scenic land in those two scenic areas.
Bitter epitaph to Elizabeth
By contrast, Babamukuru and his fellow black combatants were demobilised and sent back to communal backwaters in places like Buhera or elsewhere, to eke a meagre life under the Crown they almost died for, in faraway lands, and in a war they bore no grievance over.
This horrible history, and the whole record of British imperialism here and elsewhere, makes me hate the British Monarchy, its Government and its unhallowed institutions which still reek of colonial effluvia, even though I still have the humanity to see and admire late Elizabeth’s graciousness as a piece of the human race.
Return and rest their bones
Rest in peace, Elizabeth.
May the Empire you embodied in your long lifetime and over whose affairs you preside, some day atone for its bloody sins so you are expiated. Including returning remains of our forbears your Empire keeps in glassy sideboards of your gory museums, much like some Shakespearean witch!
Those bones need to be rested finally, by their people, in their land. Where you have gone, please tell those that bore you that this is the demand from the people of Zimbabwe, who will not rest until this and other injustices are atoned for. Again, rest in peace, old lady!
She was complicit
That we fought and defeated the British over land; that we recovered huge swathes of our land from lords and baronesses knighted by British royalty, late Queen Elizabeth II included, makes me angrier. Lords like Argyle, whose family association with our land traces back to the conquest of our country by Cecil John Rhodes and his band of brigands wrongly named the “pioneer column”.
Significantly, the young Elizabeth, who pledged to serve the British Empire with her whole life, visited Mathobo/Matombo, to pay respects to Rhodes. That was in 1947, in the company of the British Queen Mother.
With that clear and resolute connection with British colonial imperialism, and those who enabled it, and given her association with lords and ladies who continue to occupy our land, my indignation against her is perfectly justified. She died with the taint of her lineage, and complicit in crimes of colonial plunder which today outlive her.
Some of them she wore on the crown she wore.
Her Majesty’s Triple C
But there are fresher, persistent wounds her government inflicted upon our Zimbabwe. Her government raised the anti-nation, anti-African, anti-people puppet opposition we have had here since 1998. It is now renamed Triple C, led by one Nelson Chamisa.
Thus her sins against us, as those of Winston Churchill who was a studious defender of Empire, will not be buried with her, and certainly daily refresh and re-incarnate by way of the daily treacherous misdeeds of the baneful opposition her government spawned here, to blight our land.
There is thus continuity between the now departed British Sovereign; her son who succeeds her now, and the depraved opposition which Chamisa leads here. To this Made-in-Her-Majesty’s Britain opposition, I now turn and direct my barbs.
British by coition
By coition, Tsvangirai and his usurping successor, Nelson Chamisa, are British-made and sired. The one could not outlive those who begot his politics; the other has outlived the monarch whose government bequeathed her that cursed organisation.
Of course, both can never outlive their imperial parents; the entrenched interests which keep them in the crib of British colonial imperialism.
Endless hymn of reforms
Tsvangirai died singing about nondescript political reforms for which he campaigned with all his energies. He recited from a script the British gave him. The only two times he stopped doing so was when he became Prime Minister, under the ill-fated GNU; and again after he lost elections in 2013, soon to be taken terminally ill thereafter, right up to his grave.
Only the perquisites of Office, pathogens and mortality liberated him from this discursive fixity whose aesthetic appeal only he alone saw and delighted in. It has been a terrible political bequest to all those who came after him!
Still more recitals for reforms
Enter Chamisa, and his usurped opposition reign! He, too, knows no other cause, no other discourse, no other grievance, except that of so-called reforms. He repeats it indefatigably, like a well-fed parrot. What these reforms are, and why these only assume materiality and particularity on the eve of harmonised elections, only he alone knows and understands.
For the rest of us and – I am dead certain – for his followers, this is some kind of incantatory mantra which has become part of ballot paraphernalia, albeit intangible and discursive! It is some kind of graveside incantation done in the dead of the night, whose materiality is never intrinsic, but extrinsically borne and validated by external or foreign interlocutors invited through this staid, repetitive discourse.
Playing to the foreign gallery
These could be Americans, the British, the Europeans and, for false tactical reasons, the African Union, SADC or South Africa’s President Ramaphosa, who at different times and in beguiling succession, are called upon to validate and intervene this never-never grievance.
At pitch, the call is to the United Nations, as if we are in 1980, when we had a decolonizing plebiscite which ushered us to statehood Chamisa repudiates. Or as if our harmonised elections have assumed the planetary status of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station at risk of shelling, and thus requiring the intervention of the United Nations!
The game of a spoiler
And every ill or transborder matter — real or imagined — which pits Zimbabwe against her neighbours, becomes a hook on which to hang this mantra of strange beauty to this made-in-Britain opposition. Lately, Chamisa has battened on the strange outburst of some lowly South African MEC by the name POPI — little dog in Shona — over alleged transborder medical cost allegedly passed on to the South African medical system by people purporting to have come from Zimbabwe, solely to deliver babies.
One asks: supposing this outburst had not occurred? Chamisa would have had to invent it, I guess, all to invent faults and interminable grievances for which avenues and platforms for “resolution” were amply created. He snubbed these at every turn, in order to re-issue these when it suits him, and to hide his fear of electoral defeat which is inevitable.
He plays the game of spoiler, kudira jecha, for imperialism, as he declared he would. Imperialism is best served by a Zimbabwe whose invented electoral question never gets resolved.
Sleeping until next poll
Several points can and need to be made. I have little time to make them. Let me just isolate three or so. The inchoate yet unctuously recited never-never reform desiderata is tellingly made on the eve of harmonised elections by a party which sits in Parliament where laws are debated and made.
Instead of using this democratic avenue, Chamisa’s party elect to sleep until close to the next poll, indeed enjoy long spells in chrysalis form like some frozen pupa unwilling to morph into a full-fledged butterfly as dictated by normal growth cycle and evolution.
Siamese with different DNAs
Secondly, the circuit of this perennially election-related grievance and call invariably involves foreign interlocutors, principally hostile States long invested in our electoral processes for regime-change ends. These foreign interlocutors immediately pick up the feigned grievance in order to use it to pre-judge and condemn our polls.
Already, this has happened; more such pre-election condemnations are set to follow. Thirdly, and for this piece lastly, this habitually-made grievance and call, overlooks all by-elections which take place between major national polls, under the same Electoral Management Authorities, a good number of which the same opposition prevails, and is happy to embrace with so much pomp and gusto!
We thus have a paradoxical narrative where the same ballot incubates fair and foul outcomes; where the same womb delivers Siamese twins with different DNAs! I suppose these are mysteries of human coition. In our donkey world, a jackass mating with the same jennet will give you twin foals, never a foal and a mule from the same mount and same womb!