The Sunday News
Richard Runyararo Mahomva
The new Dispensation — which was a forerunner of the Second-Republic brought with itself a massive and unquestioned euphoria which was born at the mercy of new political and citizen liberties.
This reaffirmed our new and full committed turn to revisiting the principles of democracy in the context of a transitional trajectory. For the first time in the history of our country, the ruling Zanu-PF and its opposition counterparts were at par in terms of redefining of the country’s democratic agenda.
Between November 2017 and the day Cde Mnangagwa was inaugurated as the President of the New Dispensation Madzimbabwe, a new culture of pluralism and an open society was emphasised.
His famous visit to ailing leader of the opposition, Dr Morgan Tsvangirai substantiated a new route from partisan hostilities to fraternal embrace of dissent. Zimbabwe celebrated President Emmerson Mnangagwa for his display of ubuntu politics.
His gesture inaugurated a new realist trend of brotherhood. This was a uniting token which depicted humanness beyond the confines of power competition.
The 14th of February, 2018 became another unifying opportunity as all citizens across the political divide united to celebrate the life of Dr Tsvangirai.
By April, 2018 Zanu-PF took the world by surprise as it declared its commitment to unifying the nation through a free and fair path to the historic 2018 elections. Zanu-PF pledged its energy to a violence-free election.
On the 18th of April – on the momentous day of Uhuru, I was among those who at the National Sports Stadium and was intensely shocked to see Tsvangirai’s successor, Nelson Chamisa coming through and occupying a seat in the Presidium tent. Coming from a background of tense politicking, this was quite shocking –but it was a sign that the Zanu-PF of Emmerson Mnangagwa was presenting a new culture of mass political tolerance.
While courtesy was being extended to the opposition, there were tireless efforts to smear Zanu-PF by the very same civil society and opposition who were instrumental in the November march against Cde Robert Mugabe and his impeachment.
The opposition and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) turned their backs on the success of the 2017 November collective and hyped the “coup” narrative and falsely exonerated their input to the change of the guard.
The same Chamisa who raised the legitimacy diagnosis to the new dispensation’s economic challenges was the same person who attended the independence celebrations which by rite were presided over by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. What an irony!
Fast-forward, after the verdict of the 2018 ballot and the Constitutional Court which seat at the behest of the MDC-Alliance, Chamisa still continues his expedience legitimacy crusade against President Mnangagwa. While on that, Chamisa continues to mislead himself and the world that Zanu-PF need to dialogue with his party so that economic recovery can be realised.
After the MDC-Alliance instigated 1 August violence, its prior vows to make Zimbabwe ungovernable, the 14 January follow-up on that proposition, it is clear that the opening up of the country’s political space is being manipulated to aid toxic politicking guised as democratic rights.
The right to expressing displeasure towards state polices is being conflated. Riots have since replaced demonstrations and in all this the state is expected to fold its hands as anarchy unfolds.
There is an organised and zealous conspiracy to discolour the elections. The idea is to tarnish the image of the Zanu-PF to erase the party’s new marks of reform. The motive is to decapitate the re-engagement discourse of the Second-Republic in a bid to preserve Zidera’s excruciating effects on Zimbabwe.
Our wide opened democratic space has given CSOs and private media houses toxic sympathies to the MDC Alliance.
This has further heightened a new culture of criticism which is void of the critical. It’s clear that the industrial criticism of Zanu-PF majors on sanctifying the MDC-Alliance. Sadly, questioning the innocence of the MDC-Alliance is misrepresented as being pro-establishment. The opening up of the political space has been largely manipulated to service concerted strategies for the masses to militate against Zanu-PF.
This has created a structured attention shift from Zanu-PF’s election milestones. Vision 2030, re-engagement, debt-repayment and debt-clearance, together with The Transitional Stabilisation Programme have been side-lined in the critical public discourse to give an impression that Zanu-PF is preoccupied with archaic realism which is not nation-centred.
It’s clear that Zanu-PF’s sincere turn to the core nationalist democratic values has made the party to be misconstrued as neo-liberal. This has been further buttressed by the liberal foreign policy that was adopted by the ruling.
As it is common knowledge, neo-liberalism is a predominant ideology of the 21st century “third-wave democratisation era, permeated various reform facets in domestic policy-making frameworks, multilateralism, economic and cultural diplomacy.
However, we all know for a fact that this democratisation had no blank merits, it was centred on hegemonic terms aimed at preserving Anglo-American supremacy.
Committed pan-Africanists, nationalists, Afrocentrists and a whole gamut of anti-colonial thinkers have for long rejected neo-liberalism and particularly its intimate link to the birth of Movement for Democratic Change. MDC as an incarnate body of neo-liberalism has been dedicated to removing Zanu-PF from power not on a mere basis of accepted norms of power competition.
The fundamental idea behind the rise of the MDC has been that of obliterating the nationalist legacy that Zanu-PF embodies in a bid to operationalise a neo-liberal economic and political agenda which safeguards white monopoly capital.
Today, the framing of the political discourse is in denial of these realities. Only a few seem to be questioning the morality of the opposition in advancing the agenda of genuine democracy.
We have a media fraternity that loads public debates with empty criticism of Zanu-PF. Our media is not questioning the validity of the innocence attributed to the MDC. Our media would only regurgitate what Western media says about Zimbabwe as truth.
Last week, a Western sponsorship desperate cohort of lawyers held a demonstration to lament the “absence of the rule of law” in Zimbabwe.
Surprisingly, a few have questioned why the same lawyers had confidence in the Constitutional Court and stood in defence of Chamisa last year.
A few months down the line, when courts intervene on the MDC-Alliance instigated vandalism and looting the same lawyers clamour for the restoration of the justice system.
Funnily enough, this was the same justice system that was heavily relied on to fortify Chamisa’s election fraud allegations against Zanu-PF.
Moreover, no one dares to question the role by Doug Coltart in the lawyers’ protest.
His rich colonial genealogy which dates back to 1822 when his father’s paternal ancestry which ushered the Rhodes project is not questioned.
In the same manner, Beatrice Mtetwa’s role in the lawyers’ demonstration is given so much media hype and none dares to acknowledge that she was on the side of the colonial settler interests when our people took the land during the hondo yeminda. She was a chief human-rights defender of the colonial settlers when the war-veterans and rural masses challenged the status-quo to redress the colonial land distribution imbalances.
In that same week, we had the Black Wednesday demonstration aimed at raising awareness on the rape allegations attributed to members of the Zimbabwe National Army.
Many of those who took part in the Black Wednesday Campaign cannot give answers to the following pertinent issues with regards to:
Knowing any person (s) raped by the soldiers; Being directly or directly or indirectly affected by this criminality by ZNA members. The number of reported rape cases to the police; Having any knowledge of empirical archival backing to these mass rape cases by women-rights organisations; The number of victims who have since received medical assistance considering the magnitude of health hazards that come with being a rape victim. The approximated nationwide statistics of these rapes cases from CSOs considering the delicacy and urgency of this matter.
To one’s surprise, the Black Wednesday campaign was based on social media speculation and Western media reports.
This is the tragedy of celebrating democracy which is underpinned on polarising a nation and furthering the innocence of one political party at the expense of the other. Anyway, this is the era of toxic democracy.
-Richard Runyararo Mahomva is an independent researcher and a literature aficionado interested in the architecture of governance in Africa and political theory.