By Maynard Manyowa
It is a truism that the past holds key lessons for the future. But there are times when remembering it selectively prejudices us from making the best choices. Indeed the past is used as a stick to beat Dr. Joice Mujuru, and yet it is the same past that holds key lessons about the true nature and leadership style of the woman. Especially when we reflect on this past through the lens of the present, we learn that Zimbabwe’s successful future is only possible through a people first approach.
Joice Mujuru is not a saint. She does not pretend to be one, neither has she asked to be seen as one. It is a truism that she was part of a three decade period of misrule that precipitated the demise of Zimbabwe.
She was fired almost three years ago, and now leads the Zimbabwe People First party in an interim role as the organization prepares for its first electoral congress. She may very well secure the top post, but indications are that a democratic process will determine that.
To her credit, she has shunned hero worship and insisted that the party (not her party) must not be molded in her image, or that of any other leader, preferring that adherents show loyalty to values, ideals and principles instead.
That is the first and key step in identifying a democratic leader and movement inspired by tenants of human dignity and not a lust for power.
Indeed, it is telling that it took almost two years, and a global push by sympathizers to drive Mrs. Mujuru back into politics.
It is admirable, and a hopeful sign, to see that our nation still has leaders who are not interested in power, nor inspired by the destructive hunger to occupy high office that has bred wanton tyrants in Zanu PF for example.
The years that Mrs. Mujuru served in Zanu PF were among the most disastrous in our history, whose effects we still feel today. Admittedly when she was fired from Zanu PF, we all thought it was what she deserved.
There was very little sympathy for her person then, and that is fair. But it is also necessary to see the truth for what it is.
On as many as 3 occasions, buoyed by the harassment at the hands of a government she held a key role in, I wrote extremely critical articles about her.
It is my belief that those opinions were justified then, and the fact that Joice Mujuru took time to apologize is justification that those opinions were warranted.
But it is also necessary to award Mrs. Mujuru some inconvenient truths, and give praise where it is due. One of the most defining undertones which is at times conveniently missed lies in the manner and nature of her dismissal from Zanu PF and government.
Joice Mujuru was fired for championing the same cause she champions today. Had she remained loyal to the Zanu PF cause, and supported violence and proliferation of state, she would still be in the party today.
It is impossible for her to be the sole architect of Zimbabwe’s woes, while simultaneously being the disloyal Vice President who sought to drive an agenda that brought relief and progress to the Zimbabwean people.
The idea of Zanu PF playing a key role in liberating and guaranteeing the freedom of its people is irreconcilable with a people oriented agenda. Beyond the diction of ZIMASSET, nothing exists to suggest Robert Mugabe is interested in the welfare of his people.
Had Mujuru not differed with Mugabe on this fine matter, she would not have been fired, and unceremoniously so.
It is fair game to criticize her for the role she played while serving Mugabe, but it must never be forgotten that she was fired by the same man because she harbored ambitions contrary to the looting agenda in Zanu PF.
As early as the late 1990’s, General Solomon Mujuru and later on Joice Mujuru were known to have clashed with Mugabe over critical matters like land reform, and electoral violence. During the eletion periods in 2005, 2008, Joice Mujuru was a lone voice in calling for an end to persecution of opposition supporters.
She may not be a saint as I noted, and even she admits and apologises for her mistakes, but she has always driven the people first agenda, even from within Zanu PF. This is why she was fired.
Since her exit, corruption has increased, and the country has been driven to a standstill. The Zim dollar now stands to return in a few months, all of which would have been unthinkable during Mrs. Mujuru’s tenure as Vice President.
The truth of the matter is, Zanu PF, as evil as it was, was kept in check by Dr. Joice Mujuru. Her departure has left vultures and evil minions at the helm. Without her, and her allies, the proportions of misrule have increased and with arrogance.
Time is the grand expose and to that effect over the last near three years, the truth has become clearer. Dr. Joice Mujuru and her people first movement are worthy of criticism for their past, but that should not blind us from giving praise and respect where it is due.
They have shown a willingness to adhere to democratic principles and insist Joice Mujuru is an interim leader until elected otherwise. They are no indications their party is molded in the manner of Robert Mugabe United (otherwise known as Zanu PF). They are due some criticisms, but their conduct and structure points to the assertion that they are due credit, and if Zimbabwe has a future, it is one with a People First leadership.
- Maynard Manyowa is a political analyst and social commentator. Article appears on Khuluma Afrika – a non-partisan center for analysis, commentary and investigative journalism.