There are two dry and crass but telling jokes that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has told since he took over power from the late Robert Mugabe in late 2017.
These two slurs are sufficient testimony on how the elite in the ruling Zanu PF views political power.
More precisely, how it regards itself as the omnipotent stockholder in Zimbabwean politics.
The first time was when Mnangagwa, some time back, declared that, come 2030, “we will still be there”.
That remark was as puzzling as it was unsettling.
But whatever interpretation you are going to make out of it, the stubborn conclusion is that he meant that he — as president —and Zanu PF would still be in power come 2030, as part of the “Zimbabwean vision”.
Well, politicians are always coming up with such manhole prophecies.
It’s safe to dismiss them with the contempt they deserve.
But then, things don’t happen so easily in Zimbabwe, if you remember where we are coming from.
The second one is just a week old.
That’s when the president addressed bussed supporters in Epworth, Harare at a star rally to launch the ruling party’s campaign ahead of the March by-elections.
He declared that it would be faster for someone to walk to and reach China than for the opposition to get to State House.
There is something clearly ominous with this “metaphor”.
Because, you see, it’s close to impossible for an ordinary person to walk to China and get there alive.
Either you would have to walk through the Tropic of Capricorn, Equator and Tropic of Cancer to northernmost Africa, enter the Middle East from there, then China.
Or, you would have to have to walk through Mozambique and reach the Indian Ocean.
From there — since this is about walking — you would have to walk on water for thousands of miles.
You go past Australia, worm through the Pacific Ocean and then get to southern China.
Of course, Zimbabwe has no Jesus to walk on water, so things are what they are — impossible.
When all is said and done, Mnangagwa just meant that he and his party were not prepared to let power go to the opposition.
Not in a thousand years, as Ian Smith put it back then, and by hammer or machete.
Fine, just a few years after Smith declared that there would be no black rule in Zimbabwe in a thousand light years, he was out of office and was forced to retreat to his dry Gwenhoro Farm, there in my home area of Shurugwi.
And, hardly a year after Grace Mugabe declared that her husband —i.e Smith’s successor—would rule from beyond the grave, the old man was out.
So, whatever imagination about how long he will last in power, Mnangagwa can be made to burn the rubber any time.
Let’s say as early as 2023 when we hold our next general elections.
He was going to go at one time or another, together with the current crop of his hangers-on who time, as sure as fish will always swim in water, will render US — a military term meaning “unserviceable”.
Give it something like 10 to 15 years, and this useless crop will be out.
Even if Zanu PF would continue ruling, things won’t be the same.
For the emerging, though suppressed, younger generation in Zanu PF won’t have the capacity to be as oppressive as its current pool of stagnant, wasteful and wasting godfathers.
Tuck that away in a corner, though. What matters is what is happening right now.
It’s clear that the old madalas running Zanu PF and government are not prepared to give the opposition or democratic change a chance.
And they are using all sorts of despicable methods to ensure that their vile power is preserved.
Look at the manner in which they have been handling the star rally that Nelson Chamisa’s CCC party is holding today in Highfield.
The police — which has always been used as a repressive extension of Zanu PF since independence in 1980, more or less the same way it was used by Ian Smith—threw down the gauntlet.
They set out a string of comical but shocking conditions for the holding of the rally. Heh, don’t bus people in.
Heh, don’t chant slogans. Heh, mask up.
Heh, don’t sing or dance. Heh, cooperate with “government agencies”—you know who those are, don’t you. Heh this, heh that. Do you know the smell of hypocrisy?
Just a week ago when Mnangagwa was talking about the long walk to China, just about everything they now don’t want to happen at the CCC rally was happening in Epworth.
Mnangagwa and the other speakers chanted slogans.
People sang and danced. They blocked public roads.
They were bussed in, in their thousands.
A Zanu PF rally in Harare would just be like a Mwonzora rally if they don’t bus people in or frighten them to attend the meeting.
And the police and Zanu PF activists were busy beating up blue and black, CCC supporters in Harare last week.
Thanks to social media, we also got to know that Zanu PF members in Highfield were plotting to stop the CCC rally by using intelligence police to gather information they would then use to counter-book the Zimbabwe Grounds venue.
Did they apply the same despotic rules to Douglas Mwonzora’s MDC-T/MDC Alliance rally at the same venue in Highfields just recently?
If they did, we never got to know about it. But chances are that they didn’t.
Isn’t it sad that, in Zimbabwe, the more things change, the more they remain the same or even get worse?
The dispensation that took over from Mugabe, purporting to be chasing the criminals that surrounded the late former president, are taking the old criminality to another level. Never mind them when they talk about themselves as the “Second Republic” or “new dispensation”!
They are using the same methods as during the Mugabe era, where they were, come to think about it, the real practitioners on the ground.
There is still differential application of the law. What’s good for the goose must surely be good for the gander too, as the cliché goes.
Why must people toyi-toyi, sing, hug, be bussed in and be allowed to provoke members of the opposition at a Zanu PF rally and, when it comes to CCC, the coin flips?
There is no trophy for guessing why they are treating CCC this way, just as they did during Morgan Tsvangirai’s time.
CCC — Chamisa more precisely — spooks the sparks out of them.
He nearly grabbed the stool from Mnangagwa back in 2018, if he actually didn’t.
He is highly capable of grabbing the vote from Mnangagwa in 2023.
And the CCC rally is going to expose Zanu PF and the MDC-T/MDC-A proxy in the March by-elections.
There were hardly any supporters to fill a one-sitter at Dougie’s rally last week.
But there are going to be swelling thousands at the CCC rally today.
That will be the first step to prove that Mwonzora cannot be the leader of the opposition in Zimbabwe.
The massive turnout, if CCC supporters are not blocked, will also set the stage for a Chamisa resurgence at the by-elections.
But then, Zanu PF and its government will also be smarting at the fact that they have wasted huge resources and energy backing the Mwonzora project.
They diverted millions of dollars to sell MDC-T as the official opposition just so as to spite Chamisa and his party.
Central government has wrested the mandate of councils by pouring millions into road rehabilitation to try and show that the opposition—to mean the Chamisa project—is not worth voter’s attention.
But, as an aside, if the opposition is performing poorly at the councils, then Dougie must be to blame, because they anointed and appointed him the leader of the opposition.
So, inadvertently, the roads project is a condemnation of MDC-T, not CCC. Only the naïve will think to the contrary.
The further we seem to be moving into the future, the deeper we are slipping into the past.
If anything, the manner in which the ruling party and government have been reacting to the CCC is a red flag pointing at what we will see at the 2023 elections. Meaning we are going nowhere at break-neck speed.
- Tawanda Majoni is the national coordinator at Information for Development Trust (IDT) and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org