Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Corruption: A Stitch in Time Saves Nine
Most of the people that follow sport know the one simple truth; the same crowd that cheers you, is the same crowd that would boo you. This is how fickle the temperament of the people is like. Talking of sport reminds me that football is almost like a religion. You cannot support Arsenal today and Manchester United tomorrow. No matter how bad your Arsenal plays, you will boo them, drink your sorrows and wake up tomorrow supporting them. It is matter of the heart, an emotional attachment. Not an intellectual affinity.
But the fickleness of politics is a bit different. This is one area where an individual can disavow of their team or even tactically vote for a rival team to make a point. Whilst I believe this to be true I contend there are exceptions to this rule. I don’t think a genuine member of Zanu PF can ever vote for Morgan Tsvangirayi. That is just unreal. So please hold on to that thought as embark on some Frank Talk.
As is my custom I came to Zimbabwe for the Independence Celebrations in April. The event was breath taking. Everything was on point. The entertainment, the choreography and dramatisation of the Liberation Struggle and the nations’ history were just exquisite. But the highlight for me was the sheer number of people that came to attend the celebrations. It was clear that Harare had come out. There stadium was bursting but yet there more outside than those inside. As if to prove a point the moment the celebrations finished hordes of people left, proving that they had not come for football but for the momentous day. What was also clear was that the people that came out were more aligned to Zanu PF than to the opposition parties. This is not to say that the Independence Celebrations are a zanu PF event. That would be wrong. This is just to say since the opposition leadership did not come to the celebrations, their supporters followed their lead. Imagine some Zanu PF comrades came all the way from London. And yet the counter-revolutionaries did not bother even though they were in Harare. Hold on to that thought again. One day we shall revisit.
About a month pulling these massive numbers, Zanu PF showed again its mobilisation capacity when a huge assemblage converged in Harare for what was dubbed the Million Man March. Another show of pulling power of the Ruling party among the poor. A mobilisation tour de force.
But on the 6th of July Zimbabwe’s towns were brought to a standstill by what primarily are cyber activists. There is one thing that has to be clear here. It will be perceived as the height of arrogance to dismiss this as the work of malcontents and mischief makers. A lot of people who participated in the stay away were Zanu PF members. Why?
Well, it is the same people that attended the Independence Celebrations (our people) that today stayed away from their usual day to day actives. The very same ones who filled buses coming from province afar to show solidarity with their President who on the 6th heeded the call of faceless activists. For if they had chosen to ignore that Harare and all other urban centres would have steamed up with people at works. It would be unmitigated immodesty to claim that since we don’t win a lot in urban areas these were not our people anyway. No mashefu, these were our people. This is why when these calls for boycotts or stay always are called by the opposition parties they are not anywhere near this successful. Our Zanu PF members and supporters cannot play for a Team Tsvangirayi. Never. They would rather kick it into the long grass than score for that man. This is because our people cannot stomach being part to a Tsvangirayi or more recently Mujuru agenda. They have no problem with a citizen agenda. Let us stop and listen to what they are saying. There is a subtext beyond what was declared. They are saying they love Zanu PF but Zanu PF has to love them back by taking their voice seriously. At the top of what’s aggrieving the rank and file is our tolerance of naked corruption in our midst. Our people have spoken, we should listen.
This group calling itself “Tajamuka” or whatever ridiculous name is not making any demands which are very different from those presented by Cde Chipanga on the 25th of May 2016. The only difference is the talk of the self-serving Import licenses. But the exasperation expressed by Cde Chipanga over corrupt top officials is the same. The point I am making is that there has been little action after Cde Chipanga’s speech and therefore that message has been hijacked and repackaged and relabelled from Zanu PF Youth League to Tajamuka. This has to be taken seriously. Let us act on corruption.
Our leadership should not show an arrogance of power by ignoring this. It is a sign of destructive self-righteousness to be contemptuous of the people that vote us into power. Vendors or touts do not all belong to the opposition. A lot belong to us. In any case it doesn’t really matter because the whole point is that these people are Zimbabweans whose voice should be heeded. It is repulsive to abuse our young people by using them as cannon fodder during sundry campaigns and ignore them, only to recycle them again after.
We cannot afford to miss the mood of the people, comrades. Truth be told, they are not happy. I am not asking the leadership to heed populist demands like repealing SI 64/ 2016. That is a very sensible piece of law. I am not asking the leadership to bin the idea of bond notes. Bond notes are a brilliant idea, whatever people’s institutional memory tells them. I am asking for corrupt people to be dealt with. Only then when the government cannot afford to pay wages, will the people empathise because they won’t point to a glaring misuse of the money as well as the pilferage though the tender system.
The idea of dismissing urban dwellers as opposition supporters and rural folks as our own supporters (true as it might be) might be interpreted by our own supporters as hubris. We cannot afford as a party to have the populace lose faith in us. When they express disillusionment let us acknowledge it. If we did in, we dig in but we take corrective action. Comrades, we have to acknowledge when it us and not others who have a problem. The externalisation of problems is for the consumption of others. We have to be honest with ourselves and carry the people with us. We banish the people, the people will banish us.
Haile Selasie one of the founding fathers of Pan- Africanism said, “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” I have chosen to speak frankly. May my party choose to act boldly on corruption.
First Published in the People's Voice 8-14 November 2016