By Luke Tamborinyoka
Whatever the narrative by his spindoctors, the undeniable truth is that it was empty chairs that turned up in their huge numbers when Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa took to the podium at the recent COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
Only two things were full to the brim during the infamous Glasgow trip of shame. First it was the hired plane that embarrassingly had some 100 delegates with a dubious mission. Secondly, it was the whiskey-laden trolleys that we saw being pushed around by ED’s shameless minions. A drinking binge against the gnawing poverty back home.
Otherwise there was a vast swathe of emptiness during the shameful Glasgow trip, including a Presidential dinner with investors where even ED himself failed to turn up!
It has been a tough week for ED, with the people’s President Advocate Nelson Chamisa and his delegation running rings around State spooks during his highly popular rural outreach tours.
For a man with a rich legacy of poor turn-outs at his events, ED has had to bus his crowds to his rallies in Rutenga, Chimanimani and even at the local international airport, where he had to pay attendees US$2 each to guarantee a modest crowd upon his return from his Glasgow trip of shame.
The empty auditorium in Glasgow came as no surprise. Emptiness just loves our Emmerson. The national kitty is empty. The pockets of our hard-working civil servants are empty. His quiver of arrows with which to shoot down the myriad national challenges is empty. His purported pursuit of the reform agenda is just but empty rhetoric. There is no cogent electoral reform agenda that is being implemented to accord the citizens of this country with herd immunity against illegitimacy and to vaccinate against the vicious cycle of disputed elections that has afflicted this country since independence.
ED claimed to have had successful engagement and re-engagement meetings at the COP26 summit in Scotland. But one cannot engage internationally when they are not engaging nationally. Charity must begin at home.
In fact. I posit that Zimbabwe urgently needs it’s own Conference of the Parties (COP) to agree on a comprehensive electoral reform agenda so that we rid future administrations of the stench of illegitimacy. That COP summit must address the climate and environment of elections to ensure freeness, fairness and credibility of our plebiscites.
But then the mantra of reform is just empty rhetoric on the part of Mr Mnangagwa. Emptiness—ubiquitous ringing emptiness—is his Archilles heel. His performance and aptitude at the apex of the State is empty and bereft of all substance. A consuming emptiness, nay a hollow and yawning abyss whose incompetence is sonorously echoing in the vast halls of modern statecraft!
In October 2019, following what was dubbed an anti-sanctions march and an anti-sanctions rally in Harare, I wrote the following piece in which I reiterated the point that ED lacks the magnetic touch of your average politician and that emptiness in its various forms doggedly pursues him on the political stage.
ED : A legacy of Emptiness
It is bad enough for a leader, even an illegitimate one, to be content-free. But when the emptiness goes beyond the cerebral realm, it becomes a real calamity.
For Emmerson Mnangagwa is not only content-free, despite claiming he is a lawyer. I have surmised in a previous installment that it is highly likely the guy underwent some paralegal course at a backwater college in the Copper-belt region in Zambia and returned home after the liberation struggle claiming to have acquired a Law degree.
For how could a leader of substance, with proper legal aptitude, appoint more than the required number of non-constituency MPs, only to fire them hours later as he did to the likes of Chris Mutsvangwa soon after he pilfered his way into office in 2017?
How could a prudent President allow his government to introduce an illegal tax on all transactions, especially one who masquerades as a lawyer?
Not only is ED intellectually lukewarm (if not frigid). He has just exhibited nothing but a legacy of emptiness during the tenure of his stolen mandate.
His lack of political charm notwithstanding, ED will leave behind a legacy of emptiness. He is not given to clever polemics like your ordinary politician, with a delivery aptitude that is nothing short of vapid and vacuous.
First it was his vast emptiness in voter-following; before a captured judiciary jumped into the fray to save the day. Then the emptiness was exported to New York, where we saw him addressing empty chairs at the United Nations General Assembly, to huge echoes in the background.
Only last week during the so-called anti-sanctions march, he once again indigenized the emptiness!
In fact, cheeky Zimbabweans thought it wise to march away from him and his drivel, leaving in their wake an empty stadium.
The purported anti-sanctions crowd at the National Sports Stadium was a paltry mob, even after the few people who turned up were induced by two-piecers and a soft-drink as the clueless regime blew scarce forex in the doomed march to nowhere.
The Premier Soccer League’s basement football club Yadah FC—-or even dancehall musician Freeman, riding on the crest of a wave with his Ngaibake single featuring Alick Macheso—could have attracted a bigger crowd into the giant stadium than the country’s President.
There was a vast emptiness in the National Sports Stadium on a day the nation and the entire SADC region were meant to send out a sonorous statement on the “illegal” sanctions against Zimbabwe.
It turned out it was Zimbabweans who ended up slapping the country’s illegitimate President with sanctions by staying away from him and his claptrap.
In the spirit of gender parity, the emptiness has even spread to the wife, whose functions even in her hometown of Bindura have been snubbed by her kinsmen and kins women
Auxilia Mnangagwa hails from Chiweshe in Mashonaland Central and on three or so occasions, the First Lady has failed to play host after her own province of origin gave her the middle finger.
It has been desolate emptiness, vast swathes of grass and echoing town-halls as both husband and wife have been snubbed on most occasions; a testimony to the couple’s dismal failure to invoke affability both nationally and internationally.
In essence, what started as emptiness in the head has assumed other dimensions as the halls and stadia addressed by the First Couple have been zones of a vast and unparalleled emptiness, with citizens making a mammoth statement with their feet.
And this is a leader who claims to have won an election!
If you cannot fill an auditorium, how can you purport to have massive national support, even armed with commandeering State power that allows you to coerce vendors and market women to attend your functions?
And before the cock crowed twice, the equally empty Victor Matemadanda three times denied any links to the purported anti-sanctions, claiming it was the government that had “boobed” in managing the event. He distanced the party, Zanu PF, from anything to do with that event, which was massively snubbed by the majority of Zimbabweans.
Empty in the head. Empty stadia. Empty town-halls and empty auditoriums.
Indeed, a legacy of emptiness.
The only item ED has managed to fill up are those guns with which State security agents to whom he is the Commander-In-Chief callously killed innocent Zimbabweans in August 2018 and in January 2019.
No amount of scarf can fill up this yawning emptiness!
The epitaph on his political tombstone will solemnly read: Emmerson Mnangagwa , the Emptiness Disaster (ED) of our time .
Luke Tamborinyoka is the Deputy Secretary for Presidential Affairs in the MDC Alliance led by the people’s President Advocate Nelson Chamisa . He is a multiple award-winning journalist and an ardent political scientist . You can interact with him on Facebook or on the twitter handle @ luke_tambo .