ZIMBABWE – THIS week I feel convicted to write an open letter to Deputy Prime Minister, Arthur Mutam-bara, and give my brother some advice based on my observation of his embryonic but eventful political career.
My brother, there are some grand lessons that you should learn in the world of politics and I hope these will enable you to re-launch your career given the downturn of events in the last couple of weeks.
It is inevitable that you will have to get some time for introspection and considerations.
The first lesson is that politics is a journey rather than an instant arrival. When I look through the profiles of those that you want to sit with in the Government of National Unity (GNU) principals’ meetings; they have long-drawn history in the political expedition.
I can’t lecture you on President Robert Mugabe’s trials and tribulations during the liberation struggles and his eventual ascendancy into political leadership.
You will also be old enough to trace Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s days in the labour movement and the toiling that has brought him to where he is today.
Your political credence will not be shaped through a “fairy tale” or meteoritic emergence — at least not all the time. There must be a history which should justify your eventual leadership role. I know you may quote back to me your days as a student leader and how you so fervently challenged the political establishment then.
However, between that and the position of national leadership there must be years of grooming and preparation — a stage which you seem to have unfortunately missed.
The second lesson is that you must be aware that in politics there are many who will benefit from the convenience of tolerating an imposter. I don’t outrightly mean you are or were an imposter; but the reality is that there are so many that you work with and some that you have worked with who treat and consider you as if you are.
From the moment Welshman Ncube and company invited you to lead the MDC party in the mid 2000s, I am sure they had you as a political “place holder” in mind. At the most convenient time; after you had served the very purpose for which you were meant; the party’s congress conveniently ejected you. Then came those that defected from Ncube’s party and propped you up as their leader.
They pushed you all the way to the courts to challenge for the leadership of the MDC. I am sure it was not just for the love of you or the charisma of your leadership; it was for their own political ambitions and political relevance. They saw you and your situation as a convenient platform upon which they could ride upon and attempt to drive for self-benefit.
Then there was a time when President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai seemed to protect you against Ncube. All they wanted was the convenience of having you as a member of the GNU principals meetings and avoid the inconvenience of the more demanding and prowling Ncube.
My brother you must have thought that President Mu-gabe and Prime Minister Tsva-ngirai’s protective gestures were out of the deep setting love they have for you; yet it may only have been for the convenient sprucing of their political interests. So while everyone treated you like an imposter playing a part in the drama they authored; the crowd in the theatre sensed the performance and you may have been the only one who assumed realism.
Thirdly, you must rea-lise that political platforms are meant to be used to bu-ild, stren-gthen and consolidate one’s political durability. I watched you on so many occasions when you used political platforms to glare at the luxury of being carried away rather than carrying pertinence and relevance. You got so carried away at times that the notion of “from-the-street-to-the-palace” played out so well in your life.
The years of political grooming that you skipped showed when you started bellowing out “student politics” rhetoric; meant to achieve nothing more than “crowd swaying” antics. At times the political substance was missing in your speeches and addresses.
Remember your speech in Uganda when you unwittingly began to criticise African leaders and you said “no African leader has a brand worth selling”? Yes, probably a true statement but timing and opportunity-mapping are critical attributes in terms of knowing when to say what and where to say it.
Remember you also irked your fellow Cabinet members at meetings held in Victorial Falls and Nyanga in 2009 where you had all gathered to try and find a chord of understanding to work together in the coalition government. You took everyone aback by beginning to unravel issues that were not part of the agenda; again timing and strategy are of essence my brother.
In the last two weeks we also watched you ranting at the Rainbow Towers hotel when President Jacob Zuma decided to meet Ncube rather than yourself. You made a scene very uncharacteristic of a national leader. The hotel staff was left without hope for national recovery if the kind of leadership you displayed was the sum total of what we get at your level of national responsibilities. As if that was not enough, you also attempted to “gate-crash” the Maputo Southern African Development Community summit.
I could go on and on but my brother you must understand we have all the love for you. I am convinced that though you still need time to mature into a political leader of national stature – hope is not lost. Your levels of intelligence and commitment to nation-building cannot be unnoticed. Your youthful zeal could also be channelled to the appropriate levels in order to ensure we maximise you as a God-given blessing to the nation.
For the meantime, I feel party politics is not really your game. I feel being deputy Prime Minister is a pedestal that you got too early. Maybe for now, we need to find you a role in a purely technical capacity to engineer our national turn-around strategy.
We need to allow you the space to be the champion of linking industry, education, government and other sectors into a unified hub that begins to develop strategic plans for Zimbabwe’s turnaround.
We need to let you climb down from the political platform and allow you the grace to find a footing where you best fit — developmental issues.
I also want to implore the political parties in Zimbabwe; whichever one wins the next election, please don’t forget to give my brother Mutambara a technical role; away from political speeches but in a specialised laboratory where he can incubate the industrialisation of our country.
God bless you my brother and my prayers go with you.