By Wilbert Mukori- “’Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.’” argued Nicholas Clairmont in Big Think.
“The quote is most likely due to writer and philosopher George Santayana, and in its original form it read, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
“The sentiment that history repeats aspires to common sense and is hard to disagree with.”
In Zimbabwe, we are certainly caught in the vortexes of history repeating itself not so much from having the historic facts presented to us in a silver platter and failing to learn from them but rather from being bamboozled with bullshit!
Zimbabwe has more than her fair share of citizens who have taken to heart the aphorism “If you cannot dazzle them with brilliance baffle them with bullshit!” Dr Alex Magaisa is one such Zimbabwean academic whose regular contributions on various media platforms is nothing but brainwashing bullshit!
“One might have thought that he (Emmerson Mnangagwa) used the long period of political apprenticeship (37 years) to identify the errors to be avoided if ever he got an opportunity to lead. However, nearly four years since grabbing power in a coup that toppled his long-time boss, Robert Mugabe, Emmerson Mnangagwa has struggled to uplift Zimbabwe from the depths of poverty, and citizens remain under the yoke of political repression. The average Zimbabwean is no better today than he was when Mnangagwa took office in those heady days of November 2017.” Started, well enough, Dr Magaisa in his article in The News Hawks.
Dr Magaisa went on to describe the events leading to the November 2017 military coup that toppled Mugabe and Mnangagwa’s fight to consolidate his hold on power.
“The death of Morgan Tsvangirai, the popular opposition leader who had given Mugabe sleepless nights, led him to believe that the MDC would be a much-diminished opponent,” continued Magaisa. “He was also wrong on this count. The youthful Nelson Chamisa, who succeeded Tsvangirai went on to win more votes in a presidential election than his illustrious predecessor. It was even more remarkable because he did so on a shoe-string budget and with very little time to campaign since Tsvangirai died in February with the election just 5 months away.
“In the end, the election brought more trouble than he had anticipated. It did not resolve the legitimacy question, especially as his main rival refused to give the elusive loser’s consent because he maintained that the election had been rigged for Mnangagwa. This dispute has hung like a cloud over Mnangagwa’s first term even after the Constitutional Court ruled in his favour.”
Of course, this is all nonsense, a far cry from the historic facts.
Number one, when the SADC and AU leaders joined the rest of the international community and refused to accept Mugabe and his Zanu PF party as the legitimate government following the blatant cheating and wanton violence of the 2008 elections, it marked the beginning of the most trying five years in Mugabe’s chaotic and turbulent political life.
SADC leaders forced Mugabe to sign the 2008 Global Political Agreement, agreeing to the implementation of the raft of democratic reforms designed to dismantle the Zanu PF dictatorship. The task of implementing the reforms was given to Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends.
Mugabe bribed the MDC leaders with the trappings of high office; the ministerial limos, the very generous salaries and allowances, a US$4 million mansion for Tsvangirai, etc. Of course, he was worried that the bribes would not be enough to buy-off all the MDC leaders to stop them implementing the reforms; it did.
But not even Mugabe would have dared to believe his bribes would stop MDC leaders implementing the reforms for the five years of the GNU, particularly given the constant nagging by SADC leaders reminding Tsvangirai and company to implement the reforms. Still, it is a historic fact that MDC leaders failed to implement even one democratic reform in five years of the 2008 to 2013 GNU.
It was only thanks to MDC leaders who proved to be corrupt and hopelessly incompetent that Mugabe and his Zanu PF party emerged from the GNU with all the dictatorial powers intact. Only a village idiot like Dr Magaisa would suggest a corrupt and breathtakingly incompetent Morgan Tsvangirai gave Mugabe sleepless nights!
Two, Mnangagwa is a buffoon who got very lucky; the probability of the 200 or so MDC leaders being so incompetent they would not implement even one reform in the five years of the GNU. And, typical of all buffoons who find themselves thrust with power and authority, Mnangagwa believes he is Lord God Almighty’s gift to humanity. What he lacked in intellectual vigour more than made up for in self-confidence. Mnangagwa never doubted his “Zimbabwe is open for business!” mantra would fail to open the flood gates of investors and kick-start the comatose Zimbabwe economy.
As we know, investors are shrewd and savvy lot; they were not going to be fooled into believing the musical chair changes in Zanu PF brought on by the military coup was enough to transform the pariah state into a healthy and functional democracy. “Zimbabwe is open for business!” was still born; not even one serious investor gave it so much as a nibble.
Mnangagwa is a buffoon but credit where credit is due, he was smart enough to know, to stay in power, he had no choice but to rig the 2018 elections and to get away with it, to get political legitimacy, needed the opposition to participate in election. He blatantly rigged the 2018 elections, as any election observer readily testified.
“The electoral commission (Zimbabwe Election Commission, ZEC) lacked full independence and appeared to not always act in an impartial manner,” stated the scathing 240 member EU Election Observer Mission final report.
“The final results as announced by the Electoral Commission contained numerous errors and lacked adequate traceability, transparency and verifiability. Finally, the restrictions on political freedoms, the excessive use of force by security forces and abuses of human rights in the post-election period undermined the corresponding positive aspects during the pre-election campaign. As such, many aspects of the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe failed to meet international standards.”
But all that counted for nothing given the sheer enthusiasm and passion shown by Zimbabwe’s opposition camp; there were 23 candidates in the presidential rat race alone. The results could not be traced or verified because ZEC failed to produce something as basic as a verified voters’ roll, a legal and common-sense requirement.
David Coltart, an MDC Minister during the GNU and now an MDC A senator, admitted in his 2016 book, The Struggle Continues 50 years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe, that Zimbabwe’s opposition should not be participating in the country’s flawed elections.
“The worst aspect for me about the failure to agree a coalition was that both MDCs couldn’t now do the obvious – withdraw from the (2013) elections,” wrote Senator Coltart.
“The electoral process was so flawed, so illegal, that the only logical step was to withdraw, which would compel SADC to hold Zanu PF to account. But such was the distrust between the MDC-T and MDC-N that neither could withdraw for fear that the other would remain in the elections, winning seats and giving the process credibility.”
Four of the main MDC factions did form the MDC Alliance coalition before the 2018 elections and they, regardless, went on to participate in the 2018 elections for the same reason as in 2013 – greed! Zanu PF is giving away a few gravy-train seats to entice the opposition to participate in elections regardless how flawed and illegal the process happens to be.
Right now, Mnangagwa is gearing for the 2023 elections; with not even one token reform in place, no verified voters’ roll, etc.; Zanu PF is set to rig the elections. For their part, Nelson Chamisa and the rest of the opposition are set to participate in the flawed elections and thus give the vote rigging Zanu PF legitimacy. History is set to repeat itself.
Of course, Nelson Chamisa knows that without reforms Mnangagwa will rig the elections, that by participating he will give Mnangagwa legitimacy and that he is doing out of selfish greed – these are all well-established historic fact.
Dr Alex Magaisa’s articles are lies designed to brainwash the ordinary Zimbabweans into believing Nelson Chamisa and his MDC friends will deliver the democratic changes the nation has been dying for. The historic reality is, MDC leaders have failed to deliver even one change in 21 years, 5 of which in the GNU and, worst of all, they are now giving legitimacy to the vote rigging Zanu PF by participating in flawed elections!
Like it or not Zimbabwe’s desperate economic and political situation has left many Zimbabweans desperate for change and desperate people do desperate things including believing lies and damned lies. People like Dr Magaisa are bombarding the nation with the damned lie that Chamisa will win the rigged 2023 elections.
The most Chamisa will do is win most of few gravy-train seats offered as bait and retain the bragging rights as leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition party – a far cry for the real change, regime change, the nation has been dying for!
After 41 years of Zanu PF rigging elections and getting away with it; this is one historic reality we must know and understand by now and one we must be smart enough not to repeat.
(Dr Alex Magaisa is a lecturer at Kent Law School in UK was the late Morgan Tsvangirai, the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor in the last year of the 2008 to 2013 GNU. Some special advisor he turned out to be, given MDC blundered from pillar to post and failed to implement even one token reform!)