Political drama and intrigue scale new heights in Zimbabwe

Politicians and politics contain all the requisite elements of great drama (including comedy and tragedy). They can be entertaining and disappointing at the same time.

They can be agents of progress or destruction. All this makes them strange, yet fascinating in a way.

Politics provides good ingredients for films. It is a high stakes game and thus provides cutthroat competition, always has back room dealings, back-stabbing and intrigue, idealism clashing with reality, for instance principles of accountability and transparency versus voracity and corruption, it’s driven by big dreams, ambition, greed, power. well you get it!

The point is politics is dramatic by definition. So it is no wonder that politics provides good raw material for movies. Some top US political films include The Candidate, Dr Strangelove: How I Stopped Worryingand Learned to Love the Bomb, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, The Last Hurrah, The Best Man, All the King (President)’s Men, Advise and Consent, The Man and The Contender.

If there were political film-makers in Zimbabwe they would really have a field day. Every day in this country there is political drama of some sort. It was not any different this week. This week there was a lot of political drama in town fitting the billing of a tragicomedy.

A senior MDC-T minister Elton Mangoma was arrested for allegedly flouting tender procedures in connection with a $6-million fuel deal with two SA companies, NOOA and Mohwelere. The irony is that he was arrested by President Robert Mugabe and his cronies – people who for more than 30 years have run a corrupt and incompetent regime which destroyed the economy and impoverished the nation.

Mugabe’s previous regime was synonymous with corruption and ineptitude. So many ministers and officials were involved in corrupt activities but were not arrested, save for a few who were sacrificed during the Willowgate scandal in 1988 and later people like former finance minister Chris Kuruneri, who was jailed in 2004 for building a mansion in Cape Town.

Mugabe’s regime has always been unwilling or unable to deal with corruption. Right now there are calls for Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo to be investigated to account for his wealth, which involves residential properties and stands in almost every town.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has approached Mugabe about this but nothing has been done.

Tsvangirai put it this way: "Zanu-PF corruption infests and infects every aspect of our economy and government. To take one example amongst hundreds, in the past year, more than three official complaints of corruption have been made to the police against Chombo and yet the police have refused to investigate these allegations. The arrest of Mangoma is an attempt to cloud and obscure the massive corruption in Zimbabwe."

Indeed, there are many other Zanu-PF officials accused of corruption, but Mugabe has done jack about it. Call it hypocrisy, double standards or whatever; it’s all part of politics!

Also this week, the Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo was deposed by the Supreme Court for allegedly being improperly elected. These are the same courts which have failed to rule on time on fairly numerous petitions brought before them. Mugabe has been challenged in the courts for stealing elections, but the courts have done zilch to stop him from perpetuating his failed rule through that enterprise.

These contradictions and aberrations are to be found in politics. This does not make it right, but that’s the way it is.

Tsvangirai’s reaction to the arrest of his minister and dethroning of the speaker was dramatic. He threatened to walk out of the inclusive government.

However, the most dramatic action from him was the unprecedented attack on judges.

"This decision is a clear reflection of the state of affairs on the Bench. A judiciary which in the post-Dumbutshena and post-Gubbay era has largely discredited itself by becoming a willing appendage of Zanu-PF. Dubious and pro-executive decisions have been made in this era," he fumed. "We will not accept the decisions of some Zanu-PF politicians masquerading as judges. Zanu-PF is trying to use the courts to subvert and regain what it lost in an election."

It was below the belt indeed. But I’m informed by credible sources in Zanu-PF that there are moves to charge Tsvangirai with criminal contempt of court for the remarks.

The mudslinging this week scaled new heights. Zanu-PF and MDC-T politicians also publicly accused each other of "sexual indiscretions" and of being "political harlots". It was all very theatrical and dirty!