The goal should never be simply removing ZANU PF but electing a better government!

Robert Chapman
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Recently, I came across Twitter posts made by the ‘new kid on the block’, Robert Chapman – who leads a political party named the Democratic Union of Zimbabwe (DUZ).

However, what grabbed my attention more than anything else – and, frankly sent chills down my spine and left me troubled as to the direction Zimbabwe was taking – were the comments made by Twitter users.

I was dumbfounded, and all I could say to myself was, ‘Zimbabweans never learn’!

What was so disturbing was that, instead of focusing on whether what Chapman and his party were placing on the table was good for the nation, and would improve the lives and livelihoods of the citizenry – that had been woefully and willfully decimated by the ruling ZANU PF regime ever since the country gained independence in 1980 – they rather chose to accuse his appearance on the political landscape as potentially dividing the opposition vote during crucial elections later this year.

Most of those pouring scorn on Chapman and DUZ were actually opposition CCC supporters – who urged the so-called ‘Zimbabwe’s Obama’ (possibly, due to this mixed race) to, rather, join hands with Nelson Chamisa, so as to have a united front and stand a better chance, against a powerful and ruthless ZANU PF.

That all sounds like a great and logical idea on paper.

However, Zimbabweans should be wary of repeating the mistake of 1980 – which, as a result of an obsession and blinkered goal of removing colonial rule, founded on racial segregation and subjugation – failed to meticulously study the man and party they elected into power.

Instead of carefully scrutinizing exactly what Robert Gabriel Mugabe and his ZANU (PF) party were truly all about – as opposed to what they portrayed themselves to be (that is, being branded as liberators, whose only desire was to see a free, equal and prosperous society) – the people of Zimbabwe settled on the simplistic goal of removing Ian Douglas Smith and his Rhodesia regime.

No one, or at least, very few, ever bothered to read through this façade of ‘liberators’ – because, they would have seen the brutal power-hungry corrupt group, which had callously and deviously hijacked the people’s noble struggle for independence, for their own self-serving power ambitions.

If Zimbabweans had bothered taking a deep breath, and stood back for a moment, to look closely at these leaders – they would have easily realized that there was no way those who had brutally killed and sacrificed their own fellow nationalists (such as, Herbert Wiltshire Chitepo and General Josiah Magama Tongogara), on the altar of power – would be, in any way, good for our country.

Is it not so tragic and regrettable hearing, some 42 years down the lines, Zimbabweans of all walks of life saying those painful words, ‘Smith was better’?

Yet, whose fault was it that we ended up with a government – which, in its 42 years in power, only managed to destroy a once vibrant continental giant, labelled the ‘Jewel of Africa’ by the late Tanzanian founder Mwalimu Julius Nyerere – reducing it into a shameful basket case, and turning its citizenry into a global laughing stock?

Are we not entirely to blame for never bothering to carefully analyze – with all emotions and independence fervor put aside for a while – whether the people seeking to remove the nine-decade-long yoke of colonial rule were our saviors and good for us, or were actually worse than those we branded ‘oppressors’?

Why were we to be shocked, barely two years into our supposed independent rule – when the same ‘liberators’ turned their guns on their fellow black compatriots, whom they had ostensibly ‘liberated’ – by savagely massacring, in cold blood, over 20,000 innocent unarmed civilians?

Why were we taken completely off guard, when these leaders – who hijacked a liberation struggle founded on the principles of ‘one man, one vote’ and ‘majority rule’ – went about brazenly rigging elections, as well as wantonly murdering any who sought to challenge their hold on power, and viciously clamping down on opposition parties?

In other words, the people of Zimbabwe need to move away from this tunnel vision of simply focusing on removing an undesirable leader and ruling party – as if that was the only panacea to our four decades of misery and suffering – without also honestly critiquing and evaluating those who may offer themselves as the alternative.

If we neglect to do that – believe me, five or ten years down the line, we will be crying, ‘ZANU PF or (current president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa) ED was better’!

In fact, we need not necessarily go all the way back to 1980 to learn this vital lesson.

How many of us today are saying, ‘Mugabe was better’, or ‘Mnangagwa is worse than Mugabe’?

Not that these leaders we are calling ‘better’ were any good – but, simply that, we seem to be on a retrogressive path as Zimbabwe – always celebrating individuals, who end up actually being far more destructive and incompetent than the previous.

Did Zimbabweans not flock onto the streets of the capital Harare in their millions, in November 2017, cheering the military coup d’état against Mugabe – despite knowing fully well who was most likely to take over, and his character and checkered history?

So, why are the very same people crying today?

That is a glaring weakness the people of this country seem not too eager to shake off.

We appear intent on this obsession with removing a sitting leader, whom we legitimately no longer want – yet, totally disregarding any meticulous scrutiny of the leaders who want to take over.

We are too focused on meaningless, and quite frankly dangerously flawed slogans such as, ‘Mugabe must go’, ‘ED must fall’, or even ‘ZANU PF must go’ – without going beyond that, and soberly analyzing the ones to take over, and their suitability

We allow ourselves to simply be carried away by emotions.

Well, as I always tell those around me – a person who led my emotions is no different from someone inebriated by alcohol – since, their sense of judgement is severely hampered and distorted.

This is what we, unfortunately, witness today – as history appears on the verge of repeating itself…again.

These were the thoughts spinning in my head as I was reading those, quite disturbingly vitriolic comments, by mostly opposition CCC supports against Chapman.

I have not yet carefully studied what the DUZ is all about, what they promise the people of Zimbabwe, and whether their policies and programs make any sense – but, those should be the issues we need to be focusing on, rather than attacks based solely on fanatical support for Chamisa and CCC.

Zimbabwe desperately needs a new leadership – which, this time around, places the will of the people ahead of its own, as well as the ability to successfully implement economic, political and social policies that truly uplift our lives and livelihoods.

We are thoroughly sick and tired of leaders who are in the sickening habit of always making excuses for their failures to deliver on their mandate or expect us to celebrate the mediocrity they are offering.

The people of Zimbabwe need a functioning economy – that provides decent jobs, with good salaries that can afford the best the world has to offer – as well as a conducive environment for successful business operations for those with the entrepreneurial spirit.

Residents of towns and cities have a right to reliable potable water in their homes, whilst streets are well-lit and in good shape, and rubbish is collected regularly.

Yet, all we get are excuses and more excuses as to why these basic needs cannot be met.

This country is richly endowed with vast wealth, envied all across the globe – as such, there is absolutely no reason why we should still be celebrating the opening of one or two companies, or sinking of boreholes, or the construction of an airport.

We should, by now, have gone past thinking that having a parliament building donated to us, or constructing a traffic interchange, or giving people handouts and free inputs is an outstanding achievement.

We are a wealthy country – whose wealth should be reflected in the daily lives and livelihoods of the general populace.

Yet, that is not the case – with millions of Zimbabweans living in extreme poverty, a workforce earning below the poverty datum line, and university graduates forced into street vending due to a lack of meaningful employment.

We have suffered enough, and can no longer afford foolish experiments in choosing both our local and national government leaders.

It is time that Zimbabweans put aside this myopic desire to simply get rid of a failed leadership – but, need to also take an honest close look at those seeking to take over.

Quite frankly, I am fed up with always hearing all this ‘so and so was better’ – as such statements are an indictment on our own poor judgment and flawed decision-making – since, at one point, we actually celebrated these failed leaders as the answer to our problems.

We cannot keep repeating the same mistake.

Let us judge any potential leader for our country on his merit – not, simply because he is the most popular, and thus, has a better chance of unseating the one we no longer want.

Remember, in 1980, even Mugabe was the most popular, and managed to unseat Smith…

…but, as they say, ‘the rest is history

  • Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: