MY late grandfather Lazarus Nyathi was a well-known panel beater, if not the only one at some point in our community. So great was his work that even insurance companies contracted him to do the restoration works of some of the expensive vehicles of the time.
He told me, after a long day in the fields, that during his days at work employed by the white men in one of the leading panel beating shops of the time, there was a stand-off between the workers and the management which was white on the canteen provisions of the management and the general workers. Instead of the management resolving the issue, they attempted to elevate the vocal leaders of the workers into their canteens.
He laughed as he told me that some of this co-workers had even the time to consider the offer. Two of his colleagues took it, he obviously rejected it with contempt.
My grandfather and his other progressive colleagues understood at that time that one of the enemy’s tactics that works is to make the opponents look like them. They recruit the vocal ones to their table so that they deny the masses a voice. This leaves the masses defeated, as they slowly accept that there is not anyone worthy in their midst to fight for them and perhaps they are better off with the status quo. In despair, they came to the conclusion that those that lead or seek to lead them are all the same.
In Zimbabwe, we saw that during the Government of National Unity, Morgan Tsvangirai in his new power office as the Prime Minister became the chief spokesman and face of the Mugabe regime. Nelson Chamisa, a minister at the time and now leader of the main opposition, heaped praises on Robert Mugabe.
These were men that had been deployed to be the voices of the oppressed, who became overwhelmed and comfortable in the comforts and trapping of power, The 2013 general elections results proved what the general public thought of the performance of their leaders in government. The MDC was beaten in way they can’t explain and it’s interesting that Chamisa was the organising secretary at the time and in charge of mobilisation towards that election. He knows.
Now fast forward to the last few weeks during which we have learnt that he main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change MPs are now part of grand looting and being used to legitimise the millions that cabinet ministers are going to share among themselves, in this dead economy where the poverty levels are not just something you read about but can even be seen even from the comfort of their air conditioned, taxpayer-funded vehicles.
The CCC MPs have accepted US$40,000 loans offered with no form of collateral or pay back plan. It’s the price for their collective consciences.
This is the worst parliament in terms of holding the ruling party to account, with the isolated efforts of Tendai Biti to be noted. The bills that Zanu PF has passed and some that have gone on to the reading stages with the silence or absence of the opposition speaks to their complicity. The people of Zimbabwe have been sold out by their MPs now eating in the canteen of the regime.
Voters who expected that the opposition in parliament will be a voice of reason and speak of their need for better life, good roads, equipped hospitals, equal employment opportunities, justice for Gukurahundi victims and any past injustices now realise they are on their own.
The opposition has just given up its moral authority to condemn looting. How will they condemn what the regime has done when they are part of the looting?
One last lesson I learnt from my grandfather was that if you are farmer and you suffer losses due to rats, lay a trap and capture as many alive and put them in drum. Close the top and starve them and they will begin to eat each other. The one that will survive the ordeal will no longer be eating any of your crops but other rats, thus solving the problem. Let those with eyes see.
Gifford Mehluli Sibanda previously worked in the publicity department in the Movement for Democratic Change