It’s time to abandon adversarial politics

Rev Andrew Wutawunashe

In spite of my traumatic memories of the days of British colonialism, I hasten to admit that recent words of Queen Elizabeth II carry a powerful wisdom which we as Zimbabweans — bent on a reckless path to suicide-bomb our gains from Operation Restore Legacy — need to hastily take heed of, and follow.

In an effort to speak to the insane situation where hopelessly divided and polarised British politicians are busy dismantling the centuries-old gains of their nation through a ridiculous and unnecessary suicidal process known as “Brexit” — the ill-advised and destructive departure from the European Union — the 92-year-old monarch recently said, “As we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture”.

Well spoken, Your Britannic Majesty!

Here in Zimbabwe, it’s time to remind some of our politicians of this ageless piece of African wisdom: “Nhambe-tambe inoregwa ichanaka”.

In plain English, we must sound a clear warning: “It’s best to stop this mad Zimbabwean game of political Russian roulette before the gun fires the fatal shot on the nation.”

I am referring here to the game of irrational adversarial politics, which some in our nation have chosen to play, and which has been steadily decimating the gains which Divine providence favoured us with towards the close of 2017.

The tragedy of this adversarial politics is that it is totally unnecessary and singularly destructive.

None of us is gaining anything from it — not our hardworking and visionary President, not our political parties and politicians (whether ruling or opposition), and certainly not the people of Zimbabwe, who are suffering the biggest and most tragic losses from this mad season of adversarial politicking and hate language.

Our greatest loss will probably be the loss of an unprecedented season of opportunity.

Those with short memories soon fall into the same, or even deeper, trap.

This is why it is folly for our politicians, and through them our people, to forget that towards the end of 2017 our nation was on a lethal precipice, which, had the Almighty not rescued us in the nick of time through Operation Restore Legacy, would easily have degenerated into a bloodbath that would still be going on even now.

There is nothing that makes us more special than Somalia or DRC, which have for decades bled incessantly through internecine conflict occasioned by adversarial politics.

This is why it is sheer madness to continue squandering the gains of the providential New Dispensation, which was born through the unprecedented national unity in diversity of Operation Restore Legacy.

When President Emmerson Mnangagwa leapt out of the cauldron of 2017, he emerged with a gift of indispensable value to us all, including the naysayers among us — a vision founded on peace, love and unity in diversity of reforming the nation.

Indeed, positive change was not long in coming, and we began to see as yet unprecedented freedoms which spanned both the political and social arena.

Gone were even the indignities entrenched in our road travel through frequent and extortionate road blocks.

Ordinary people became free to express themselves with freedom and dignity.

A new sense of value and hope came to the people.

The subsequent election campaigns were held in an atmosphere of complete and undeniable freedom and access for all political parties and individual politicians, and in the presence of the international community.

Even the economy responded with many early signs of positive change.

The President led by example in inculcating a new ethic of hard work, and it continues to be an inspiration to observe him burning the midnight oil at work on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe.

The efforts to re-engage the international community both economically and politically began to bear positive fruit.

Foreign investors began to make a beeline to Zimbabwe; even flights in and out of the country were oversubscribed.

Zimbabwe was clearly opening up for business.

Even the heavens opened and the rains came.

The entire nation, all of us, was making great gains.

Enter the scourge of adversarial politics.

The phenomenon of the proverbial donkey — which pulled the rope for years round and round the grindstone, and, by force and bondage of habit and experience, could not stop circling the grindstone after the rope was cut — came into play in our political arena.

Zimbabwe had been for years schooled in adversarial politics – the politics of bitterness, lies, deception, division and hate so deep that even politicians in the same party could not compete with mutual acceptance of one another.

Then, along came a leader with a vision for a New Dispensation, asserting passionately: “We are one people, united by our flag; we are one people, united by our national anthem, and indeed by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

He continually called for love, mutual acceptance, peace and unity in diversity.

And for a brief season, Emmerson Mnangagwa was heeded.

Then the reality of the treasured prize of political power, particularly self-centred personal power, began to overwhelm some in the political arena. They simply reverted to unscrupulous adversarial politics.

And many people, just like the sheep we are when our political leaders speak, succumbed to the persistent words of hate, bitterness, deception and division.

As the election approached, we began to hear bold declarations that the election could only be judged to be free and fair if the opposition wins, and that any other result would have been rigged.

Completely fabricated claims of intimidation began to emerge.

The harvest of words of deception and hate deliberately sown in the run-up to the elections climaxed in the post-election violence, which claimed six lives, as mobs psyched into senseless violence confronted security forces.

It was clearly the intended end-goal of adversarial politics — that the international community should revert to discounting the New Dispensation, and all this for the sake of selfish gains of a handful of politicians.

And those who perpetrated this didn’t care that it was all a lie — a vicious, uncaring and malicious lie.

We watched as lies were repeated over and over again on social media until many of our people and some of the targeted foreign powers began to believe and even to echo them.

The main thrust of this charade was to cast President Mnangagwa’s reforms as a mirage.

Ironically, these canny politicians took advantage of the very freedoms and democratic space introduced by the President to abuse and demonise him.

Today, they question President Mnangagwa’s legitimacy notwithstanding the fact that the July 30 elections were perhaps the most observed local elections in two decades.

All the constitutional and legal provisions that had to be met, were met.

Even when an election petition was lodged with the Constitutional Court, it unanimously upheld the elections.

When we then reject the result of our own due process, we set a precedent of anarchy for posterity.

These institutions, this due process, is all we have, and for our own safety we should uphold it, whether it favours us or not.

Otherwise what happens tomorrow should the tables be turned?

It is simply vulgar, irresponsible, reckless and immoral to continue selling the lie of adversarial politics that Zimbabwe has two Presidents.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa is the only legitimate President of Zimbabwe.

Our nation is not a monster with two heads.

He is our President, whatever party we belong to, and we do well to heed his steadfast calls for unity.

It is evident that among us, someone or some people continue to sow the seeds of adversarial politics.

It was truly callous to mobilise our peaceable populace to riot, loot, maim, injure and kill in the name of protesting.

Apart from others that were injured or lost life and limb in those riots, it makes the heart sink to realise that Zimbabwean people have been embittered by this incessant hate speech to the extent of leading their children in stoning to death of a 30-year-old policeman.

Constable Alexio Maune was killed in Bulawayo and buried in Matsikidze Village, Masvingo.

To what gain, and to whose profit?

We expected to hear a serious censure of these atrocities from Western capitals, yet the silence was deafening.

Apparently it is politically incorrect to censure opposition politicians, no matter what the fruits of their adversarial politics are, while even unsubstantiated allegations against the New Dispensation earn quick and heavy censure from the West.

Foreigners aside, we draw hope for the New Dispensation, for President Mnangagwa’s vital vision, from the promise of the God who is not fooled by political deception: “Being persuaded of this one thing, that God who ( through Operation Restore Legacy) began this good work ( of the New Dispensation) in you (Zimbabwe) will bring it to completion . . .” (Philippians 1v6).

There is a simple reason why, from the politician to the man or woman on the street, we must now put away the madness of adversarial politics – it is insane national suicide.

The homemade vision of the New Dispensation, born through Operation Restore Legacy, is the only genuine lifeline for our nation.

Those who are demonising it are doing it for selfish political and other gains.

We must urgently get back to preserving this lifeline which was divinely committed to us in late 2017.

Although a concerted effort has been made through adversarial politics to abort the New Dispensation and its undeniable gains, it is time for us Zimbabweans to wake up, count our blessings and turn our hearts again to our God-given leader and his vision of peace, love, unity in diversity and a national renaissance rooted in economic recovery, freedoms and the opening of our democratic space.

It is time to cease and to silence the flood of Zimbabwean hate speech which fills the social media and defiles our streets — a hate speech that is foolishly aimed at those who are working hardest for the renaissance of our nation and for the preservation of our revolutionary gains, legacy and heritage.

Those who continue to practice adversarial politics seek to force our nation back into the age of the politics of fear.

We still have a genuine opportunity through embracing the New Dispensation afresh, to rebuild our nation to a new glory.

Contrary to all the negative talk, the people of Zimbabwe are actually in a much better position economically than many of their brothers and sisters on the African continent.

A quick, open-minded trip into some of the nations of Southern, Eastern, Western and Central Africa will testify to this.

We should be counting our blessings and using them as a foundation to make the sacrifices we are being called upon to make to build a bright future for our nation, instead of continually psyching our people into a false sense of crisis through adversarial politics. As the 92-year-old monarch said, let us rather take the proven path of “speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view, coming together to seek out the common ground and never losing sight of the bigger picture.”

That bigger picture is that our nation’s interest, its future and renaissance is far better, bigger and more worthy of our pursuit than the small-minded pot of beans to be gained through futile adversarial politics.

Let us come together. We are one people. We have faith for the nation.


Andrew Wutawunashe wrote this in his capacity as Chairperson of Faith for the National Campaign.


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