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- ▼ January 2007 (9)
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
" Hysterical reaction to Tekere belies fear" by Prof J Moyo.
IF there’s anyone who still needed evidence that the world of power is finally collapsing around President Robert Mugabe whose tenure expires in the next 14 months that promise to be very short, nasty and brutish for him and his hangers on, it is the paranoid reaction of his propagandists to Edgar Tekere’s autobiography, A Lifetime of Struggle, published by Sapes Books in Harare last week.
Although it fails to provide new insights into vexing issues such as the deaths of Herbert Chitepo and Josiah Tongogara, the creation of the Fifth Brigade and its Gukurahundi carnage and the Unity Accord negotiations, and while the book does not flow well and fails to fully develop a number of its riveting anecdotes about happenings in the corridors of power during and after the liberation struggle, Tekere’s autobiography makes three history-marking disclosures about how Mugabe rose into and remained in power to the point of becoming a terrible liability to Zimbabwe today.
Using — many would say abusing — the public media, Mugabe’s propagandists have turned the typically dull month of January into one filled with astonishing political drama through their frenzied media defence of their embattled boss.
Yet one does not need to hold a brief for Tekere to appreciate first that he is without doubt one of Zimbabwe’s leading freedom fighters to whom we owe our national Independence, and second that he has written an informative and useful personal account of his life which was all in the struggle as captured by the title of his autobiography.
Equally important to appreciate is that Tekere is entitled to narrate the story of his lifetime of struggle in his own words through his own memory, not least because we know from the public record that his involvement in the liberation struggle was not ordinary but pivotal for better or worse.
Those who have read the autobiography are aware that it is not about Mugabe who is but one out of many individuals, some famous others not, whose lives crossed paths with Tekere during Zimbabwe’s defining moments in history. But the hysterical media reaction of Mugabe’s propagandists to Tekere’s autobiography would have those who have not read the book think that it is all about Mugabe.
Apparently Mugabe’s propagandists are furious on behalf of their thin-skinned boss that Tekere’s autobiography makes three telling disclosures that they see as fatal to whatever is left of Mugabe’s reputation and legacy. As a result, Mugabe’s propagandists have decided to raise foolish dust everywhere oblivious of the fact that raising dust in the rainy season does not work especially when the rain is on you and is pouring heavily.
The first disclosure that has annoyed Mugabe’s cronies is that Tekere says he played a leading role in paving the way for Mugabe’s rise to the leadership of Zanu PF.
Imagining itself to be correcting this disclosure, the Sunday Mail (January 14) wrote that: "Mr Tekere is … reported to have claimed that he was instrumental in catapulting President Mugabe to the helm of Zanu PF, yet the party’s wartime supreme council, the Dare reChimurenga, popularly endorsed his ascension to the party’s top post." To buttress its inane claim that goes against the grain of truth, the Sunday Mail sought the laughable rant of a hopeless polygamist clad in shabby youth service camouflage called George Rutanhire, who was exhumed from his political grave in rural Mashonaland Central and suddenly and very conveniently remembered as a veteran nationalist, former government minister and war veteran who was one of the authors of the famed Mgagao Declaration.
Betraying the ignorance of Mugabe’s propagandists who deep-throat it with defamatory nonsense, the Sunday Mail confidently but falsely reported that: "According to the war veteran (George Rutanhire), President Mugabe’s road to power began following the Mgagao Declaration which Zimbabwe’s freedom fighters wrote, denouncing the leadership of the then Zanu president the late Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole."
In the ensuing childish excitement over the political resurrection of Rutanhire, the Sunday Mail went overboard and allowed their newly found Mgagao hero to gratuitously insult and defame Tekere by alleging that he "went mad and formed his own party (Zum) in the past". How Tekere’s exercise of his protected constitutional right to form or join a political party of his choice could be said to be evidence of mental disability was of course not explained because it cannot be.
Given that the Mgagao Declaration was made in October 1975, anyone who believes that Mugabe’s road to power started then, or who believes that Sithole was deposed from the leadership of Zanu as a result of the Mgagao Declaration, is a dangerous ignoramus.
Tekere recalls in his autobiography that Mugabe’s road to power started after his return to Zimbabwe from Ghana, when he was approached and incorporated into the nationalist leadership under the NDP. To attract his incorporation, Mugabe had not demonstrated any notable leadership qualities besides his impressive proficiency in pronouncing English words with an acquired if not exaggerated accent that leaves the uncanny impression that he is a highly learned person when he is not.
As to how and when Mugabe came to head Zanu, Tekere’s autobiography recalls a fact, which has been corroborated by various independent sources, that he was elevated after the Kwekwe prison sacking of Sithole by his fellow leaders in mid-1974 in a vote spiritedly moved by Tekere and supported by Enos Nkala and Maurice Nyagumbo but opposed by Sithole himself with a cowardly abstention from Mugabe while Moton Malianga did not vote as he chaired the meeting to sack Sithole from the leadership of Zanu.
About this Tekere recalls that "the votes were cast with three in favour of the sacking, one against (Sithole), and one abstention — Mugabe. Once more Mugabe did not want to "break" with his leader. His abstention was total. He sat silently in the meeting and did not raise a finger. This is when he was appointed to head the party. For the structure was clear on this. Since the Vice-President, Leopard Takawira, had died, Mugabe, as secretary-general of the party, was the next in line."
Sithole’s dismissal from the presidency of Zanu by his colleagues in prison was communicated to all party structures, especially guerilla fighters, within and outside the country. Therefore subsequent seemingly landmark events, including the December 1974 "Nhari Rebellion", Chitepo’s assassination in March 1975, the crossing into Mozambique by Tekere and Mugabe in April 1975, the October 1975 Mgagao Declaration and the letter of January 24, 1976 from the Dare reChimurenga signed by Josiah Tongogara, Kumbirai Kangai and Rugare Gumbo, were footnotes to the sacking of Sithole and his replacement by Mugabe through an indubitably courageous motion that was moved by Tekere in the presence of both Sithole and Mugabe.
As such, only those who have been blinded by the whims and caprices of Mugabe’s personality cult and who because of that have become either malicious or sycophantic can deny that Tekere "was instrumental in catapulting Mugabe to the helm of Zanu-PF". The supporting evidence is unimpeachable.
In any event, it is clear from the public record that the October 1975 Mgagao Declaration sought to make Mugabe, who had already crossed into Mozambique with Tekere, only a spokesman and caretaker leader pending the release from prison in Zambia of Dare reChimurenga members who had been accused of murdering Chitepo and who were seen by the comrades in Mgagao as the real true leaders of the armed struggle who had inspired their declaration. That is why the Mgagao Declaration referred to Mugabe as the "…only person who can act as a middleman". The difference between a middleman and a leader is like that of night and day.
The second disclosure of Tekere’s autobiography that has sent Mugabe’s propagandists running in all directions while making fools out of themselves is that, because Mugabe is basically an insecure heartless person given to brutal vengeance, he has over the years used the political power he got with a whole lot of help from his senior nationalist colleagues to marginalise and ostracise those very same colleagues who helped him rise to the helm of Zanu PF in the first place. This is what accounts for the political misfortunes of the likes of Zanu stalwarts such as Nkala, Nyagumbo, Eddison Zvobgo and Tekere himself not to mention similar misfortunes of many others in Zapu including the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo who was humiliated by Mugabe into submitting to a treacherous unity accord.
In the circumstances, Mugabe has come to be surrounded by dodgy political characters along with other bureaucratic and media sycophants who are known for their malice and incompetence.
The third disclosure from Tekere’s autobiography that has particularly rocked Mugabe and his propagandists beyond belief is the book’s conclusion that the blame for 90% of Zimbabwe’s ills should go to Mugabe, not the much touted economic sanctions, and that there is now a critical and urgent need for bold leadership within Zanu PF with courage to tell Mugabe that he is now a liability to Zimbabwe and that he should retire and pass the baton to a younger and more imaginative leader.
* Moyo is independent MP for Tsholotsho.