Zim’s sauntering political mediocrity

my turnThe opening of the New Year — and we are just 11 days into it — is often marked by people of all shades and hue pontificating and divining about the moons and year ahead.

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Whereas in the past some credible voices lent weighted pronouncements, nowadays an increasing number of questionable individuals have been making proclamations from hilltops, enthralling the nation and world with predictions that are anything from gold raining from heavens to deaths of big men, the latter with the grave danger of triggering cataclysms.

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Pundits in media and politics also belong to the season.

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It is a season of hope.

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A season of fear.

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When all is said and done, it is a season of madness.

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You only have to look at one piece titled “Zim 2017: Year of the monster” written by one Dinizulu Macaphulana to understand this madness.

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Dinizulu is a writer with such an obscenely fertile imagination that tends to gravitate towards the carnage and Armageddon-type morbidity.

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He is so darkly irresistible.

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I have engaged him over his work and, all things being equal, he shall soon be an academic peer.

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His thesis in the latest piece is that in 2017 Zimbabwe will plunge into a civil war due to the breakdown in the security establishment.

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He writes: “The monster that I refer to here is a security and insecurity organism . . . This monstrosity will eventually lead to the implosion of what has become the state, party and nation . . . The unmaking, unbecoming and decomposition of this monster, from the look of present things, will not be as neat and as stealth as its making that was the work of true evil art. The decomposition of living and working organisms is almost always an ugly and smelly business.”

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The much-anticipated 2018 election in Zimbabwe is too far, he divines.

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“The seemingly peaceful and stoic Zimbabwean population is not in peace, it is only silent, and the riots of late mid-2016 were a proverbial tip of the iceberg,” he claims.

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Now, if you read Dinizulu’s piece — and you do not need to be too careful at it — you quickly realise that some over-dramatised script speaking more to the dark fantasies of a man that yet hold very little in reality.

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But you can imagine Dinizulu watching with lustful pleasure as careless words spew from the computer keyboard.

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The very essence of Dinizulu’s submission — that of a civil war — is way off the mark, as is the premise of the destruction of the security sector edifice.

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And the man is wrong many times.

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If one may recall, in November 2015 he predicted almost the same thing, recreated to the same dramatic effect.

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He said then: “Something must urgently die in Zimbabwe so that another thing might live . . . something bigger than persons; evil and innocent, in the very spirit and political culture of Zimbabwe must urgently die. The political culture and some bad national habits must die so that Zimbabwe can be.

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“Or else someone might have to build a bigger evil . . . and carry out a sustained and systematic physical elimination of these political and economic elites that sustain the present mess, and then grow Zimbabwe afresh from the ashy and bloody ground . . .”

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If a bit of drama is what the writer wants — even if it plays out in a naked, tooth-baring grotesqueness — you have to give it to him for his stridency.

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Yet, he will not get it — at least in 2017.

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Which makes the main point of my submission.

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From where I stand, 2017, for all its billing as a year before elections, will not be dramatic.

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In fact, it promises to be quite mediocre, for reasons that we shall explore.

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The political mediocrity is in fact some kind of hangover from last year where the ruling party, under very little pressure from the waning opposition, felt very secure, even to the point of arrogance.

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Zanu-PF even found out an old niche of fighting against itself — all in the safe knowledge that the external enemy would not regroup and strike.

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Temba Mliswa\n

Temba Mliswa

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That was until that day in Norton when Temba Mliswa delivered a blow, winning the Norton Constituency by-election and jerking the ruling party, witness a crushing by-election in Chimanimani West subsequently.

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That urgency is not exactly present ahead of a similar contest in Bikita West, coming in some days.

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In fact, as the year opens there are strong suggestions that Zanu-PF will be tempted into the mediocrity that could hurt its prospects.

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Already, factional bickering has started, all brewing stormily in a teacup!

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It remains to be seen how the year will pan out.

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Of course, there is a danger for analysts and pundits alike to overplay factionalism in the ruling party, which, from many indications, is just a clash of personalities wrongly elevated to national stock.

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That said, we should not expect much drama or blood-letting, feared by some to even explode into a deadly tribal or secessionist war.

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No, it will not come to that!

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Across the divide, opposition parties will in 2017 continue with their own — and worse — mediocrity as the main opposition led by Morgan Tsvangirai remains stagnant, at best, and in decline at worst.

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More than Zanu-PF, and most ironically, the MDC-T is likely to be affected by succession politics underpinned by the deteriorating health of its president and his diminishing prospects for a party that he has led for the past 18 years.

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Morgan Tsvangirai\n

Morgan Tsvangirai

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Critical questions will be asked of Tsvangirai’s leadership this year not only because of his health.

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If Tsvangirai sees this year through, it means he will be the party’s choice for president in the next elections.

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Not many will agree with that given the fact that Tsvangirai is likely to lose again to Zanu-PF.

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And in the unlikely event that he wins, his poor health will not see him even beyond the first term.

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Hence, Tsvangirai will manifest as a millstone around the neck of his party, one that may need disposing effectively.

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Not only that, Tsvangirai is a present and continuing danger to the prospects of a united opposition which has been billed as the only realistic chance of mounting a serious challenge to Zanu-PF.

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Again, the idea of coalition is often overblown, but the opposition finds itself in a quandary, with the dilemma of having Tsvangirai both as an asset and liability rolled into one!

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From this perspective, there will be endless talks about talks in the opposition camp.

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Critically, Zanu-PF is likely to have a good eye on the 2018 ball by pursuing some critical Government programmes and projects, mainly in housing and a couple of macro projects that will give it a good feeling by end of year.

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The good rains that this season is experiencing could not have come at a better time for any ruling party, staving off grumbling stomachs.

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Demonstrations? The MDC-T has declared this year to be year of “people power” planning a repeat and escalation of anti-Government protests seen last year.

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Unfortunately for the opposition, this well-worn strategy which failed to gain traction for a “revolution”, will not hold again.

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In fact, in July 2017, Zimbabweans will be happier and better off than in the same period last year due to measures such as the introduction of bond notes, increasing economic growth and the rebounding of industry and employment prospects.

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Meanwhile, the ruling Zanu-PF must find and find quickly one big idea that will give it positive momentum going into 2018.

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Until end of last year, it seemed giving land to urban poor was it.

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It doesn’t quite sound so anymore.