Mnangagwa must not lose the narrative!

Source: Mnangagwa must not lose the narrative! | Sunday Mail (Opinion)

Ken Mufuka
I have been watching events in Zimbabwe as the dust begins to settle and Zimbabweans realise that they no longer have Robert Mugabe and his Queen Jezebel to blame for their ills anymore.

The legal minds are exercised as to whether the event itself was legal. These luminaries are all my friends and I am the least among the saints. I, however, beg to disagree with them.

The best example of this thinking comes from my white brother David Coltart. Coltart reminds us that whilst most Zimbabweans “rejoiced (at) the end of Mugabe’s ruinous tenure, I remain appalled by the illegal and unconstitutional manner in which it was done”.  My brother believes that the Mugabe regime could have been removed in a nice legal way. “The only lawful way to remove Mugabe was to impeach him”, a case Coltart has argued for since 2000.

Professor Philip Roessler of William and Mary College argues along the same lines.

“A sounder approach would have been for the African Union Security Council to condemn the coup and threaten to suspend Zimbabwe from the African Union.” But wait for this my brothers and sisters. Then, the Zimbabwe military would have been forced to nicely release “Mugabe from house arrest and (hand) over power to a transitional post-Mugabe government and returned to the barracks”.

Too much learning doth make my brothers mad. They are missing the narrative. A narrative can make or break a government. The narrative here should that the military intervened to save the populace from a Government that had been hijacked by a gang of criminal elements. This group, the Generation 40, was made up of a younger generation, who because of their age had missed the liberation experience. Therefore, taking advantage of their proximity to the president’s wife, they undermined the principles of the revolution.

We can add that this criminal element also took advantage of the president due to his advanced age, using their influence to advance personal monetary interests.

Our case, therefore, is that the new Government is cognisant of the need to restore the rule of law. Naturally, this being the case, the operation was delicate and that whatever mishaps happened on the way were inadvertent rather than intentional.

We can take a breather and ask ourselves a simple question: Who is the target of our narrative? And why was the operation to restore legacy necessary for the future of our country?

In general, I believe that the generality of the Zimbabwe population is satisfied by the explanation and that the operation itself has generated some hope. I gave a ride to a woman from Chivhu who was on her way to some commercial interests she has in Mozambique. The woman was related to Governor Machaya but had been compelled to leave her plot in Gweru after the death of her husband.

“It really does not matter to me who succeeds Mugabe, I just want to see a periodic change of leadership as is the case in Mozambique,” said the widow woman, Mai Patrick.

The rule of law is important to Mai Patrick because once she lost the protection of her husband; she was unable to keep the piece of land that had belonged to her, her husband and their young son Patrick.

The protection of Mai Patrick’s land rights is at the heart of the liberation struggle, going back to the Youth Movement by George Nyandoro and Patrick Chikerema in 1955.

While that is the sacred duty of the war veterans to protect these land rights, the larger narrative today has to do with commercial and industrial interests. Our target is therefore the Western representatives based in Zimbabwe, who will influence Western investors.

A legacy is a gift which is passed on to another, usually a deceased parent leaves (bequeaths) some property to his children.

Mnangagwa has moved swiftly to restore financial viability and hopefully restore economic viability. In an attempt to achieve this aim, there is a belief that economic players who hide their wealth out of the country need to be brought to book. And wisely, these economic players need not be destroyed as their wealth parked abroad can help in reformulating a new economic miracle back home. If this plan works, a pardon has actually been granted in order to achieve a greater good.

Thus far, we are in agreement. But the main purpose of the restore legacy cannot be achieved without foreign investors coming aboard.

My 40-year stay in the US has taught me that while one must strengthen his narrative, one cannot avoid or by-pass the contrary narratives proposed by opponents.

A political prostitute

Professor Jonathan Moyo, a political prostitute, has cleverly created a new narrative in order to delegitimise the new Government. “If you have issues with your father and the Devil kills him; says he did it for you and will care for you better. Would you hail the Devil as a hero and your father’s murder as a New Era? Vanoreva nhema.”

Assuming Elijah’s mantle, the crafty professor makes another argument. “President Mugabe did not have to be humiliated and ousted in a military coup by ZANU tribalists claiming loyalty to him. No! No!”

This statement camouflages the truth by assuming an emotive ad hominem stance. Moyo’s argument has already been overtaken by events. The former president has been treated with respect, a safe passage and abode for the remainder of his earthly life.

The 3,5 million Zimbabweans, including this writer, living abroad as makwere-kwere (wonderers, the birds quails) may be unhappy but it is now water under the bridge.

But we forget that the professor’s narrative is not aimed at an internal audience, but at the Western and US entrepreneurial classes whose goodwill and investments we need. The professor scoffs at the rule of law, while conveniently forgetting a confession attributed to him of misdirecting $400 000 of the Zimbabwe Development Fund to use outside its purpose.

The rule of law is never fulfilled until proper procedures are followed. Moyo’s confession, without collaboration, and without a guilty pronouncement by a judge, forces us to presume his innocence for now.

Embittered by losing their target by only an inch, Moyo, Patrick Zhuwao and Saviour Kasukuwere, will no doubt intensify their attacks for the foreseeable future. My advice is that it is better to let the trio blow off steam rather than to suppress their anger.

This makes it the more urgent for the Government to win the narrative. This is called Margaret Thatcher’s dictum; first the politician must win the argument in the court of public opinion, implementation follows.

There is some evidence already that the British and the US governments are putting breaks on their earlier enthusiasm and adopting a wait-and-see attitude.

If the Government loses the narrative, it will definitely lose the war, even though it wins temporary battles in the meantime. Since those who wish to write a new narrative are learned men, simple arguments will not weigh with them.

We must therefore go the original thinkers. John Locke argues in his essay on “The Dissolution of Government” that the people cannot wait for an increase in their misery before using the remedy to abolish that government which is the cause of such misery.

Ask yourself a simple question. Did the military do any good? The answer is definitely, YES. Against doing GOOD there is no law. Sister Auxillia is comforting the poor. Yes, there is HOPE everywhere, and HOPE is priceless. Zimbabweans are regaining their once infectious laughter and beer garden fellowship.

The legality of Mnangagwa’s Government is neither here nor there, it is not an issue. Its legality is written in our consciences. It is what happens from now and henceforth that cements its legality or undermines it.

Does the Government understand the enormity of the task? If it loses the narrative, it will win a Pyrrhic victory. The critics are already coming together. Moyo is only the least of the devil’s disciples. These have a readymade audience in a sceptical Western world that expects African governments to fail.

I will tell you a secret. I have advised those who care to listen; threats and bombasts will not win the war. You need a new language and a new attitude towards your opponents.

Ken Mufuka is the author of the best selling “Life and Times of Robert Mugabe; Dream Betrayed”. He spent over 10 years collecting evidence.

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