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Zimbabwe: False narratives and false solutions

09 Aug 2020 at 10:05hrs | Views
Donkey years ago I was preparing for a doctoral dissertation defence when my professor called me to say I had been "referred". That was a nice word for saying the dissertation was unacceptable to one of the five professors on the board of examiners.

That was the only time in my life I thought of taking my own life. To cut a long story short, the objection was based on the fact that while my sources on Booker T Washington were commendable, I had ignored Washington's nemesis, WeB DuBois.

Telling half a story is as good as telling a false narrative.

I was watching events unfold in Zimbabwe, as Copperheads scrambled to find accolades for the departed liberation war fighter General Perrance Shiri. The Copperheads, The Herald and The Sunday Mail, were joined by Phyllis Johnson of The Chronicle in creating a false narrative.

In the article, "Farewell to four African heroes", Johnson injects this sentence in the middle of her narrative: "His most recent achievements (out of many) were in land, water and food security."

About such accolades, Shiri told a gathering at the president's farm that they were premature. (March 15, 2020) "The country is still begging for grain from outside countries. The silos are yet to be filled, whilst countries such as Zambia are looking down upon us telling us that we must enter into contracts with them so they can come and farm (teach) for us."

We can add another assessment of the food situation from Bettinah Luechar of the World Food Programme. "The crisis is being exacerbated by a shortage of foreign currency, runaway inflation, mounting unemployment, lack of fuel, prolonged power shortages, large-scale live stock losses... eight of Zimbabwe's 59 districts have acute malnutrition...which is unprecedented."

But more egregious, Johnson failed to mention the command agriculture and the $3 billion which was not properly accounted for.

But the unforgivable misallocation of "achievements" was the absence of the bad word "Gukurahundi". Without Gukurahundi and Black Jesus (a man who said this one shall live and this one shall die), the narrative is not complete.

And with Gukurahundi came the number 20 000 men, women and innocents who lost their lives in unspeakable circumstances during his command.

Johnson is not the only Copperhead.

In the official transcript of the funeral oration, we are told that "After the struggle, he ...played a salutary role in the integration process by which erstwhile warring armies were reoriented and remoulded into a cohesive national army."

This statement is inaccurate. Brother Shiri, from the beginning, entered into a contract with the north koreans to train Gukurahundi and six months after independence (october 10, 1980) it was ready for operations.

There is another false insertion that Shiri was involved in the destruction of oil storage tanks near Harare Central Hospital in 1977. That story was first reported by Justin Nyoka, editor of the Catholic magazine, Moto. Nyoka attributed that heroic act to Zipra forces. Nyoka, who was my classmate and mentor, shared that information with me. He was arrested for writing that story.

So the first week in August 2020, which witnessed the passing-away of the liberation generation, also witnessed the creation of false narratives by a generation that used the funeral occasions as an opportunity to cleanse themselves.

The easy solution is there for all to see. Simply say: "We were filled with the evil spirit of our own invincibility, and we did unspeakable things. God have mercy on us."

When I made a feeble protest in The Sunday Mail (1983), I was called by minister Herbert Ushewokunze. "Sekuru, this is not an academic seminar. This is a revolution. We kill people like you." Ushewokunze had been ordered to do "something", but on discovering that his mother was my sister, he decided to give me a stern warning.

False start/false solutions

While Shiri rejected the praise singers' story that "water and food security" had been achieved, he, like his colleagues, failed to recognise that the Zambian farmers, who have the cheek to offer free training for Zimbabwean farmers were themselves once Zimbabwean.

Zimbabwe now goes far afield to Belarus, a temperate zone country, to seek for agricultural knowledge, leaving the old farmers still roaming in Zimbabwe.

The answer is very simple. If you have a false narrative, you will have a false solution.

And there are many false solutions to Zimbabwe's problems. The Chinese buses, for instance, have a low gait-uplift from the ground of less than 18 inches. They cannot survive very long in the bastardised roads of Zimbabwe. The AVM and DAF of pre-colonial days were engineered to operate astride the dongas and bush roads of Zimbabwe. False narrative brings false solution.

The passing-away of these liberation fighters came at a time when Zimbabwe was in a lockdown over July 31 protests. While coronavirus was in the air, doctors and nurses went on strike.

The false narrative is that any amount of perks, free telephones, special payouts and free bus rides will ameliorate their condition. The issue is the value of the Zimbabwe dollar. STUPID!

At whatever level one proposes, say US$1 to $70 (as of today), no amount of Zimbabwe salaries can solve the problem. The smallest emolument for a doctor should
be US$5 000 per month ($350 000). Achieving this figure is a nullity (Zimbabwe english).

It is like dancing the Valkyrian dance. In the story, the Valkyrian grooms danced in a circle, but began to drop dead one by one without finding a way to their brides who were protected by a ring of fire.

No amount of "big talk" will save the Zimbabwe dollar.

The third false narrative is that Hopewell Chin'ono and Jacob ngarivhume are the cause of our problems. Add to this evil duo novelist sister Tsitsi Dangarembga. These three have caused the nurses' strike. oh, I forgot about the doctors' strike. They must have something to do with it. But I forgot that bread now costs $100. These three are guilty in some way. They must rot in a prison.

No number of false narratives will cover up Gukurahundi and the miscalculations of command agriculture. Locking up Hopewell in a stupid jailhouse (US english) will not solve the health workers' strike.

It was my wish to close this chapter, never again to return to it, but the Copperheads continue to annoy me with their false narratives which they wave like red flags before a bull.

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Ken Mufuka is a Zimbabwean patriot. He writes from the US. His book on Life and Times of Robert Mugabe, Dream Betrayed, which he considers his summa, can be found at INNOV Bookstores in Zimbabwe.

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