Tuesday, June 25, 2013

(HERALD ZW) Duckspeak and the predatory Professors
Sunday, 16 June 2013 21:57

“Our present state of mind is that you are now our enemies,” these words said by Morgan Tsvangirai would mean little given his signature flip-flopping, but spoken by a stubbornly consistent Robert Mugabe it spelt doom for the white farmers.

The declaration was followed by mass land occupations by ostensibly unruly war veterans, disgruntled farm labourers and hired thugs while Mugabe disingenuously pleaded a lack of political power to restrain them.

Observe the use of words, which now seem chillingly portentous: “ . . . you are now our enemies.”

This kind of language is distinctly fighting talk; rarely do head of states use words like “enemies,” especially not those who choose their words carefully like RG.

Whilst many imagined that this was merely negotiation rhetoric to strengthen his position and that Mugabe could be pressured into backing away from Land Reform, the old man meant exactly what he said.

The relentless assault on white farmer land ownership rights, which culminated in the unprecedented dissolution of the Sadc tribunal and is now irreversibly cemented in the new Constitution, is evidence of just how serious he was.

His words had been carefully chosen to herald a shift in ideological approach, a complete rejection of the notion of lawful ownership by way of colonial legacy.

Those specific words — “our present state of mind is that you are now our enemies” — were a declaration of war on widely established doctrines of property rights. Read today, with the white farmers now completely subdued, it is clear it was not mere hyperbole.

What do we draw from this?

Quite simply that Robert Mugabe does not make frivolous use of words. He does not say you are an enemy when he means to say you are an irritation. He does not say you we are looking east when in fact he is quietly hoping for a Western embrace.

It is against this background that the howls of protest following his declaration on Thursday that elections will be held on the 31st of July sound all the more silly.

What did people expect?

Mugabe had made it clear in Japan that he was going to abide by the Constitutional Court judgment. Legally, Mugabe had all the instruments necessary to unilaterally declare an election date. The moment he said he was going to abide by the judgment it was pretty clear what he intended to do.

One is surprised by Tsvangirai’s surprise.

It is at this point that I question Morgan Tsvangirai’s politics. Who exactly is advising him? Does Magaisa not take time to apply his legal doctrines of precedence as regards Mugabe’s behaviour?
Apparently not.

A reading of Mugabe’s past behaviour should have been education sufficient. Where is Gideon Gono today? Is he not enjoying the comforts of Samora Machel Avenue despite MDC protestations?

Is Tomana wandering desperately in search of employment as the MDC hoped a few years ago?
Not so.

The grounds on which they protested then are no different to the grounds on which they are attempting yet another futile resistance as they contest the election date declaration.

Consider the time and political capital wasted by Tsvangirai and his MDC-T in fighting a decision that any other reasonable actor would estimate as already foregone.

Once Mugabe had spoken in Japan it was clear what he was going to do.
A pragmatic mind would start firing all campaign cylinders but Tsvangirai’s team is hopelessly inadequate and will waste a good 14 days before accepting what became inevitable when words were spoken in Japan.

But the election declaration and the war waged against white farmer ‘enemies’ are merely incidental, let us draw greater lessons on the use of words.

We do not recognise Mugabe

“We do not recognise Mugabe and Zanu PF, they are CRIMINALS . . . ” Arthur Mutambara, sporting a rather juvenile beret, barked in 2007.

Juxtapose the choice of words with Mutambara’s current circumstances in which he finds himself in quite a comfortable union with the same Mugabe he once described as a criminal.

I doubt Mutambara ever really estimated Mugabe as a criminal. It was merely a frivolous use of words. This is not uncommon in Zimbabwean politics.

If I can borrow from the learned Professor who describes this state of being as an “open-mouth and shut-mind.”

This can be broken down to describe one who opens his mouth not to express deeply held convictions or a contemplated conclusion, but in a spontaneous and reactionary manner. George Orwell, perhaps a bit crueller than the professor, calls it “duckspeak.”

Surrendered sovereignty and boycotts

An excellent example is Tsvangirai’s words some days ago in which he argued that Zimbabwe had surrendered part of its sovereignty to Sadc.

The learned professor, being the political vulture that he is, pounced on this and tore Tsvangirai to shreds in a series of predatory articles featured in The Sunday Mail and The Herald daily.

This much is unfair because I am quite sure Jonathan Moyo knows that this was not an expression of a genuinely held belief but merely duckspeak.

Tsvangirai was just making frivolous use of words. It is inconceivable that Tsvangirai actually believes that Zimbabwe has surrendered part of its sovereignty to Sadc. I say this in the generous assumption that Tsvangirai understands what sovereignty actually is.

Another Professor, Arthur Mutambara, whose stock has been on the rise since he ditched his bombastic and theatrical style, wasted little time and, opportunistically rode the political wave created by Tsvangirai’s sovereignty duckspeak.

Never ones to disappoint, The Herald editors led with a generous headline, “Mutambara breathes fire”.

I suspect the young Professor was not displeased.
Not to be outdone, Professor Lovemore Madhuku also joined the fray.

The ZBC, cheerful at this uncommon confluence of opinion, dutifully reported his chastisement of Tsvangirai’s poll date rejection in which he pointed out the supremacy of the Constitutional Court and its role as the final arbiter in all disputes.

The three professors had found curious common ground and took turns to savage Tsvangirai. What is unfortunate is that this fall-out was entirely unnecessary in view of the fact that Tsvangirai did not even mean what he had said.

His mouth was open but the mind was shut. There is now talk of a boycott. More duckspeak. Tsvangirai will not boycott this election. He is just making frivolous use of words. Zanu-PF knows this. Sadc knows this.

Even Tsvangirai’s followers know this. This is because Tsvangirai does not have a reputation for using words to express deeply held convictions. His words come cheap.

Not entirely apropos

On the issue of these elections and of electoral reforms, I am quite puzzled by the approach that Tsvangirai is taking. He argues that he wants reforms to be implemented before the country can go for elections. A few issues arise.

Is it Tsvangirai’s view that if there are no media reforms then he must remain Prime Minister and Mugabe President indefinitely?

If he could not manage these reforms in the past four years what makes him think that they can be put in place in four months?

In any case, the same GPA that Tsvangirai seeks to rely on was very clear on sanctions. Tsvangirai violated that aspect of the GPA.

There is documentary evidence of this.

In a conversation with the American ambassador he made it clear that he wanted sanctions to remain in place and told the Americans to ignore his public demands for their removal as this was merely for show. Thank you WikiLeaks.

Let us turn this around and expose the absurdity.
Zanu-PF could equally refuse to go for elections arguing that they want these reforms to be implemented before the election can be free and fair.

Until sanctions are lifted Mugabe would remain President.
There would be widespread outrage.

So why does Tsvangirai feel that he has the right to remain Prime Minister on the basis on the same absurd argument?

Stern-faced Mugabe

On Saturday the 15th as the SADC summit in Maputo proceeded, I was following the progress on Twitter and one journalist’s simplistic observations caught my eye. “The summit has broken for lunch, Mugabe emerged stern-faced while Tsvangirai was smiling,” he says in optimistic tone.

A few people retweet, seemingly in affirmation of the substance of his observation.

I found this amusing because it so perfectly captures how Mugabe has managed to manoeuvre past the MDC all these years. He is foxy whilst they are naïve, making for an unfair contest.

The journalist and others of weak imagination see Mugabe looking stern-faced and immediately conclude that this means he is unhappy, the negotiations are going in Tsvangirai’s favour.

They assume he uses facial expressions to sincerely communicate feelings. It is more likely he uses them to lead on and rightly so, anything less disqualifies a politician.

Imagine you walk into a car showroom expecting a vehicle is selling for an exorbitant sum. If the salesman advises you of a price below your initial estimation it would be quite tactless to grin in open delight. A skilled negotiator would remain stern-faced and seemingly unexcited.

A fool will be unable to hide his joy and as a result will not manage to negotiate the stated price any lower. These are elementary techniques.

The naiveté displayed by the said journalist is pervasive in opposition types. A few examples would be helpful.

The MDC has stated that all diamonds companies operating in Marange should be on eviction notice.
If they (MDC-T) win the elections they (mining companies) will be kicked out and the diamonds nationalised. Fair enough, that is their wish.

In declaring their intentions the naïve MDC-T politicians sabotage themselves.
Even if they had such actions in mind they would have done well to remain hush.

Instead, what they have done is to terrify those mining companies, who now believe their continued operation can only be guaranteed by Zanu-PF, into great generosity. They will donate millions to protect themselves. An otherwise dormant party is now an active financial adversary.

The same is true of indigenisation.
Many communities are seeing the fruits of community share schemes and are drawing a direct benefit from the same.

By threatening to reverse the indigenisation programme the MDC simply ensures that otherwise apathetic voters turn up with their families on Election Day to prevent him from reversing what they find beneficial.

If the 300 000 resettled families feel in any way threatened by an MDC-T ascendency, they too will report to polling stations in record numbers.

Opposition politicians are not very clever.
I say that not to mock them but in sincere concern at what I perceive to be dangerous naiveté, especially when dealing with Machiavellian types like Robert Mugabe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Jonathan Moyo and others.

Ndatenda, Muchembere wenyu Amai Jukwa.


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