By Dr Tafataona Mahoso
THERE is a doomsayers’ narrative terrorising especially urban youths in Zimbabwe against the message and programmes of the new dispensation right now in late 2018; but the same narrative can be traced back to the founding of the MDC formations in 1999 and to the Western-imposed economic sanctions on Zimbabwe at the request of the MDC thereafter.
If we start from the time of Operation Restore Legacy and the new dispensation in 2017, the narrative can be outlined as follows:
– “Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, ED, can never win an election in Zimbabwe. As a result, many within the MDC formations and some in ZANU PF campaigned on the assumption that ‘ED can never win’.”
– But, when the doomsayers were in danger of being exposed and embarrassed for who they are because all credible polls pointed to an ED win, the narrative was adjusted to say: ‘ED can win only by corrupting the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).’ On this assumption, the doomsayers put most of their resources into defeating ZEC in order to compromise ED.
– But when the voters, as the first port-of-call, vindicated ZEC’s professionalism by voting peacefully, co-operating with ZEC and voting for ZANU PF and ED, the doomsayers opted for the Kenya 2008 strategy — invading ZEC’s National Command Centre itself, to physically assault the centre and make the final tallying of votes impossible.
– When the physical assault failed, and ZEC announced the result on time, the doomsayers rejected both the result and the authority of ZEC to pronounce an acceptable result.
– But when ZEC stood its constitutional ground, the doomsayers then pinned their hopes on the Constitutional Court to overturn the electoral result, and the authority of ZEC and legitimacy of the same.
– But when after an openly broadcast trial the Constitutional Court upheld the people’s vote for ED, ZEC’s announcement of ED’s victory and ZEC’s compliance with the Constitution, the doomsayers sought to destroy the result by now focusing on punishing the people by defeating the entire programme of the new dispensation at home and abroad. This ‘final push’ is represented by the following front-page newspaper headlines:
– ‘America deals ED massive blow,’ NewsDay, March 24 2018;
– “‘ED can’t rig the economy,’ Nelson Chamisa,” NewsDay, September 5 2018;
– ‘MDC plots to shame ED at UN (and around the US),’ NewsDay, September 27 2018;
– “‘ED trying to bribe (Donald) Trump,” Nelson Chamisa,’ NewsDay, September 25 2018;
– ‘Gloom, doom linger in Zimbabwe,’ Financial Gazette, October 4 2018;
– Crisis!, DailyNews, October 6 2018;
– ‘Talk to Nelson Chamisa to spur economy, ED urged as economy continues to bleed,’ DailyNews, October 8 2018; and
– ‘Companies close as Zimbabwe burns,’ DailyNews, October 9 2018.
In this long narrative, there was a whole week in which Chamisa said President Mnangagwa should just resign, since he was not a legitimate leader.
There was therefore no need for the MDC Alliance to talk to the President!
But suddenly, the doomsayers reveal themselves as unprincipled and shameless flip-floppers by moving fast from saying ED can never win a national election in Zimbabwe to saying he won but he is still illegitimate, onward to (now in October 2018) begging him to talk to Chamisa as the only solution to solving all of Zimbabwe’s economic problems?
The media have glossed over this history. This glaring and blatant flip-flopping is tolerated because too many people, especially the youth, are suffering the effects of terror by forgetting.
The fertile ground of ‘Terror by forgetting’
The concept of ‘terror by forgetting’ explains how those who do not know their recent history are vulnerable to propaganda, manipulation and terror due to their lack of knowledge.
In literary tragedy, the most famous example of terror by forgetting is the Greek story of Oedipus Rex, the Greek king who married his own mother because he was not educated about his background — who he really was.
In the case of Zimbabwe, the supposed total defeat of ED through the perceived defeat of new dispensation programmes depends on young people who do not remember the recent history of the late Morgan Richard Tsvangirai and the MDC formations.
A very similar propaganda strategy was used until Tsvangirai achieved more than just talking to ZANU PF and former President Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai was actually invited to join Government through the so-called Global Political Agreement (GPA) and the so-called Government of National Unity (GNU).
Now, we are told by journalists and other MDC supporters that the economy will recover just by having President Mnangagwa invite Chamisa to tea.
The people saying this only yesterday told us that the President should resign; that there was no need to talk to him because he was not a legitimate leader!
This has been an article of faith in opposition ranks: The UK, the US and the EU first help their sponsored opposition in Zimbabwe by destroying the economy through illegal sanctions; the people mistake the genocide-like effects of those sanctions for manifestations of ZANU PF mismanagement alone and therefore vote ZANU PF out of office or remove it from power through violence; and the same UK, US and EU mobilise the entire North Atlantic to come and install the opposition as the new Government of Zimbabwe and to launch the new economic miracle upon the ashes of the devastated Zimbabwe economy!
People who engage in this type of miracle-mongering should travel through the Mozambican country side now, 27 years after the end of RENAMO’s campaign to destroy and rebuild the economy of that country. There has been no such miracle recovery. What RENAMO destroyed mostly remains unconstructed to this day.
When we call this fantasy economic pentecostalism we are not just being metaphorical. Within the business sector and the religious community, there are staunch believers in pentecostal capitalism who until the recent financial tsunami in Britain, the US and Europe took seriously the miraculous scenario painted by Tsvangirai, and now Chamisa, in their false message to the long-suffering Zimbabwe population.
People have noticed this pattern of economic miracle-mongering for many years: Whenever an election or interparty talks seem to be going badly for the opposition, the Anglophile business community escalates its economic sabotage, hiking prices and attacking the Zimbabwe currency from London and Johannesburg, in the mistaken belief that with foreign aid, what is destroyed now will just be rebuilt or turned around as fast as it went down.
Tsvangirai always presented his party as the only one qualified to receive the miracle aid from the West. Chamisa has also presented himself the same way without success.
If we go back to June 2008, we can find the religious (Anglican) version of this miracle marketing. The Venerable Reverend Archford Musodza of the Anglican Diocese of Botswana wrote on June 5 2008 that:
“Once MDCT’s Tsvangirai takes the reigns in Zimbabwe, then all former (white settler) farmers are assured of a return to their farms. The (white-run) church will be restored and we can mobilise all Anglicans to now vote for a Bishop from Britain who is not polluted. The (British) Bishop will be mandated to return the church back to correct hands, the English Church with proper British ethos.”
So we find that this false miracle-mongering is prevalent across a very significant minority of opinion makers in all sectors; among opposition politicians, among NGOs, among certain Anglophile businessmen and businesswomen, among some church leaders and among miseducated journalists.
Of all these false miracle-mongers, the most disturbing are the journalists and the so-called business experts and economists, precisely because they are expected to base any forecasts on concrete and well-founded research and investigation.
In fact, the expectations raised via the GNU were not fulfilled, which is why Chamisa and his supporters are using exactly the same ‘terror by forgetting’ once used by Tsvangirai and the MDC.
The purpose of this propaganda is to escort public opinion in the direction wished for by imperialism. The purpose is not to inform the people.
Rather imperialist-sponsored propaganda in Zimbabwe is meant to make the people think that what the British, the North Americans, the Europeans as well as their Rhodesian kith and kin would like to happen to Zimbabwe or what they are going to try to do to Zimbabwe has either already happened or is inevitable and unavoidable.
Once the people are convinced, then they will either do the damage to themselves on their own or they will welcome the anticipated external actions as inevitable, expected, acceptable and even natural.
This strategy explains why regime change stories on the Zimbabwe economy are always so paradoxical and always presented in the form of prophecy rather than objective research analysis.
This strategy explains why the obsessive denials of the reality of sanctions are paradoxically produced in the very same story with highly graphic and highly exaggerated descriptions of genocide-like conditions which can only be read as direct effects of sanctions but which must all the time be blamed only on alleged mismanagement and corruption.
Precisely because the reality of sanctions must be denied, a crusading doctrine of humanitarianism becomes a necessity. But in order to justify this evangelical and racist humanitarianism, the destruction of people’s lives through sanctions must be described graphically but not be credited to sanctions or to the MDC’s 2000 request for sanctions to be imposed on the people.
The result is a discourse of terror which anticipates and celebrates the destruction or strangulation of a whole people in the name of humanitarianism and democracy while avoiding any mention of sanctions or MDC responsibility.