The uneasy ‘plain folk’ and Raila Odinga’s student

The uneasy ‘plain folk’ and Raila Odinga’s student NKOSANA MOYO


Zimbabwe is hurtling towards elections and it’s getting exciting, as usual.

Think of what man and woman are doing: self-positioning, deal-cutting, love-making and falling out well before consummation of whatever they would have hoped for.

Man is driven by ambition, by ego and by dreams.

Politicians want to tell us that the people – that much abused abstract – drive them and give them mandates to lead. The big dreams and egos are stowed and couched away conveniently, safely and deceptively.

This is how somebody can ghost into the arena such as Zimbabwe’s politics and proclaim to the world that he has been sent by the people to represent them.

We have about 40 such characters at the moment, and we are still counting. The men and women who would be Kings and Queens! Think of one Nkosana Moyo who a few weeks ago announced that he would be running for the Presidency.

“I must heed the call to run for President of Zimbabwe, a call from diverse Zimbabweans,” Moyo announced. He has christened his party the Alliance for the People’s Agenda.

Moyo’s entry into the political arena has been met with something between derision and mistrust.

Some have called him too elitist, whatever that means, and others have called him a Zanu-PF project.

Regarding the former accusation, you must have seen the cartoon in the Daily News in which he is depicted sitting atop a tree called Meikles Hotel while people stand underneath, failing to access him.

Moyo says: “I’m launching a people’s movement . . .” But one man asks: “Why is he not launching his party under this tree?”

A woman with a baby strapped on her back says: “How do we get up to him?” and a despondent-looking young man remarks, walking away, “Maybe he doesn’t want us up there.”

That is how Tony Namate can be brutal!

A plain folk
And it would seem that Moyo got the message loud and clear. The accusations have been flying around and he was even challenged by someone to tell us where Tafara or Mbire are found.

Poor Nkosana Moyo!

And he has responded in the most comical and farcical fashion.

Over the past week, we saw pictures of him doing the most banal of things trying to impress those who doubt his connectedness to the people.

He was pictured eating sugar cane – in that gross and rudimentary way we do it.

He was pictured sitting in a kombi.

He was caught attending to a car tyre.

You should have seen the pictures: they are so comical and pathetic as Moyo tries hard to be like all of us, the ordinary folk!

Those that have studied communication immediately recall a technique called “plain folk”.

One of the many thousands of results returned from a simple search on the Internet is: “The Plain Folks Appeal is a technique very commonly used in political advertising. It makes it appear that the candidate is a regular person just like everyone else and that they understand the common person because they are one! You will often see pictures of the candidate along with kids, animals or other objects that make them seem like they are just a normal person like you and me.”

That is how the sugar-cane eating Moyo wants us to know and accept him.

We can see how uneasy and uncomfortable he is in the poor PR job. But he has to do it.

He will have to try harder – and the harder he tries the more ridiculous he will get!

Raila Odinga’s student

There is a story that has received scant discussion – perhaps rightly so.

A few weeks ago, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai went to Kenya and met Raila Odinga the leading opposition figure there now leading a coalition outfit called National Super Alliance.

Tsvangirai and Odinga are old buddies.

Nay, Odinga is the big brother and Tsvangirai has apparently been seeking a lot of inspiration from Odinga who in 2008 became Prime Minister of Kenya in a power-sharing arrangement with President Mwai Kibaki on the back of a bloody election the previous December.

Tsvangirai has been trying to follow Odinga’s footsteps, including holding the violence card as a mayhem option.

Incidentally, Tsvangirai became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in 2009 after an indecisive poll in 2008.

In 2011, while he was Prime Minister, Tsvangirai invited Odinga to officiate at the MDC-T congress.

Odinga came and went.

The statement that the visitation made was clear enough: here were two men who appeared to see their fate twinned, entwined and written in the stars.

They imagined that they would eventually lead their respective countries.

Only it has not turned out that way.

In fact, it may never happen.

In 2013 elections Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy lost elections to the Jubilee Alliance led by Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto.

Elections are again beckoning in Kenya.

Odinga faces Uhuru again.

All indications point to him losing, again.

Will he concede defeat?

This is the question that is in the minds of many Kenyans, who have fresh memories of the carnage that took place in 2007.

Odinga is facing his last chance – in all probability.

August is likely to finish him off.

He has run his race, albeit on the less successful side, and age is likely to catch up with him as well.

He is 72.

(Uhuru is 55)

On Thursday, the Nation newspaper wrote that authorities were worried that Odinga would not concede defeat and urged him to pledge to accept the results of the August 8 general election.

This was after Odinga made public statements threatening to reject the outcomes of the elections.

In a statement State House said: “The wild assertions are intended to wilfully undermine public confidence in our democratic system required to ensure an incident-free, fair, transparent and credible electoral process where the will of Kenyans is exercised.”

In an effort to derail the coming elections, Odinga has reportedly filed “more than 30 cases” in the courts.

Odinga has also made a number of demands including the most recent one that they must be included in the tender committee to procure ballot papers for the forthcoming elections.

A State House spokesman noted: “Common sense dictates that there is no bigger interference on the independence of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) than that of dictating how, when and where they run their affairs.”

Birds of a feather

Ken Kimanthi is a Kenyan journalist who is not lost to the strange relationship between Odinga and our Tsvangirai and in an exchange this week he drew our attention to interesting parallels.

Says Kimanthi: “This is the last election he (Odinga) will be vying because with his age, according to the constitution, he will be barred. So he must fight hard to win this particular one.

“He claims the electoral commission has recruited police officers to act as returning officers in order to help Jubilee rig the election.

“Raila also complained of a Dubai firm given the tender to print presidential ballot papers . . . went to the High Court which directed the electoral commission to do a fresh tender, but it appealed the ruling in the Court of Appeal . . . a five judge starts hearing the case today (Friday) . . . note that we are slightly over 20 days to the election,” said Kimanthi.

“He is unlikely to concede defeat . . . All major opposition parties merged to form what is known as Nasa . . . He believes the merger will help him clinch the ever elusive presidency,” added the journalist.

What a coincidence!

Just remove the name of Raila Odinga and put that of our poor old Morgan it all makes sense; perfect sense.

The complaints here about Zimbabwe Electoral Commission; about tender to supply BVR kits and how MDC-T wanted to influence the process and the idea of a coalition.

Tsvangirai has apparently learnt a lot from Odinga.

The unfortunate thing is that he is like the proverbial fly that followed the corpse into the grave.

(P.S.: At the time of writing Tsvangirai was unwell and off to South Africa where a newspaper there reportedly suggested that a doctor had given him some depressingly few months to live due to his affliction by cancer. We wish him well.)

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