This article can and will most probably be classified as an attack on the opposition as opposed to it being that of basic scrutiny that every political party intending to get into power ought to be subjected to, and this writer doesn’t expect anything less than an immediate and thorough virtual bashing by the opposition’s considerable “cyber army”, given the backdrop of the humongous polarization that pervades Zimbabwe’s body politic today.
One really must dig deeper inside one’s self to sum up the considerable courage that is required to sit down and write, let alone publish such an article, given the attendant risks associated thereto.
There are “digital armies” that are ready to attack at the slightest provocation, anyone who even remotely seems to question political leaders belonging to the major political parties especially on matters that relate to their personal conduct and/or indiscretions.
Zanu Pf has its own “varakashi” cyber army that was created to crush any and all criticism of the ruling party, its leaders and policies online. The opposition to does have its own “cyber army”, albeit this one not financially sponsored or doing paid hatchet jobs, but is made up of mostly supporters who defend and propagate the opposition’s gospel out of sheer love.
The slightest assumption that the leaders are being overly scrutinized usually triggers an immediate and vicious onslaught on the “offending” party by highly polarized trigger happy party supporters, usually without them applying a decent level of in-depth understanding of the issue at hand. Its just knee-jerk responses that attack anyone scrutinizing their leaders.
To the cyber armies, any question on the integrity or conduct of their leaders is an attack on their party of choice and everything it stands for, and the “attacker” is immediately labelled as an agent of a rival party.
It’s quite easy to earn the badge of a pariah in the Zimbabwean online space.
Questioning the individual conduct of Zanu Pf and CCC leaders is generally perceived by their vociferous supporters as personal attacks on them and their political parties, and what they stands for. Hence one has to be made of much sterner stuff to take the brave stand of going against the grain and holding these public officials to account.
Not many dare to sail on those waters.
However, political affiliation should never enter the newsroom as media is society’s mirror, apply called the fourth estate, for its role in holding public officials to account. If media practitioners become prisoners to politicians or their personal political affiliations, accountability will be sacrificed and politicians will continue to conduct themselves impunity.
A few brave souls do exist however in the media space, and they dare to step on these feared grounds.
One such individual is Edmund Kudzai, the founder Kukurigo, who recently published the “Mahere gate” scandal, which alleges that CCC interim Spokeperson Advocate Fadzai Mahere was involved in an adulterous affair with a married Harare Businessman Tinashe Murapata, resulting in the reported collapse his marriage.
Mahere threatened Kudzai with legal action, is he didn’t retract the story.
There was no retraction however, as Kudzai stuck to his guns. The lawsuit is yet to materialize.
While it’s not my intention to play judge and condemn Advocate Mahere without giving her the right of response, I must hasten to say that politicians, as leaders in society must be held up to scrutiny. Giving them a free pass, and letting them go easily without accounting for their actions is bound to backfire in the future should they win state power.
Failing to hold public officials and aspiring leaders to scrutiny because we like them or that they represent a political party that we favour is the very same situation that birthed Zanu Pf impunity.
You will remember, dear reader, that in the early 1980s when our people were still caught up in Independence euphoria, they didn’t hold the ruling party to account for its actions. We gave Zanu Pf and its officials an easy pass, let them get away scot-free from their improprieties without as much as a slap on the wrist.
This is what enabled the Zanu Pf government to butcher 20 000 people in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces. This allowed Zanu Pf officials to commit scandals such as the Willowgate scandal, the GMB scandal and more. Eventually Zanu Pf became a monster, letting its officials commit acts of corruption with impunity. This was because the root cause wasn’t nipped in the bud much earlier.
As the Shona would say, simbi inorohwa ichapisa. The Ndebele also said it well when they said isigogo sigoqwa sisemanzi. The English equivalent of which would be, a stitch in time saves nine.
The desire for change must not mean that we can’t question the opposition and its members on their conduct, for if they can’t be held up to scrutiny whilst they are in opposition, how would it be possible to hold them to full scrutiny should they win state power and all its attendant machinery?
They have to show leadership and act like a government in waiting.
I put it to the opposition that it must have the courage to suspend Advocate Mahere and initiate an investigation into the allegations that she faces. Failure to do this would be a serious dereliction of duty and provide a fertile ground for impunity in the future.
The opposition parrots itself as a beacon of transparency, openness, and accountability. Well, it must be seen to walk the talk.
The learned Advocate too must, in my humble opinion, show leadership by taking leave of work to allow an investigation and then get back when all is clear. I say this without prejudice, and knowing fully well the risks of being labelled an agent of such and such a party or a sponsored puppet of certain entities within the opposition itself. That is what the “cyber armies” exist for.
Am I a perfect human without sin? NO! However, whenever society deems that I’ve violated one of the rules that we live by I have to pay my dues to society by righting my wrong. Leaders and aspiring leaders alike ought to know this; for to whom much is given, much is also expected.
It should be noted too that such issues don’t go away, and ignoring them or wishing them away will not go away. They will be a permanent and recurring stain on the opposition’s integrity if not handled well. Only just recently a whole British Prime Minister in Borris Johnson resigned due to sustained pressure after he failed to decisively deal with a sex scandal involving a subordinate of his.
In our own backyard former Vice President Kembo Mohadi resigned from his government position after his sex scandals were exposed by the media.
The opposition therefore must know that scandals can’t be wished away by deathly silence, they have to be confronted and delt with decisively. Its actually amazing that up to now a whole main opposition party hasn’t issued a statement on the Mahere-gate issue.
As the fourth estate, media ought to have the courage to maintain a common level of decency and hold politicians to account, despite our individual political affiliations. We must engender a culture of transparency and accountability. We must cultivate a culture of tolerance and accepting scrutiny. We must never see every question on leaders’ conduct as personal attacks or sponsored hatchet jobs. Lets live by what we preach.
I must hasten to add, dear reader that in my opinion the polarization that we current experience in our politics is a result of the ruling party Zanu Pf. I place the blame squarely on the doorstep of the so called revolutionary party.
The toxicity we endure is all a product of Zanu Pf toxicity that has pervaded the political space since independence in 1980.
As the saying goes, a child’s behavior is only a reflection of the environment that they grew up in. Zimbabwe has for 42yrs been subjected to a toxic and intolerant political environment by Zanu Pf.
Towards the 1990 elections the ruling party, then facing stiff competition from the Edgar Tekere led ZUM, ran campaign adverts on national Tv, warning voters that voting against Zanu Pf was akin to having a car accident, it would lead to death.
Now fast-forward to 2022 and the political space is infected with the cancer of toxicity and intolerance, but what else would one have expected, after 42yrs of uninterrupted toxicity and intolerance?
We ought to do better as a nation, and the opposition should provide a better alternative to what we have had. Zimbabwe is suffering from a chronic constipation caused by a 42yr diet of nothing but toxicity and intolerance.
The opposition therefore must proffer an opportunity to break with the past by engendering a culture of integrity, transparency and accountability. It must be seen to walk the talk in order to earn the confidence of the electorate.; it carries the hope of the nation and thus it mustn’t disappoint.
Noone wants another Zanu Pf, it must be replaced by a transparent and accountable alternative.