Mujuru Presidency: caution advisable. By Benjamin Semwayo

There is a reported stampede by both prominent politicians and ordinary Zimbabweans to join Mujuru’s political party. ZANU PF and virtually all opposition parties are said to be haemorrhaging support as disillusioned members jump ship and head for pastures new, ‘People First’ to be precise, with the hope of finally finding a lasting solution to Zimbabwe’s protracted misery under an unyielding, resistance-defying despot, the leviathan who Mujuru will shortly slay in the same manner that she downed a helicopter with an AK rifle. Opposition party leaders have come and gone, with some touted as the ultimate sages who would finally tame the wily Mugabe. The euphoria is high in the Mujuru camp with reports that preliminary meetings have been a resounding success. A political earthquake is indeed under way, or is it? Already fissures have reportedly developed in the party as some of the leaders are at loggerheads and grass root supporters question the suitability of some leaders.

Divisions in the party aside, Mujuru’s entry into the political arena has divided opinion, with some dismissing her as weak and incapable of making any dent into Mugabe’s seasoned party that has weathered all past storms, while others have hailed her as the one who will deliver the fatal blow that will pulverise and bury ZANU PF. But in the event that she does subdue Mugabe, what sort of leader will she be? What kind of leader does Zimbabwe need? What sort of country do Zimbabweans yearn for?
Since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980 it has known only one leader characterised by his dictatorial tendencies. His self-confessed ambition was to turn Zimbabwe into a one-party state, a situation that was averted thanks to the intervention of Edgar Tekere, one of the former pillars of ZANU PF. Tekere is credited with candidly and boldly confronting Mugabe and pointedly opposing him on the issue of imposing one-party status on the country, a decision for which he paid by being expelled from the party and spending the rest of his life in the political wilderness. The dictator is not used to voices of dissent, and opposition he will not countenance, from whatever source.
The woes that Zimbabwe has had to endure stem primarily from Mugabe’s dictatorial tendencies. He has not been willing to relinquish power and has resorted to rigging elections to interminably continue treading the corridors of power, having resolved to make himself the life president of the country. He is notoriously corrupt and has amassed an eye-watering fortune while the masses suffer untold misery. He surrounded himself with a large number of cronies rewarded with top posts and leading jet-set lifestyles, accompanying him on numerous unnecessary foreign trips in bloated delegations which the nation has roundly dismissed as international shopping sprees paid for by the tax-payer. He and his cronies siphoned proceeds from the country’s natural resources, notably diamonds. Zimbabwe is said to contain at least a quarter of the world’s diamonds which the government has been mining since 2008, but no revenue from them has yet made its way into government coffers. The only information Mugabe had for the nation is that $15 billion expected from the jewels has vanished. The country has no rule of law, Mugabe having interfered with the judiciary, and his supporters go unpunished for murder, looting, attacks on opposition party supporters and so on. As a result of the unbearable existence people are leading in the country an estimated four million have abandoned their homeland. The hospitals have become run down and there are no medicines; doctors and other medical personnel are leaving the country for greener pastures in droves, while Mugabe, his family and his cronies fly to the Far East for medical treatment, shunning the country’s medical facilities that they are responsible for ruining.
Mujuru was an integral part of Mugabe’s government from 1980 when ZANU PF rose to power, rising to become the country’s Vice President. She was unceremoniously expelled from the party in 1914, together with a large number of party members who were believed to be aligned to her, accused of plotting to assassinate the President, and some of his prominent supporters, notably Diddymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo, immediately announced that they were forming their own party led by her. For more than a year the promised party did not take off the ground, with reports doing the rounds to the effect that she was developing cold feet, while she was reportedly vowing that she was ZanuPF to the core and would never turn her back on the party. Apparently after much persuasion, and seeing that she did enjoy some form of support, Mujuru came out in the open and formed a party against the backdrop of internecine factional fighting in ZANU PF. Many casualties of the ZANU PF infighting, including war veterans, coalesced around her in what was flaunted as an outfit that would finally dislodge ZANU PF and usher in a new dispensation.
Mujuru’s party is unlikely to do much by way of improving the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans. To begin with, Mujuru herself was mentored by Mugabe and will bring into her party many of the characteristics of ZANU PF. In other words her party and ZANU PF will be two sides of the same coin. She was in the party for thirty-four years and only denounced it a long time after she had been given the boot, and during all those years she never raised a finger in protest against the gross violations perpetrated against the people of Zimbabwe. She was part of the system and she benefited from its corrupt nature. Like Mugabe, she and her late husband looted much wealth. They are believed to have been more corrupt than the Mugabes, having amassed more wealth than they. With the weakness of avarice dogging her, Mujuru is unlikely to have the interests of the nation at heart but will most likely prioritise accelerating the growth of her fortune.
The real problem with People First is that it draws most of its supporters from ZANU PF. This is a problem because almost of all of these individuals are tainted with ZANU PF’s DNA and should not be expected to register a significant departure from that party’s tried and tested ways of doing things, which at best are disastrous and at worst cataclysmic. ZANU PF leaders have perfected the art of looting national assets and lining their pockets with fraudulently acquired wealth. The scramble to join People First is actually a scramble to be noticed first, and like in ZANU PF, people will be rewarded with lucrative positions for utterances in praise of the leader. The hero-worshipping culture will inevitably manifest itself as people jostle for recognition. Ex-ZANU PF members were at the centre of the obsequious action and have seen firsthand how through sycophancy one can go from rags to unquantifiable riches. Even opposition politicians who are reportedly flocking to the party are doing so for selfish reasons with their eyes on political rewards. There is no genuine opposition politician who has seen the way ZANU PF has decimated the economy and trampled on the people’s rights who seriously thinks Mujuru, with all her corrupt dealings well known in the public domain, can deliver proper, progressive democratic rule. While she is doing everything to portray herself as squeaky clean, her track record proves otherwise. The most explosive expose is one by Elliot Pfebve published by Nehanda Radio. It is a highly informative and irrefutable must-read. It can be seen here:
Many of the former ZANU PF members who have looted state resources will be comfortable with a Mujuru government, safe in the knowledge that since she is the mother of all looters she will not bring any looter to book.
War veterans are said to be flocking to Mujuru’s party. They are a toxic constituency that has been used by ZANU PF to oppress the masses and prop up Mugabe’s rule. They are sworn enemies of the masses, whose progress they will not countenance, believing that only they are entitled to the good things that come with being an independent country. Numerically they are an insignificant section of the population but they will stop at nothing in their effort to drown the voices of the ordinary Zimbabweans. There are about 25 000 surviving war veterans but they claim that it is their prerogative to make decisions on behalf of Zimbabwe’s population of 13 000 000 on how the country should be run, often using brute force to bring the majority into subjection. They do not acknowledge the need for democratic processes and are only interested in decisions that are favourable to the interests of their group at the expense of the rest of the people. They have no respect for people who did not directly participate in the war even if they have useful contributions to make for the advancement of the country.
The national constitution clearly states that it is every citizen’s inalienable right to aspire to occupy the highest office in the land and become president, but war veterans have come up with the unilateral position that the presidency is a no-go area for anyone without war credentials. They have introduced a caste system where some citizens are second-class citizens with severely limited rights simply because they did not train to be guerrillas, though everyone knows that the war would not have been won without the invaluable contribution of the ordinary people. The majority of the population should fight such inequality and dissociate themselves from parties like ZANU PF and ‘People First’, where war veterans hold sway. They should insist on adherence to the national constitution that says anyone can be president or minister of any portfolio. What fool would support a party that keeps them in chains when there are other parties that give them unfettered exercise of their choices?
The sad thing is that Mujuru will no doubt urge them to flood his party and promise them heaven on earth as she knows that they will be useful in promoting her party. She shares with them the same umbilical cord as they all have their roots in ZANU PF. Even if she wanted to dissociate herself from their violent streak she would be forced to welcome them as her party is still in its formative stages and wants to maximise the numbers associated with it.
As we speak it is reported that the new People First structures are being filled by ZANU PF members and war veterans. To the utter disappointment of MDC officials who defected to the new party, not a single one of them was appointed to hold office in the interim leadership committee announced by the party. It is a foretaste of things to come under ‘People First’. The new party is a replica of ZANU PF and cannot therefore be realistically expected to do things any differently, which is why serious Zimbabweans should steer clear of it and support parties that accentuate the equality of all citizens. ZANU PF and People First are two side of the same coin. ‘People First’ is actually a misnomer, stolen from another political party and chosen because it misleads people into thinking that they are valued highly. It should have been named War Veterans First.
There has been the suggestion that it is too early for Zimbabweans to trust Mujuru given the depth of her association with ZANU PF. It has been suggested that it is not impossible for People First to be a ZANU PF project and that Mujuru could give ZANU PF victory on a platter by registering to be a presidential candidate, only to pull out of the race at the last minute. You cannot rule out anything in politics, especially Zimbabwean politics. These are typical ZANU PF tactics that have been used in the past and there is no reason why they cannot be used again.
With the history of the country under ZANU PF in mind, ordinary Zimbabweans are well advised to opt for a government that is not stained by ZANU PF elements and tendencies. It must be a government that acknowledges democracy by word and deed and must adhere to democratic principles to the letter. It is difficult to see how Mujuru’s government can measure up to that kind of government. Zimbabwean opposition political parties must not be tempted to form coalitions with ZANU PF-related entities under the false rationale that such associations will swell opposition support.
For these and other reasons Zimbabweans will do well not to believe the hype. It is better to stick with Tsvangirai and his MDC. He has his weaknesses, but at least he is not tainted by the horrific characteristics of ZANU PF. And he is not a war veteran. Besides, the MDC-T party has other noble and potentially effective leaders emerging over the horizon, such as Nelson Chamisa.

Zimbabwe Vigil: Commentary

As we marked Zimbabwe’s 36th independence anniversary, exiles in the UK were joined by Mugabe himself at Saturday’s Vigil outside the London Embassy. His Excellency, in the form of Fungayi Mabhunu in our Mugabe mask and carrying a poster reading ’36 years of me. What else can I destroy?’, answered some of our questions.

The first was how he justified spending $20 million on foreign trips so far this year at a time when the economy is alleged not to be booming. ‘Well, this trip to London is costing nothing’, he said. ‘As you may know I have recently had to make one or three essential visits to the Far East so I have collected lots of air miles’ (see:

Our second question to his well-travelled Excellency was about the 300 cattle that he announced he had donated to the African Union last year to reduce the AU’s dependence on Western aid. ‘It just struck me that no one had ever thought of a gift by way of cattle to the AU’, he said, brushing aside reports that none of the beasts had been sent . . . (see:

Mugabe was then asked about Zanu PF’s rejection of genetically modified food – a move condemned by Zimbabwean farmer Nyasha Mudukuti in an article in the Wall Street Journal: ‘So my country – a country that can’t feed itself – will refuse what millions around the world eat safely every day . . . we’re apparently better dead than fed’ (see:

The nonagarian went on: ‘What some people don’t realise is the effect of illegal sanctions. As well as inflicting aids on Africa and causing our drought the West is now determined to exterminate us with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) so that they can control us like they do the troublemakers who caused chaos in Harare on Thursday in an attempt at regime change’.

The Vigil is pleased to see that our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe was prominent among those who took part in the MDC T demonstration on Thursday. ROHR in the UK followed it up by gathering outside the Zimbabwe Embassy on Friday carrying posters such as ‘Old Clueless Mugabe must go’. As usual, the Embassy was closed