Tendai Ruben Mbofana
These may be snakes (including non-lethal ones), or poisonous plants and chemicals.
As we grew up, fear was even instilled in us through tales of growing boils on our buttocks should we sit on roads, or develop ‘mahobi’ (sunken eye ridge) if we take out food from a pot still cooking on the fire.
Of course, this was all meant to deter us from placing our lives at risk of being run over by motor vehicles as we played on the road, or burnt whilst stealing some meat from the cooking pot.
Be that as it may, these threats worked, in most cases, as we kept relatively safe in our daily activities.
All these things came back to my remembrance this morning as I read a news report alleging that senior police officers were threatening their juniors not to vote for the opposition in the upcoming harmonized elections – as this would mean ‘the return of white people’!
According to the article, chief superintendents from the ZPR (Zimbabwe Republic Police) Staff College, at ‘indoctrination workshops’ underway across the country – were ordering junior police officers to vote for the ruling ZANU PF party.
In spite of this being highly unprofessional – on account of the civil service, more so the security sector, not being permitted to be partisan or openly aligning themselves to any political party, or actively engaging in politics – this apparently never seemed to matter to these senior officers, who are eager for a ZANU PF victory, by any means necessary.
What, however, caught my interest was not necessarily this clearly unprofessional conduct by our law enforcement – which is a wanton violation of Section 219(3) of Zimbabwe’s Constitution – but rather, the repeated usage of the ‘return of whites’ as a tool for frightening Zimbabweans into voting for the ruling party.
This has been a common narrative by the country’s ruling establishment over the past two decades – particularly, after the formation of a real formidable opposition in 1999 – which posed a genuine threat to ZANU PF’s then 29-year-long relatively unchallenged grip on power.
From then onwards, the political powers sought to use this ‘returning of white people’, ostensibly to ‘re-colonize’ Zimbabwe, as justification for the brutal crackdown on the opposition, as well as closing down of any democratic space – whilst at the same time, spreading terror in the population, with threats of a return to war (in reference to the liberation struggle) should the opposition win elections.
I have never been a member or supporter of any opposition party in Zimbabwe – a fact I have never made secret – as I honestly have not yet come across any political grouping or leader who genuinely represents the interests of the ordinary citizenry.
From what I have witnessed so far, all political players in the country – whether in the ruling establishment or opposition – are there for only one thing…to fulfil their own power ambitions, as well as enjoy the accompanying trappings, such as wealth and status.
Thus, I can never speak authoritatively on the real ulterior motives of the opposition, especially the MDC and CCC – on whether they truly are Western puppets, whose only desire is to bring back imperialist influence over Zimbabwe – which has been the common narrative regurgitated by ZANU PF for twenty years.
I have never been a part and parcel of opposition meetings (held clandestinely or otherwise), and have never attended their rallies – and, as such, am not aware of their real intentions as far as what constitutes their ideology, particularly when it comes to the role of the West in a Zimbabwe under their rule.
Nonetheless, merely meeting with leaders in Western capitals, or making pronouncements to the effect that ‘white investors will flock into the country’ a few days after being elected into office – to me, does not say much in terms of what defines their ideologies and policies.
That can never be sincerely used as ‘evidence’ of the opposition’s desire for the re-colonization of Zimbabwe.
Even the ruling ZANU PF is busy courting ‘white people’ into their ‘a friend to all and any enemy to none’ engagement and re-engagement policy.
Did we not recently witness senior ruling party officials, like spokesperson Chris Mutsvangwa, waxing lyrical – as some love-struck teenager – over a visit to ZANU PF headquarters by a group of US delegates?
Did social media not come alight only a year or so ago, awash with pictures of President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa in handshakes with former British premier Anthony Charles Blair (who bumped into each other at an event in Rwanda in 2022), and then Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (at the COP26 UN Climate Change Summit in Scotland in 2021)?
Was Mnangagwa, on his return from the UN General Assembly last year, not ecstatic over yet-to-be-seen ‘mega deals’ with some American ‘multi billionaires’?
As a matter of fact, is Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko – who was here in Zimbabwe only two months ago, and received rather excitedly by Mnangagwa, thereafter signing several dubious deals with questionable characters as Aleksandr Zingman’s AFTRADE DMCC – not white?
So, for anyone to conclude that Zimbabweans should be terrified of an opposition purely on the basis that they want ‘white people to return’, is rather bizarre.
Furthermore, what is it that the Zimbabwe regime wants us to fear from white people?
Quite frankly, based on the ZANU PF regime’s monumental unmitigated failures over the past 43 years of their ruinous misrule – Zimbabweans are ready to embrace anyone, with the hope of escaping this hell on earth created by Mnangagwa and his comrades.
If anything, what could work against this fear-mongering by the political elite is that – Zimbabweans actually had a better and higher standard of living under white rule – as opposed to the misery and poverty we have suffered under this administration.
As such, telling police offers, or any other Zimbabweans, that voting for the opposition will ‘bring back white people’, might actually have the opposite effect – which may just end up getting them massive votes.
Surely, as much as no normal Zimbabwean would want the country to return to the colonial era – nonetheless, our parents always tell us how life was much better then – than the harrowing nightmare we are enduring under the post-independence ZANU PF government.
By constantly telling the ordinary citizenry of the ‘return of white people’ – what the ruling establishment is actually saying, inadvertently, is that our lives will be much better under opposition rule!
When were most of the major health care facilities we have today built – such as Parirenyatwa, Sally Mugabe, Mpilo, UBH (United Bulawayo Hospitals), and all the central and general hospitals dotted around Zimbabwe – which are now lying in a deplorable state?
Who constructed all the big towns and cities, and the houses, in which we currently reside – together with the dams and potable water systems the post-independence establishment has run down – leaving urban dwellers without the precious liquid for months and years
What about most of the roads and bridges that the government is failing to maintain?
What was the period when not only the country’s civil servants but also workers in the private sector, earned salaries that could actually afford meaningful goods and services – which provided us with a decent and rather comfortable childhood in the 1970s?
Granted, it is always wise to warn of impending danger – in order to protect those one loves – but, at times, that may invite an opposite unintended result.
This is more likely in the case of a government with a long list of colossal unparalleled failures – who have actually performed worse than the colonial regime they fought and replaced.
Threatening the return of those who did much better than yourself might not be the wisest move to make!
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org