Zimbabwe’s best leaders are yet to come forward

Tanonoka Joseph Whande
May 17, 2012

I do not know how my home boy, Emerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, feels about his political life.
I do not know who he blames for his shameful failure to make inroads and establish himself as a real stalwart within ZANU-PF, one who does not need patronage to show his mantle; I do not know how he remains such a dismal failure at the polls. It has been a life time with him not winning any election in Zimbabwe.

Yet Mnangagwa has a rich history in liberation war efforts.
He, along with his nemesis, Joyce Mujuru, has never been out of cabinet since Zimbabwe won its independence in 1980, except for a stint as Speaker of Parliament between 2005 and 2009. He only got that post after Robert Mugabe’s unorthodox manoeuvres to make sure that ZANU-PF MPs voted for Mnangagwa to become Speaker after he lost elections to Blessing Chebundo in Kwekwe.
My home boy has electorally and politically failed to inspire any section of the nation; he is just not a factor at the polls.

Indeed, even as far back as the first parliamentary elections, Mnangagwa was unable to run for parliament in his home area, our constituency of Zvishavane, with my late sister, Julia Zvobgo, given the nod ahead of Mnangagwa to become the first Member of Parliament for Zvishavane at independence.
From the very beginning, Mnangagwa was a carpetbagger, standing for parliamentary elections elsewhere and not near his home area.
We don’t have memories of Emerson in Zvishavane although we have a school, Dambudzo Secondary, which bears his name.

Mnangagwa has been waiting to succeed Mugabe for as long a time as Zimbabwe is old. His patience and bootlicking assured him of Mugabe’s loyalty, sort of.
After the death of Vice President Simon Muzenda, there was not expected to be any jostling for the vacant post as ZANU-PF followers believed that the obvious successor would be Mnangagwa, given his patience and unwavering support for Mugabe over the years.

As Mnangagwa was dusting his suits in anticipation of the vice presidency of both the party and government, the ZANU-PF Women’s League, with not so subtle of assistance from one Solomon Mujuru, struck and pressurised Mugabe on that it was time for the party and government to have a female vice president.
Thus Joyce Mujuru, wife to the now late Solomon, became vice president of both the party and government.
I do not believe that Mugabe “succumbed” to any pressure; I believe it was all well planned to shut Mnangagwa out because no one ever believed then as they do not believe now that Mnangagwa can win an election even against his own goats.

Mnangagwa is not a fool; he believed that patience would reward him and patience just confirmed to him that if he does not do something now, he might as well forget ever becoming president of Zimbabwe. He has just been jolted to the reality that, for all these decades, he was being used to keep real contenders against Mugabe at bay.

“I am ready to rule if selected to do so,” said Mnangagwa late last week. “ZANU PF is about observing the will of the people and I will respect the people’s wishes if they choose me.”
I feel a bit embarrassed for him.
After trying hard over thirty years to walk within the parameters of ZANU-PF and playing trained puppy for Mugabe, he was sidelined several times but now is being forced to rant about democracy, something totally alien to him.
For Mnangagwa to stoop to the level of uttering something about “observing the will of the people” is the worst humiliation the man will ever endure.
Mnangagwa, with the assured support of Mugabe, has always thumbed his nose at Zimbabweans, both in and outside ZANU-PF, inadvertently passing the message that he did not need the so-called povo to climb the ladder higher than any other ZANU-PF member.
Mugabe is ailing now; Mugabe has lost much of the control of ZANU-PF.
Mugabe’s staunchest supporters pay little attention to him as they all jostle for advantageous positions to succeed him.

Mnangagwa knows that this is his final stand; he knows he better make a move.
Unfortunately, if he is ever to be anything else, he can only achieve that by going against the will of the people because there is absolutely no way Zimbabweans will ever vote for Mnangagwa to be president.

I am resigned to the fact that my fellow villager of only 2 kilometres away will never become president. There goes my opportunity!
Mnangagwa’s worst enemy has been his naïveté.
He did not know how he was being used right from the early years as he was pushed to go toe to toe with the likes of Edison Zvobgo who, unlike Mnangagwa, had a solid constituency both in his political base and in the party nationwide.
Mnangagwa did not even realise that carpetbagging was done for expediency not to run away from your own people. He is paying for that stupidity because he does not have a political base like other politicians. Even with the party, the support he gets is of personal aggrandisement, which does not translate to people actually believing in him.
The heart of the matter is that Mnangagwa has never known or respected the will of the people. It is laughable that he, of all people, never having won an election in his own right and with no assistance from “the dirty tricks” section of the party could stand up and talk about submitting himself to the will of the people.
But his patience has run out and he is desperate to keep his hand on the slippery political eel that could easily go to Joyce Mujuru who once thumped him from the blind side to become Vice President when everyone thought Mnangagwa was just about to get his reward.
But before Mnangagwa can change his clothing and present himself to the people as a born-again politician, he should revisit the Gukurahundi genocide.
Mistakes were committed and nothing obliterates vengeful souls more than admission of wrongdoing and apology.
That is Mnangagwa’s first port of call. An apology is not only the will of the people but is also the right thing for him to do.
Mnangagwa also has a reputation of brutality, something that Zimbabweans are tired of; something that all nations are trying to distance themselves from.
He has to come clean and let the people wash him and put him forward as a candidate after they are satisfied that he might be a good steward for the nation.
People are also aware of the role he played during the 2008 elections. Wounds and tears from that madness are still to dry.
But, unfortunately though, Mnangagwa’s disdain for the people’s will is seen in the manner in which he is running his “campaign” to succeed Mugabe. He seems to be doing more of the same things that made the people dislike him.
First, he pays no attention to either his party’s constitution or to the current constitution of the country. He just wants to bulldoze his way into leadership yet he knows people should have their say.
Secondly, he spends so much time plotting against the will of the people whose votes he should be courting.
The ZANU-PF District Co-ordinating Committee (DCC) elections have presented the nation with a fresh wave of violence as ZANU-PF people go after each other. Some of the elections have been nullified, others have been cancelled while others have been postponed. The party has been split into two.
In all the disputes, those said to be aligned to Mnangagwa are being accused of violence, intimidation and vote rigging.
It is unfortunate that Mnangagwa unapologetically continues to be associated with all things undemocratic and violent.
However, bitter as it might be, Mnangagwa has every right to contest for whatever position he wants. He is Zimbabwean and, therefore, entitled to all those things that he himself might be denying us.
It has always been my belief that the people are wiser than the wisest of us. It is my hope that the people know what direction they want their country to take.
And I know for a fact that the people always make the right choice based on their expectations, knowledge of the candidate and, of course, always have a clear sense of purpose as to where they want their country to go.
But more candidates should come forward because right now, I just don’t see anyone who is good enough for Zimbabwe.
That one is a super country in spite of the mediocre politicians we have.
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Thursday, May 17, 2012.

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