Monday, 19 October 2015

Self-Cleansing or Self-Destruction?

By Nick Mangwana

This October month Zim Asset has reached a two year milestone. Last year at this time, this column covered the hits and misses of this great five year programme of government. So another year on, it would have been the natural thing to review and reflect on the progress made in two years. Remember reader that the quick-wins of Zim Asset were supposed to be gained in 15-18 months. So two years straddles this period and writing about it would have been a no brainer. But this column is not going to do that. Because after a few false starts there seemed not much to write about which would fill the space allocated to the column by the good editor. What would be the point of making the people despondent and dispirited by beaming the light on so many misses. There is enough negative energy in the nation without friendly columnists compounding the people's misery and feelings of despair. It's better the column makes the ruling authorities uncomfortable that torment the masses.

There was a great temptation for this column for a second week in a row to circumvent politics. This was because cadres, activists and functionaries of the party of government are tired of fielding accusations that the major major achievement during the last 2 years were political purges within the ruling party in what has been dubbed "self-cleansing". But this cleansing ritual is knowing no end. 

Now the party is walking the very fine line between self-cleansing and self-destruction maybe somebody has to say the unsaid. For there are cleansing rituals which have been known to be fatal in the Zimbabwean folklore. People have been known to have been covered with a blanket to absorb what is deemed to be cleansing fumes from a red hot stone that is placed in hot water with mysterious herbs and concoctions in the vessel to turn the whole mix into a potent cauldron. The individual being cleansed is then made to kneel with a thick blanket or such material covering their upper body to ensure none of the fumes escape but they are fully taken inhale. 

The problem is when this cleansing ritual is being performed, no fresh air also comes in and the only thing that the "unlucky" individual will be taking in is this concoction and other unclean gases including carbon monoxide. To aggravate a clearly grievous situation, there is a merciless team of the healer's acolytes who act as enforcers to make sure that the individual takes it all in and does not escape. After all they say no pain, no gain. They would normally release when they see no more resistance from the chap who is being cleansed of whatever bad omen. In most cases it's bad luck or munyama. When they remove the blanket they discover that the person's bad luck was so resistant that it ended up killing them. This is what is called fatal cleansing. The whole idea is to cast out bad spells from the midst of the family. In most cases this just ends up reducing the family size, unity and strength. Those families that embark on these exercises unremittedly have experienced what they call in military terms "Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD)". This seems to be an aptly coined acronym. For sometimes there is a lot of madness that comes with all this.

This is because in MAD both the attacker and the attacked end up completely annihilated. This was the concept on which the United Nations Security Council permanent five or the P5 were instituted. At its inception these were the 5 members of the United Nations that had nuclear weapons that gave them the power to obliterate each other and others from the face of the earth. So the P5 were those countries who had capacity for MAD(ness) and the pun here in intended. For how can it not be madness when people become so absorbed by spite and vindictiveness that they would rather lose everything to make sure the person they dislike does not get what they like. I hope this doesn't really get muddled up. An example would possibly help to illustrate the point better than this mumbo jumpo being articulated here.

The nation remembers the country's main opposition party recalling some of its members of parliament because they had said a few unflattering things and written a few poisonous letters to their former leader. Some of those members who were in parliament continued to oppose the ruling party whilst still throwing brickbats at their former comrades and colleagues. In spite of their differences at least there was a bigger voice to stop the ruling party from being complacent and also bring it to account. This is what an opposition is there in parliament for,right? But the hatred within the opposition ranks was more than their combined dislike for ZANU PF. They pursued each other relentlessly. Despite the fact that they were not going to contest elections they still proceeded to recall each other from parliament. ZANU PF said thank you very much. It had struggled to have a foothold in urban areas but the gods of mutual destruction had just smiled upon the Revolutionary Party and on a clean silver platter a dozens of MPs were added to its lot. This was MAD in operation. And normally it always benefits the enemy. The Shonas call it Shaisano.

But that was the opposition. The party to which the writer belongs seem bent to follow the same pathway but of course with a different narrative. At the centre of these shenanigans is the notion that when the moment comes to rally and deliver a victory, the party would always, always never come short. History stands on the side of those that make that argument. But that should never be taken for granted. For taking the people and their vote for granted whilst infighting is embarking on a mutually assured destruction pathway. The infighting seems to have been now franchised to the social media where the body of opinion leaders and analysts is a bottomless pity. Some have outsourced this fighting to the observers as well.

Now self-cleansing is normally a good thing. For one has to cull themselves of excess baggage. Individuals do so after a period of indulging. They call it detoxing. This is just done for a short time and in very sparsely interspaced periods. You see comrades, detoxing is meant to be a period of purification leaving one feeling pure and re-energised. But if overdone it has been shown to leave one feeling very weakened with no energy. A normal healthy body should have a natural self-cleansing system that gets rid of undesired toxins. It is these crash programmes that end up removing needed essentials from the body.

An example of natural purification is that time one spends in the bathroom removing excess or unwanted bowel contents. That is natural self-cleansing and it is very good for the body. It is healthy and people should eat fibre to enable it to happen. But if one starts taking laxatives to increase the frequency they will then spend too much time in the bathroom much to the detriment of all other daily activities that enable a productive and progressive life. This is not only the consequence but with that comes frequent and overdone bowel motion, it doesn't only get messy, It will upset the balance of ions and minerals in the body causing lethargy, in extreme cases death. If this does not happen then the moment one stops this crash cleansing all the rubbish or weight will come back with extra excess. This is the fatality of these crash cleansing programmes. More so if done ad infinitum it's sure case of causing erosion of the stomach lining and other gastric damages. Matumbu anosvuuka.

That's the same with the current cleansing within the ruling party. Zanu PF should not spend too much time in the bathroom cleansing itself when there is Zim Asset to implement. It shouldn't spend too much time absorbed in its own purity that it ends up losing essential people and that essential mojo or feel good factor, energy and vigour needed to make the country which gave it a mandate to superintendent its affairs to to develop.

This column has said this before, if you take all the credit, then prepared to take all the blame too. If the party to which this columnist belongs wants to claim all the good things that happened to Zimbabwe since independence, then it should be prepared to absorb all the blame for the bad things that happened when they are thrown at it by its detractors.

This leads to a suggestion that the type of cleansing the party needs is not so much based on purging itself of members that hold a different view. Of course the party needs its members to be disciplined. And that has to start from the top to the bottom. Those who break disciplinary codes should go through disciplinary processes. However the efficacy of mass culling of members is questionable. The self cleansing which the party needs should be based upon introspection and reflection. There is a need for the party to recalibrate its ideological underpinnings. The party has always been a leftist socialist mass organisation. But there are too many accusations of oligarchy levelled against the party which in the grand scheme of things do not appear to be way off the mark. It is the cleansing that comes with reflection and intellectual catharsis that seem to be so much needed. Not that of removing dissenting voices. Those voices add value because of the plurality of thought they bring. Even Roman Catholic cardinals have someone representing the devil when they condemn him, hence the term "devil's advocate". Plurality of thought and views is always enriching.

Where were we? Oh yes, intellectual catharsis. That one is definitely needed. What with some members of the Central Committee bragging that they want certain leadership to just make money! Who forgets the Central Committee of the '80s whose sole goal and focus was to liberate and empower the masses. How can the nobility of the ideas in the "Leadership Code" be so lost on today's Members of that Organ that they are now made to appear utopian? What the party pronounce in terms of ideology seem to be at tangency with what most of the leadership pursue in real life.There is nothing wrong with pursuing prosperity as a leader. But it is incongruous when one leads is a member of the central committee of an organisation like the one this columnist belong to, and that pursuit is to the detriment of mass empowerment which is actually the raison deter of such an organisation. There is something to be said about the disempowering that comes with dolling out consumable perishables to a hungry people year after year. It's the proverbial provision of fish to the needy instead of showing them the  pond and giving them the fishing line.

A party founded and built on grassroots commissariat work as well as mass mobilisation and social movement should never allow itself to be a tool for the elite. A tool for oligarchy to the neglect of those very masses. A revolutionary movement should continue to be based in the civilian population. Not with the civilians as a means to a self-fulfilment agenda of a few. But to the attainment of the total freedom and empowerment of the common person. That is a clean organisation that has cleansed itself without the fatality of self-cleansing. Because empowerment means self-actualisation of the individual person at a mass scale. It is the provision of opportunities to the grassroots, the removal of impediments that detract the individual from attaining that self-actualisation. 


1 comment:

  1. Crude patronage and truly shocking levels of corruption is now so embedded in the DNA of the party structures and leadership - the movement is no longer capable of being saved from itself.