Wednesday, July 30, 2014

(HERALD ZW) Tendai Biti: Sick mentality or a sick nation?
February 6, 2014
Tichaona Zindoga Senior Political Writer

It is true that Zimbabwe faces many challenges, mainly economic, which have persisted for a number of years. No one is sure what the future holds for the country, but people are moving on with their lives. The rains are falling, too, barring a season of want ahead. The nature of most Zimbabweans is to hope for the best, sometimes naively.

Yet such patience, optimism and resilience while marking a distinctly industrious, resourceful and adaptable people, has not been universally well received.

It has earned Zimbabweans a view from some quarters that they are a passive and a cowardly people. They should have been South Africans or the Arabs, the perceived common denominator of which is the knack for violence.

There are people in Zimbabwe and outside who wish we were like that because it would serve certain political ends. That is why Zimbabwe earned itself sanctions by the West so that the socio-economic troubles would nudge passive Zimbabweans out of their inertia and render the country ungovernable – to the detriment and demise of a particular political order.

With the elections come and gone last year, one would not be quite surprised, given its outcomes, that a particular section of society hopes things do not go well in the country, hence predictions of sad, “stolen” Christmases and “tough 2014”.

Yet one man, Tendai Biti, stands apart in his wish and depiction of a dire situation in Zimbabwe which may lead one to pose the critical question as to whether he and those who associate with him and his views are sick in the mind or whether Zimbabwe is a truly sick country come out of some pestilence.

Take Biti’s (presumably) latest piece in his “Wananchi” series, for example, which one could set somewhere between Hamlet’s Denmark or some post-apocalyptic period best captured in those horror movies, all of which is made creepier, scarier, by Biti’s uncannily creaky syntax and common grammatical mistakes.

He tells us: “As the national crises rages (sic) on, the kwashiorkor of love grips the nation.

“It is the age of war. conflict, attrition, intolerance, malice and gossip (punctuation his).

“Brother rises against brother, comrade (punctuation his) against comrade and faction against faction. There is no honour or limit in this fight.

“The winds are clearly up and about and depression seems to be the order of the day. It has been a long while since the citizen felt this desperate state of moral nakedness.”

It has been a long time since the citizen felt this desperate sense of foreboding, he tells us, and divines that the country is going nowhere.
The imagery that Biti uses is quite rich in its preoccupation with sickness and disorder.

Before one can attempt to unpack this sickness insofar as it can be applied to Biti or the nation of Zimbabwe at large one should go further to examine what Biti’s solutions to the “crises” are.

He tells us: “It is in times like this that the true patriots amongst us must rise above the mediocrity of party jackets and other anecdotal descriptions and put the country first. That means that the Wananchi in their own organisations, political parties, churches (punctuation his) and unions must place this issue firmly on the national agenda.

“The tumbling economy must feature heavily in this dialogue.”
He tells us of the need for national dialogue that “must vaccinate itself against elite capture and the reproduction of another GNU 2.”
He goes further to call for the revision of the land reform programme “by ensuring full and adequate compensation in whatever form to the previous owners” and to deal with the “reform agenda in relation to “the state of the media, the militarisation of Zimbabwe, the collapse of the electoral system, the fear of our people requires permanent reform.”

He tells us, in his rich terms that, “The country cannot (sic) remain a smelly warty colony of destructive nationalism.”

He counsels that we “must turn the present vicious cycles of exclusion to virtuous circles of inclusion. No more, no less.”

And his other grand solution to Zimbabwe’s problems is an international donor conference in the mould of 1981’s Zimbabwe Conference of Reconstruction and Development.

A cursory look at the above will no doubt show that the kind of sick images that Biti conjures up reveal a sick man within, an ambitious politician and as a member of a sick and wasting opposition after July 31.

He behaves more like Shakespeare’s Hamlet who falls into mental demise over events surrounding the death of his father and the subsequent marriage of his mother to Hamlet’s father’s murderer.

Hamlet’s soliloquies and the story at large are replete with images of disease, poison and decay and death.

Of course, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” (as in Zimbabwe) as Horatio helpfully notes, but Hamlet’s mind is debased and vengeful and confused.

Biti no doubt is bitter and confused over July 31 and wants to reverse it by means fair and foul.

He, and by extension the political formation that he subscribes to, seek to enter power by the back door via GNU 2.

It is very curious when democrats, like we were all made to believe the MDCs to be, begin to decry processes such as elections on the basis that they are “vicious cycles of exclusion” and advocate for negotiated and ultimately undemocratic “virtuous cycles of inclusion”.

Which means there will be many GNUs, surely?
The gods, nay, Biti, must be crazy!

His fawning to the West in both dangling the idea of compensation to former white commercial farmers and their playing “reconstruction” (as if we are post-war, again another Bitian image) is just astounding.

Western countries are broke, and they reneged on promises to fund land reforms in Zimbabwe both pre- and post-Independence; how are they expected to act differently this time around?

Biti could be such a depraved fellow.

He confirms the MDC-T’s culture and reliance on the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe. This is evident when he tells us of the “tumbling economy” which must be hyped so that Zanu-PF “bites the bullet and initiates dialogue”. Is it not ironic that a person who professes his ownership of and love for the country wishes it ill at the same time?

Where is the patriotism?

Where is the love when one rather hopes that “there will be no Zimbabwe by Christmas”? Zimbabwe may be facing challenges but it is the sick minds of the likes of Biti which will make it mortally sick.

Wishing the country bad or portraying it in gloomy, hopeless terms is meant for two destructive outcomes, namely: lack of faith in the country by the outside world, thereby snuffing out meaningful engagements; and secondly, to build an apathetic, despondent or alarmed citizenry, which some people can profit from.

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