Nick Mangwana View from the Diaspora
One of the first things President Mnangagwa did within a few weeks of coming to power was to extend a hand of benevolence to then stricken MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.
The world was in awe as it witnessed the motorcade rolling onto the quiet neighbourhood and out of it emerging the First Citizen. Some baffled speculators even suggested that President Mnangagwa wanted to negotiate a way not to have elections this year.
They were extremely wrong in that regard of course.
We have continued to hear all sorts of speculation from hateful people hiding in some proverbial caves somewhere who pretend to have the inside track of what’s happening in Government. That has always been expected.
What has been disappointing is the type of politics coming from people we expected to know better and act better. They are deliberately dividing the Zimbabwean people in their pursuit of power.
What President Mnangagwa sought to achieve was to set a new tone to the highly-polarised Zimbabwean political arena. He wanted to lead the nation into accepting that a difference of ideas is not enmity. We can differ, but still be cordial and civil about it.
He has preached unity and forgiveness right from the moment he landed on his way back from exile. Reaching out to Mr Tsvangirai was his way of walking the talk. He believed and still believes that political contestations should not be put ahead of national interests.
Whilst we all have our subjective views and parochial interests we should never give them a higher ranking than what serves the interests of the common good. That is the hallmark of a statesman.
In his pursuit of a new political atmosphere in Zimbabwe he sought to meet all serious political party leaders. He wanted the character of our politics reformed forever, but he realised that it is a bit easier to change laws than change human behaviour.
There were just too many political party outfits in the country that such a meeting would be unwieldy and therefore unproductive. He then decided to wait until after the Nomination Court on June 14 so that he could meet those who were participating in the elections.
We are now six days from elections and the meeting has not happened and it’s not going to happen. What happened to the noble idea? Why does it seem like it has died a natural death?
Nelson Chamisa happened.
From the moment he seized power in the MDC-T on Tsvangirai’s death bed he has been pursuing the politics of polarisation. Not once did he act or talk as a statesman. Rather what we have seen is an effort to entertain at the expense of serious statesmanship.
Somehow he is so drunk by adulations he get after every insulting sound bite. All efforts to unite Zimbabweans across the ages, across regions and races and gender are being resisted by his divisive politics. Verbal abuse has been a default political weapon for him and his band of followers who seem to be at home trading insults and obscenities.
President Mnangagwa has been a major victim of his toxic diatribes and he simply has had enough of these immature tantrums. But probably women have been worse victims of his unmasked misogyny.
The diffusion of Chamisa’s polarising language into the citizenry has been a very sad consequence of his pursuit of power at all and any cost. He has even uttered seditious and at times subversive statements. He has threatened law and order in this country. Zimbabweans do not have too many differences save for which are generated by Chamisa, Biti and their ilk.
What is generating these divisions are the dramatics employed by people who have no ideas, but simply seek relevance through an us versus them attitude.
In principle there are no big inter-party differences between the major political organisations except that one is serious about the people of Zimbabwe and the other thinks the people are a dispensable arsenal to power acquisition.
Chamisa’s polarising type of politics undermines democracy. Contrary to what many people think, democracy is not about anarchy. It is not about anyone doing whatever they please. The pursuit of an anti-establishment agenda is not a right that supersedes every other right.
The idea that he can divide the people of Zimbabwe along the lines of those who want to vote and those who should only be allowed to vote if he can win is strange.
In pursuit of these self-serving and parochial interests, he is using disinformation and polarisation as weapons. Politicians are often accused of lacking sincerity, but sometimes we think it’s just cliché until you listen to someone so shifty and deceptive.
This is someone who does not have a consistent position on anything. Every time he takes to the podium he says something that divides the Zimbabwean people. In the event of some unlikely miracle where he gets the people’s mandate, we are going to end up with a highly-divided nation.
This is because he practises the worst kind of politics where someone tries to mobilise support and galvanise his followers through misinformation, disinformation and divisiveness. He doesn’t care about the consequences of this on the nation at all.
When Chamisa took over as leader of his party, he found a nation in the midst of building bridges and white doves being released from all contesting sides. For some strange reason he concluded that a nation in which the old and young, the women and men co-exist peacefully was not good. He concluded that for him to get where he wants to go there must be dysfunction somewhere.
There have always been opportunities for honest discussions like today’s Multiparty Liaison Committee Meeting. Honest discussions take place there, but progress is never made because of negotiators whose principal negotiates in bad faith and believes he can draw a GNU out an impeding electoral loss. That is not going to happen, but it’s not for lack of trying by his party.
The polarisation of the Zimbabwean society being carried out by the opposition is not based on issues. Neither is it ideological. It is based on entitlement and greed for power. There is a claim that because someone was born in a certain period then they have the entitlement to run the country because it’s their chance, regardless of the fact that they are clueless.
When people fail to attack Zanu-PF policies they resort to personally attacking Zanu-PF politicians. That is not right. The Zimbabwean voter is keen to know how exactly one will make a difference in their lives. You can’t just come to the people and tell them that there will be no cash problems because you are going to remove the Bond Note. Well, the Bond Note came as a solution to a problem. Please tell the nation how you are going to address the original problem that led to the introduction of the Bond Note in the first place.
But all these inadequacies are not addressed as people focus on bipolarity and gravitate towards their polar positions. How can they fail to do that when they follow leaders who know how to wind people up?
Is there really a need for Chamisa to deliberately wind up people until they have a visceral dislike for President Mnangagwa personally or head of institutions? What is the benefit to him of fragmenting the Zimbabwean society into units full of hate? How does he expect President Mnangagwa to agree to meet him as a fellow political leader when he hurls insults at him from rally to rally?
Zanu-PF is happy that the President has now said that the only place him and Chamisa will meet on this side of the election is on the ballot.
Zimbabweans, we should take heed because if we continue the way we are being led by this young demagogue, we are going to end up with a society in which people that support different parties cannot have a drink together. There is a fair chance that we are going to avoid each other in public spheres. That would be tragic.
President Mnangagwa does not demean his opponents, but we have all seen Tendai Biti and Chamisa insulting him with all sorts of ridiculous adjectives as well as ridiculous lies. Why is it so important to these guys to say whatever comes to their minds with the intention of hurting his feelings?
Are they trying to provoke him into taking retributive action? So far they have been disappointed because he has adopted the stance of an elephant passing through a homestead with puppies in a barking frenzy. The elephant tends to ignore such puppy howling.
Whilst the President has enough mettle to completely ignore this, he has a support base that has got elements who don’t take kindly to this, which leads to further social polarisation.
Rahul Ghandi said that the politics of hatred, anger and violence could destroy us. And the politics of polarisation is dangerous. On Monday let us choose someone who has shown a lot of statecraft and maturity.