EDITORIAL COMMENT: The power of silence and love

The Chronicle

President Mnangagwa suffered much humiliation at the hands of the G40 cabal, led by former First Lady Grace Mugabe with the tacit endorsement of then President, Mr Robert Mugabe.

Around 10 months leading to November 2017, the Mugabes and their runners, among them Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Patrick Zhuwawo, Mandi Chimene, Sarah Mahoka and Kudzai Chipanga organised rallies to tarnish the image of President Mnangagwa, then Vice-President, so as to create grounds to hound him out of office.

They succeeded on November 6 last year when Mr Mugabe sacked him. They proceeded to hound him out of the country in what they believed was the final step in eliminating President Mnangagwa from the race to succeed Mr Mugabe.

Much earlier, President Mnangagwa’s internal opponents sought to eliminate him physically by putting poison in his Harare office. In total there were six or seven attempts on his life. On August 12, they actually poisoned his person. He fell ill but survived yet again.

Whoever instigated and executed the poisonings is not publicly known. What is known is that Mr Mugabe, as the president then, did not order investigations into any of the attacks. In regard to the August poisoning, Mr Mugabe actually took President Mnangagwa to task for stating that he had been poisoned.

Mr Mugabe resigned in November but apparently nursed a grudge against his former deputy. He continued to plot. On the eve of the July 30 elections, he convened a press conference to declare that he would not vote for President Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF, but for Mr Nelson Chamisa. In addition, he made very uncharitable remarks on President Mnangagwa, his Government and Zanu-PF, remarks calculated to discredit them and sway the vote to Mr Chamisa. Rumours abound that Mr Mugabe gave the opposition leader some tips and resources to run his campaign.

As all these were happening, President Mnangagwa remained largely quiet. Not many of us are so tolerant. Having suffered so much emotional and physical harm, the urge for any other person is to exact revenge when one has the power and chance to, as President Mnangagwa has now. But he doesn’t glory in his authority.

“The strongest response to violence is peace. The strongest response to hate is love,” said the President hours after surviving the June 23 assassination attempt at White City Stadium which, however killed two security aides and injured 47 including Vice-President Kembo Mohadi and Defence and War Veterans Minister, Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri. The bombing was probably planned and executed by G40 remnants.

Instead of ordering a crackdown against his enemies, the President continued to preach peace, love, tolerance and unity.

At long last, Mr and Mrs Mugabe appear to have now grasped the President’s sincerity which he has demonstrated for a long time from Mr Mugabe’s incumbency.

“I felt comforted,” Mrs Mugabe told mourners at her mother’s funeral on Thursday in response to President Mnangagwa’s condolence message and provision of a plane to bring the former first lady home from Singapore last week.

“VaMnangagwa comforted me. If it takes my mother’s death for us to restore our old friendship, then let it be. VaMnangagwa loves us. He knows we love him too. We pray for him because it is God’s will that he is President of the country. We pray that he be given the wisdom to lead the country.”

She was just as effusive in her praises for the President at the burial of her mother at the weekend.

President Mnangagwa has shown all of us that peace, love, humility and silence conquer any adversity. To some, these values look unimportant and inconsequential particularly in political contestations that we generally associate with heartlessness, brute force and deception but they are actually the opposite. They are essential and of great consequence. They are like water as Sun Tzu, the sixth century BC Chinese philosopher and military strategist would say.

“Water is fluid, soft and yielding,” Sun said in one of his ancient writings. “But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”

In our view, the President is not under any pressure to act as cordially as he is doing. He has just won an election and has been inaugurated. His party has two thirds majority in Parliament. Thus he is, at this stage, not desperate for anyone’s vote or endorsement; 2,4 million voters did that on July 30. He doesn’t count Mr Mugabe’s vote among those; Mr Chamisa does.

The reason why he is acting the way he does is that he understands and loves. He is magnanimous in victory. That is the hallmark of leadership upon which great nations are built.