24 August 2014

Zimbabwe: 'Trusting a Baboon With a Machine Gun'

opinion

Zimbabweans have in the past two weeks been "entertained" by intriguing drama that has been unfolding in President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party.

The drama was characterised by unprecedented dirty factional brawls, culminating in the apparent confirmation of the long held suspicion -- and fear -- that our 90-year-old President intends to die in office.

The drama began with the shambolic preparation for the party's Youth League conference which, in the end, provided the First Lady Grace Mugabe with the much-needed political mileage -- confirming her curious "Mother Theresa" status by feeding starving Zanu PF youths.

Then came the emphatic walloping of the factional duo of Tongai Kasukuwere and Lewis Matutu in elections for the top two contested positions in the league.

Kasukuwere and Matutu were beaten by Kudzai Chipanga and Varaidzo Mupunga in elections described by all, before the counting of votes, as free and fair -- but later dismissed by the losers as "manipulated and bought".

The winners are linked to the faction allegedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru while the losers are said to be protégés of the Emmerson Mnangagwa faction. Needless to say, Mujuru and Mnangagwa deny leading any factions or habouring presidential ambitions.

Mugabe came out guns blazing after the youth poll results, claiming the vote had been manipulated by the party's "dirty", "inept" and "rubbish" elders in favour of "political prostitutes".

He said he had been told -- although not proved -- about this manipulation. That is the reason why the party's politburo is still seized with the matter -- to establish the veracity or lack of -- these claims.

It is interesting to note how the factional matrix stand in the election result that apparently so irked the President.

Mugabe's wife had just entered into the party's dog-eat-dog political arena through the benevolence of Oppah Muchinguri who gave up her powerful women's leadership position for the First Lady. Muchinguri is among the top guns in the Mnangagwa faction that had been humiliated in the youth polls!

The President's reaction left analysts wondering if he too had gone factional. Was he not making himself seem like a faction leader by appearing to be fighting from the corner of the group that raised his wife from political nothingness to the dizzy heights of Zanu PF power?

The factional war thickened a few days later during the Women's League conference where respect and decency was thrown out the window as leaders engaged in a no-holds-barred verbal showdown. Distasteful and insensitive allegations were recklessly thrown about in slogans about wives killing their own husbands by burning them!

At the end of the women's indaba, Muchinguri, who has sacrificed her leadership position for Amai Mugabe, emerged with no position in the women's league. Would she forgo her powerful politburo post for nothing? Would that mean she now wants out of politics?

Both questions cannot find answers in the affirmative. The only logical explanation -- given that Muchinguri is still a hungry political animal to the core -- is that she is angling for a higher, more powerful post. But which other position than those whose incumbents have been described by the First Lady's husband as "inept", "rubbish" and "dirt"?

Politics is indeed intriguing, complex, mind blowing and very dirty!

And then comes this busy body, boss-rapper Christopher Mutsvangwa, who, in another display of his unrestrained verbal diarrhoea -- attacked Didymus Mutasa like a husband would a wife caught pants down.

Mutsvangwa, a junior minister of government and a member of the party's hierarchical kindergarten, said he found courage to disparage anyone at whatever level in the party or government on account of his having participated in the war of liberation.

"A war veteran comes before any other post in government . . . the position takes precedence on everything whether in the party or government," said Mutsvangwa.

With this type of party discipline, where anyone is free to say anything about anybody, as long as they are ex-combatants, one can imagine the kind of life party members that did not go to war, like the First Lady Grace Mugabe, must be prepared to endure at the hands of the likes of Mutsvangwa -- today or tomorrow. Is it any wonder then that the President finds it unsafe to leave office -- age regardless!

Mugabe has already accepted his nomination by the Zanu PF women's league to stand as the party's presidential candidate in the 2018 elections. He will be 94 years old then and his term will take him to 99 years! He thanked the women for nominating him -- literally confirming him "Life President"!

"Ndinoda kukutendai zvikuru neresolution yamapasisa, the resolution whereby you state that I should be the sole candidate wenyu for the presidency," he said.

The issue of having a president that is 100 years old may indeed be worthy of debate, but can we really believe Mugabe will want to go home and rest, sit and do nothing leaving his wife among such political crocodiles in the mould of Mutsvangwa?

The President would not want to entrust the party in the hands of those loose cannons who brag about their freedom to disrespectfully undress the party leadership in public -- with reckless abandon. In politics there are always hidden skeletons in every leader's closet and if their safety is not guaranteed, sleep will not come.

Mugabe would also need to rein in his "strict" warlike wife -- that graceless "fire" which should not be "played around with" -- the later day Lady Macbeth whose penchant to enlarge her fighting fist with rocks is self-confessed!

Leaving power -- political and military --among such characters would be tantamount to the proverbial "entrusting a baboon with a loaded machine gun". Everything, including harmless ants, is gunned down! The Shona saying goes: "Wapa gudo chigwagwagwa! Nemasvosve nemasvosve!"

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