Mujuru not putting people first, but . . .: A number of former Zanu PF members who were expelled from the party are teaming up to form their own political parties to “fight” President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF. Joice Mujuru, the president of Zimbabwe People First, and Acie Lumumba (Viva Zimbabwe) are among the most popular. Forming a political party is one’s democratic and constitutional right that is at the centre of the right to freedom of association. My opinion below is, therefore, not a legal analysis, but a critique of these ex-Zanu PF members from an ethical standpoint.
I am uncomfortable with these “born-again” politicians, I mean the self-baptised ones; the ones who suddenly saw the “Damascus light” when they got fired from Zanu PF and proclaimed: “I now see the light; I am no longer Saul, but Paul.” Mujuru, Didymus Mutasa and all the ex-Zanu PF politicians forming new political parties, if you may, please take the back seats. You cannot and should not be captains of the new ship that is heading for a new Zimbabwe. We “know what you did last summer”.
Good governance and political leadership is about principles; it is about selflessness, transparency, accountability and integrity. In politics, the conduct of politicians is not and should not be subject to the proverbial grace of God where we say “though your sins are red like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow”. In politics, accountability is very important. The majority of these ex-Zanu PF members have been part of the Zanu PF government since 1980 and are implicated in heinous crimes such as murders, unlawful disappearances, grand corruption, abuse of public office etc.
Before being kicked out of the Zanu PF government, they rarely or never spoke against the evils of the government.
o start doing so now shows that they are doing it for their selfish reasons; they don’t have any integrity and they do not want to account for their “sins” committed when they were still part of Zanu PF. For some of them, their actions were not even part of Zanu PF policy; they are their personal evil deeds to which they have individual responsibility.
In other democracies, it is customary that individuals have to account for their previous actions before occupying a political post. Of course, the electorate may sometimes overlook certain actions, but for others, you are completely disqualified. Recently, Hillary Clinton — a US presidential candidate — has been under fire for some of her actions from years back. Yet in Zimbabwean politics, whenever people ask about these politicians’ previous dealings with Zanu PF or ask them to account for certain actions, we often hear them say “don’t discuss the man, discuss his idea”. No. I may like the coffee, but I am not going to drink it from a dirty cup. Accountability and transparency demand that I discuss the man or the woman coming up with that idea. Yes, we can hear their ideas, but they should launch them from the back seats.
It is surprising how being a chronic liar seems not to matter in Zimbabwean politics or African politics at large.
In other parts of the world, lying to your constituency is a very serious thing; a number of presidential candidates have lost credibility whenever it has been shown that they are liars. In Zimbabwe, politicians blow hot and cold, approbate and reprobate and yet they still have “believers”.
This “Jonathan-Moyo-kind-of-politics” needs to stop. Yes, I mean the kind that is also followed by Psychology Maziwisa and Lumumba; politics where at one moment you are a sharp critic of Zanu PF and in the next moment you are a staunch supporter or vice-versa. Such political looseness! I am talking about those kinds of politicians whose only guiding motto is “I go where my bread is buttered”. As a politician, you are a public servant. It is not about where your bread is buttered, but about putting butter on the bread of the general public. Well, drop that metaphor — many Zimbabwean citizens do not have the bread to start with.
The question becomes why, with all these obvious pointers, the ex-Zanu PF party members or leaders are tolerated?
There is desperation for leaders and allies for the movement for change. These ex-Zanu PF members know of the oppression that people have suffered and continue to suffer under Zanu PF. They have, thus, joined the songs of oppression that are being sung by the majority Zimbabweans. This is the same reason why the war veterans, who have been an instrument of Zanu PF oppression, are finding sympathy from many quarters now that they are under fire. Ex-Zanu PF cadres and members, I don’t know about others, but as for me, I hear your discord. You claim to know or be in possession of the manual on how to defeat Zanu PF. Give us the manual, and take the back seats. You urge that we should be united. Yes, unity is good, but not under your leadership. We may have the same problems or the same enemy, but this doesn’t necessarily mean we want the same solution. Above all, you are definitely not the solution.
One of the common errors that many revolutionaries make is to think that because they are fighting for the same cause or a cause they believe to be the same, they should not hold each other accountable or tell a fellow revolutionary that you are off the mark. This is usually the undoing of many revolutions; a revolution carved by a rusty-anaerobic-bacteria-infested knife will have its strength or outcome gnawed away by “tetanus”.
I have read a number of articles where it has been suggested that ex-Zanu PF members and war veterans who are now under fire and targeted by Zanu PF deserve our support because they are victims too and in them, we can find a strategic ally. That every person deserves protection of the law I have no doubt. However, I have strong reservations on the question of taking these ex-Zanu PF members and some war veterans as allies. Obviously, not all war veterans are bad — there are, however, some who are bad, very bad ones. The Zimbabwe I hope for tomorrow does not allow me to “make a deal with the devil”. I condemn impunity. People cannot steal, abduct, torture, kill and hope to get away with it because they were in Zanu PF or because they are war veterans. For that reason, I believe that in a new Zimbabwe such individuals need to be prosecuted and let justice prevail. Will that be possible if we start fielding the same people into powerful political positions or making them allies? I don’t think so.
It is in regard of the above that I am surprised that Mujuru claims to be for “people first” when already the leadership of her party includes the likes of Didymus Mutasa, a man who, while serving in the President’s Office as Minister of State for National Security, is linked to several crimes against the people of Zimbabwe. He is also a man who has been implicated or accused of murder, torture, and corruption. This is the man, who, in 2002, is quoted to have said “he would not care if six million people died because of food shortages, as the country would be better off with Zanu PF members only”. Mutasa is the man behind Operation Murambatsvina of May 2005 that left many homeless and continues to haunt us today. Mujuru chooses to partner with such people to form a new government? How about the victims? Amai Mujuru, will you be able to put first the people you and your partners victimised during your time in Zanu PF?
But then, why do I even care to talk about these new ex-Zanu PF political parties? As I already pointed above, there is no doubt that forming a political party and supporting one is a constitutionally protected right. However, Zimbabwe is going to have elections in 2018 — if not earlier. These kinds of ex-Zanu PF political parties will mainly confuse the electorate to the advantage of Zanu PF. In this regard, Amai Mujuru and others, please note that you are actually not putting people first, you letting Zimbabwe down — once again.
Thompson Chengeta is a Harvard International Law scholar.