‘Welshman Ncube gives credit to Zimbabweans for adopting an aggressive character after longterm passiveness’
Opposition MDC leader Welshman Ncube has applauded Zimbabweans for shrugging off passive nature and adopted an aggressive character. Ncube said the move has taken a short period to occur. The country is facing sporadic streets protests. Writing in his traditional Friday opinion, Ncube said “Zanu PF has predictably responded with shameless vindictiveness”.
Below is part of his opinion :
In all but a short space of time, the landscape of civic and political activism in Zimbabwe has dramatically transformed. Us Zimbabweans, whose familiar trademark has for long been ‘passive resilience’ have assumed a more aggressive character of ‘passive resistance’,
The ruling party, ZANU PF has predictably responded with shameless vindictiveness. President Mugabe and his band of faithfuls are applying the only panacea they know best – confinement by leg irons! We knew they would do that all along, yet there is a new angle to their repertoire of repression – roasting own sons of the revolution!
The MDC and its kin – who traditionally have been so much used to being at the receiving end of ZANU PF’s fiery sword – are watching with bemused anxiety as the ghost of Wilfred Mhanda spreads the incense of dissent amongst his former comrades – particularly those that publicly disowned him. However, just like you, I am caught between two contradictory forces: celebration or sympathy.
The political democrat in me says after almost sixteen years of systematic victimisation, abuse and insults from the group that Douglas Mahiya (Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) spokesperson) and Victor Matemadanda, ZNLWVA secretary general represent – I should restrain my sympathy and empathy. After all, is the misery experienced by Patrick Nabanyama, Paul Chizuze, Jestina Mukoko and of late Evan Mawarire not still fresh in our minds? Was the same ZNLWVA not conspicuous by its resounding silence? And that is not all.
Since 1999, war veterans have been complicit in decimating property rights, relentless electoral intimidation, murdering, maiming and abduction of MDC activists – thus providing the chilling soundtrack to shameful oppression and repression by a ruthless system. Millions of Zimbabweans have been forced into exile; millions internally displaced and millions more hungry, unemployed and hopeless – thanks to the system that Douglas Mahiya and Victor Matemadanda have mortgaged their lives with. Wilfred Mhanda spoke against them but they despised, scoffed at and disowned him.
The lawyer and human rights defender in me is screaming for the upholding of justice and rule of law. But my problem is that perhaps we lawyers and civil society ought to be asking ourselves whether or not the sudden transformation of ZNLWVA is democratic enough to warrant celebration, empathy and sympathy. President Mugabe and his erstwhile colleague Samora Machel were admonished by the Frontline States leaders for their dungeon retribution in dealing with internal dissent.
As once prisoners of conscience, Wilfred Mhanda and his friends tried over many years to educate their ZNLWVA colleagues that even if Mugabe fell, the default position of the country would never be democracy. I still see the political vortex of ZANU PF remaining a magnet of vicious dictatorship.
Thus, what seems to be a new awakening in the Douglas Mahiya – Victor Matemadanda scheme of things is in fact not a democratic transformation, but instinctive tendencies to replace one form of dictatorship with another. This brand of war veterans is genetically configured around autocratic dictatorship.
Nonetheless, as democrats, both the MDC family and civil society ought to be aggrieved that Douglas Mahiya and Victor Matemadanda are being subjected to unfair and illegal treatment.
Yet, these two have yet to evoke, in their so-called ‘new enlightenment’, the virtues and tenets of true democracy. They have not been calling for reform of electoral institutions, free and fair elections or an emergency ZANU PF congress to democratically elect a successor. Their clarion call is for Mugabe to step down and be replaced with Emmerson Mnangagwa.
This is not what we have been fighting for since year 2000. If they truly believe in our values, they should come clean and be part of us not by mere coincidence of mission, but belief. But as long as they remain confined to the ‘ideological safe side’ of Zimbabwe’s political Auschwitz, we can only cry (for them) with one eye and say “arbeit macht rei!” – democratic truth sets you free!
What is my point? It is that the fall out between Mugabe and the war veterans leadership is not over a clash of values. It is a pure factional fight over who has a right to dictate who leads ZANU PF and the country.
Mugabe and his G40 want Mugabe to continue as Zimbabwe’s dictator while pretending to be awaiting a ‘democratic’ decision (by members of ZANU PF) to select a successor at some indeterminate point in the future. On the other hand the war veterans initially only wanted Mugabe to endorse Mnangagwa as his successor and crush the ambitions of the young turks in G40.
Only when Mugabe would not accede to their undemocratic demands to anoint their favoured successor did they attack Mugabe himself, calling for him to stand down and opportunistically accusing him of masterminding historical crimes in which they were in fact his storm troopers.
Their fight has so far not been framed as a fight for Mugabe to stand down and allow ZANU PF members to freely and democratically elect a successor but has been framed as a call for Mugabe to stand down and give way to Mnangagwa as anointed by them as opposed to the general membership of ZANU PF. They have not framed their struggle against Mugabe as a democratic struggle in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe to be allowed to freely choose their leaders.
It is for this reason that democrats must be wary of finding common cause with the war veterans who have so far failed to frame their struggle against Mugabe within the context of the values and principles of democracy. Thus it is easily conceivable that should they succeed against Mugabe they should simply revert to their storm troopers default mode of being anti democratic agents in the name of the old anti people and anti democratic ZANU PF but now under Mnangagwa. The resettlement areas would remain open prisons under the guard of the same war veterans for and on behalf of Mnangagwa’s .
As Zimbabweans we need not just be wary but need to popularise the habit of thinking. Thoughtless politics is what has brought us here. We cannot continue with it if we are to save our country. Allowing emotions and the politics of thoughtlessness and convenience to blind us from the dangers of our situation is something we need to avoid as we would a plague. source-MDC