ZIMBABWE- Nick Mangwana View from the Diaspora
WHEN someone who himself or herself comes out and issues a personal manifesto, not of an organisation, not of a team, just about themselves as if it’s a pitch for a job, then one should know that they have entered the zone of personality cults. This is when polity becomes an idealised image of a leader and not about the people or even colleagues for that matter. It is about a messianic packaging of someone.
As was the case in the Bible, It was Jesus first, then the 12 would be chosen or unveiled later. It turns all the rest into exiguous minions who are just an appendage to the individual that personifies the project.
The media has also been roped in to help in generating a kind of aura of the “anointed one”. This has largely failed. When Zanu-PF was formed on August 8 1963, it was about the organisation and not about a single individual. It was about the ideals of that organisation and the value system.
It was these that made the party to have a life of its own, even at the time when the bulk of its leadership was either in prison, detention or exile. There was no deification of the individual over the organisation and its ideals. And more importantly, it was about the people. So when one comes out to criticise a system they have helped build, a system and ethos that has made them who they are and a system in which they and their family enjoyed excesses in, they should surely make sure they come up with something beyond reproach.
Sadly the blueprint of the new system does not inspire confidence, for it is a system about an individual. Nothing could happen while she was dithering. Everyone and everything had to wait for her. For without her the new system could not happen. Then after long periods of prevarication, she came out. And it is about her.
Opaque plans, opaque decision making structures; opaque ideals only issued through a Press release that looks like an advertisement reminding one of those good old Roger Boka adverts (apologies to his family though this is not by way of association). No authentification of the blueprint itself. Would we not wake up one day and she says it had nothing to do with her? Zimbabwe can do very well without this idea of personality cults.
This has been seen before. Simba Makoni came out and went to the nation and said, “Vote for me because I am a brand. I am Simba. I will tell you of the name of the organisation later. But for now this is about me the icon”. It did not work. A lot of other names can be added to the mix. Now already people are talking of coalitions between tired organisations and those that do not exist. Gore rino tichaonerera.
We have had it before when after a split, one part of the “amoeba party” (a party that reproduces by splitting itself in a process called binary fission) appended the surname of the owner as a surname of the party. That generated another personality cult which has caused mayhem in the organisation because in those situations there is no collectivity. The individual is the embodiment, the whole being.
While naturally, parties have to be led by very visible leaders, this one that issued the personal manifesto is a cacophony of contradictions.
There is a hint of a reluctant leader. Many have spoken for her. She has hardly spoken except when she said she would never leave Zanu-PF. Is it the reason why she did not issue her two page colourful Press release, which was both a manifesto and policy in the name of any organisation? Then the contradiction is that of a reluctant leader who overstates her personal value to the lives of Zimbabweans.
The party itself (if/when formed) is automatically downgraded to just an instrument of power acquisition endeavour and not a vehicle for mass organisation and fulfilment of national aspirations.
Should a party eventually emerge here, it will struggle to shade off the shadow of its reluctant leader.
It will be the same situation as Simba is Mavambo. Mavambo is Simba. No perpetuity of life beyond the “owner”.
The idolisation of any leader should emerge from their source of authority. In fact in these days of modernity there should be less idolisation of the person but more idolisation of the office which a person seats in. Because it is the office which is a constitutional construct and not the individual who seats in them.
When adoration and devotion start with the individual and ends with the individual, the people should realise they are being walked into a trap. Normally these reluctant leaders do not make themselves. They are made by the individuals that describe them with cringe-worthy superlatives and sycophantic adulations calculated to convince them that they were the best thing since sliced bread so they should lead this or that organisation. The folly of it all is seen when they start believing that hype.
And leaders do always fall for it. Soon they issue personal manifestos, and to sound macho even sign in their nom-de guerre 35 years after independence. For God’s sake whose blood do you want to spill?
So a potential individual leader issues a manifesto and a so-called blueprint, what is the Congress going to do? Maybe there would not be a congress. After all there is not even a draft constitution. There is just a blue print cum manifesto which is also not a draft, it is projected as a final document.
If a different leader is elected do they issue a different one? Or if the people choose a different pathway at that congress what happens?
Suppose they do not want everyone “ who calls Zimbabwe their home” to have access to the land in Zimbabwe what do you do?
On the September 5 the American Ambassador Bruce Wharton issued a Facebook posting on his wall saying, “Heading home to Zimbabwe after three weeks in the US. . .” Well, he just called Zimbabwe “home” and in accordance with BUILD is entitled to land in Zimbabwe! If or when the congress happens and the people disagree with that notion what do you do? You become a dictator?
This is most likely the situation, as from the get go, you have made yourself the fountain head of a yet to exist organisation. There is an implied declaration through the Manifesto/Blueprint that your leadership of the party is a fait accompli; organisations that have good governance structures . Was that the case that would go a long way to make sense?
So the supporters and prospective members are already deemed irrelevant. The leader knows what is good for everyone?
Well, The direction of parties like Zanu-PF is determined at Congress. This is because the people are the party. Authority should come from an institutionally defined position. One’s power should derive from somewhere. Where does this one’s derive from? Is it from the former office? Because the glaring contradiction of saying People First, and the first thing your project as a personality cult is already smirking of disingenuous inconsistency.
Max Weber gave three types of legitimate authority. These are; the Traditional Authority, which rests on “an established belief in the sanctity of immemorial traditions and the legitimacy of those exercising authority under them”.
He gave the second as Legal Authority and says this is “a rule by virtue of ‘legality’, by virtue of belief in the validity of legal statute and the appropriate juridical ‘competence’ founded on rationally devised rules”.
Finally, he gives the third as Charismatic Authority and defines it as, “The entirely personal devotion to, and personal trust in, revelations, heroism, or other qualities of leadership in an individual”. Should one agree with this theory, then one is led to ask where this lady derived her authority to issue that two page document on behalf of the “People of Zimbabwe”?
A Party shouldn’t be about the leader. It should be about the people and their aspirations as expressed by them. Everyone out there can be a rebel leader. Not every rebel is a statesman. And everyone with an unbridled ambition can lead a rebellion.
It is carrying the people with you that is a different proposition. Ask Mr Biti who seems to be having a hard lesson on this. Zanu-PF has had its share of rebels without cause, but acquisition of power. Their endeavours came to naught. Nobody should be bigger than their organisation. Unless that organisation is the personification of their ego.
The people of Zimbabwe have no role in massaging arrogantly inflated egos. And the people of Zimbabwe are not looking for a messiah too so those with highly chequered history of corrupt activities should remove their fake cherub wings and their made up halos.
History has already shown us what they can and cannot do.