MUGABE MASTER OF BLAME GAME
...Admitting failure is not in Zanu PF's DNA
ZIMBABWE has been going through political social and economic turmoil for much of its post-independence period. The economy has been in a free-fall for the past twenty or so years; the social fabric of society has been torn with almost a quarter of the population living in the diaspora as economic and political refugees. Political democratic space has shrunk with police and other state agents harassing anybody seen as opposing the Robert Mugabe regime. But the truth that Mugabe and Zanu PF should confront is that they are responsible for the mess we find ourselves in as they have been stirring the ship since we attained independence in 1980. Although it does not take rocket science for one to figure that out, Mugabe and his men have mastered the art of shifting the blame on others. If it is not the imperialists then it is Morgan Tsvangirai or Sanctions and now lately Evan Mawarire and social media!
Really, Mr President? Give us a break!
Zanu PF, Prisoners of their own ego
But then again I am not surprised because its very un Zanu like to admit to failure. No, No way. That is not the Zanu PF way (harisiririo gwara remusangano).Their narrative of events follows a simple and by the now familiar script. First, there is a total denial that there is anything wrong. Crisis? What crisis!! Whose Crisis! Who said there is Crisis? Everything is fine. And when that fails and the problems manifest themselves as they surely have done like growing horns on a cow, they look for a scapegoat. So, the storyline is of denials, followed by buck-passing and scapegoating.
The truth of the matter is that it is not in the DNA of Zanu PF to own up for anything that goes wrong. Someone else is to blame, no matter the evidence pointing towards them like the fuel shortages last month, the absence of cash in the banks and the panic buying. According to Zanu PF, this was all the fault of people like Pastor Evan Mawarire who took videos of fuel queues and posted them on social media. I wasn't surprised when the police moved in and arrested Mawarire. He was after all a scapegoat and it was done to fulfil all righteousness of the Zanu way of doing things. As if that was not enough, they went on further to create a whole ministry to monitor the use of social media. They are, after all, Masters of the blame game. I'm sure that if the reggae artist Shaggy needed fresh material for a rendition of his famous song It wasn’t me, he should look no further than Mugabe and Zanu PF. But then again who knows they might just have a point there because the memories of the middle east revolution of 2011 which were fanned through social media are still fresh.
Traits of the Idi Amin dictatorship
Zanu PF's behaviour reminds me of the movie The Last King of Scotland, in which Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, beautifully done by Forrester Whittaker, rued his decision to expel all the Indians from Uganda, after realizing they had been the backbone of the economy. Idi Amin turns to his personal physician and political adviser the young Scottish doctor Garrigan, and says to him” Why did you not stop me from expelling those Indians?” Garrigan answers back, “But Sir I advised you not to expel them”. To which Idi Amin retorts: “but you did not INSIST”.
Amin was shifting the blame for his bad decision onto his advisor by ridiculously stating that the advisor did not insist on making him take the advice. This is exactly the Mugabe and Zanu PF way. They use force, fear and coercion to make people accept that they are not the problem. One will remember how they forced people to attend rallies during the run-up to the one-man presidential run-off of June 2008. People were literally forced to attend rallies and purchase bandana's to put on your car so that one would appear patriotic. And then came to the Bob Is My Man car stickers which people would just stick on their cars for peace to reign. One would not dare not know the slogan those days, "27 June, Mugabe Muoffice."Denial, blame game and the shrinking of democratic space for the people go hand in hand. People are forced to accept them based on their explanation, whether it makes sense or not or whether they like you or not.
Ever since independence, whenever shits hit the fan, Zanu PF shifted the blame on someone else. It has been the white Rhodies, the British and Americans and their regime change agenda, the dissidents, the opposition MDC, puppets, drought, sanctions, the capitalists, the vendors, social media, the list is endless. Even the baboons have once been fingered for causing a bad farming season at some point.
The Current Economic Crisis
In the space of the past two weeks, we have witnessed this denial and blame game playing out on the political stage in Zimbabwe. While addressing a Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition meeting recently, The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Jonh Mangudya blamed South Africa for letting Zimbabwe down by not insisting on the use of the rand, as part of the Global Political Agreement in 2008. He accused South Africa for reneging on a promised R1 billion support to Zimbabwe.
During the opening of the Youth Empowerment Bank last week, Patrick Zhuwao blamed captains of the industry for the current economic crisis, calling them saboteurs bent on creating a hostile environment for Zanu PF ahead of the general elections in 2018. This came after Mugabe had blamed the speculative shortages of a fortnight ago on cyber attacks, after the then Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa had denied in Parliament, that there was a black market in Zimbabwe, only to fast-track the gazetting of a law criminalising the unofficial dealing in foreign currency. Now that minister has been made the minister of Social media. Ha ha ha! It reads like a script of a movie, except it is real and Zimbabweans bear the brunt of Zanu PF's excesses.
The Economy has failed because of Sanctions ( it wasn’t me)
Zanu PF yet again decided that any mismanagement of the economy on their part is and shall forevermore be explained by sanctions. They have perfected the art of propaganda on this that even Hitler’s propaganda chief Goebbels would drool with envy. It is a fact that sanctions were applied selectively and not wholesomely. Only a few companies with links to the regime were targeted for sanctions. How sanctions led to the drop in agricultural output, which was the anchor of the economy through the robust agro-based industries is not clear. It was the chaotic land reform program, high government expenditure and the bad government policies that failed to attract investment in the country that led to the collapse of the economy.
Before independence, the regime of Ian Smith endured wholesome sanctions following the Declaration of Independence in 1965, and although there were some known sanctions busting activities, the solution to sanctions was a home grown import substitution industrialization strategy, that ended up building a robust industrial base that created a level of self-sufficiency for the Rhodesian economy. This is the economy that Mugabe inherited, where you did not need the world to survive for cooking oil, agricultural parts and equipment, and all the essential inputs the economy needed. It is only the height of denial and deception for one to blame sanctions for an economic meltdown when these same sanctions in the same economy were regarded as a blessing in disguise for the Smith regime.
Bad seasons have been blamed on anything else other than poor policies. If it is not drought, it is heavy rains. Once it was even the baboons that were to blame.
In its 2013, election manifesto, Zanu PF promised among other things, the creation of 2.1 million jobs. Clearly, the jobs have not been created, but instead of facing to this reality and owning up, Zanu PF is counting vending and airtime selling amongst the 2.2 million jobs it has created. It is for this reason that Government would never address the issue of ghost workers in the civil service.
In a true democracy, leaders don’t ask people to understand and accept hardships because there are sanctions. People want to know why leaders create an environment for those sanctions to become necessary. Leaders are measured by the yardstick of development and improving the lives of people. They are elected to make things happen, and if they don’t, they should simply give way. The fact that Zanu PF has made people’s lives so difficult, with loss of jobs and no opportunities in the economy cannot be blamed on anyone other than the government.
A quarter of Zimbabwe’s population has now become economic refugees doing menial jobs in countries such as South Africa, Australia, and the United Kingdom(UK) At one time the President was quoted as wondering why so many Zimbabweans wanted to endure bad weather and humiliating menial jobs in the UK instead of coming back home to Zimbabwe and its sunshine. Really! Mr President? If anything this reflects total detachment from reality and a denial level of frightening proportions. Whatever reason so many Zimbabweans left the country, to Mugabe “It wasn’t me”.
Political intolerance and Violence.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project, an NGO led by Jestina Mukoko, herself a victim of abduction by state agents, monitors state violence and has invariably found that most political violence is state sponsored. The state has never admitted to being involved in state violence.
Itai Dzamara, an anti-Mugabe activist who led the Occupy Africa movement, was abducted in broad daylight on 9 March 2015 by people driving unmarked cars. Up to today his whereabouts or his fate remains unknown. I interviewed his wife and brother soon after the incident and they had leads which the police could follow. They had details of number plates of one of the cars but still, the State claims it does not know where Dzamara is. The Courts even ordered the State to find the journalist cum activist but all this has fallen on deaf ears. Instead, we had ministers bereft of empathy suggesting that he may have skipped the border. Mugabe himself has never commented on Dzamara’s disappearance. The government is not involved.-It wasn’t them.
More than 200 MDC supporters lost their lives during the 2008 elections, in the hands of the Zanu PF militias known as the Green Bombers, but they were never brought to book. As usual, it wasn't them. Some women were raped and infected with HIV but the perpetrators have not been brought to book.
In the post-independence period, the Matabeleland massacres which I have covered in the previous post (https://thelmachikwanha.blogspot.fr/2017/09/a-nation-without-tears.html)is again an example of denial. You cannot be involved in a campaign that results in the deaths of more than 20 000 people, and still, refuse to accept responsibility. Since the massacre cannot be denied, the only thing was to shift the blame to the dissidents for causing the massacres.
It gets even better. One of the current Vice presidents, VP Mphoko surprisingly from the region that bore the brunt of the massacres, even went as far as saying that Gukurahundi doesn’t exist. Excuse you Mr Mpoko Sir!!
Speaking during a public lecture on National Healing at the Great Zimbabwe University this year, Mphoko said “The disturbances that happened after Independence was not because of President Mugabe’s problem, it was a Western conspiracy to destabilise the newly-independent state of Zimbabwe,’. So much for denial.
The Mirage of Zanu PF popularity
There is a denial within Zanu PF that they have been rejected by the people. They tell each other that they are very popular but go on to do everything to thwart the exercise of a free popular vote. They refuse to align progressive laws to the new Constitution and use the Police to deny opposition space to campaign and sell their agenda. Jonathan Moyo publicly said that Zanu PF will not reform itself out of power, so power is more important to him than reform. A nationalist party that was a former liberation movement would have long done some soul searching to find out why a one-year-old party like MDC formed in 1999 won 57 of the parliamentary seats in the 2000 elections, despite the well-documented violence against them and why Tsvangirai went on to defeat Mugabe in the Presidential elections in 2008? Instead of asking that question, they went on the beat up kill people opposed to them.
It is clear that the people are fed up with Zanu PF. But the party is prepared to force-march people to rallies and close shops just for the sake of showing big numbers for the cameras. To make sure that those forced numbers are not then lost in the election itself, rigging is activated as a standby power bank.
Denial of the Mugabe's capability
There is a denial that the failures in Zimbabwe should fall squarely on the laps of the President. In the corporate world, if a company fails to perform, it is the CEO or the MD who goes, not the Director of Finance or Head of Corporate Planning. The buck stops with the Head of the company. In democracies, it is the President or Prime Minister who is either booted out at elections or honourably resigns. David Cameron of UK resigned as Prime minister and took responsibility for the Brexit Yes vote.
Recently President Mugabe had a cabinet reshuffle, and his premise is that he wants to remove those that are not performing. Yet he went on to reward known corrupt politicians whose performance scorecard speaks n badly of them. Many commentators have stated that the entire cabinet is deadwood, and if anyone is to be reshuffled, it should be Mugabe himself.
Nobody within Zanu PF dare says the political and economic mess in Zimbabwe is a reflection of the bad policies of the President. He is responsible for the country’s involvement in the unbudgeted war in the Congo in the late 90’s, and the unbudgeted payments of bonuses to the War veterans, the two events that have been associated with the beginning of the collapse of the economy. He is responsible for the chaotic land reform program, and the poisoned relations with the international community; for pulling Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth. Above all, he is responsible for the public service profligacy through his reckless spending and unimpressive foreign trips.
Denial of Mugabe's advanced age
But the mother of all denials is the denial that Mugabe is now old and unfit to run the affairs of state. Zanu PF has allowed him to offer himself for Presidency in 2018 for another 5 years. This is insanity, plain and simple. His wife has even stated that he will rule from a wheelchair, or even from the grave. Really?
This is a denial that invokes both anger and pity among those of us who accept the laws of nature. Anger because Zimbabwe deserves better, and pity because you can tell the pain and agony dear old uncle Bob is putting himself through by pretending to be still capable and energetic. It is evident the man pads himself ( or rather is padded) with whatever is necessary to keep the body straight when nature calls it to bend, and anything else to keep the mind awake when the clock of time calls it to sleep, which it defiantly goes on to do at August meetings and conferences. The spin doctors are forced to buttress the lie by coining laughable stories that the President is not sleeping, but avoiding the glare of the light, or better still, is cogitating.
All these denials are fighting a stronger force of the biological clock, but the movement and the steps and the slur in speech refuse to cooperate. This is how ridiculous Zanu PF has taken the game of denial.
Of the Ugandan Parliament Shenanigans
Did anyone see the video of Uganda members of parliament fighting in Parliament with chairs flying all over the place? The humour and circus were best captured by the Daily Show Talk Host Trevor Noah .The fight was not for some issue to do with development or improvement in the lives of the people of Uganda. It was about a motion to (again) change the Constitution and lift age limits on the Presidency so that President Museveni can be allowed to run for another term. For the record, President Museveni is 73 years old. He has been President since 1986 and has had the Constitution amended more than once to allow him to run in the past. Sounds familiar? God help the people of Uganda. We have been through it, so we feel for them.
And while still on Uganda, in 1977, Idi Amin declared that he had defeated the British. From then on, Radio Uganda started to refer to him in all casts as "His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Alhaji Dr Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, CBE. *CBE stood for Conqueror of the British Empire. Reminds me of the pain we have to endure at news time .You know what I mean, right?