PIETEMARITZBURG – Words carry power. Whole revolutions have been sparked by words. All constructive and deconstructive processes can only be expressed in words, even the thought processes of fine arts, mathematics and silence can be expressed in words.
The world of politics is no different. A leader with eloquence, oratory skills and who pays close attention to rhetoric as an art has a slight edge over rivals. It is not just the words that matter though, it certainly is how content and policy is delivered and articulated that persuades and convinces the electorate and motivates floor crossing.
In Zimbabwe, we have seen great orators, and RG Mugabe was one such individual. In others we have seen great slogan chanters who sound like broken records. Those who use dry jokes and dark humor in meaning sapped speeches.
Mr Mnangagwa spoke in unofficial state of the nation addresses just before, during and after Mugabe’s ouster, in which he enunciated his understanding of the undercurrents which were at play in the country, and he was very close to the truth. His words captured the mood in the Zimbabweans collective subconscious.
People were tired of Mugabe and what he represented; a system of patronage, corruption, intimidation and arbitrary abductions. The voice of the people is the voice of God ended up a mantra by the current president. The people were speaking, it is a fact that Zimbabweans have been speaking since Zimbabwe was born, and we still are speaking, and will speak for as long there in life in us…..and by Mr Mnangagwa’s logic, we carry in our collective voice, God’s voice and message to the present.
Mr Mnangagwa’s words are like a self fulfilling prophesies; people are now voicing their opinions and disgruntlement. People in Zimbabwe are no longer happy with the kind of leadership currently running the country. People are unhappy about the level of unemployment; the corruption tearing through our nation, which now seems to be the norm rather than the exception, with the country’s police service being the leaders in it.
The economy has been performing terribly for some years now and we have been told lies day in day out about recoveries while we are witnessing astronomical inflation and a distortion of exchange rates. People are not happy with the capture of state organs and the pillars of ‘democracy’, which are now clearly and blatantly serving Zanu PF only, when they are infact supposed to serve the Zimbabweans across the board.
The recent events and Supreme Court rulings on MDC matters come into sharp focus, as the decision, its execution and interpretation smack of capture by the incumbent government. Following the ruling and its interpretation, it now appears to be a civil error to be aligned to the opposition, let alone express disagreement with the ruling party and their policy framework.
There are Zimbabweans; and then there are Zimbabweans. There are the oppressors and the oppressed; some are simply more equal than others. Our country is so polarised such that broadly, either you are a Zanu PF supporter, or you are in the MDC camp, well one of their sadly numerous affairs.
The ruling party officials have become arrogant, with Number 1 being the worst. You can hear it in the way with which Mr Mnangagwa speaks about ‘his people.’ One would be forgiven to think that it is his knowledge of military support and his gun cabinet which gives him the audacity to address us like his kindergarten grandchildren.
If he truly were Zimbabwean, he would know that people are suffering; that widows are going to bed hungry; fending for children whose parents earn a pitiable pittance and are unemployed; or are holding down menial jobs in foreign lands.
He would know the terrible state the country’s roads are in; the state of ruin our infrastructure is in, that years of queuing for fuel have slowed economic activity down and caused a passive aggression and despondency in the country – and that people are whispering, complaining, shouting and voicing out their displeasure.
And we shall remind him that he said this is the voice of God!
But does he care? Was it merely lip service to have a foot in the door and gain some sympathy after Mugabe’s dethronement? It surely seems so.
In another vein, remember having mixed emotions when I saw a clergyman, Dr Shingi Munyeza, amongst the President’s advisors. I expressly recall asking myself what the man of the cloth was doing supping with the architects of Zimbabwe’s woes?
Conversely however, there are accounts of Jesus sipping with tax collectors and harlots. So probably God is using him as a vessel for rebirth in the high echelons of power. And to his credit, he recently decried state of the nation at the hands of ‘evil men.’
It is my submission too that the voice of the people is the voice of God. And that voice is not as loud in the corridors of power as it is in the streets of Mbare, Mutapa, Chilanga, Mucheke, Makokoba, and Dulibadzimu.
It is loud in the hospital pharmacies, the school libraries with a few tattered books, in the ears of widowed grandmothers who have to endure the sound of their grandchildren’s rumbling stomachs at bedtime.
The immutable voice of God is also a nagging knock on the doors in the corridors of power. It is there gnawing away on the consciences of the men and women in power in Zimbabwe, saying, ‘let my people go!’ Let them enjoy Zimbabwe! It is in the heartbeat of those in the opposition, to clearly listen to the ‘cry of the poor, and to preach the good news of liberation to the oppressed.’
Our God is not in Hades. The voice of the people that spoke during Mugabe’s tenure is still the same voice shouting to be heard today; from the same people who are groaning louder under your short but straining rule, it’s from the same God that is speaking now, Mr President, only the voice is much louder now Your Excellency!
Phillip Mukarati is a Zimbabwean journalist currently based in South Africa; Pietermaritzburg. He writes in his own capacity.