By Maynard Manyowa
After the launch of her party, and her initial tour of the country, and then the diaspora a year or so ago, I was more than convinced that Joice Mujuru presented the biggest opportunity to end Robert Mugabe’s four-decade tyranny in Zimbabwe.
Of course, such a position, carried several hazards, chief among them that a leopard, no matter how hard it tries cannot change its spots. Objecting Mujuru on these grounds was and remains sensible enough. She beholds a very treacherous past, though her enthusiasm, her pleas for sympathy, and the manner she carried herself, at least initially warranted a second look.
Much as we may love Morgan Tsvangirai, and must respect his bravado, charisma, bravery and commitment to fight for democracy, it is a truism that he has been fighting against Mugabe for nearly half the four decades that Mugabe has misruled the country. Though he has failed, most times by matters outside of his hands, at the end of the day, it becomes a pointless routine to lose rigged elections repeatedly, and not offer any new ways to navigate past that.
Look, if Tsvangirai cannot defeat Mugabe without a level playing field, then it only stands to reason that we need a candidate who can fight dirty, toe to toe, on an equal foot, to beat Mugabe, on his own turf, and own terms. One who can win, despite him.
Who better than Joice Mujuru then? A veteran of the struggle, Mugabe’s deputy for 10 full years, and the woman who was at the helm for campaigning for Mugabe when he rigged his old skeleton to victory in 2013?
When one deals with the devil, they always ought to be careful. Mujuru is no saint, but at least she showed signs of sympathy, compassion, grace, honesty, determination, and strength to rid us of the gotterdammerung, Mugabe.
Mujuru is not Mugabe, by any stretch of the imagination. She is graceful, measured, and has a semblance of warmth, like a mother. While her past, was an obvious serious weakness, it is also presented a big strength.
Zimbabwe’s military still plays a huge role in determining the rulers of the land, it may even still be ruler itself. She is a respected war veteran, and commands considerable influence in the military and intelligence circles, even as a fired cadre. We can jump up and down all day, but no other opposition movement is endowed with the same power.
Social Development expert Hubert Sithole, described her past as the only chance of securing a future. Mugabe has long played divide and rule tactics against opposition movements in Zimbabwe, and successfully so. Mujuru’s influence, which must never be understated, presented a chance of serving the nonagenarian with a taste of his own medicine. Only if it were methodical though.
There are other criteria that must be, or needed to be met by Mujuru, for the citizens, the victims, to accept her past as a weapon for the future. It maybe another truism that to catch a thief, one needs to use a thief, but the thief needs to be reformed, organised, structured, committed, and sensitive.
A year after walking the ethical line of journalism, and declaring support for Mujuru, it is imperative that I withdraw it. It is a heartbreaking, but necessary decision. One borne by ethics, integrity, and honesty.
It is heartbreaking because, Mujuru’s implosion does not benefit our fight for a free Zimbabwe. It harms it, robbing it of a player who would have otherwise been useful.
Yet, I have reasons for doing so. I have grown disillusioned, for a few months, by the way, a promising start has suddenly gone North. But, the chief reason is, and remains that, Mujuru does not have a standpoint of her own.
Initially, she apologized to the entire nation for her role in the destruction of the country. She then proceeded to trivialize her role, to just a passive passenger, before altogether denying any wrongdoing, and finally performing several flip flops from these positions, depending on the audience.
That, sadly, is worrying, and intolerable. It points to a great issue, that Mujuru does not understand just how difficult it was for us to forgive her, to believe her despite everything. It means she is not sincere, and does not comprehend the level of death she is responsible for. It probably points to what analysts have always said, that the suffering of the people, to her, may just be a convenient pawn in this game of power.
Some have stated that Mujuru struggles to remain calm when confronted with the past, which she played a hand in. Yet that, is another chastening trait. Much as it may be unfair to remind her of her role in Zanu PF, Mujuru needed to understand that victims reserve the right to forget, when to do so, how to do so, and a sacrosanct right to remind her of her ghosts.
As her supporters heckle victims who question her standpoint, instead of reaffirming her apologies, while she does routine flip flops, veering from apology to denial, it has become clear, that at this point, she does not know what she is doing.
After watching the disastrous interview on BBC HardTalk with Stephen Sackur, in which she stated she believed people close to Mugabe killed her husband, yet was unable to explain why or how she remained working for the same man for three years, it has become clear too, that it would be foolhardy to trust a woman who can sing praises to a man who killed her own husband for three years, knowing fully well what he did.
If, she could not leave Zanu PF because she believed what was happening was wrong, then she must have left once her husband was killed. Once she remained, she demonstrated that, for power she will betray anyone, even her own.
For this, and many other reasons, my conscience does not allow me to support her any further. I just cannot.
- Maynard Manyowa is a contributing editor on Khuluma Afrika, a non-partisan center for political analysis, social commentary and investigative journalism.