Scorpion in My Shoe

Rejoice Ngwenya, Harare, Zimbabwe

Wednesday, March 09, 2010

Well governed democracies do not lack internal critics. It only means people expect things to be much better. It seems asking for a modicum of good life in certain pariah states is a waste of time until drastic change occurs. Many wish things could be relatively better in Zimbabwe, at least when compared with the rest of Africa.
Rejoice Ngwenya, relates a personal story of daily struggle in Mugabe’s den. Publishing this article is a contributory reminder to those who love Zimbabwe to steer clear of Mugabe’s veiled patriotic songs.

Thanks to Robert Mugabe’s reign of record-breaking incremental destruction, my country is struggling to redeem itself from the abyss of infrastructure collapse, so much that even hardcore urbanites like me have to make do with irritating wood smoke just to have a warm plate of sadza [Zimbabwe’s staple maize meal paste]. And that was without additional injury to the back breaking exercise. A week ago, I was stung by a small black scorpion on my big toe as I chopped firewood to beat Zimbabwe’s notorious power outages.

The sting, while irritating, passed off just like any other experience of living in modern-day Zimbabwe under the Jurassic governance of the primeval ZANU-PF. Thinking back, I imagined that Morgan Tsvangirayi was persuaded to take Robert Mugabe into his political boot, wherefore the old trickster settled at some dark corner until MDC fell into a stupor of artificial comfort. But now, Tsvangirayi has been inevitably stung while he least expected.

Instead of focusing on the business of building high yielding relations, Mugabe continues to conspire evil against our nation hiding behind questionable legalism. According to a recent Zimbabwe Situation news online report, “…. Mugabe is entitled under the law to assign functions to ministers, [but] he still has to consult his partners in government on the allocation of the ministries, according to the GPA”. In complete defiance of this noble proposition, Mugabe unilaterally takes it upon himself to strip MDC-held ministries of essential powers.

Apparently, the biggest challenge confronting Tsvangirayi is not the quality of Zimbabwe’s coalition government, given that most such arrangements are products of large-scale compromise. Agreements are made on the basis of partner credibility, honesty, consistency and transparency – traits which ZANU-PF is not exactly endowed with. Most progressive analysts will agree that Tsvangirayi knew exactly the nature of the partner he was committing himself to, that is why he needed to have a comfortable stock of antidotes to deal with Mugabe’s chicanery. More importantly, ZANU-PF is a completely discredited partner, headed by one Robert Mugabe who comprehensively lost the March 2008 Parliamentary Election, only to be ‘salvaged’ by an equally discredited one-man masquerade in June of the same year.

According to Professor Arthur Mutambara, the Global Political Agreement [GPA] is the only source of Mugabe’s ‘presidential legitimacy’. In fact he would have proceeded to add that had SADC taken the right decision to call for a more organised, African Unity-supervised presidential re-run, Mugabe would now be confined to overdue retirement at his Zvimba rural home. It therefore is astonishing by what authority Mugabe cherry-picks ministerial responsibility, if it were not that he is of a tyrannical genre obsessed with power. I have argued time and again that our Zimbabwe government is too big and expensive, hence the shifting of ministerial powers would, on any other day, have little impact on service delivery. And yet if you really put Mugabe’s juggling under the spotlight, he is only interested in ministerial adjustments that entrench his hegemonic hold on political power.

What is left now is for both Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirayi and his deputy, Arthur Mutambara to place an inexpensive political device that should shatter once and for all, Mugabe’s life-presidency ambitions. Both MDC cadres must come out of their friendly accommodative shells and tell Mugabe to fulfill all the provisions of the GPA. This is the opportune time for both men to stop making excuses for the aging dictator and embark on three-dimensional activism. The more sensible side of government – MDC – must promulgate statutory instruments to licence all applicants for radio stations and newspapers. The democratic parties must dispatch all ambassadors, governors and appoint deputy minister for agriculture Roy Bennet. Morgan Tsvangirayi and Arthur Mutambara must repeal all anti-democratic laws while all pubic appointments not sanctioned by the GPA must be nullified, including that of attorney general Johannes Tomana and central bank governor Gideon Gono.

The gist of my argument is that Robert Mugabe lost the election, thus has no moral high ground to play god. Five million Zimbabweans have given both MDCs the mandate to govern, so the one-man political dance of the discredited Robert Mugabe has no authority or legitimacy to give five million voters a single sleepless night. If both Tsvangirayi and Mutambara are weak, they should immediately hand over their power – Nigeria style – to more capable members of their parties. This weakling image of subservience they are portraying does not augur well with our expectations. It could also endanger their 2012 electoral standing in their constituencies. Mugabe’s unpopular mandate expired in 2000, so any compromise on the part of Tsvangirayi and Mutambara is blight on the noble fight against ZANU-PF fascist dictatorship. Luckily, we now know there is a scorpion in our boot.

Rejoice Ngwenya is President of COMALISO, a think tank in Zimbabwe and an affiliate of