Setting The Election Agenda: Zimbabwean Election Race, Nothing But The Slogan "Chinja!"

31 May 2012

By Reason Wafawarova

In 2000, MDC was in its infancy and the party went into its maiden election race wielding nothing else but the slogan "Chinja!" a rather vacuous, albeit populist chant for a departure from the then 20-year rule of Zanu-PF.

This chant for undefined change was more of an "anything, but Zanu-PF" attraction for most of Zimbabwe's urban voters, as the subsequent election result proved.

MDC itself had been launched as an expression of protest against Zanu-PF's anti-labour and
pro-liberal governance that started with the deadly and murderous Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) prescribed by the IMF's Washington Consensus, as gullibly adopted by a spectacularly duped Zanu-PF Government of 1991-1992.

Just like the very party it sought to topple by preaching a vacuous gospel of change, the MDC itself was spectacularly hijacked by the same Western forces that had sponsored ESAP, a policy against which the MDC was building so much mileage; indeed at the expense of the revolutionary Zanu-PF itself certainly far from being revolutionary between 1991 and 1999 a time the party pursued the privatisation and belt-tightening austerity policies of the IMF with indisputable conviction and even arrogance.

As the MDC was hijacked by the West to be used as a puppet tool against Zanu-PF, the only viable political option for Zanu-PF was to remember its revolutionary beginnings and to go back to the same people it had so much pushed into involuntary austerity for the benefit of Western investors.

Just like the MDC went across Zimbabwean cities with its chinja slogan in 2000, Zanu-PF heroically came back into the picture, setting the election agenda on compulsory land reclamation, encouraging and even taking over commandeering of occupation of white-held commercial farms by landless masses that way absolutely infuriating the Western imperialist anaconda, particularly the Tony Blair government in London, joined in fury by the Howard and Bush governments in Australia and the US respectively.

Employment remained the significant concern for the urban population, but that was relegated to a matter of little moment as the MDC successfully preached more their hatred for Zanu-PF's alleged dictatorship than they outlined their capacity to create jobs for the urban youths, strangely getting away with it as well.

While Zanu-PF fervently promoted land reclamation through whatever media the party could muster, the best opportunity to rebut MDC accusations availed itself when the ousted white commercial farmers began to actively and openly fund-raise for the MDC, with the Westminster Foundation posting its financial backing of the labour-turned-puppet-party on its website. The incriminating evidence was later pulled down after the damage had already been inflicted.

Apart from capitalising on the immensely popular land reclamation policy, Zanu-PF damningly and correctly labelled their political opponents in the MDC insidious puppets of former colonisers. That label is the widely held view across the African continent, notably in Zambia, South Africa, Ghana and the DRC.

The end result of the 2000 election was that the election agenda became a matter of the trampling and roar of the bewildered landless masses on the one hand and the rhetoric of the "responsible men," who vainly tried to rubbish land occupation as a "lawless land grab," warning endlessly that Zimbabwe was going to become a "basket case" for the foolishness of reclaiming her stolen land. Britain was even so daring as to raise the issue of property rights; colonially stolen land being the property in question.

At the peak of the 2000 electioneering one Fidelis Mhashu of the MDC went public through the BBC, boldly promising that his party would kick out black farmers and give back the land to ousted white commercial farmers. Zanu-PF feasted heavily on this propaganda scoop and Mhashu's party could not reverse his foolishness for fear of ramifications from the sponsoring white farmers. The sell-out label just stuck firmer.

One reason the MDC does not speak a lot about policy is that the party is sponsored to practise capitalist politics where those elites deemed responsible for the success of all others must be spared the foolishness of the bewildered masses, usually considered ignorant and dependant, and whose only function is to be spectators and never participants. It is like the way blacks were meant to watch white colonialists develop Africa.

Of course spectators are not supposed to bother their heads with complex matters like ownership of resources and reclamation of land, only limiting themselves to simple matters like waiting to be employed by smart-thinking Western investors.

The MDC election agenda for 2012 is "vote for a new Zimbabwe," or "Let us complete the change," a lot more vacuous than the original chant for change. The MDC election manifesto is shaped not exactly by the vision of the party leaders or by their innovativeness in matters of policy. It is entirely moulded and anchored on the shortcomings of Zanu-PF real, alleged or imagined; ranging from the alleged dictatorship and brutalities to the real shattering of democratic systems within the party itself like some of the recent Zanu-PF sham District Co-ordinating Committee (DCC) elections held in parts of the country, some of them ordered to be nullified by the party's leadership.

Reports are that some Zanu-PF charlatans instructed voters on who should win, in many cases barring popular candidates from contesting, citing the dictatorial jungle rule that says "juniors must not contest positions that are of interest to senior members" of the party. There is no worse insult to democracy than this filthy logic, and Zanu-PF needs to stop this madness before the electorate is fed up with the nonsense.

But away from its internal democratic shortcomings, Zanu-PF has set a more plausible election agenda for 2012 than their MDC partners in the current inclusive Government. The party has repeated another mass-resonating economic policy in Saviour Kasukuwere's indigenisation drive, especially the 51 percent local ownership of essential businesses in the country.

Predictably the MDC-T is concerned that the policy will disappoint the responsible and civilised people of this world, who must be attracted at all cost to come and employ our labour-gifted people.
In fact, the MDC-T actually brags about a "jobs policy" that it says shadows Zanu-PF's economic empowerment drive and Tendai Biti is not at all ashamed of it. He is convinced we are jobs people and not investors or a people capable of running businesses.

What often happens in elections is that the needs of people often recede drastically as party managers and their PR agencies focus on character politics elevating vilification of political opponents to the status of national interest, with slander and hate sometimes converted to pure logic. To this end the MDC-T cannot see itself winning an election where Zanu-PF is not portrayed as demonic.

Senator Morgan Femai's recent lunatic contributions towards the HIV and Aids policy are not only a matter of personal inadequacy but rather a disturbing reflection of the shallowness in policy among candidates that are allowed by political parties to contest for positions of power. Specifically the utterances that women need to be shabby and unattractive in order to curb the spread of HIV and Aids were an indication of the lack of seriousness the MDC-T places on policy formulation.

That Douglas Mwonzora could not even gather enough courage to discredit the utterances, save for blaming the "unfortunate" blame on his party makes it even more concerning. It has become more important to block a propaganda coup for Zanu-PF that even perfect foolishness can be subtly defended. That is the logic at the MDC-T.

Senator Femai is certainly a foolish politician, but he is definitely not the only nut case in the political community.

The late Senator Joseph Culverwell was ejected from Parliament in the eighties after he labelled the late Sydney Malunga "a lunatic" for suggesting that rapists were motivated by hunger, advising the House that providing food to poverty-stricken males would help reduce rape cases.

Culverwell declared he could not put up with such "empty mouthing." Sadly Zimbabwe still has to put up with this kind of empty-mouthing.

One MDC-T legislator recently proposed the administering of a libido-suppressing substance to all men, and also passing a law that limits sex for men to once a month.

The vanguard who uphold the elevated ideals of our liberation struggle have among them some who believe they are uniquely charged with managing the Zimbabwean society and directing the course of our collective actions, even regardless of our choices. To these the drift towards unchallenged occupation of political office must be acceptable to all loyal members of the revolution in happiness and in sorrow, in good performance or otherwise, simply on the most important understanding that those who fought colonialism are immune to challenge.

Zanu-PF lost quite a chunk of parliamentary seats to this phenomenon of mistaking docility for loyalty in 2008. Imposed candidates chose to sink with the party instead of upholding the views of the voting public and allowing electable candidates to contest.

If this does not change in the immediate, Zanu-PF can prepare to escort those unelectable members of its vanguard into political oblivion. Fortunately the revolution is greater than the party.

Each time this writer has raised the issue of the MDC-T's incapacity to articulate policy, there has always been this blame that the party has no access to outline its policies through the public media.

What has not been explained is why the slogan CHINJA has been so successfully promoted outside access to public media and why the soaring rhetoric about Zanu-PF's alleged dictatorial tendencies has been so widely peddled outside this public media access.

It is a wonder that the pages of pro-MDC-T privately owned newspapers are all blank on MDC-T policy, writing on behalf of the insidious party more about Zanu-PF's problems than the successes of the MDC-T of course because no such successes exist.

Zanu-PF must forget totally about the MDC-T in the competing agenda setting of elections. Rather the party must learn to contend with the reality that the West's marvels about free elections are only spared for situations where elections are believed to have come out the "right way," for Zimbabwe the MDC-T way.

The 2008 June election in Lebanon was hailed as free and fair by the entirety of the West just because the Western-sponsored Saad Hariri's March 14 coalition had won more representatives in Parliament, despite having lost the popular vote 47 percent to 53 percent to Hizbollah's March 8 coalition.

The 2006 Hamas election win in Palestine resulted in the brutal US-Israel response to a genuinely free election, with other shameless people lauding George W. Bush's administration for its noble dedication to "democracy promotion," even suggesting that it was the US responsibility to make the lesser people of the Arab world appreciate democracy, not to do the unthinkable of voting such "terrorists" like Hamas into power.

Zanu-PF must watch out for this trend in the coming election.The whole idea of elevating debate about alleged human rights abuses and "war crimes" by Zanu-PF and its leadership is designed to criminalise Zanu-PF and whatever the party stands for, land and indigenisation included, even criminalising membership to the party.

The idea is to set an election agenda that threatens to punish the electorate for voting Zanu-PF, starting by labelling all Zanu-PF supporters criminals by association threatening those who openly support the policies of Zanu-PF with retribution in the event Zanu-PF does not win the election one day. The hell promised to instil fear is, of course, The Hague.

If the people of Lebanon had voted Hizbollah into power in 2008, the USA would not hesitate to instruct Israel to bomb them for it, the same way the Palestinians were starved, bombed and brutalised after voting in Hamas in 2006.

Zanu-PF must henceforth insist that intimidation of its supporters by Western-sponsored human rights activists and other Western surrogates must stop forthwith if ever there will be a truly free and fair election in Zimbabwe.

Rhodesian Eddie Cross recently posted an article portraying Zanu-PF as a party in waiting for some retributive trials and punishment and, surely, that kind of behaviour must be halted if Zanu-PF is serious about asserting itself as the true revolutionary party responsible for bringing about the nation's independence, a legacy Zimbabwe cannot afford to lose.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome! It is homeland or death!!

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in Sydney, Australia.



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