Tendai Ruben Mbofana
I really wanted to hammer it home that, our struggle Sons and Daughter of the Soil were the only ones who had unquestionably proven their love for the Motherland, and unwillingness to be used by a few with their own self-serving agendas – such that, they were willing to sacrifice everything, and place their own lives (and those of their families) at great peril, as they valiantly fought for the majority…and, not for the minority.
Yet, today, we do not see that strength and determination any more – as these gallant men and women appear to have been finally subdued by a greedy, repressive, and selfish ruling elite – leaving the rest of the population wondering what ever happened to those insipid boys and girls (some as young as fourteen years old), whose strong-will drove them to breach Rhodesia’s borders to join the fight against our suffering and oppression.
What we, however, find today is not only painfully disheartening, but also discouraging – as we watch those who once appeared fearless and pro-people, being reduced to mere shells of their former selves, whilst some have even joined forces with our new breed of oppressors.
This has left the rest of us wondering that, if this can happen to such people, then what about us mere mortals – who have never truly directly confronted a powerful and vicious regime, which is bent on serving its own interests above those of the citizenry…and, coming out victorious?
In fact, should our veterans of the liberation struggle not have been the real vanguards of our independence and freedoms – but, then, where are they, whilst we suffer?
However, as I was just about to ‘put pen to paper’, I was unexpectedly struck by what I would term, ‘the most disturbing images I have ever had the misfortune of witnessing in my entire life’.
There, on the television screen, was a reminder of that fateful day, 24 November 2017 – when the previously sacked ruling ZANU PF and Zimbabwe vice president, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, was sworn in as the new president, after a brazen military coup d’etat, that toppled long-time tyrant Robert Gabriel Mugabe, a few days prior.
Those two weeks in November were the most tragic and unfortunate, on the part of ordinary Zimbabweans – which left me scarred for life, as I finally realized the people’s myopia and political immaturity.
Why, on Mother Earth, would they fill the National Sports Stadium to the brim, in wild celebrations, as they jubilantly welcomed a regime that they should have known was no better, or any different, from the one they had helped oust a couple of days earlier?
As a matter of fact, Zimbabweans, in their thousands, had thronged the streets of the capital Harare – demanding Mugabe’s long-overdue resignation, whilst at the same time proudly embracing a group of people, who had all along been known as the old dictator’s henchmen and enforcers…who had brutally and cold-heartedly carried out widespread massacres and atrocities against the people of this country, whenever they dared stand up against Mugabe’s notorious regime.
I can never forget the profound crippling shock I felt in those few days in November 2017, as I speechlessly watched Zimbabweans, in their different racial and political shades – excitedly taking selfies with a military that had been responsible for some of the savage brutality, they or their own relatives, friends, or even neighbors had suffered…either on account of their ‘wrong’ political alignments, or belonging to an ‘undesirable’ ethnicity.
In fact, the military did not waste any time ruthlessly reminding Zimbabweans – possibly and unsurprisingly, including some of those who had taken selfies with them – their true colours, as barely ten months later, scores of unarmed fleeing civilians were gunned down in cold blood on the same streets of Harare, on 1 August 2018, and in January 2019.
I remember asking myself – “What is wrong with all these people? Do they not seriously know what they are doing right now? Can they not discern that what they are doing is merely replacing one dictator with another?”
If this had been my schooling days, this would have been a very good story under the heading, ‘The day I will never forget’!
As much as I had spent a greater part of my social justice writing activism (which I started in 1989, when I was still in high school doing Form Three) criticizing Mugabe’s ruthless and sadistic tyranny, mismanagement, and corruption (and, wanted him out as soon as possible) – nonetheless, I was not to be myopic and too desperate to see him go at any cost… especially, if that meant replacing him with those we had already known for their notoriety and savagery.
Why did all those Zimbabweans – thousands pouring onto the streets, and converging at the stadium during Mnangagwa’s inauguration, whilst thousands more watching expectedly in their homes – blindly support such a travesty?
I asked that question when I had finally gotten over the shock, and decided to write a couple of articles warning Zimbabweans over the potential consequences of what they had just done.
Needless to say, nearly all my words came to pass – and, much more.
I strongly suspect desperation led Zimbabweans to be so tragically myopic – no wonder I have always advised those around me, never to allow any situation to drive them into a state of desperation, as that will inevitably led them into making disastrous decisions, as a result of a diminished sense of discernment, and clouded judgement.
The people of Zimbabwe were, understandably, sick and tired of the Mugabe regime’s endless oppression, corruption, and mismanagement – which all led to the majority’s untold suffering and unimaginable poverty – and wanted the principal of these heinous acts to go.
No wonder the, ‘Mugabe must go’ mantra.
However, that is where most people lost the plot.
Mugabe was not an island, and did not loot on his own, did not mismanage the country on his own, and certainly did not brutalize the population by himself.
There was a system in place, which formulated and implemented all these gross injustices and injury to the people of Zimbabwe – most of the authors and enforcers of these heinous crimes against humanity, being found at the forefront of the November 2017 coup d’etat.
Again, why, then, did thousands upon thousands support this nonsense?
Did they, honestly, not see that they were not changing anything – but, merely repackaging and recycling the same rotten over-stayed junk?
Had we not known of the ruling ZANU PF party’s unending factional fighting – which had even led to the embarrassing ousting of then vice president, Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru, in 2014, who was then replaced by Mnangagwa, and the subsequent fierce rivalry with then first lady, Grace Mugabe (with, her so-called G40 allies)?
Did we not know of the firing of Mnangagwa as vice president on 6 November 2017, and the following threats (on 13 November) by then commander of the ZDF (Zimbabwe Defence Forces), Constantino Chiwenga, that the military would intervene?
Yet, thousands and thousands of Zimbabweans – who, in the most, had nothing to do with these ZANU PF factional fights (tragically, including the main opposition MDC-T led by Morgan Richard Tsvangirai) – strangely and mysteriously had some hope that all these shenanigans would be good for the rest of us!
Yes, some may claim that the opposition was duped into believing that, by supporting this coup d’etat, they would be incorporated into a unity government.
However, should that have been the case, then our opposition is more delusional and immature than the population at large – since, who, in their right mind, would ever believe the blatant and shameful lies that come out of the mouths of this country’s ruling elites?
Surely, which promise have they ever kept?
Let us remember that, the 2008 – 2013 Government of National Unity (GNU), between ZANU PF and the MDC formations, was reluctantly entered into by the former, under extreme pressure by SADC (Southern African Development Community), and the agreement only signed after intense negotiations, and guaranteed by the regional body.
Therefore, why would anyone had believed some backroom agreement to support the ouster of Mugabe, in exchange for sharing power?
This morning, as I watched those sad images of the huge jubilant crowds filling the National Sports Stadium on 24 November 2017 – celebrating the ushering in of Mnangagwa as the new president of the so-called ‘New Dispensation’ – and, as I looked at the close-up footage of their happy faces, I could not help asking myself…how many of these people are still in celebratory mood after four years?
The more important question actually should be – have the people of Zimbabwe learnt anything from the debacle of those two weeks in November, and are we now wiser to the folly of being led by desperation, no matter how much we may be suffering, and want it all to end?
Have we truly leant anything? Have we, really?