ZIMBABWE – I rarely am ever persuaded to write this column in the first person, or to engage readers of this column about the person of the writer, who happens to be myself, the unassuming son of Bikita peasant villagers — born just under five decades ago, on the 130th day of the year 1967. Village legend has it that after I was born in that thatched hut in Panganai Village on that fateful Wednesday, the 10th of May, it took up until the Friday for me to yell out the first baby cry — time by which many villagers had already ruled me out as a prospective human being. But God had other ideas.
I grew up between this remote village and the village compounds of Tongaat’s sugarcane Triangle in the Lowveld, and it was in this village that I witnessed and participated in the war of liberation in my small little way between 1974 and 1979 — a narration I will leave for another day, lest I get caught up in this vainglorious crusade of glory seekers who conveniently revise history so they can iconise their sorry selves.
It was in this village that my umbilical cord with Zanu-PF is rooted, in this village that my inseparable attachment to war veterans is rooted. I sat, ate, listened, and fought alongside these heroic big brothers of mine as a toddler and early teen.
It is this village, and the telling wartime experiences of ferociously deadly battles like Kamungoma and Zvimbijana, that defines my political character today, my ideology, my orientation, my perception, my principles, my love for the country, my patriotism, and my dedication to the cause of this motherland.
While two of my sisters escaped and survived the deadly bombings at Kamungoma in nearby Gutu, I personally survived the Zvimbijana battlefield — a campaign of terror bombings carried out by numerous of Ian Smith’s air fighters, against a squadron of only 12 freedom fighters.
The battle culminated in six dead comrades and the capturing of Cde Mupetabere and war collaborator Potipher Gomo, who was later to become my brother-in-law — well after the gruelling war. Hopefully Cde Mupetabere is still with us. May Gomo’s soul rest in eternal peace.
I borrow my topic for this week from Cde Agrippah Mutambara, whom I prefer to call Dragon, his wartime nom de guerre. He has got an intriguing book by that title, and I will borrow a few lines from the early pages of that incisive piece of work. I happen to share the National Youth Service history with this respected war veteran, and I am proud of that.
There are those in Zanu-PF today who have hailed me as a comrade and cadre of the party for my resolve against imperialism and its offshoots within our country, particularly as expressed through puppet politicians and client NGOs. From these I have been saluted since August 2006, the month this column came into existence, albeit not exactly on Thursdays at the time.
Then there are those who have treated this column and its writer as part of a hated tyranny, those who have sought to bring suffering on the person of the writer, those who have viewed this column as a political tool in defence of a system they want totally destroyed.
The fact that this column has been running from the heartland of imperialism has meant that the author has had to fight right from the belly of the beast — a tormenting and thankless venture that only an entrenched ideology can sustain. Go back home is the cry of the unamused host, and come and write from here is the cry of the displeased reader back home.
Most of the detractors have naturally been opposition activists, most of whom angered by this column’s attack on the illegally imposed economic sanctions on Zimbabwe by the EU, the United States, Australia, and other Western outposts — sanctions our opposition parties have largely chosen to view as mere punishment targeted at a warranted enemy.
This column has resolutely defended the land reform programme, has defended the Zimbabwe liberation legacy, and has defended every aspect of the revolution with uncompromising fury and determination.
This column has attracted admirers in equal measure to detractors, and any political writer worthy the name will understand the matrix.
What is not understandable is that a man regarded as one of Zanu-PF’s chief propagandists and strategists has always found this column distasteful, and has always considered the writer behind the column “a fraud”, according to one of his recent tweets. The man confesses that he tried and failed to use his influence as Information Minister to have this column “dropped.”
The only understandable part of this seemingly ironic scenario is that the man in question has a declared intention to bring to ruin the revolution for which Zanu-PF stands: right from within its own foundations.
I write as a rebel. Rebellion is natural, and as Dragon asserts in his book, “all human beings and all living creatures are rebels.”
Brigadier Mutambara defines rebellion in his book as “an act of defiance against, or in resistance to, authority or order.”
Our first natural act of rebellion is the baby cry that took me three days to bring out. When a baby is unceremoniously ejected from the warmth and security of the mother’s womb and thrust into the harsh and uncertain outside environment, the baby will register its first act of rebellion and defiance by kicking, yelling and the throwing of limbs into the air.
Anyone targeted by the defiance of rebellion will usually view the rebelling person in negative light. But it is not gospel truth that every rebel is driven by evil intention.
The rebel in me stands against unjust persecution, against racial supremacy in global affairs, against exploitation and thievery, against corruption, against patronage in our politics, against the fangs of imperial domination, and against every form of injustice.
This column does not only defend the revolution behind the existence of Zanu-PF. It also defends the well-being and integrity of that revolution.
There is authority and protocol in Zanu-PF, and there has always been. Ideally the party must always be a people driven movement, whose authority and orders must always be legal, lawful and justified.
The rebel in me sees numerous cases where none of these criteria have been met of late.
I worked peripherally with Moven Mahachi, closely with Border Gezi, and even closer with Eliot Manyika; when these comrades were in charge of Zanu-PF’s Commissariat Department. I know fairly well how this most strategic department works. It is the heartbeat of the party.
I briefly discussed with Webster Shamu this Department in 2012. I did not understand, or appreciate what the comrade was doing at the time, and I have in the past written publicly about this.
I have great respect for my friend and comrade Saviour Kasukuwere, or SK, as I call him. We have discussed a number of issues before and after he was appointed the current Commissar.
The rebel in me is aroused when I realise that my own friend is presiding over what easily ranks as the worst divisions and disunity ever to afflict the party in post independent Zimbabwe.
Factions are not new in Zanu-PF, as President Mugabe pointed out a few days ago. But they need to be managed, and the mechanisms to manage them are there in the party — top of which being the need for a nationally minded character in the office of the national commissar.
The rebel in me tells me that when the authority vested in the party’s commissariat passes orders that are not legal, lawful and justified, then any rebellion against such orders acquires the de facto stamp of legality, lawfulness, and justice.
I sincerely believe that the triumvirate role of the Commissariat is to mobilise, unite, and structure the party. What we see now is a Commissariat Department that arbitrarily purges membership, that has divided the youth from the elders of the revolution, and that has been structuring the party in the interest of factional activists.
The rebel in me is confrontational to the idea of G40 as a faction backed by the machinery of the commissariat. If G40 is a grouping fostering the ambition of aspiring young people in Zimbabwe, I have no qualms with that objective.
The rebel in me as opposed to the idea of Lacoste, as a faction in what should be a united Zanu-PF with one centre of power.
But the rebel in me stands against youthful ambition that derides the wisdom of elderly leadership, youthful aspiration that frowns upon the founding fathers of our very existence as an independent nation, youthful aspiration that entertains confrontation with people who laid their lives on the bloc in order for us to attain our independence.
The rebel in me stands on the moral side of the political equation, and is opposed to the expediency side.
The rebel in me expresses itself through this column, but I am not the only rebel within Zanu-PF today. Rebellion within Zanu-PF is taking place variously, including passive resistance, helpless submission, open but peaceful defiance, and if things are not checked in time, the rebellion might soon manifest itself through violent resistance.
Zanu-PF can ill-afford to be squabbling at the moment. Hunger, unemployment, poverty, a shrinking industrial base, and dilapidation of infrastructure define the state of the nation today, and yet some in the party leadership are busy flexing muscle.
The rebel in me trembles with indignation in light of this kind of heartlessness, and that is why I call upon every wing of the party to remember first and foremost the mandate given to the party by the people of Zimbabwe in 2013.
The voter’s inalienable right is the right to be governed well.
When I wrote a piece titled “Revolution Betrayed” on December 27 2013, my friend Saviour Kasukuwere was the first one to let me know how the piece had “shaken the country.”
Then my friend was not the Commissar, and the rebel in me was after people like Happison Muchechetere, Cuthbert Dube, and other characters who had been caught up in a media exposure of egregious corruption.
The rebel in me notes the “shut up” declaration from the Head of State, as directed at factionalists within the ruling party.
Hopefully the protagonists will not only take heed to the instruction, but will also take the silence time to reflect on the future of the party, and more importantly to reflect on the needs of the masses of Zimbabwe.
Zanu-PF has to endear the voter to its cause, and the time to do so is now.
Zim-Asset was an election winning policy as announced in 2013, but it can easily be an election losing policy in 2018, if the way the policy is being implemented does not drastically change.
Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!