An inherited crisis of imagination: Colonially constructed Zimbabwe

An inherited crisis of imagination: Colonially constructed Zimbabwe
Published: 04 August 2018 | by Tshepo Mabalne

An inherited crisis of imagination: A Long Essay concerning the understanding of Zimbabwe

By: Tshepo Mabalane Mabalane

If it is a despot you would dethrone, see first his throne erected within you is destroyed lest what you call freedom is the strongest of chains.

The Gibranian perception sums the November 2017 events in Zimbabwe where army generals and false fathers found themselves committing a more debased Oedipal crime of sleeping with the mother without having slain the father.

As I have said in the past, the current Zimbabwean dilemma is only a tip of an iceberg that cannot be tackled in a pedestrian manner. It is not an everyday discussion of conflicting formulas, philosophies or principles of academic nature but a life and death condition which cannot afford the luxury of procrastination while we breathe this toxic and intoxicating atmosphere.
Zimbabwe is a painful problem that demands immediate attention.

A superficial evaluation of the catch would attribute the problem to its manifestations when the root of the matter lies much deeper. It is therefore incorrect to locate the points of tension in the present. The problem lies rather, in the configuration of the nation. These origins should be traced without delay. This I shall demonstrate in this piece by steering off the mediocrity of missing the point that forever tries to settle any pressing question through giving an anti-Popperian trend of issuing a sound and balanced judgement that makes everyone happy but entirely missing the point. 

My argument is simple; the idea of Zimbabwe has not translated to a Zimbabwean idea. This anchoring argument allows me to locate the idea of Zimbabwe as both a modernity/coloniality scholarly claim as it is a flawed and illusory representation. Consequently, as I shall demonstrate, the moral validity of the idea of Zimbabwe is itself questionable. I think that point is clear though it might lend itself to misunderstandings. I am not disputing Zimbabwe as a geographic space. That form of existence cannot be denied; Zimbabwe has been in existence for thirty-eight years. It might change anytime, but for now it is still in existence, a reality to fathom. However, that does not stop anyone from analyzing or questioning its moral or political validity.

At this point, it must also be noted, any discussion of the nation-state in Zimbabwe and Africa is all about an inherited colonial structure. The contentious but fluid forms of citizenship by the ruling(black) elites, just like that of the colonialists is characterized by dehumanization, domination, violence, repression and coercion.  The colonial structure always had ethnicity(race) as its founding pillar just as the ‘post-colonial’ structure has ethnicity(tribe)as its founding pillar. This order of things buttresses the relevance of Du Bois’ observation that the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line. Eminent scholar and philosopher Ramon Grosfoguel sheds even more light by defining racism as that global hierarchy of superiority and inferiority along the line of the human that have been politically, culturally and economically produced and reproduced for centuries by the institutions of the ‘capitalist/patriarchal western-centric/Christian-centric modern/colonial world system’. References to race, racism and whiteness in this piece should for that reason not shock anyone. In a nutshell, the problem of Zimbabwe and Africa and the idea of both is at large a problem of inheritance and the crisis of imagination by its leadership which has remained an extension of both entities’ ‘historicism’ whose umbilical cord refuses to be detached from the womb of totalitarianism that birth it.

The final section; “ The Big fat Elephant in the Room: UMthwakazi/ Butua/Bukhwa”, is an attempt to move away from an epistemological approach that perpetually seeks to permanently subordinate ontological positions to whims of a logical hierarchy which is not only colonial but a clear case epistemicide. In other words, I seek to concretely resurrect and preserve in our analysis and without prejudice to its absolute character, the pre-colonial as something we can draw great lessons learn from if not imitate. Instead of scoffing at the pre-colonial as barbaric and savage we should rather treat it logically and perhaps in a co-existent manner without linearizing time.
I begin.

A: A Background: Triumph and an end of introjection

Herbert Marcuse in his essay on liberation describes triumph and introjection as a stage where the people cannot reject the system of domination without rejecting themselves. That entails people discarding their own repressive instinctual needs and values for the imagination of a new nation.
In that case he argues, liberation is subversion against the will and against the prevailing selfish and domineering interests of the great majority of the people over the minority.

One thing that is real about Zimbabwe is that it has, over the years been a terrible society that has profitably functioned for the selfish ‘majority’ until the consequences of debasement caught up with the degenerate society. Of course one man had to be sacrificed, the father, Mugabe. By chance or default, the beneficiaries of the evil system somehow mastered the High Priest Caiaphas’ words that, “you don’t realize that it is expedient for you that one man should die than the whole nation to perish”.
As such, it should not surprise anyone that the very same people who were previously worshipping Mugabe, somehow, in an Iscariotian manner, lynched him the very following day. Not to mention that his favourite sons, the son of god (Mnangagwa) and the most obedient son (Mpofu) were at the forefront of his lynching without forgetting that the ‘Munu wese kune Mai’ Chiyangwa is no longer his relative. Those who scream Hosanna today bellow crucify him tomorrow.

There is a concealed constant here that holds these nodes together. Ethnicity.

The point is simple. Zimbabwe is a tribal entity before it is anything else. Ethnicity structures all the relationships in that country and determines all the socio-economic gradients and economic discourse masquerading as sophistry.

For fastidiousness’ sake, the sophistry that accompanies the interpretations of the current imbroglio, whether economic or political serves to conceal the socio-economic disadvantages by all the minority groups under the Ndebele umbrella, (Venda, Chewa, Tonga, Kalanga, Nguni, Sotho, Tswana, Khoisan, Matebeleland-Shona, Shangani, Lemba and others). In a nutshell, the tragic failure of the social, where failure to manage heterogeneity and the promotion of ostracisation of difference has birthed and scandalously preserved the ethnic at the expense of all that works ranging from the economic, political, social fabric to modes of worship.  
But how does this come about?

B. The dilemma of Zimbabwe; inheritance of structure and tapered imagination
As I pointed out earlier, the idea of Zimbabwe is punctured with defects, hermeneutics of suspicion, justified self-interest without support of moral principle. The general will, has been subjected to the rule of the vanquished by the vanquisher not to only divide and rule but to also vanquish any form of order, for through chaos the despots thrive. As we may know, the general will is simply what the citizens of the state have decided together in their sovereign assembly. To add, an alternative interpretation of the general will is the transcendent incarnation of the citizens’ common interest that exists in abstraction from what any of them actually wants in the process losing individuality, clan, tribe or religion for the sake of the whole. Today, after the coup we are presented with the Generals’ will instead of the General will.

This crisis goes back to Zimbabwe’s conception.

Subsequently, the crisis of Zimbabwe is not economic, political or other. It is a serious crisis of imagination. This crisis has led to fragmented and competing ideas of nationhood where minority consciousness and groups are defined as enemies of the state therefore deserving of death, physically, culturally, economically and even linguistically. For this kind of state to exist there has to be an internal enemy, a dissident that binds the nation together and is the glue of the artificial national consciousness.
This leads to sobering questions; what is our idea of the state, what is our idea of being, what is our idea becoming and in a nutshell what does is it mean to be human in Zimbabwe? What does it mean to be Zimbabwean? Is invisibilising others being? What has led to the ubiquity of normalizing the will to power despite its visible defects? While it is impossible to inherit an unencumbered state, why are its defects unseen, ignored or go unquestioned?

We can begin answering these questions by categorically stating that Zimbabwe is a European/Western idea just like all other African countries. It is a zombie state. Its imagination is Eurocentric. Its crisis of imagination can be traced to the European idea of the nation-state. That is an idea which has struggled to bring anyone who looks different into each conception of humanity.

C. The Westphalian European State

The European idea of the state is about conquest, total domination and homogeneity. Difference is an abomination. This idea was sold hook, line and sinker to African nationalists like Samora Machel known for the line, “for the nation to live the tribe must die” when in reality for the nation to live the tribe must flourish. There is no problem with tribe but there is a huge one with tribalism.

The Eurocentric idea of the state has its dubious character, as pointed in the past by scholar Ndlovu-Gatsheni, of fortifying the myth of the chosen one, one chosen nation, one chosen language, one chosen religion, one chosen tribe, one chosen race and in Africa it has been all along one chosen leader.

This model does not correspond with the reality on the ground. It is these Eurocentric ideas that lie at the heart of the irreconcibility of the realities of the Zimbabwean nation-state, the impossibilities of imagining the state in a diverse ethnic, racial, linguistic manner. The European worldview has always exhibited the poor management of difference so has Africa, ironically a continent with the most diverse ethnic groups in the world.

Where the Eurocentric state does not correspond with the realities of diversity on the ground it becomes characterised by the development of coercive tendencies where it has the power and claim the constitutional use of force within its defined territory. Consequently, via the army, police, media, courts, church, education system and security sector seeks to unite the people subjected to its rule. This is done by means of homogenisation and banal nationalism where the pursuit of building a shared sense of belonging is performed to creating a common culture. The spectacle includes symbols such as flags, values, reviving traditions and formative myths of origin, and sometimes inventing and re-inventing them. Like headless chickens the half-cooked and half-baked idiotic elite finds itself clutching to these symbols.

More generally, this Eurocentric inability to navigate dissimilarity is even well entrenched in institutions that one would expect more tolerance from. One example is in religion where even a philosopher like Vladimir Sergeevich sees difference as nothing but a progression towards re-intergration.  The British Labour Party has in the past shocked people with its strong stance on assimilation. Tony Blair, sounding like Nigel Farage, was quoted as saying, ‘Our tolerance is part of what makes Britain, Britain. So conform to it; or don't come here’. Not to be outdone was his Minister of Communities, Ruth Kelly, calling multiculturalism as outdated and a threat to British identity was even more adamant, ‘In our attempt to avoid imposing a single British identity and culture, have we ended up with some communities living in isolation of each other, with no common bonds between them?

This is derisory coming from the Labour Party and from a group of people who have never conformed to Indian, Chinese, Nigerian values or any other values of the lands they landed on. These are people who have taken the good in their history and shouted ‘our heritage, our heritage’ on roof tops and invisibilised their bad side, which all the same is rapidly coming out today.

In isiNdebele they say, ‘okulempondo akufihlwa emgodleni’ or ‘Sobohla Manyosi’. Assimilation is hierarchisation, it assumes a superior group whose values must be adopted. Assimilation is for non-citizens, the drags of society, the foreigner, the non-human. These groups may be forcibly assimilated via genocide, epistemicide or political linguicide.   In countries like Nigeria part of the assimilation into Nigerianness means the adoption of Hausa tribal attitudes, in Kenya it is Kikuyu attitudes and down South Zimbabweanness and to be human means adopting Shona supremacist, xenophobic and genocidal attitudes. By and large this tendency translates to elections in Africa in general where elections are nothing but ethnic roll-calls.

Ernest Renan the 19th century French philosopher even resurrects and adds to these antiquated divisive notions of the nation two key discordant concepts. These are namely ‘forgetfulness’ and ‘extermination and terror”. These, according to Renan, are a means to an end. The end is unity and the nation. Renan claims that forgetfulness is a key component in the creation of a nation.
Drawing from the Eurocentric ethic of violence Renan asserts that all nations are born out of violence, so the violent acts should be conveniently forgotten for a nation to be forged and unity to prevail.  This flawed take of things should not be surprising coming from Europe, a continent that has exterminated the Herero, Aborigines or the Native American.

Renan believes that people unite in their memories of suffering because alleviating grief requires a “common effort” which serves as a foundation for unity. But Renan’s idea of unity, in itself is mottled. This contrived nationalism takes unity for uniformity yet the two are different terms altogether. Unity is basically the harmony and togetherness of different populations or nations within a country yet uniformity desires likeness and any form of difference is not tolerated. One red flag of where ZANU was going to take the country through its ideas of uniformity could have been seen during the struggle when handicapped people, just because they were different were killed or the Nhari/Badza rebellion where people with a different perspective were buried alive, some imprisoned and others shot dead. Renan proves true when the oppressor Mugabe attempts to subsume all the Matebele sub-nations into Shona via genocide, deprivation and linguicide.

This failure of reason, self-deception and poverty of imagination by so called African revolutionaries and its intellectual advisors is disheartening. Forklifting and transplanting of genocidal ideas is inexcusable.
It should however be understood as espoused by Valentin Mudimbe in the opening lines of his book ‘The Invention of Africa’ that, colonialism’s intention sought to transform non-Europeans into fundamentally European constructs. Mudimbe even traces the etymology of the word colonialism which is derived from Latin, ‘colere’ meaning to cultivate or design. The black and dull elites trusted with power in ‘post-colonial’ Africa, who anyways were the closest to the colonial masters have done a neat copy and paste job and even went step further by committing genocide against their own people, something the colonialists will not even do to their own.

People like Joshua Nkomo were not understood when they pointed out these things as they appeared to be far ahead of their times only to be understood almost two decades after their death. For example, Nkomo was already aware of the lack of imagination by the African students in European universities during the struggle,

“White experts on Rhodesia….missionaries, government employees, academics loyal to successive regimes had for a long time emphasised and exaggerated tribal differences as a way of dividing people…now their work was bearing fruit through students at universities abroad who felt the need to create some artificial loyalty to a group, and they chose tribal differences as a means of rallying that loyalty”.

D. Zimbabwe: A ‘manure of conceptual contradictions’

At the heart of this Zimbabwean problem is a series of conceptual conflations. One example is the rhetoric and normativised idea of conflating the nation with the state. A Zimbabwean state exists but not a Zimbabwean nation. There are many nations within the Zimbabwean state; some of the nations transcend the state into countries like Mozambique (Manyika) or Botswana (Kalanga, Tswana).
 It is important to note that the modern state, across the world is a Westphalian political construction that emerged in early modern Europe.  Despite being duplicated across the world with all its flaws the model has been imitated in all other parts of the world with disastrous consequences.
The state is only a juridical entity that arises out of society, but should not subsume society. But in Africa the state was developed to serve interests divorced from the populace, it is divorced from the nation(s), but only legislatively functions to monitor those nations via a paid mob of the army and police on behalf the master(Coloniser).

It is through these lens that we can understand the coup in Zimbabwe.
How then does this crisis of imagination play out in Zimbabwe? What can we read from the recent coup de tat events?

E. Performing Coloniality and Eurocentrism in Zimbabwe

As we navigate this terrain, I would like to begin by pointing out three things. I am aware that I may be taken for a cripple who hates dancers but frankly, it does not help anyone for the strong and swift to limp before the lame mistaking the act for kindness. Qiniso aliqedi buhlobo!

 First, in the Hegelian sense, the true problem is always the opposite one. This cannot chime truer than observing the Zimbabwean situation which is also well- illustrated by Slavoj Zizek, that when we observe a thing, we see too much in it, we fall under the spell of its empirical detail which prevents us from seeing the determination that forms the core of things. As such, the political, economic, or military tyranny is all a result of the social in Zimbabwe.

To be precise, the social is anchored on the ethnic in Zimbabwe. That denotes the deliberately ‘constructed’ majority ethnic that has become a reality. We should therefore not proclaim to be erudite when we only see the thing in front of us forgetting that the thing is embedded in all the wealth of a social context, at times premised on concocted histories established on the the will of power. Therefore, let us not reduce or confuse the thing for its traits or its manifestations.

Second, it is always wise people’s words that you cannot honour one guest above the other, for he who is mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.

Third, there is nothing unique or special about Zimbabwe in the grand scheme of things. Zimbabwean exceptionalism is a myth. Like any other country in the underside of modernity, Zimbabwe has, like a clumsy un-imaginative clown in a circus performed an ancient routine with more brawn than brain through a very simplistic Shona supremacist hierarchical structure to the detriment of the country.
We should not get it twisted. The Zimbabwean economy, in all its glorious shambles, like the ruins it is named after, is a result of the social. The tyrant’s long stay in power was a result of the social. The social world determines the emergence of meaning and human identities and how individual situations relate to the development and preservation of social and political situations. Regrettably, over a long period of time the mis-birthed social can be established as natural or teleological law. And this is how the social was (mis)constructed in Zimbabwe.

At the very heart of Zimbabwe is a hierarchical power that flows from the top to the bottom. At the apex is a ‘god’ in whom all power is concentrated. The ‘god’ is all and in all. He is the chosen one, so is his language, his ethnic group and his culture. His power is mediated by his ‘son’ who in turn channels power to his representatives across the country, which is mainly the state institutions, the army and even Vice-Chancellors of universities, NGOs, the media and the clergy.

This model extends to the whole society and in an ethnocentric manner at that. It goes all the way to village chiefs, headmen, headmasters, and even to the village idiot. The glue that binds the whole structure is ‘dissidentifying’ of the different via language not necessarily of the majority but the ‘constructed’ majority, the Shona.

Here majority does not mean the most people following an idea, be it socialist, ubuntuist or a capitalist idea, but it means the majority ethnic group following their kith and kin.   A sense of responsibility of defending the state is engendered even without pay such that the average person from the benefitting group can be mistaken for an intelligence officer. The sense that one might get would be that everyone works for the state, which is somehow not far from the truth.

It is from this structure that we can understand the going-ons in Zimbabwe (itself a tribal name) today despite the fact that the ‘god’ has been replaced, albeit by his own ‘son’.

In a nutshell, after 37 years of zombification, this voodoofication of thought should be expected in the populace and shockingly in its syllabus intellectuals. An army clearly says, and in broad daylight, we want to preserve the status quo and get rid of these mafikizolo malcreants who are not only threatening our wealth but liberation credentials too. And the populace gives applause.

Why should we dehumanize ourselves to produce artifacts that throw our being into invisibility? Why? It smacks of the village prophet who merrily pulls down the panties of his female congregants in all their hew and make, at times in the full knowledge of their husbands, just because he has power to belt out a prophecy or two at times accompanied by a spell or three.

But the cowards must remember these two things; 1. whatever form of violence or sophistry cannot permanently silence natural freedom and the will for liberty. 2. A cannibalist state in all its power, it could not eat the outsiders but itself. The populace should remember this one thing, to support any of the kissing ogres, for one selfish reason or another is tantamount to castrating your own son, the pain cannot be felt physically by the parent today but by the son however in the long run the parent would have castrated the self and the lineage.
As outlined in the preceding sections, we need to focus on how this ethnic anomaly is translated into a language of logic or epistemology and finally praxis.

A national enemy is created. The enemy is not without but within the state. Creation of a protracted negative. The imagined enemy. This creation of a hereditary enemy through history is largely not supported by sensibleness but epistemological concoctions in the media, church, education systems and informal tales, be it folk or pub tales. The nation state here, is defined in opposition or in extermination of the imagined enemy. One-sided education based on obliterating the other focuses on ‘dissidentifying’ the other such that others even deny their identity.

This denial of identity is not unprecedented in global identity politics of life and death.

In America blacks will start claiming other identities i.e. Tiger Woods, Cablinasian, in Zimbabwe some begin to distance themselves from their own claiming Malawian or Mozambican (A South African link is not allowed) heritage which keeps them closer to the ‘authentic subjects’. Others would perform a heavy rulers’ accent live on TV when dethroning the tyrant for quick acceptance into the nation. In a nutshell the ‘nation-state’ should be protected from contamination by the dissidents or those who look or sound like dissidents.

We have seen this position before. The quote below is a good example,

“There is a lot of ‘Aborigines’ in the land, their doom is to be exterminated and the sooner that their doom be accomplished so that there be no cruelty so the better will it be for civilisation”. This was not pub talk but words of Anthony Trollop the author of the famous novel turned movie series, ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Those words easily fit the narrative of genocide where the extermination of the Ndebele was deemed the better for the nation.

It is through these lenses that we can understand the coup of no coup. I focus on two key expanses. First, what happened in Zimbabwe was a coup d’etat.  A coup d’etat by its simplest definition is the illegal and overt seizure of a state by the military or other elites within the state apparatus. 
The motive behind the coup can be read in various ways but to me, without inhibiting the development of varying interpretations, other lens for me are trifling and trivial. By having the Head of state in the grasp of the Ndebele in the person of Jonathan Moyo was against the very idea of Zimbabwe. It was shaking the very foundations of Gukurahundi upon which Zimbabwe is founded. Quarrelsome Grace Ntombizodwa was fooled to think her Nguni name or Benoni South African roots would be ignored. Not to mention the idea of Valerio Sibanda heading the army or Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko ascending the throne after refusing that he was junior to Mnangagwa.

The Horror! The Horror! The Horror! The Kurztian horror of a Ndebele being a president. The horror has always been nipped in the bud anyways, in 1961 Nkomo was displaced, Ndabaningi Sithole same fate, Morgan Tswangirayi over Gibson Sibanda, Arthur Mutambara over Welshman Ncube. Even when Ncube finally led the other MDC, he could not be allowed to take sips of tea with the tripartite.
It is a long list that covers all spheres of life where even in sport merit means ethnic group, as such Peter Ndlovu will not be greater than Moses Chunga, if he does, does the ethnocentrist retrieves George Shaya. Jeys Marabini a Ndebele artist will be pelted with bottles and stones just because they say they do not understand his language. These are the same people who will listen to R. Kelly when they can hardly hear any English or Busy Signal’s Jamaican Patois.

To sum up the events one would highlight the incident in Parliament where MPs like Angeline Masuku were forced to speak in English by the Deputy Senate speaker Chen Chimutengwende when responding to Joram Gumbo who had actually addressed parliament in Shona in the first place. There are a million incidences of the ‘dissidentification’ of the Ndebele at all levels of society even by the Zimbabwean Human Rights Lawyers who have since the regarded the Ndebele as non-human not worth representing.

There was indeed a coup.

Yes, according to the idea of Zimbabwe a coup was taking place, someone had to intervene without killing god and save him and the ‘nation’ from the Ndebele dissidents. This was long time coming after all, to those who were following events in the country in the past two years or so. One could list a thousand things, but a few would suffice.

The campaign against the Vice-President Mphoko staying in a hotel when others junior to him had even stayed longer. The declaration of Obert Mpofu as the most corrupt minister in the country.  The heavy involvement of the Ndebele in the events leading to the skirmishes would need another thousand words to explain on how by design they fulfilled the ‘dissident role’. By that I mean the hunt for Jonathan Moyo, the letter by Simon Khaya Moyo, the TV announcement by Sibusiso Moyo, the MC at the Mnangagwa first appearance, Obert Mpofu, the MC at the inauguration Khaya Moyo and the announcement that there could be a coup in Zimbabwe by Dumiso Dabengwa. All these events were not by default but design even up to the looting of the Mphoko owned Choppies shops. It had to be the Ndebele who had to play a dissident role of testing the wrath of the masses. This is not the say the Ndebele mentioned are covered in glory. God forbid, they are not, they have their own skeletons
That is how rotten Zimbabwe is. A shona gukurahundist supremacist state in denial.

F. The Convenient ‘Jezebilising’ of Grace Mugabe

Second ‘Jezebelising’ of Grace is a very simple narrative that seeks to mask the monster that ZANU is. If Grace Mugabe is the problem in Zimbabwe we may be forced to ask some routine questions; Was Grace at Mgagao, was Grace at Enos Nkala’s house, was Grace at the Nhari rebellion, where was Grace during the assassination of Chitepo, Tongogara and others? Where was Grace at Gukurahundi? Where was Grace at Willowgate, how about during ESAP?

I am pretty sure the sudden convenient hero Sally Mugabe was there during all those times. I am talking of Sally Mugabe who regularly left with a million dollars in cash to Ghana until Zimbabwe customs complained. I am talking of Sally the angel who took a dialysis machine from Mpilo Hospital to her home and hundreds lost their lives. A lot can be said about the angel Sally. We will not get into the inconclusive Rashiwe Guzha kidney story. So please spare us the lies and stay away from easy narratives.

Grace Mugabe and Mnangagwa have been fighting the same battle from different angles. They were both on the verge of being left in the lurch by the tyrant. On the one hand, as observed in the past by Dinizulu M. Macaphulana Grace and her children potentially face the wrath of those wronged by the tryrant and on the other hand, Mnangagwa faces the wrath of justice of all the blood he spilt with and on behalf of the tyrant during his right hand man tenure.

This, for safety sake, became a marathon to safety, the ‘god’ had to be deposed not killed as he is worshipped and both competitors are moulded in his image so is his ethnic group. The unfortunate part with Mnangagwa is that tribalism caught up with him as there are also tribal hierarchies within the Shona supremacist state that has the Zezuru at the top, at least for the past 37 years. As a Karanga Shona sub-group Mnangagwa risked being thrown to the hounds, so he had to use brawn to grab state institutions after being beaten hands down by brain, at the mercy of Jonathan Moyo. If he beat brain by brawn we yet to see if he can beat the ballot. But, it all depends on his governance. A South-South relationship is his only survival otherwise he is history. There is a lot of precedence in history. When Bashar Al-Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad died, al Bashar had to initiate reforms that unfortunately came back to bite him. He had no choice nevertheless but to make those reforms.  Mugabe’s departure must be celebrated because his symbol goes with him and all his successors will not be strong as him.
But what do his successors have in store for the country?

 G. Mnangagwa and the Generals: Is their remorse greater than their misdeeds?

Now that Mnangagwa and the generals have delivered a ‘New Zimbabwe’ are they to be trusted with the new way forward? In 2014 one of the best brains and political analysts in Zimbabwe, Mthulisi Mathuthu predicted the current scenario. In his article entitled, ‘Weighing Mugabe’s Calculations’, Mathuthu anticipated with great accuracy how Mnangagwa would rise to the throne and open up Zimbabwe to Western interests and secure the country into the broader community of nation states.
This opening up the country to Western and Eastern interests should lead us to key questions. Who is Mnangagwa? What does Mnangagwa want? What does Mnangagwa stand for? Who anointed Mnangagwa and for what purpose? What is the glue that binds Mnangagwa and the army together? Is Mnangagwa and of course the generals what Zimbabwe want? Where does Mnangagwa stand on that dehumanizing bridge between individual and structure, to be precise what is his position on Matebeleland genocide and the dispossessed white farmers? Finally, will Mnangagwa together with the army adopt a pronounced democratic approach believing in all verities of freedom, justice and equality or we are yet to see a continuity of sustained domination?

In answering these questions, one might as well bet that the idea of Zimbabwe that put him into power or manufactured him shall not be let go. Freedom of speech, respect of the law, sanctity of life and other humanizing artifacts will remain only for the privileged constructed majority. Others will remain a fringe interest if an interest at all and continue to occupy the position of national disdain and dissidence.
Common sense, despite being non-methodical, its practicality and pragmatism should also dictate to us that Mnangagwa will be unable to shed what he has benefitted from. Shedding it off would be like expecting an eagle to pluck off its own feathers to soar higher. That said, it cannot be ignored that, the focus, albeit on the present and what the future might bring, conceals within it a deep anxiety because the bridge between the past and the future appears to promise nothing but a reproduction of the same past.

Eliminating a tyrant is not synonymous with liberation, let alone to replace the tyrant with his right hand man. What causes anxieties is largely the absence of infrastructure at the moment of ‘victory’ to take us forward or give us hope. This exacerbated by what becomes my argument for this section drawn from Frantz Fanon and Lewis R. Gordon. My argument is categorical;

The generation that takes the mission of decolonization, through means such as war is not necessarily suited for the next stage of liberation, a new generation needs to take over. As pointed out by the two philosophers, the fighters for national liberation are nourished on the unique struggle they often maintain their uniqueness on those terms.

These liberators circulate a lot in the orbit of their oppressor such that they cannot be disentangled from the oppressors and always seek validation from the very same oppressor. But we should also be wary, those who have not fought the liberation struggle or born years after detente can also speak from the position of the liberation struggle veterans.

 It should not surprise anyone that the new regime will seek aid from the very people it finds its ontological density from having fought. Ain’t that a gwitch? Somehow, struggle stalwarts have or are always inclined to erasing their liberatory credentials. It is left for the new generation to define liberation in its own terms.

The first stage of liberation is the Marcusian sensibility. Sensibility is men and women who overcome their sense of guilt by choosing not to identify with the false fathers who have built a colonial ‘post-colonial’ enclave in the form of a Zimbabwe characterized by hate, genocide, ethnocentrism and epistemicide (the killing of knowledges). Sensibility calls for the new generation to give up the divisive things it has cherished and held on to, the things that has prevented it from taking a leap into life and liberation. New social practices that liberate us should be constructed. If Mnangagwa is on to lead in this social reconstitution it must be all in sincerity and transparency.
Social practices are knowledge practices that mirror scientific knowledge. So what does Mnangagwa stand for and what informs his idea of Zimbabwe? To answer this question, we can only draw from his history and from the few speeches he has made so far.

What is his idea of development? Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, he said in his speech. In his employment and deployment of the job narrative Mnangagwa is doing what one may call revelation by concealment.
First, what he reveals in his politics is epistemic dislocation, something that fulfils Hegel’s claim that the greatest thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history. Mnangagwa just like his predecessor and many an African leader is epistemically dislocated.  In this case, by epistemic dislocation I mean thinking from Europe or rather a Eurocentric mindset and not from his own position.
Jobs, infrastructure, health and all these other material artifices cannot precede social re-configurations. If the social, such as inequalities and specifically ethnocentrism or rather Shona supremacy which of course degenerates into various gradations such as Zezuru or Karanga supremacy are not addressed, they will come back to destroy the very same jobs and infrastructure that has been created. If there is any befitting example to use in Africa, it is Zimbabwe, the so called former bread basket of Africa.
One of the greatest philosophers of our time, the late Joshua Nkomo, whose speeches have become prophecies spoke about this way back in the 1960s, was very clear on this;
"If development in Southern Africa is an obstacle to political freedom of the black people there, then we shall have to destroy that development…… if a bridge meant to help our people is also made to oppress them, we are going to destroy that bridge”.

One has to understand though that jobs and infrastructure rhetoric only appeals and makes sense to the desperate. As we all know it is only the desperate who sells his or her birth-right for a soup of lentils, and of course it is only an idiot who has the benefit of hindsight that sells his birth-right for a soup of lentils. Oh oh sugar lumps, cranberry, ice tea, flippin heck, lentils always catch up with us.
Second, and as an extension to the previous point, Mnangagwa’s rhetoric conceals the Zimbabwean problem by de-contextualisation. De-contextualisation enables Mnangagwa not to only remove the gaze from the social but to control the interpretation and deployment of meaning. For example, corruption has been re-defined to mean his enemies and not his friends who are also filthy corrupt.
What Mnangagwa is doing is what Hannah Arendt calls ‘dramatis personae’. The president wears a mask and is performing transparency and non-corruption. That façade is not needed. The political theatre is the last thing that Zimbabwe needs now. He needs not wear a mask, with or without it the people do not need any form of play-acting, they have suffered a lot. 
But what is not true cannot be maintained.

I do not have a problem with corruption, as long as it is made to beat bureaucracy and invest in the people. All strong economies in the world have benefitted and are benefitting from corruption. Wow!!! What is this dude saying? Yes, I said so. The most corrupt countries like the United Kingdom plunder other countries but what they do well is invest in their people, the social. Funny enough these despots, through lack of imagination, plunder their own country, as opined by Ngugi Wa Thiongo and invest in the very same Western countries. This discussion can be left for another day.

 H. What could be the way forward for Mnangagwa and his entourage?

At this point it must be dawning to the isiNdebele proficient Mnangagwa the reality that ‘isilima siyabulangazelela ubukhosi’ literally translated, it is only an idiot that desires the throne. This saying is not about the idiot though but a reflection on how complex and unforgiving the job of a leader is.
Truth be said, this is a great opportunity for Mnangagwa. And truth be repeated, the regime cannot be worse than Mugabe unless through lack of imagination they plunge the country into a war and a litany of military men succeeding each other ala  Chiwenga, Sibusiso Moyo, Perence Shiri until junior officers have their turn until we have a Nigerian situation where military men are the perpetual governors.
To some, military men in governance are not a problem, I know, because other schools of thought hold the perspective that in African history leaders were from the military and spiritual background. However, mixing the historical with contemporary might have its own problems. We might face a revolving door where army men keep on coming back to claim the throne. That means if Mugabe was hostage to the army then Mnangagwa is the latest hostage. Remember, my argument is not the army or these individuals but the aping of the Eurocentric state.

And truth be chimed, the new path is not expected to be easy. Consequently, even our analysis as a people should not be constrained by dichotomies of contradictions in an us (innocent, victim) versus them (perpetrators, ogres) binary classifications which are in themselves defined by contradictory interpretations. We, us and them are not the problem, but we have a problem and we are in this problem together.

The problem of our time lies in the area of being human as it lies in the arena of philosophical distinction where imagination of the human should be supreme, but so far with African-zombification where all things Europe are panacea (yet a Panadol-as they give temporary relief), a conviction seems to be far from forming.

This manure of contradictions exacerbated by the contradictory character of the present, which present the problem of imagining possibilities conceals a deep anxiety which might leave us facing the reproduction of the dislocations we have always know. The idea is to work with Mnangagwa who also has to realise he is not only a leader of the Karanga or Shona but Zimbabwe.
Thus Mnangagwa is only presented with three options which are namely: Reform, Transcendence and Submission. These three also apply to anyone who is going to take over from Mnangagwa be it another army general or opposition leader.

All the three present are replete with some accompanying hazards.

I. Reform
It cannot be disputed that Mnangagwa has inherited a poisoned goblet, a chalice in which he also played a significant part in poisoning. However, by self-imposition he has no choice but to lead the reformation.

Reform is generally defined as the amendment of what is wrong, corrupt and unsatisfactory. For reformation to take place the reformers have to come to concrete grasps with what exactly is wrong in Zimbabwe?

As I have been arguing the wrong is on the labyrinth of the social, a problem of inheritance and a crisis of imagination. What is wrong in Zimbabwe is the constitution of the social.
Consequently, the reform should not begin at the material level, by material, I refer to jobs, infrastructure, education system or other tangible artifices. The reform should begin at the reconstitution of the social. What emerges from the social world has determined the current intersubjective Zimbabwean world of education, culture, history, language, economics and all other facets. The genocide, corruption and all other ills are a product of the deformed social. The ills are all socio-genic. The social and the knowledge that informs it is the key pillar of reformation.

 Seek ye thee the humanity of others and the rest shall be added unto you.

As I have pointed out in the preceding sections, Zimbabwe’s problem and constitution of the social emanate from a colonial inheritance. As alluded to by many of our predecessors like Fanon the colonial encounter made one group of people into gods and another into creatures beneath animals at worst and subhuman at best. Philosopher  Lewis R. Gordon buttresses such sentiments by outlining the modus operandi where the oppressor simply refuses to recognise the humanity of people from whom they have caused so much damage. This is a clear Zimbabwean template well captured by former Minister Dumiso Dabengwa who, points out that, “we have continued to suffer simply because those who butchered our people, maimed our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, raped our sisters and mothers, destroyed our property are in charge of State power and they continue to frustrate every effort that we make to express the pain and grief that we are harbouring within ourselves”.

Dabengwa, recognises how those in power have made sure all key elements of society are embodied in their ranks, in a structuralist manner where all departments across the country, including sports and leisure ape the state administration. He pulls no punches back in linking the genocide with this structural violence, “Gukurahundi did not only leave permanent scars nor did it end by the signing of the Unity Accord, it simply mutated from being direct violence underpinned by grossly centralised system of governance that is grotesquely corrupt and self-serving, characterised by gross marginalisation of the same communities that were affected by Gukurahundi”.

Dabengwa brings into the open how all other elements bedevilling Zimbabwe are a problem of the social and the ways in which they exercise great influence on the system. Consequently the problem is structural than institutional, where the benefitting populace with similar prejudices and biases team up together in whichever space they are deployed to fuel the system. Anyone who falls outside the ‘chosen’ culture should spend the rest of their life conforming to the system or face extermination. This trend is endemic in this inherited imagination. It cannot be disputed in many an African country, the state and the party are conflated and identity becomes the license for social mobility, privilege, prosperity and on the other oppression, impoverishment and extermination. Mnangagwa has been presented with a great opportunity of breaking from this tradition. An opportunity in which he will be measured against. This social reconstitution is overdue.

Emmerson Mnangagwa and his administration should begin this social reconstitution by addressing Gukurahundi. That is the starting point.

Of course, any sort of reform comes with hazards. Some Edenian Hazards that could lead some being thrown off the throne. Hazards is that reform may mean his downfall. The hazards are two-pronged but on a labyrinth. First, as the adage goes, ‘When the student is ready the Master will come’, Mnangagwa is a social construct, an artifact of a particular form of scientific knowledge. He does not come from Mars but is truly a reflection and a product of the Zimbabwean psyche that valorizes violence and brutality. So deviating from that norm and re-imagining Zimbabwe is a serious risk for him. The student is ready, and the student is Zimbabwe and Mnangagwa is the Master. So the first risk is dislocation. One would site Syria’s Al Bashir after the death of his father. He liberalized the country and the rest is history. The ethic of violence is well entrenched in the Zimbabwean psyche, no wonder the celebration of the coup. A leader who has not beaten up someone or who has not been beaten up appears not to cut it for Zimbabweans.

 Second, one who reforms must have political legitimacy. By political legitimacy I mean the sanctioning of a political authority by the citizenry with some benchmark of acceptability and justification of the authority and in turn, the authority’s right to rule, issue commands and enforce those commands by stick or carrot or both. In a nutshell the authority should serve those governed but so far there is no tangible consent. It is only until the elections that the authority can garner a semblance of legitimacy unless it postpones the elections and creates a government of national unity as reforms will be impossible without such.

With all our well-meaning intentions of de-absolutizing our politics, we should, however, in the back of our minds remember we have the military sword of Damocles hanging over our heads reminding us of the perilous nature of celebrating the murderous tyrant Mugabe using wrong tools.

Hungarian philosopher Gyorgy Luckas captures this quandary very well, by saying, “the plough is more honourable than are the immediate enjoyments procured by it and which are its ends, the tool lasts, while the immediate enjoyments pass away and are forgotten. The question is what honourable tool have we used? Are we going to deploy it again? If so, then surely we are facing un-reformability, we are trapped in what Philosopher and Historian, Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni termed Mugabeism, that proverbial diabolic scheme in which we are hopelessly trapped and almost completely unaware of its existence. 

J. Transcendence: What is not true cannot be maintaine

It must be highlighted once again. Mnangagwa has been presented with a golden opportunity to chart a new way forward and a break from the past. Going beyond what is and becoming what ought to be. This is a time to go beyond the inherited limits of will to power to the will to live.  It is a time to move away from violence, terror, ethnic divisions, pride, scapegoats and self-aggrandizement which lead towards total domination and finally extermination.

If there is a template to start on, that will be Robert Mugabe’s 4 March 1980 speech, where he says “surely, this is now time to beat our swords into ploughshares so we can attend to the problems of developing our economy and society”.

However, these words must be well intended, in word and in deed. The time of speaking in forked-tongues or Mugufulian theatre populist politics should be done away with. Beating swords into ploughshares will also entail working together with factions, opposition parties, academics, clergy, traditional leaders or even declared enemies within Zanu Pf such as Jonathan Moyo. The incumbent should remember that not all who are close to him like him, chancers and opportunists still abound. The irrefutable fact is that people are addicted to power and the illusion of security that power offers. When a disaster strikes the same people will turn against the false power that they trusted, the hunter can, by the flash of a second be the hunted, with the arrows that left his bow coming back only to seek his entrails.

It is on these grounds that loudspeakers like Chris Mutswanga will also need a lot of training as all sundry have seen that every time he speaks he suspends thinking, the emotive Gukurahundi issue is one of which he has displayed the poverty of grey matter.

These tentative steps away from the direction of domineering kind politics will lead to the production of a new culture which could structurally trickle down. We saw how a culture of violence, terror, scapegoating, genocide, xenophobia, corruption, dehumanisation amongst other ills can be re-produced during the Mugabe era. One example would be a party that purported to fight ZANU PF aping everything from ZANU, the violence, the tribalism and even the plethora of Vice-Presidents. Mnangagwa, despite questions of political legitimacy, is now a leader of Zimbabwe, not the army, Masvingo, the Midlands, the Karanga or his family, but the whole country and all its nations.
As it stands he is the future until election time.  As also observed by Scholar Dinizulu Macaphulana, ‘the future of politics should see power being shared and many groupings coming together to check each other in governing the country. The big man or Big woman paradigm should be allowed to retreat with the leadership of Robert Mugabe. It is from such words that I draw from the eminent scholar Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni’s book, ‘do Zimbabweans exist?  Trajectories of Nationalism, National Identity Formation and Crisis in a Postcolonial State, Bishop Abel Muzorewa’s wise words that;
“If Zimbabwe is to be truly free and liberated, the head of state must be a liberated person himself. He must be free from the shackles of evil deeds or an evil past which will catch up with him. He must be liberated from the constraints of tribalism and racism. He must be an ordinary person…not one infatuated by his own sense of self-importance. Zimbabwe needs as a political head a man or woman capable of love, for the nation is going to need a great deal of loving after 100 years of hate”.

Will Mnangagwa or his successor fit or heed Bishop Muzorewa’s prudent words? Only time will tell. Will he be a narcissist just like his predecessor? A narcissist that suffers from the abandonment neurotic and would go to extreme lengths settling scores eliminating the close and the far off.
The last thing we need now is a post-Mugabe fanaticism where Mnangagwa is modelled into a ‘god’ where everyone professes their undying loyalty and love for and citizens spending most of their livelihood conforming to the ‘god’s whims. As observed by Gordon, this narcissistic rage, desires to be special without limitation to a point of being a god requires a lie to the self. I will be your lie it says. Mnangagwa should not be our lie. Heeding Gordon ‘s words Emmerson Mnangagwa and all African leadership needs to move away from the plane of narcissism whose deluded image leads to seduction by self-deception where the narcissist does not only turn away from the truth but also turns others from the truth.

The third option will be for Mnangagwa to submit to both the East and the West and be the capable stooge.  

K. Submit or perish: A case of history repeating itself

This section uses history to illustrate how the lure for personal power does not only compel African leaders in general including Mnangagwa to submit to the West but to gradually accept the flawed western universalism which defines its own interests as the interests of the world. The very act of accepting this gradualism is in itself a subordinate role. This self-subordination might as well mean temporary economic stability and gross dehumanization but good public relations and a legacy for those who sell their souls.

I therefore trace some few episodes in history that reveal Mnagangwa’s position could be the easy third one of submission and not reform or transcendence.

Why this brief history? I am trying to shed light on how Zimbabwe never created its own history and how it was imagined by external forces in a convergent and convenient manner. Ala strange bed-fellows. This is bound to repeat itself today. A simple illustration, one of many, could be used to shed light on how the international influences the local. This traces back to the liberation struggle which I call a ‘globalist struggle’, that is a struggle supported by the East and Russians but choreographed in the globalist interest of the West. For Africa it was a case of coming off the frying pan(colonialism/imperialism) into the fire(globalism/coloniality). The former is better because it is coercive while the latter is voluntary (conditions are set by the former for the voluntarity).

At this point I will not dwell on how ZANU was formed as a CIA organization via its proxy Sweden, with its first bank account in Tanzania or the links with PAC or its rejection by all other political movements in Africa or the production of its leaders the way Saddam Hussein was produced starting with his high school in Egypt as all these are well interlinked with the production of ZANU. I will also avoid veering off to Leopold Takawira whose idea of politics and tribal thereof was under the mentorship of the Capricorn Society led by David Stirling. It is this society that has, in history of African politics has always earmarked African elites like Robert Mugabe to work hand in glove with white business and monopoly capital.  In this brief history I only want to focus on the production of Mugabe and Mnangagwa and the parallels thereof and how this whole intelligence thing is sophisticated.
If Mnangagwa submits, it is nothing new but a continuation of what has been happening cutting across the liberation struggle. The selling of the birthright for a soup of lentils at a leadership level by many an African is endemic. In effect, African presidents are largely European deployees serving European interests in Africa.

The argument I am building up to this point is, the society we have, in retrospect as well as from a practical point of view began in 1961 when the Rhodesian state together with international forces decided to create and sustain a liberation struggle through a large scale intervention and encroachment in the political, economic and social life of the revolutionary movement. This began a chain of events beginning with the split of revolutionary movement in 1963. In 1964, these forces had already chosen the leader of the post-Rhodesia Zimbabwe and had to preserve him by keeping him in prison not by himself but with other revolutionary leaders under the guise of imprisonment.

This violation of the liberation struggle’s autonomy and the preservation of Robert Mugabe was therefore not only about imprisoning him but it was also about destabilizing any other pretender to the throne starting with ZAPU, then Ndabaningi Sithole, Herbert Chitepo, Josiah Tongogara and finally Joshua Nkomo in 1980. The second step of destabilizing ZAPU after the 1963 split began in earnest in 1969 and played out in 1971. The very same thing that happened in the November 2017 coup happened in ZAPU in 1971, and the similarity is in that both events were externally engineered.
Within ZAPU, in 1971, Walter Mthimkhulu, a military man ala Sibusiso Moyo way mutinied and arrested leaders including JZ Moyo and George Silundika when Joshua Nkomo was in prison but could not access other ZAPU leaders such as James Chikerema. At this point ZAPU split into three, the army, Chikerema and Moyo groups. A pedestrian approach could wish this away as one of those war-time skirmishes.
But, with benefit of hindsight, this was a well-orchestrated move towards the manufacture of Zimbabwe and the man in whose image it was created, Mugabe. First, many a guerilla including ZAPU intelligence leaders such as Dumiso Dabengwa and Lookout Masuku would un-hesitantly state that they suspected that Mthimkhulu was influenced by Britain.

This was closer to the truth because, ZANU then, was not being accepted in any African country because of its dubious formative processes. However, the skirmishes in ZAPU ended up leading to ZANU and ZANLA not only getting training bases in Mozambique but its military leaders such as Mujuru and Robson Manyika also defected with many guerillas to ZANU/ZANLA. Just as the coup 2017 coup had dirty hands of African leadership so was the 1971 ZAPU where African leaders where now tired of the war and capitulating to Western mechanisations, preferring Frolizzi to take over, not realizing how they were falling into the very same trap of manufacturing Mugabe who later went on to be Knighted. As we know those who are Knighted are people who work in the service of the Empire with distinction.
It is not like Mugabe was oblivious of the plan, even his own comrades like Dzinashe Machingura believed he was Smith’s man. It follows that even events leading to the deposition of Sithole as the ZANU leader he refused many directives from Sithole including attending Hebert Chitepo’s funeral as he knew Sithole was about to be done away with. Whatever happened during his detention at Salisbury Maximum prison, Wha Wha and Sikombela led to him to deal severely with anyone who stood in his way to the throne. It is even a well-known fact that Samora Machel and Julius Nyerere, at first, did not want anything to do with him. The West’s influence on the two and other African leaders in accepting him cannot be disputed. 

To veer off a bit, even in his book, the Great Betrayal, Ian Smith calls Joshua Nkomo a born loser because he refused to have the 1985 election fixed in his favour. This strategy of fixing the struggles by the settlers and their kinsfolk is endemic in Africa. Even the 1980 election which manufactured a Nkomo country(Matebeleland) and a Mugabe country(Mashonaland) had the ballot boxes taken to London. The above is a simple illustration, one of many, that could be used to shed light on how the international influences the local in the Zimbabwean situation and how it finds resonance in recent events.
Emmerson Mnangagwa has always been in production for a very long time. His ascendance to the throne becomes clearer in 2008 in the rigging of the election. It is at that moment that the army clandestinely takes over the governance of Zimbabwe when Mugabe offers to resign. The Generals’ promises that they will not salute a non-veteran begins to show where the power lies. Even the purging of the moderate Solomon Mujuru becomes a part of the succession plan. The manufacture of Mnangagwa by the West despite his bloody hands did not elude Beijing where he met the Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao in March 2016. The gradual production of Mnangagwa led to two things. First, the bold announcement by the Conservative government that ZANU was going to win the 2013 elections. Second, it led to the gradual decline of Morgan Tswangirayi as the preferred artifact. Some have even suspected that his cancer is induced as part of his elimination. It is well known that elimination has always been a tried and confessed method of the West, as Welshman Ncube was once said to be a candidate for elimination by American Ambassador, Christopher Dell.

It surprises many why the West would choose a man with bloodied hands to lead a new ‘democratic’ dispensation.

Evidence shows that the West does not want democracy, peace or good governance in the global South. If those suffice, they should be in the interest and to the benefit of its looting, raping and plundering inclinations. The better it is if there is chaos such as the Chiadzwa diamonds imbroglio find themselves in the West in untraceable ways. The aftermath of Brexit, cannot be ignored too, Zimbabwe’s ‘old’ friend is out of Europe. That is why it imposes leaders in the first place. And those leaders should have blood on their hands so that the West can hold them at ransom with the constant threat of prison if they do not toe the line.

It is clear, Mnangagwa has no option but to submit to all Western whims.

And whither G40? G40 like the opposition simply had no chance against the Western backed ZANU PF. They were only used to test the waters. They won hands down when it came to mental tug-of-wars but the world was set against them. Signs should have been there when the Eurocentric patriarchal template of ‘Jezebelising’ women was beginning to rear its ugly head when on the one hand all Zimbabwean ills were being attributed to Grace Mugabe. Joyce Mujuru, Thokozani Khuphe, Orpah Muchinguri should be very careful, if Jezebel has been identified they are likely to be a Queen Vashti, Delilah or Desdemona sooner or later.

On the other there was the Goebbelising of Jonathan Moyo. To add to its outsider mis-fortune it cannot be denied in Lacanian discourse that the so called G4O had through brain articulated a conquest, but there was a fatal mis-recognition of trying to transform a space where two key conditions were not met. First, G40 in its plans left out state institutions including the army, but only to have influence over a fraction of central intelligence officers and a fragmented public service media. They also relied more on Mugabe the individual who is only a part of the sum of parts that make a whole. But Mugabe is only an individual who is not bigger than the whole, the Mugabeism whole which is way bigger than him. Second, G40 were the right Master but for the wrong student who was never ready for brain but brawn courtesy of all the 37 year violent zombification and voodoofication process. This was the very same path and mistakes that the opposition had done over the years. Both were a bit ahead of the populace ala the Prince who was away when the evil witch poisoned the well. When he came back, he was the only one together with the witch sober enough to tell that the people had been zombified. He was in a quandary on whether to drink from the well or not since the populace now thought him mad and worth the gallows.

L) The Big fat Elephant in the Room: UMthwakazi/ Butua/Bukhwa
A caged bird without wings is still a bird and not a crawling mammal. People can never be defined by their limitations or their temporary condition. Furthermore, as Zimbabwe has realized, using violence to solve a problem leaves one in a worse problem if not problems. Violence is not always physical, nor does it only lead to injury or death. The worst form of violence is psychological which creates the dead alive.

I wish, in this section to partly answer the question why a black may oppress another black especially when both, the black oppressor and oppressee are facing an assault from the global power matrix. This is so common in the global south such that one of the foremost African revolutionaries Joshua Nkomo is quoted as saying, “Nothing in my life, had prepared me for persecution at the hands of a government led by black Africans”. 

Since all knowledge originates in man’s rational nature and conditioned by specific individual/societal experience of both contemporary and historical situations, I use Matebeleland and the Midlands (both also known as Matebeleland, Butua, Mthwakazi amongst other names-I use them interchangeably) as my unit of observation and the level of analysis is generally projected on the global experience where there is a parasitic relationship of dominated and oppressed. For example, the Shona supremacist/Matebele inferiorisation in this discussion can be emblematic of the White supremacist/Black inferiorisation in the world. 

I therefore, in this section, using Butua’s subordination by a Shona supremacist system, discuss the experiences of those who fight to be human in the face of a structure that denies their humanity.
For the purposes of this discussion Shona supremacy is a political or socio-economic system where Shona people of Zimbabwe enjoy a structural advantage and privilege over other ethnic groups, both at a collective and an individual level supported and entrenched by the Althusserian repressive and ideological state apparatuses that include the state security (arm, police, intelligence), church, courts, media, law, education, NGOs, Trade Unions and so forth. This oppression has been met with resistance from Mthwakazi groupings since the colonial construction of the Shona state.

The etymology of Mthwakazi, Butua, Bukhwa has many varying interpretations shaped by changeable historical conditions which follows that the meaningfulness may be questioned too, I however have a very long essay on Butua/Mthwakazi origins. For this article the plausible explanation I find is that the Butua is a pre-colonial geographic state that refers to the arguably longest surviving people of Central and Southern Africa the Twa and Khoisan who are all referred to as Batwa, Bakhwa, Abathwa in various languages, hence uMthwakazi in Nguni (uMu(isiqalo/prefix) Thwa(isiqu/stem) -name plus isijobelelo/suffix) Kazi. The suffix ‘Kazi’ can operate as isikhuliso and therefore can refer to uMuthwa(name) Kazi(suffix) uMuthwakazi refers to nation of Abathwa.  Consequently many a precolonial African leader have paid recognition to the fact that the land has always belonged to AbaThwa. These leaders range from the Kalanga Chibundule Mambos ruling from their Capital in Khami. That extended to King Mzilikazi ruling from his capital Mhlahlandlela and King Lobengula ruling from his Capital Bulawayo. Interestingly the Butua/Bukhwa/Mthwakazi Capital has never moved over a radius of 100km from Njelele where most Bathwa rock paintings are found, it is also where King Mzilikazi’s grave is, it is also where Cecil Rhodes’ grave is not to mention it was the last pre-colonial anti-colonial war was fought between the Matebele and English.  Even the colonial settlers gave heed to that starting with the Portuguese and even the Jameson line follows those demarcations.

The historical node characterises my discussion because I consequently seek to reveal that the naturalisation of things is an insufficient capture of things. History reveals to us that all things have a beginning, they are never God ordained. Even white supremacy itself has a beginning and gets influence a lot by social Darwinism perfected by Eugenics. All this has a beginning, it is man- made and it certainly has an end.

Thus it is important for all the oppressed nations should realise that the first step towards liberation is that oppression and domination are never permanent nor are they natural. They can all be successfully challenged.

Butua/Mthwakazi is characterised by various internal heterogeneities, that range from linguistic to class, however the bane of oppression by the Shona supremacist system has forged some form of collective consciousness and a shared memory. This collective consciousness has however suffered severe assault from the oppressor who uses the various heterogeneities within the oppressed to create a divisive wedge ie on ethnic grounds where some sub-nationalisms are created. This is however not a new tool as observed by Anta Diop that the oppressor always has the advantage and tools to broaden his own identity and scope of being when pushed to a corner and at the same time divisively narrowing that of his victim. An example would be whiteness, if an individual excels but is outside the domain of whiteness, suddenly their nose or complexion is used to put them closer to whiteness by ancestry or other and remove them from blackness. If that same individual errs he is quickly discarded. The same individuals tend to fall hook, line and sinker for the deception. There is a long list of those examples, Tiger Woods, OJ Simpson, Enos Nkala and many others.

What is important in countering this hegemonic approach are efforts and thought that uncover the way that this oppression operates at all levels. This consciousness-raising method will not only be the glue that binds the oppressed together but will be a map and torch that highlights the roots of oppression and at the same time the challenges that the oppressed face when mobilising resistance and most importantly be the bridge to the multi-positionality of the different movements that have taken it upon themselves to the counter the social structures and hierarchies that sustain oppression. I have in mind groups like Imbovane YaMahlabezulu, Ibhetshu liKaZulu, ANSA, MRM, MLF and MRP being the most prominent of the lot amongst many others.

We must however be wary of history which has shown us that contours of the oppressor tend to become an integral part of the former liberator where the oppressed in one context become the oppressor in another by reproducing the same contours of domination through legitimating social control of one group over others as is the case in the post-1980 Zimbabwe. It is therefore important to be mindful of the pitfalls of the efforts of mapping the margins, the coming together against the oppressor should not blind us to the internal domineering hierarchical structures some that masquerade as meritocracy. 

 My argument in this long essay, has been that the problem of colonial inheritance and a crisis of imagination by the post-colonialism (not coloniality) Africa has led to the nourishment, sustaninance and normalisation of relations of domination and subordination amongst the black peoples of Africa.
This crisis of imagination has concretised the relationship of domination and subordination which has not only led to wars in Africa but genocide like the one in Zimbabwe were over 100 000 Butua/Matebele/Bukalanga/Mthwakazi people were exterminated and a million displaced.
Professor Dinda Ndlovu has extended Fanon’s idea that the oppressed in this system have been made to participate in the reproduction of their own subordination. He calls this subordination, “Carrying your own Cross”. Lack of imagination has seen those who want accountability, truth and redress being regarded as threatening the unity of the Renanian Zimbabwe.

M. A Case of historical emergent converging complexities: The Butua/Mthwakazi Crime

It is always my belief that an innocent inmate should not view the prison warden as his nemesis, nor the judge who send him to prison but the system which has human faces behind it. The prison warden and the judge are usually the dogs that are set upon the prey. However, that does not mean any immediate injustices by the prison warden or Judge should not be addressed. The bigger victory is when the prisoner grasps the true origins of his demise that has the provided the main stimulus to all the manifestations.

I argue in this section that the Butua case and all its dehumanisation is a classic case of historical emergent complexities (seemingly unfortunate events that appear to pop up unplanned that come together to the disadvantage of others) where various forces have combined in history and today to its demise.

In this section I therefore weave together, not in a scholarly treatise though, historical instances that become a foundation to these emergent converging complexities which in the end are not by chance but design. The history of Butua and its various monarchs over 500 years is very rich in two key things which have proven to be the source of its hate. 1. First, it has staved off colonial invasions at various times including slavery by different groupings such as Arabs, Portuguese and the last of them being the British. Second, it has always foregrounded a different idea of the nation from the exclusionary Western idea of uniformity. In other words, the history of Butua has always seen diversity as its key strength and upheld diversity as a gift. We see in history different nations finding refuge in the Kingdom, the Barolong, BaHurutse, Bakwena, Ila,  Zwangendaba Nguni amongst many others are some of the groupings that settled in Butua over the centuries.

In my discussion, I will go to 6 key events in the last 600 years that have given traction to the vilifying and dehumanisation of the Butua people. In this regard it will be worth noting that the root of the dehumanisation lies at the site of a white man grovelling before a ‘savage’ and the revenge thereof where the Empire due to its pride does not forget those who have not only resisted but defeated it in the past.
The recrimination is for perpetually resisting the loyalty and normalisation of imperialism and coloniality in pre-colonial, colonial, post-colonial Butua and by colonial attachment, Zimbabwe. Butua, for many who do not know, is a symbol of struggle, resistance and victory over coloniality just as Ethiopia and the Zulu nation is. Coloniality and the empire are scared and hate such symbols and will always seek to eliminate such groups and whenever possible distort their history and present them as villains to their fellow Africans. Empire works in three ways. 1. Genocide, that is physical extermination of a people in whole or in part 2. Epistemicide, destroying a people’s knowledge 3. Appropriation, taking people’s lives and knowledges to serve its own agendas.
Butua/Matebelaland has perpetually suffered for its consistent stand against any form of imperialism and any form of domination by white or black and has consequently suffered the result, mainly genocide and vilification where everyone does not listen to her story. She does not need validation from anyone, as they say, ‘amanzi ake ama khona aza phinde ame njalo’  she will free herself and become the conscience of liberation not only of herself but of Africa as well, as she has always done.
In the next sub-section, as an extension to this one, I look at events that have made Bathwa/UMthwakazi to be the global dispensable other.

N. Butua/Mthwakazi and her notable ‘sins’

We have here a precise succession of steps that have been buried under the deluge of constructed ignorance under various and morphing shades that need to be revisited and excavated from the unconscious. Butua as a country of diversity, inclusion, diversity and migrants can be understood from various epochs. I choose one beginning in KwaZulu-Natal under King Mzilikazi cutting across generations ranging from King Lobengula, Mkwati Ncube, Umlugulu, Ngcebetsha, Benjamin Burombo, Joshua Nkomo up until eminent contemporary decolonial scholars that have refused any loyalty to domination or empire.
King Mzilikazi, just like his predecessors in Butua who had resisted the Portuguese and Arabs was a thorn in the flesh to mainly the Dutch, Germans and English. His journey and European disruptions to settlement in Butua began in present day South Africa. A continued kaleidoscope of alliances and betrayals on his journey determined the future of Butua.
An important window through which twists and turns to the political kaleidoscope that had profound implications on Mzilikazi’s journey could be placed on Mzilikazi’s presence in the Transvaal region as a cradle of distress and frustration to many interests. European interests that is.
The 1830s were also a period where global European expansion became cut throat and full throttle, in effect as observed by historians such as Gatsheni-Ndlovu and Cobbing, the movement of many groupings into the interior such as Sebitoane, Soshangane, Mzilikazi, Zwangendaba and others was accelerated more by this expansion which caused varying tensions at the local level. 
The dehumanisation, dispossession and extermination was in full force as Europe sought to consolidate global power. Mzilikazi remained a constant menace as he was too powerful and in addition to that he delayed the European takeover of the Transvaal for a period spanning a decade. It has been erased in history but still an open secret that the attack on the Matebele by Berand Berands’ Bergenaar and Griqua groups was well sponsored by powerful European interests in terms of arms and money. When Mzilikazi routed these groups at Moord-Kop, or Murder Hill(still known by that name today) he sent a chilling message to the handlers and various centre of power that he had to be pushed out of the Transvaal by no solitary entity but a combination of forces. From there on everyone sought the annihilation of the Matebele such that after Louise Trichardt sojourned to the East and emergent complexities arose if not designed. It happened that, just as uMncumbatha had signed the peace treaty with Benjamin D’Urban the Voorttrekkers, led by Andries Potgeiter and Geritzz Maritz, Pieter Uys, Erasmus and others were already on their way to the interior and Transvaal initiating non-ending wars with the Matebele. Finally a combination of forces the Boer, Griqua, Baharutsi and other clans, Dingane included who could not stand such a strong nation attacked. Not defeated, but searching for stability Mzilikazi finally made the journey north to Butua and there was wide celebration by White Monopoly Capital all over Europe and Cape Town. The Europeans could not stand dealing with two powerful nations in their midst mainly the Zulu and the Matebele, especially when in 1837 Piet Mauritz Reitief(whom after the City of Pietermaritzburg and the town of Piet Retief is named after) and his entourage of over six hundred people were wiped off the face of the earth by Dingane. The British parliament had actually passed a law that spoke directly to Mzilikazi not being sold any arms and when he was told by Moffat he did not take it kindly as he firmly believed if there was anyone who deserved not to trade in guns was the Dutch.

Unknowingly or by fate King Mzilikazi was venturing into Butua, a place of many nations and a place with a long history of fighting any form of domination with triumph as the Arabs and Portuguese would attest to that. He had to inherit that spirit which has been inherited by many after him.
In Butua/Mthwakazi King Mzilikazi is well known for stopping slavery, not allowing his people to be cheap labour for the Empire in all his lifetime and realising how Christianity was being used by colonisers as a conduit for conquest not one person in his Kingddom was converted to Christianity though he believed in certain tenets of Christianity. At some point he banned missionaries and only allowed King Sechele of the Bakwena to preach and teach in his Kingdom. If King Mzilikazi was a thorn that drew resentment, anger, frustration and hatred from the Empire, his son and successor King Lobengula took the resistance a notch higher.
It must be known that in the Matebele nation, difference and diversity is what held the nation together. It astonished the social Darwinist universalist European how in such diversity the Matebele remained unwaveringly united. Of course commerce(belly), epistemicide and Christianity were always going to splinter the nation. Times and challenges had changed, so were methods of managing difference, Lobengula’s  key task was to manage the diversity but times were not on his side and way bigger were his adversaries such that he observed before many could see,
"Did you ever see a chameleon catch a fly? He gets behind the fly and remains motionless for some time. Then he advances slowly. When well within reach, he darts his tongue and the fly disappears. Britain is the chameleon, and I am the fly.'' By the time Lobengula ascended to the throne, Europe had accelerated its conquest and most of Africa was under its control.
However, if Mzilikazi was a tough and shrewd military strategist who, despite the appearance of unlimited authority, ruled by the careful balance of military loyalty, and by acting at all times with the needs and health of his army foremost in his mind. Lobengula met fire with intellect and also met intellect with intellect to very good effect. This was not the savage that Rhodes and Empire had read about in their books. Lionel Decle captured this well, “Lobengula, with the exception of Tsar Alexander, was the most inspiring ruler of men I had ever seen”. From 1871 to 1893, a period spanning two decades the Empire was frustratingly outmanoeuvred by the King. Baines concession 1871, Lippert Treat, Grobler Treaty, Tati concession, Moffat Treaty, Rudd concession.
We have to note, the same Umbilical cord that tied Mzilikazi with Dingane, the Moord Hill-Piet Retief debacle, Cetshwayo and Lobengula were tied together by the Pupu-Isandlwana. Empire never forgets nor forgives, the German City of Dresden’s attempted erasure from the face of the earth would hold lessons for many. Lobengula was between a rock and a hard place, commerce (army and capital), church and ‘civilisation’(episteme) had a lot of unkind words for his nation. For example, the church had this to say, “as long as the Ndebele state remained confident of its own invincibility, there was little chance of converts and the missionary has least chance of making an impression”. ‘Civilisation’ had this to say, “the Ndebele must be well beaten first by some superior force and then they may take to the white man’s teaching”. Commerce which saw Matebeleland and Mashonaland as the land of Ophir (Land of Gold), had this to say, “only the undefeated Matabele stand between Britain and Ophir”. 
My intention in this section has been to give an abstract idea of how Zimbabwe was born and why there was a need for a prefect, a black prefect to watch over the rebellious Bathwa(Kazi), because coloniality through eugenics believe that a particular people with a history of uprising can always do it in another epoch. They are not entirely wrong.
This enmity between the British and the Matabele reached its pinnacle when they used an ignorant black person and a colonial subject to the marrow to settle scores on their behalf. Gukurahundi. Nkomo and his Lobengula body frame together with the Viscount even worsened matters. The same words uttered by the British in the 1800s were uttered in the 1980s. For example, the then Zimbabwe Farmers Union Chair, Jeremy Sinclair, in support of Gukurahundi said, “Jim Sinclair on Gukurahundi ‘government should rule the country as it saw it fit”. Not to be outshined was, Roger Martin of the British Consulate said of Gukurahundi, “the brutishness has rationality”. Sir Martin Ewans the then British High Commissioner confirmed that he was instructed to steer clear by London. Edmund Msiska and Mkwati Zuze give a good rendition of these accounts.
What is clear is that, Gukurahundi was not an event but a system thus should be treated as such. If not addressed we might experience what was observed by Hannah Arndt of the Jews, where the Jews were reduced to a non-recognised minority in Germany, then driven them as stateless people across the borders and finally gathered back from everywhere in order to ship them from extermination camps. We have heard unrepentant remarks from people in positions of power who defend the genocide with impunity. The Jews experience cannot be imagined as beyond the cabal as they have the uncanny propensity to bite their nose to spite their faces.

O. Now that we are here, what are we to do?

So far I have tried to illustrate, albeit in an historical approach how a racial state born out of a crisis of imagination sets limits on social possibilities through degradation, dehumanisation and finally physical and ideological extermination. By the cruelty of impolitic and impious men we have witnessed the depth of evil and inhumanity that can befall a society via non-imaginative individuals who allow themselves to be tools of an Empire. But, the lessons we have learnt is that those who aim to ruin others ruin themselves.
We have two nations in Zimbabwe. On the one hand is a nation that have benefitted from a genocidal system and is arrogant about it. On the other hand, is a dehumanised nation which remains bitter. Consequently, we have arrogant and bitter people in one nation. The gulf between the two extremes, arrogance and bitterness has exacerbated the tensions between the two. With perpetually wounded on the one hand and the perpetually beneficiary on the other. Two questions for the arrogant arise, how do we recover a fallen man? How can a criminal mind be reformed? Especially one that is a tool? Can we really wake someone who pretends to be asleep? A question to the wounded arises for the wounded. Where do we go from here?
I will speak from a position of the wounded. The wounded has been asked to forgive time and again and move on. As history has taught us, it is those who have pained others who are quick to give prescriptions such as get over it instead of asking for forgiveness. We call it ukukloloda or mbabi or hiya in Tjikalanga. Forgiveness anchors my argument. The victims have been told to forgive but what is forgiveness?
It must be said, without compromise. Forgiveness takes place after an event and not when the event is still taking place. The illusion is that when the event changes its form it is over. Nothing could be further from the truth. If a genocide removes army fatigues and wears a blue collar, it is the same thing what has changed is the form. Nonetheless we need to zoom into ideas of forgiveness and their place in genocide. First, forgiveness should come from a person who is in a position or has power to punish. How can a lamb forgive a jackal? Second, forgiveness is two-pronged. It is psychological as it is social. Proctor explains this two pronged approach where forgiveness is viewed as on the psychological plane, undeserved love and on the social as non-violent retaliation. So where should the victims stand? There is also another variable, the perpetrator because of pride and arrogance can refuse to be forgiven because they see their act as justified. This positioned would have been calculated over a long period of time via material benefits, the education system, the configuration of the social and the instruments thereof. By and large forgiveness is beneficial to the abused as bitterness is self-destructive and with forgiving one ceases to circulate in the orbit of the oppressor. But, forgiving when not in a position of power or mete justice is being irresponsible.

Furthermore, the perpetrator who always calls for the victim must understand what forgiveness is as there are various aspects to it. Enright in his rendition gave 6 types/stages of forgiveness. Namely,
1. Revengeful forgiveness: I can forgive when I punish so they suffer much pain as I did.
2. Conditional or restitutional forgiveness: I can forgive if I get back what they took from me.
3. Expectational forgiveness: I can forgive if people close to me think it is what I should do even what was taken has not been restored.
4. Lawful Expectational forgiveness: I forgive because of the expectations of my philosophy or religion.
5. Forgiveness as social harmony: I forgive in order to restore good relationships.
6. Forgiveness as love: I forgive because I really care for each individual and want to keep the possibility of reconciliation.

If any of the above is chosen, justice should have the last word. One has to note that it is difficult for beneficiaries of a system to confront the very same system that nourishes their being. It is uncomfortable, I mean it is a phenomenon that nurtured their development and through which their identity was formed. Being beneficiaries gives them ontological density just as a rapist’s phallus does. Justice is the last word they may want to hear unless pushed by a certain degree of force. And it this point opportunist clergy man who have also benefitted from the system may come to the foe to sanitize the system. Beware of the clergymen, in whose ‘theodicy participating in good faith’, they are the same people who all along gave the populace Romans 13:1 , “For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God”, to perfume the tyrants. The same clergymen astonishingly forgot Hosea 8:4, “The people have appointed kings without my consent, and princes without my knowledge. By making idols for themselves from their silver and gold, they have brought about their own destruction”.

To cap it all. A new nation can only be forged via the reconfiguration of the social. It is only the when the people of Zimbabwe in one voice refuse to identify with the false fathers that a revolution will occur. An ethnic group is not necessarily the problem but a supremacist system which puts one ethnic group over all others is the actual problem. At this point, ethnic-blindness is a childish, stunted analysis of racism/tribalism/genocide/xenophobia/partrirchy. It is stunted because it starts and ends at discriminating against a person because of the colour of their background, without any accounting for the ways structural power works in these exchanges. In the end those who try to articulate the tribalism/racism/xenophopbia/genocide/partriarchy are accused of discrimination by the perpetrators, and the avoidance of accountability continues.

P. Conclusion

The re-invention of Zimbabwe from a white supremacist structure to a Shona supremacist structure in 1980 has in a detrimental manner not only re-shaped the construction of a Zimbabwean identity but also watered the tribal tree, which has been the mother of all ills that have led to its ruins. Conceptions of a national identity have been sectarian genocidal, epistemicidal and linguisticidal, divisive such that even human rights have been meant to be for those who fit the idea of the human. This premature birth of the Zimbabwean as both a political animal and citizenry needs total surgery to curb the societal anxieties, which are transforming into bitterness. If these anxieties are mixed with frustration and bitterness not about one’s individual position in society but about the wider society (the underside) of which one is part it could altogether be more virulent and toxic. We are facing un-reformability, the state has developed from its latent embryonic stage and blossomed, in its decay, to something that draws its people towards death, because they simply can’t kill ethnocentrism. Consequently, people should not put the horse before the cart. Development is not roads, schools, universities or other infrastructure. Will you call that development when the same hi-tech infrastructure is used to oppress you or destroy your language, culture amongst other forms of dehumanization.? Development is freedom. For the dehumanized development is the claim to humanity and not only the rejection but condemnation of all things and their manifestations that perpetually seek to oppress, dehumanize and exploit. Development is to be human first. We are human. And by the fact that we are human we are not seeking validation from anyone, by being affirmative we are calling for the fallen human beings to be human again. If the economy is foreground, infrastructure, education, health and education may flourish and of course in the benefit of the empire. But that will only be temporary, if the social is not addressed because it will come back to raze down all the temporal beauty. The bread-basket country should know better, if it is willing and humble enough to learn from the past.
In Paul Mooney’s words, if we do not correct our mistakes or re-imagine the country and its social, ‘we are going to hang together or separately, but one thing for sure we are all going to hang!!!

Mabalane is not a grammofascist. He has little regard for vocabulary, and has the tendency to form his own words so that he can convey his own meaning. His rigor, rigority and rigorism is not part of the story. As he writes, he is the reader and as he speaks he is the listener. This was written in December 2017 and the reader, speaker and listener kept it to himself.

- Source: Tshepo Mabalane, published by


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