By Tafadzwa Masango
MARTIN LUTHER KING JNR said that the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.
Rev Charles Bayard Miliken is credited with the saying: “It is the way one treats his inferiors more than the way he treats his equals which reveals one’s character.”
In the run-up to the harmonised elections, we all saw what sort of leaders the two protagonists contending for the post of president were.
One talked of developing the country, re-engagement with the outside world, seeking investment, a better Zimbabwe, while another spoke of how he was young and could do press ups, run, his sexual prowess, and other nonsensical trivialities which, at best, were good at making the audience laugh but did not speak to the concerns of the Zimbabwean electorate.
‘Scorched earth’ politics
Post election, the same traits Zimbabweans saw in the two contenders continue to manifest.
One continues to talk of building Zimbabwe, while the other, much like a child, is throwing tantrums at every turn. The phrases ‘haivhiyiwi’ and ‘dira jecha’ have become the slogan for Nelson Chamisa and his merry band of opportunists.
While Chamisa and company might not want those who follow them to believe that this is some rallying call in protest of what they call a stolen election, the truth of the matter is that this slogan is nothing more than an attempt to reinvent and indigenise the scorched earth politics that the opposition has been pursuing since the inception of the regime change agenda in Zimbabwe.
It was all fun and games when the phrase was used to celebrate the postponement of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration in early August.
It tickled the sore losers, and perhaps gave them some satisfaction that while they could not ultimately halt the inevitable, they could ‘fix’ the President and the country ‘nekuzvidira jecha’, through the Constitutional Court challenge.
Well, the challenge came and went, but the Dira Jecha Brigade was still not satisfied.
Instead of going back to the drawing board to restrategize because we all know, elections are a process and not an event, the opposition decided to oppose for the sake of opposing.
It became a game of ‘nothing new can come out of ZANU PF’ — the very same ZANU PF that had just won the election and has a majority in Parliament.
Events of the past few weeks, ranging from seeking to discredit and embarrass the likes of Professor Mthuli Ncube, Dr Obadiah Moyo and Owen Ncube, are not borne out of seeking to have a better Zimbabwe, but are attempts of ‘kudira jecha’.
A Cabinet composed of primarily technocrats dealt a major dent in the opposition narrative that ZANU PF does not have individuals who can run the nation’s affairs.
The very people whom the opposition held in high regard pre-Cabinet, suddenly overnight are being attacked and cast as unsuitable leaders.
One can only conclude that the sudden turn about is motivated by the desire to see ZANU PF fail.
However, if ZANU PF fails, Zimbabwe fails, because, certainly for the next five years, ZANU PF is in charge.
Any leader who wishes five years of failure on his nation is unworthy of office.
Alarmist behaviour as exhibited by some opposition officials since the Monetary Policy Statement is yet another example of this kudira jecha strategy.
We have been here before, when the Bond note was introduced all sorts of noises and wails were made.
And yet for over two years, Zimbabweans, including Chamisa and his wailers, have been transacting using the Bond note.
This moaning and wailing is nothing new.
I remember some years back, former President Robert Mugabe challenged the late Morgan Tsvangirai to go and sleep on any road in Harare and see if he would not get run over by vehicles, after the latter had made a fuss about fuel shortages.
Well, Tsvangirai never did step up to the challenge; instead he said he would walk from his Strathaven House to Harvest House daily in protest.
That again never happened.
This is the sort of people who make up the opposition leadership, drama queens who promise and pull stunts that are good for nothing but a few laughs and some photo-ops for the media.
The roots of the scorched earth politics in Zimbabwe can be traced back to ZDERA and the assertion that “…to separate the people of Zimbabwe from ZANU PF, the economy has to scream.”
The irony, in what the US has carried out in Zimbabwe through this policy, is lost on many.
The Democrats and Republicans will differ on peripheral issues, mostly social, but will join hands when US national interests are at stake. When Zimbabwe’s national interests are at stake, some use this as an opportunity to ‘dira jecha.’
The Land Reform Programme was made into a ZANU PF issue and yet it was a national issue.
Today, some 20 years later, we find that the very leaders who dissuaded their supports from applying for land nicodemusly applied for land and are now beneficiaries of the programme.
In public, they talk of how ZANU PF ‘bigwigs’ were the major beneficiaries of the programme, and yet the thousands of farmers who deliver maize and tobacco to the GMB and auction floors are certainly not bigwigs.
Whose leader is this?
When a man contesting for the highest office in the land time and again makes sexist remarks, places bets using his sister as collateral, speaks of judging his ability to lead based on his sexual prowess, reducing the contest to some sexual attack on women and encouraging his supporters to also engage in such sexists attacks on women, such a man is not only a danger to himself , but to society as well.
And when that man is surrounded by motormouth colleagues whose wives have accused them of both physical and emotional abuse, and one who apparently is ‘mental’ according to some internet diagnosis then we are headed for disaster as a nation.
It is interesting that Nelson Chamisa thought it proper to us his sister as ante in a bet (real or imagined) and yet at the same time imposed his male sibling on Mbare Constituency.
According to him, women are property which should be traded for political ambition and are good for a few laughs, but should never be taken seriously?
Those who choose to support this and explain it away by some cultural references taken out of context also deserve to be held with the same contempt that Chamisa experienced at the polls.
Misinformation and disinformation
There has been a systematic and sustained attack on President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Government and ZANU PF in the aftermath of the 2018 harmonised elections on social media and also in some sectors of the local print media.
Of late, there has been a barrage of reportage on alleged food shortages, price hikes and claims of increased attacks on opposition activists, divisions within ZANU PF and the Presidium as well as unconstitutionality in Government operations, among others.
The reason for these stories is to maintain narratives that create the impression that there is nothing ‘new’ about the new dispensation, and as such, the outside world should continue to treat Zimbabwe as a pariah state, and also to agitate locals so that an anti-ZANU PF atmosphere is maintained.
The ultimate goal is to ensure that the political landscape remains cloudy, while the economy does not improve, making it a self-fulfilling prophecy that only the opposition can lead Zimbabwe to economic prosperity.
The power of social media in shaping attitudes and opinions across the globe is inarguable. Locally, the social media terrain had been dominated by mostly those who identify with the opposition and when President ED said to his supporters “endaiwo pa social media munovarakasha,” the new comers where met with resistance.
Through concerted efforts in seeking the attention of foreign politicians, journalists and civil society leaders on particular issues, the kudira jecha brigade has mastered the ability to maintain negative perceptions on Zimbabwe.
Misinformation and disinformation on social media have the capacity to create panic which, as evidenced in recent weeks, resulted in panic buying, hoarding and blatant profiteering by some unscrupulous business persons and opportunists.
This is the end game of the kudira jecha brigade; to perpetuate a supposed mood of instability and uncertainty in the country in the hope that this will build mistrust and lack of confidence in Government.
Only a fool would believe that Chamisa has keys to unlocking the economy; the very man who is crowd funding to pay his court bills somehow has money to deal with the country’s problems but not his. We have been there before: I remember Tsvangirai at City Sports Stadium claiming that he had friends with billions of dollars at the inception of the GNU.
Instead, when all was said and done, Tendai Biti left the country’s coffers with about US$200, while no companies opened up nor any employment figures grew.
Once again the nation is being misinformed about keys to unlock the economy, about some goats belonging to Chamisa and how legitimacy will be restored when Chamisa is in office.
Legitimacy is not some magic packet of sugar that is kept in a locked safe at Harvest House. How can a man who grabbed power in the dead of the night, at a funeral, somehow be the poster child for legitimacy?