Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF abuses history

No one denies the importance of history to any society. But history can be both a distractive and destructive weapon.\r\n\r\nBy Conrad NyamutatazanuA clear example of the destructive use of history is that of the Israelis. Because of the despicable events of the Holocaust, Israelis have capitalised on the sympathies on this dreadful event to virtually imprison the Palestinians in their homeland.\r\n\r\nZanu PF has also employed history in a distractive and destructive fashion. But what makes the abuse of our own history more egregious is that it is meted out against our own people and the whole well-being of the country.\r\n\r\nLast week, Zanu PF commemorated Heroes Day, which, ordinarily, should be a truly all-encompassing occasion to pay homage to the heroic men and women who fought for our country.\r\n\r\nPut the exclusive selection of the heroes aside, these occasions have become part of a calculated deluge of suffocating iconography and vocabulary designed to tie us to the past.\r\n\r\nBeyond such occasion, the daily discourse is littered with references to this celebrated past. The objective is also to distract us from the present.\r\n\r\nIt was at the Heroes Acre that President Robert Mugabe demanded the return of our dead heroes’ bones held at British institutions. An understandable request you would think: there’s no reason the British should be custodians of these remains.\r\n\r\nHowever, politically insecure and keen to please his master, Jonathan Moyo, the minister of higher education, fashioned out some bizarre correlation.\r\n\r\n“How can we focus on the economy when the skulls of Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi are displayed in a British Museum?” Moyo asked.\r\n\r\nSkulls held in some British libraries holding up economic development? Claims do not come any bonier.\r\n\r\n“When the future collapses,” said John Torpey, “the past rushes in.”\r\nZanu PF discourse shows a party that is obsessed with and abuses the past. The past has to conveniently rush in because, under its rule, the future has indeed collapsed.\r\n

\r\nMoyo’s skeletal claims hold no flesh of truth and can only be a macabre attempt to distract us from the failures of a regime whose drivers have crashed the country because of their “rear-view mirror” politics.\r\n\r\nVice President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently said Zimbabwe was about 20 years behind other African states.\r\n\r\nMentality-wise, Zanu PF is in fact more than 35 years behind. It is still engaged in some “war” with both internal and external enemies.\r\n\r\nThe rear-view politics has spawned destructive radical nationalist redistributive policies that have sent the nation crashing into an abyss of economic disaster and isolation.\r\n\r\nThis past-present continuum is the more plausible correlation, not Moyo’s.\r\n\r\nIn daily political discourse, the narratives seek to incarcerate our minds in the past.\r\n\r\nThrough the Zanu PF-controlled information system, we are a nation that is constantly prevented from thinking beyond the liberation epoch.\r\n\r\nState media are fraught with preponderant references to the past. Apart from the substantive texts, the frequent use of the wartime title “Cde” is a sufficient lexical reminder to prevent our mental departure from the past.\r\n\r\nLike the Israelis, Zanu PF’s abuse of history is expedient.\r\n\r\nGrace Mugabe misused this history when she attacked the Batonga people for their voting choices, saying they don’t appreciate the liberation war history. To her, people must, for that history, not exercise free political choice.\r\n\r\nIn the minds of Zanu PF people, that history allocated them permanent legitimacy that has evidently reduced elections to episodic pretences.\r\n\r\nIt is the “rushing in” of that same history that has led to violence because the perpetrators see themselves as “owners” of the country, and those who oppose Zanu PF, as proxies of a past enemy manifesting in the present.\r\n\r\nParticipation in a war, or associating with those who did, is the ticket for corruption and patronage. All this illustrates the gratuitous abuse of history.\r\n\r\nHistory is important, we cannot ignore our own. But Zanu PF must not abuse it and attempt to imprison us in the past. We need to pursue the future. Daily News