Saturday, August 11, 2012

(NEWZIMBABWE) MDC-T: the futility of reinventing heroism

MDC-T: the futility of reinventing heroism
11/08/2012 00:00:00
by Nathaniel Manheru

TALK to those involved in the mired draft constitution and they will tell you that the endless parleys between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations over the constitution amounted to a relationship between rulers and the governed. The MDC formations took the obsequious and obeisant posture of oppositional subjects petitioning for greater concessions from those in power, Zanu PF.

They sought what really amounts to standard provisions in the bill of rights, but with the supplicatory tone of people well outside the circuit of governing, never as sharers, never as co-governors. And it was not a case of power’s mock-modesty psychosis. Nor a case of reflexes deriving from decadal stay in the winter of opposition. Rather, it was an inadvertent confession to their present status as the marginals of the obtaining power equation, a status in which they are invited to govern without being favoured to rule, indeed an invidious status in which they do not enjoy any power, and end up picking up its taint.

Today, they carry the slur of corruption, of vapid materialism which makes prospects of their ever ascending to power such a forbidding augury. Much worse, theirs is a presentiment of the role they will play after the impending harmonised poll: that of a full blown, fragmented opposition fated to rebuild from below, in fact from beneath ground zero.

For an MDC that loses the next poll shall never be the same. In that regard, the formations took the stance of interpreting the whole constitution-making process as paving the way for the resumption of a regressed role as an opposition.

The yeomen of Zimbabwe politics

Evidence of this seemingly surprising yet realistic stance abounds. The formations concentrated their petition attack on the dispersal of executive powers. Where others saw the diadem, saw the sceptre, they wielded a rack, a dispersal rack with which to spread the mound of concentrated power. A real tiller’s stance.

Of course that cannot be the stance of parties anticipating to grab power. Rather, it is the stance suitable for parties set to suffer its exercise, parties set to live under governors, their rules and whims. The cry is to be ruled justly and with compassion. They sought to use the draft to enhance the say of Parliament in the exercise of executive powers. Again, that is not quite the posture of a formation poised for power. Executive power is exercised in Munhumutapa, not in Parliament. Those seeking to fortify parliament are those who don’t hope to wield power, those who seek to influence it, to modulate it. The power of tribunes!

Also watch how the reflex of being governed is manifesting itself already, prematurely and comically. The formations are already being governed by a draft, trimming their conduct as if the draft is now the law, the supreme law.

The mating clause

Even more telling is the mating clause. The Copac Draft — and that is what it is for now — seeks to force presidential candidates to choose two running mates for a calculated outcome of sequenced seniority. It does not take super brains to know that the provenance or prompting of this clause is the 1987 Unity Accord between ZANU and PF-ZAPU. The idea of two vice-presidents came from that accord which also made it clear that one of the two vice presidents had to come from PF-Zapu, while the other would come from Zanu.

The Accord never equated this with tribe or region, much as the formations seem to think so! If it was so, the late Joseph Msika, a Shona, would never have been our vice president, would he?

This clause in the draft thus has nothing to do with post-1999 politics in which the formations are a belated player. It has everything to do with two liberation movements seeking amity through mutual accommodation. Interestingly, even Dumiso Dabengwa has no problem with this clause, much as he thinks he has a problem with the Unity Accord as presently fashioned. It is clear where the governing ethos comes from. But these are the smalls of the whole argument.
To chef, fret and pray

The real nub of the matter relates to the mischief the clause is meant to cure, namely the potentially-disruptive politics of managing the transfer of power in Zanu PF. The shorthand for that in the Zimbabwean political lingo is succession, a term whose use often makes me wonder whether the formations quite understand or grasp it.

Straightforwardly, you cannot obsess about the succession in and of a rival party without registering doubts about your own prospects, even negating your own fitness to run for office, let alone winning that power. There is an implied enveloping perpetuity of Zanu PF in that whole argument. It is that simple.

Simply, by talking about Zanu PF’s succession quandary or imbroglio, whether real of feigned, you are admitting that Zanu PF carries the fate of the Nation. Which is to belittle your own hold or say on the politics of the nation, indeed to register that your own and only significance is to chafe, fret and pray that all goes well in Zanu PF, for the sake of our Nation!
Voting in Zanu-PF primaries

And of course one way the MDC formations do register their angst over Zanu PF’s stability and futures as the only ruling class in the nation, is through what they term Zanu PF factions which they claim pit Joice Mujuru against Emmerson Mnangagwa. Often this debate which is always pursued with greater fury in the formations’ media outlets, get as far as expressions of preferences between the two supposed succession gladiators.

Give us Mujuru please, some say. Give us Mnangagwa, yet others say, backhandedly acknowledging their own absence in the power equation. We face quite a strange situation where the formations proudly take a vote in respect of imagined presidential primaries of a supposedly rival political party.
It is so gratuitous a homage to Zanu PF as a permanent ruling party as to become quite obscene. No political foreclosure has ever been so total in history.
Already ripe and ready?

Which takes me to another important psychographic factor in the whole constitution-making process. What does it say to know that the burden of combing through the COPAC draft has been left solely to Zanu PF? For the two formations, the draft was ripe and ready the day the COPAC team appended their signatures to each page of the long draft. And I notice there is even a conceptual problem, one best exemplified by MDC-T’s habitually hysterical spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora, hysterical even in his sleep and soliloquy! He thinks that COPAC is sub-penultimate node in the constitution-making process, the penultimate being the second all-stakeholders’ conference, the ultimate being the referendum whose verdict then gets formalised by Parliament.

What flawed hysteria! The man — a whole lawyer — never paused to ask himself what COPAC as an acronym stands for. For he would have known that it refers merely to a committee, a mere committee of Parliament. Its composition reflects the make-up of Parliament, Sir, never the mechanism for concluding anything for anyone or anything, Sah! That is what a committee is SAH, well before we ask whose committee it is.
When children’s games end

And when we do eventually, we realise its endeavours not just amount to a draft, but one that does not bind or commit anyone. Not even Parliament in whose name COPAC, which is why after such a long play in the school yard, parents asked COPAC to wind up play as night fell, so the games of elders would begin!

And the game has begun. Children must or are presumed to be in bed, long in bed after daytime play, with all its small bruises. And those little signatures appended on every page were part of the play. Little signatures meant to authenticate a committee’s output so its efforts would reach elders undefiled.

To try and suggest that those puny signatures bind elders is to be preposterous, very preposterous to say it politely. And to suggest the process is complete is more foolish than pretending the process is the outcome, and that preliminary players — mere curtain raisers — are the main match, the main players and the only referee and linesmen put in one. Nothing has closed, and Mwonzora whose political career both at home and nationally seems set for permanent eclipse after this, must know that. But back to the main point.

The only experienced constitution-maker

The burden of combing through the document, cleaning it up to make it a presentable governing covenant, has been left solely to Zanu PF. And like a serious party in whose hands lies the fate of the Nation, Zanu PF has gone about this duty with amazing meticulousness: every word, every clause, every section, every page, every chapter, every limb of the charter. Broad discussion of broad principles first, then getting down to how those principles come through the drafting. And you think it is over, until you realise there is a whole welter of experiences being brought to bear on the draft.

And this is where Zanu PF really gets awesome. The experiences of party drafts in the ANC days of the late 1950s, experiences of the NDP days, Zapu days, the split, Victoria Falls, ANC, the detente, the Patriotic Front. Geneva. Malta. Nairobi right up to Lancaster. Then post-independence: various amendments to Lancaster, starting with racial clauses, ending with the land issues; 1999-2000 draft; GPA and subsequent amendments; Kariba; COPAC: all these getting appreciated from a constitutional angle, their lessons getting integrated.

Then you have the whole struggle: its goals, its ethos, its bulwark. All that done, the crucial question gets asked: what did the people say during the outreach? Is what they said in accord with what is contained in the draft?
The party that will not be pushed

Seen from such a rich angle, and given Zanu PF’s role and status in the national scheme of things, it is not difficult to understand why it has taken four day-and-night long sessions, even then without concluding matters. And get it from me, Zanu PF shall not be pushed by whomsoever. Even the good Lord will wait for it. This is about the destiny of a nation, the destiny of a people, a revolution and, hey, time dies! Let everyone get that, friend or foe.

The MDC formations have no knowledge of constitution-making or negotiations. Only Zanu PF does wield such knowledge, itself quite distinct from reading law in school, or studying constitution-making processes in other climes. The process in question is much more fundamental than that and, hey guys, you better wait.
Sample of un-pruned roughness

I will just sample the kind of un-pruned roughness Zanu PF is having to take care of. The section to do with freedom of expression, the Press, the media, or broadcasting, or public broadcasting, or public media. It is that untidy. You cannot quite tell what is being addressed in the draft. Or what is being differentiated.

Is the Press the media or vice versa? Or are these sub-sectors of an industry? When are the terms deployed generically, when to distinguish categories and sub-categories? Are the ethical demands on the media relaxed or tightened on grounds of ownership? Is fairness, balance and equal access issues solely set for the public media, with the rest of the media being allowed to ride roughshod over them as is being implied by the COPAC Draft? Are they a standard to all media? And what is meant by “right of establishment” for the broadcast media? And why for the broadcast media only? A right only qualified by a licensing process provided the process itself does not involve “government, a political party, or commercial interest”!

When God is the licensing authority

So who licenses the use of the finite spectrum, the use of frequencies, themselves a property of national governments? Are they NGOs? Is it God the Almighty? Or both? Not even broadcasters qualify to license themselves given that they become commercial entities after claiming their “right of establishment”!

And so who represents Zimbabwe at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) when the supreme national law makes it unconstitutional for governments, parties and commercial interests to be licensing authorities? NGOs I suppose! Or the Almighty who happens to be ubiquitous? That is as absurd as the draft we are being stampeded into signing often becomes. And Mwonzora thinks all that must be let to sail, sail smoothly to home? Worse than idiocy if you ask me.
A case for pirate radio stations

But that is what happens when a made-in-the-West opposition is seeking to regularise its beyond-the-law operations. The idea behind such a strange section was to give automatic residency and life-at-law status to all those odious pirate stations set up by and in the West, all to buoy MDC formations’ propaganda. This followed a recognition by the formations that national institutions involved in licensing would never be overrun in the name of the GPA or freedom of the media.

And you ask Mwonzora where in this good world — or more narrowly — in his West is broadcasting granted “right of establishment”, and where licensing is done by NGOs and God. Or is this the view of the American Federal Communication Commission, to pick from MDC-T’s foremost customer? Or Australian Broadcasting Authority, to cite from a British dominion which recognises his master Tsvangirai as “a hero of our time”? Our time my foot!

The Bull Eland that won’t roar

Young Luke Tamborinyoka! The Bull Eland! Mhukahuru! Hahahaha! My totem too. Timbokubataibatai Mhofu. Pamusoroi. Last weekend, the MDC-T had a well publicised do at the graveside of Musharukwa, the late Ndabangi Sithole. Not quite a surprising turn given that party’s dimming prospects in Matabeleland. They need to recover and make up elsewhere. And with the way Zanu PF is regaining and consolidating, chimbama wagarira nhanzva pamutserendende. And only protected by mere wafer between his sliding, screeching buttocks and the rough slope!

The Chipinge of real heroes

But before I get to my point, let me make one point abundantly clear. Chipinge, like most districts in Manicaland, played a key role in the liberation of this country. Like border districts of Centenary, Muzarabani, Guruve, Mutoko, Mudzi, Plumtree, Binga and many others, Chipinge gave many of its sons to the struggle, sacrificed them in fact.

A small but telling linguistic feature of the struggle is that Ndau, Manyika and Korekore more or less became the official dialects of the struggle. The aura of the guerrilla was not just his gun and his mysterious tactics — mabhindauko as we called them. It was also this way of speaking a brand of Shona so heavily laced with Ndau or Manyika intonation. This linguistic prominence derived from the numerical predominance of fighters from many districts of Manicaland.

Child abuse at Zona

I bear personal testimony to that, having been a student at Mount Selinda during the struggle. And I also know the massive abuse the broad masses of Chipinge suffered at the hands of the regime. Apart from the Rhodesian soldiers, the Selous Scouts, the DAs, the Auxiliaries and other regime/quisling formations, the people from that part of the world had to put up with untold indignities from the paramilitary Guard Force which secured vast tea and coffee estates for multinationals like Aberfoyle which they served as plantation workers.

One such was Zona, a tea estate so precariously perched on the slopes of the border with Mozambique, sited right in the line of fire of the big guns of Espungabeira which targeted the then belligerent Rhodesia. It thrived on child labour. It was secured by brute force of this Guard Force. What is worse, guerrillas would often plant anti-personnel mines which destroyed life and limb of these workers who no doubt supported the liberation struggle but were often forced by sheer need and poverty to work against their convictions. And we used to see tea pickers with mangled limbs being ferried to Chipinge hospital for very rough treatment which only consolidated their permanent disabilities.

Chako which Luke Tamborinyoka, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson, only so rhapsodically discovered last week, was already there then in the bloody seventies, had been there for a long time as a colonial outpost. You could only reach Chako and Mt Selinda through Siduna, the bus that plied that route at the height of the war. I know of whole villages that relocated to Mozambique to escape reprisals from white Rhodesia.

Let it be recorded here and now that Chipinge is a district of war heroes, among the foremost war districts in the country in fact. It does not have to be exiled into narrow Ndonga politics. It does not have to claim its place in national politics through one Ndabaningi Sithole, with his baneful legacy of collaboration, sellout politics. He was an aberration, a departure that does not detract from the enormous contributions of the people of Chipinge. A handsome record, a proud one at that.

The one comrade we lost

Throughout my stay at Chirinda, as Mount Selinda Institute was popularly called, the late Ndabaningi Sithole never visited the area. He could not have. And the war dragged on, gaining vengeful fury with each day that passed. In 1979 we lost a well known comrade who fell in battle close to Chako, but within the margins of Chirinda forest. A victim of an ambush.

What brought much anguish to all of us at Chirinda was not just that this comrade was personally known to most students at the institute. A few days before his fall, he had paid the school a visit, alongside a large group of other well armed guerrillas.

He had a sister in the school, something which deepened our already deep empathy. We cried disconsolately when the news was broken. Obviously all this is unknown to Luke who seeks to introduce Chirinda to us with such unabashed presumption.

Sithole’s Uganda connection

I said Sithole never visited Chirinda, his home area, throughout my durance at the school. As a student who was coming from elsewhere, I was struck by the fact that not once throughout my stay at the school was his name mentioned, let alone celebrated. He did not exist in the student psyche. Not at all. He did not have any visible support in his home area which threw its full weight behind the armed struggle.

And coming as I did closer to Manyene in Chikomba, but residing on the Buhera side of Chikomba district, I had heard of the outstanding atrocities of Sithole’s private army which had been deployed in that unfortunate part of the district. Its atrocities were appalling, to say the least.

How could it be otherwise? They had trained in Uganda, trained by Idi Amin’s men. Somehow Amin thought Sithole was still a freedom fighter and the leader of Zanu. And because of that, he thought he was helping with the freedom of Rhodesia. That way Ian Smith was able to build a private army for Sithole on Ugandan soil. And at one OAU Summit, the simple Amin — a waiter by profession — had boastfully announced to the Zanu team led by one Robert Mugabe — now President of a free Zimbabwe — that he was training a force of more than a thousand for the liberation of Rhodesia.

The force, he added, would soon complete training and fly straight into Salisbury to fight Rhodesians for a free Zimbabwe, he concluded boastfully. It was vital intelligence given unwittingly to Zanla by Amin, hoping for accolades. Which he got by the way!

The day Sithole’s men were wiped

Curiously, this private force of Sithole never deployed in Chipinge. It was only deployed in Manyene and in Gokwe where it killed wantonly. Much worse, it was so undisciplined that the Rhodesians had to send in an airborne unit to put it down summarily. The whole force was wiped out in 1979, with the bodies of the Ugandan trained soldiers getting tucked into the broader statistics of “terrorists” killed by the “combined operations”.

Very few Zimbabweans know this gory detail of how white Rhodesia often turned its guns on its own surrogate armies. And that Sithole never sanctioned his army’s deployment into his home area clearly showed he knew about its atrocities. But where was Sithole throughout 1979 when we never saw him at Chirinda? I would never get an answer then. Or even soon after Independence. It was only in 1987 that I finally got the answer.

I will be generous enough to share it with Luke Tamborenyoka, my young brother. Here we go Luke, please sit back and relax.

Where was Ndabaningi?

“7th February 1979: Sithole and I went to Morocco to meet King Hassan — to break entirely new ground between an Arab and an African leader. First, Marrakech, an oasis of palm trees, and “naartjies” (tangerines) interspersed with Zimbabwe Creeper (just as the creeper grows in Zimbabwe Ruins), against the backdrop of the Atlas Mountains — snow in Africa. But sun in January, with sparkling cold air. We stayed in the Mamounia Hotel where Winston Churchill often went to relax and paint, a well chosen venue.

The essential part of our visit was well rehearsed, resembling a scene out of the Arabian nights: the long walk through the palace courtyard with the American General Dick Walters (former Deputy Director, CIA, who resigned at the time of Watergate), saying this was done to ensure that supplicants were sufficiently awed and how he had known the king since he was a boy of 13, and how he considered him the best informed man in the world (this may seem exaggerated, but I gained a similar impression when the king first discussed Rhodesia, showing a total grasp of all related subjects).

We waited at the far end of the magnificent room under a dome which opened to the skies and was then closed, leaving a tiny bird fluttering in the vastness between scores of electric light bulbs in a fantastic Moorish setting. The King walked in alone, in Western dress, and Dlimi (within days of our visit promoted from “Colonel Major” to General in order to command the war against the Polisario) almost devoured his hand in a frenzied display of loyalty. We sat silent and remote in the vastness until the King led Sithole by the hand, unusually diffident but apparently calm and collected.

When a great stone got lifted

“Came the time when the king asked what we wanted. Sithole strangely backward, so I said: ‘Your Majesty, Sithole needs money — and now — to enable him to fight an election.’ The King said, ‘How much?’ Sithole, still diffident, saying ‘Five Hundred Thousand.’ The King looked surprised — he may have thought he was hearing ‘five hundred million’. Intruding again, I said: ‘The Minister is too modest in his request. He needs more than half a million.’ And the King, ending the conversation, said to Dlimi, ‘See that they get a million by Monday...’ On the way out, Sithole was overcome. With tears in his eyes he kept saying, ‘A great stone has been lifted from my heart.’

CIA, Morocco, combined Millionaire Makers

“Subsequently, in the hotel, he said to me: ‘I have read of Kingmakers in history, but have never had the good fortune to meet one. Now I have met someone even better — a ‘Millionaire Maker!’ He sought my advice, showing a depth of reasoning which impressed; but the old devilry was not far away. Assuming he had got me on-side with flattery, he was soon suggesting various forms of intimidation, not the intimidation that the police would need to act upon, but cunningly contrived, that he must exercise if he is to win the forthcoming elections...

“We returned to Le Bourget in driving sleet; and as my colleague Max and I climbed down the gangway carrying the cheap suitcases our friends had acquired in a hurry to pack the million dollars, the handles parted from the cases. One fell and burst on the Tarmac, half exposing its contents which started to blow away in the howling wind! Then we flew back to Salisbury with ‘my first million’ in a much stronger suitcase weighing well over one hundred pounds which I used as foot-rest — not trusting Ndabaningi with the money until we reached home.”

Sithole through the eyes of Ken Flower

For the benefit of the little read, sparse reading Luke, the “I” in the excerpt is Ken Flower, the British-born white Rhodesian who formed CIO just before UDI in order to serve and then save white Rhodesia. The year was 1979 and the local politician seeking financial support from King Hassan of Morocco was Ndabaningi Sithole.

Ndaba was building a war chest for elections against the Patriotic Front, and was trying to cajole Ken Flower into a covert terror campaign on behalf of Zanu-Ndonga. The Dick Walters in the narrative was CIA deputy Director, personifying CIA intrusion into our decolonisation politics, all on the side of quislings led by Muzorewa and Sithole.

The source book is “Serving Secretly: An Intelligence Chief on Record. Rhodesia into Zimbabwe, 1964—1981”.

I shall not talk about Ndaba’s detention days when he was broken by the Rhodesians into renouncing the struggle “in word, thought and deed”. That is a story for those who were in Hwahwa and other such places. I shall not talk about how a beautiful girl who posed as his visitor in prison was in fact an informer of the regime, an informer the naive Sithole believed in so much. That is for our detainees. Nor will I talk about 1975 at Mboroma in Zambia when the Zambian regiment shot and killed 11 Zanla comrades, a bloody act which Sithole had no time for as he chose to rush to America to see his daughter “ainzwa musoro”. That became the last straw which broke the camel’s back, leading to his rejection by comrades at Mgagao in Tanzania. Again a story for the surviving comrades at Mgagao.

The dead doth liveth

What I will talk about for the benefit of people like Luke is the emerging connection — posthumous connection — between the late Sithole and the living Tsvangirai, Luke’s ahistorical boss. Twice now Tsvangirai has been feted in Morocco, thanks to late King Hassan’s son who is now sitting on the throne.

The King uses his past Foreign Minister’s son to disguise his meddlesome hand in Zimbabwean politics.

The minister’s son created a leadership NGO called Amadeus, through which Tsvangirai, like a born-again Sithole, continues to receive funding from the Moroccan Monarch. But not the King’s money. As in the case of Sithole, CIA money routed through Morocco. And the Rhodesians continue to circulate around Tsvangirai, much like in the Ken Flower days, often falling out with him over use of their money by means of which Tsvangirai must wrestle power. So when Luke announced that Tsvangirai had been declared a successor to Musharukwa, I just said “Hallelujah! The dead doth liveth!”

Nathaniel Manheru is a columnist for the Saturday Herald. E-mail him:

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home