WAS it Phelekezela Mphoko’s reputation as a political attack dog — one noted for harsh, personal and usually public attacks against others — that earned him the Vice-Presidential post?
Source: Mphoko good for comedy, dangerous for Zimbabwe – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 10, 2017
echoes: CONWAY TUTANI
Well, if it’s that, he is really making the most of his good fortune — like when someone takes fullest advantage of something because it may not last long.
Mphoko knows, in his heart of hearts, that, all things being equal, he would not be Vice-President, never ever.
He could be that person that nature — or nurture — has taught how to make the most of everything.
Most of us have had the misfortune — mostly unavoidable, it must be said, because we cannot live on our own — in our personal and professional interactions of being thrown together with such characters.
These characters make all the right noises at Zanu PF gatherings about undying loyalty to the First Family, about the creation of 2,2 million jobs through some creature called ZimAsset and so on and so forth, but the insincerity and emptiness of it all is palpable. Who hasn’t had his own Mphoko or two for good measure?
It’s not far-fetched to posit that because President Robert Mugabe deliberately plucked Mphoko out of political no-man’s land to appoint him Vice-President over and above his former PF-Zapu seniors, whom he had deserted at the height of the war of liberation when they needed him most.
Mphoko’s elevation was contemptuously against the spirit of the 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu PF and PF-Zapu because it was for PF-Zapu to second its own choice and, worse, Mphoko was no longer a functional or active member of PF-Zapu.
But Mugabe, that past master of divide and rule, went ahead to appoint him anyway, getting the best of both worlds by having an individual beholden to him and him alone, while paying lip service to the Unity Accord he signed with the late former Vice-President Joshua Nkomo. Mphoko cannot — and will not — fill his predecessors Joshua Nkomo, Joseph Msika and John Nkomo’s shoes. He lacks that legitimacy.
In such scenarios, the appointed is uniquely and utterly beholden to the appointer.
This is what happens when a person is highly compromised. It’s not being preachy, but Mphoko might as well have struck a Faustian bargain with the regime, an agreement in which a person abandons his or her moral principles in order to obtain wealth and other benefits.
People have not only been made to lie, but also kill for more than generous rewards like houses, vehicles, farms and companies.
In Mphoko’s specific case, he lived in the presidential suite of a top hotel for more than a year. So, there arose a quid pro quo, this for that, something for something.
Like: “I want something, you want something. You give me what I want, I will give you what you want.”
Ever since, Mphoko has been quite slowly, but surely, enhancing his reputation — or notoriety? — as a proper and utter political attack dog, his latest dishing-out being as follows: “Let us not forget that when Cde (Joshua) Nkomo’s car was shot, he (main opposition MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai) was at the forefront; when an officer-in-charge was killed in Tsholotsho, he was there too. The same person wants to address the Gukurahundi issue now.”
This is taking blatant and dangerous lies to a new, if not record, level, the very zenith of lying.
Mphoko needs to be reminded here and now that politicking about Gukurahundi is most insulting and unconscionable to the thousands of victims of those massacres of the 1980s because Gukurahundi was real — and not a mere “ moment of madness”, as Mugabe said with shocking levity — making Gukurahundi unfinished business and, as a corollary, necessitating the revisiting of the Unity Accord itself to give it real meaning by closing loopholes that allow the co-option of party renegades like Mphoko.
No one is saying Mphoko should sound brainy, which he is obviously not, as he has failed time and again to punch above his intellectual weight.
Or for over-elaboration to be taken to the ridiculous extent of channelling clear and straightforward issues in a pompously academic, but misleading, narrative — as in the manner of Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri blaming poor parenting for corruption in the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), saying they only have six months to mould a police recruit into being an honest, reliable and moral officer.
But we all know that the corruption is due to the impunity and immunity that is now part of the organisational culture in the ZRP, not bad upbringing by parents. The causal link is far-fetched.
Would-be recruits reportedly bribe their way into the ZRP to the tune of $500 dispensing with thorough vetting or are referred directly by that ubiquitous party, Zanu PF, whether qualified or not.
Likewise, it’s the Zanu PF political culture of impunity and immunity to blame for Gukurahundi despite Mphoko trying to transfer blame for the massacres to Tsvangirai from the real, blood-soaked culprits.
This shifty, deceitful, mendacious behaviour is no different from that of United States President Donald Trump’s close aide, Kellyanne Conway (no relation, please!), who tried to wriggle out of her lies by redefining them as “alternative facts”.
There are no multiple answers, but one answer about who carried out Gukurahundi, not Mphoko’s “alternative” version.
That the regime can’t bring itself to publish the findings of its own two commissions of inquiry into the massacres says it all.
This leads one to ask: If lying comes so easily to Mphoko, did he also lie his way to the Vice-Presidency by backstabbing his erstwhile PF-Zapu comrades? If lying is in his DNA, can we believe anything that comes out of his mouth?
No wonder an American comedian has said Trump is good for comedy, but bad for the world.
May it also be pointed out that while Mphoko might be good for comedy, he is certainly dangerous for Zimbabwe?
Conway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org