The curse of schoolboy politics in Zimbabwe

16 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
The curse of schoolboy politics in Zimbabwe Mr Chamisa

The ManicaPost


Ranga Mataire
Group Political Editor

In his article, Ankomah posits that ‘schoolboy politics’, which is rampant in Francophone countries, found a foothold in Zimbabwe with the birth of the MDC in 1999.

“Among non-Francophone countries, Zimbabwe probably has had the greatest misfortune of having had opposition politicians who have simply refused to grow,” says Ankomah, as he documents how the politicians’ deliberate acts have damaged the image of Zimbabwe.

Is this a fair assessment of opposition politicians in Zimbabwe? What basis does Ankomah have in labelling opposition politicians as purveyors of “schoolboy” politics?

In his assessment, the Ghanaian journalist believes that since 1999, Zimbabwe has suffered the burden of politicians who put self-interest above national interests.

It is hard for anyone who has followed Zimbabwean politics since 1999 not to agree with Ankomah’s assessment.


A closer look at the current crop of opposition politicians reveals a saddening scenario of the majority of them having been reared in the cauldron of post-independence student activism at colleges and universities.

In other words, the majority of these opposition politicians have very little emotional attachment to the liberation struggle that birthed a free and independent Zimbabwe from the yoke of colonial rule.

Ordinarily, there is really nothing wrong with having post-independence young politicians actively participating in national politics.


The governing ZANU-PF has plenty of such young politicians. What is worrisome is that the majority of opposition politicians are a product of massive foreign hand holding.


At its inception, the MDC was conceptualised, funded and supported by Western nations with one purpose – to halt the land reform programme initiated by the ZANU-PF government.

At its inception, white commercial farmers whose land was earmarked for compulsory redistribution, openly came out to lend support for the MDC.

The MDC’s founding top leadership was from the trade union movement.


However, they were never in charge.


The entrance of white commercial farmers epitomised by the late Roy Bennett countered the MDC’s professed ideological pro-labour stance.


Land reform was about empowering landless ordinary Zimbabweans.


By aligning with white commercial farmers, the MDC clearly showed everyone that they were a front for white colonial interests.


All doubts about who was in charge of the MDC came when Munyaradzi Gwisai, an MDC MP, came out in support of land reform.

Gwisai wrote then: “The focus becomes completely wrong, seeking to please businesspeople, the commercial farmers and western governments and NGOs, trying to show that we are the most reasonable and most professional as opposed to ZANU-PF rather than focusing on bread and butter issues affecting the masses that support us.”

Morgan Tsvangirai was forced by his funders to fire Gwisai.

Colleges and universities were a fertile recruitment ground for the opposition party.


Tendai Biti, Fortune Mguni, Job Sikhala, the late Learnmore Jongwe, Tafadzwa Musekiwa, Charlton Hwende and Nelson Chamisa are among the student activists who joined the MDC.


It is not a coincidence that Roy Bennett became the treasurer of the new opposition party.


He was there to harness material and financial support from white commercial farmers and some Western nations that felt irked by ZANU-PF’s revolutionary land reform programme.

The lack of a pan-African ideological grounding clearly made the young politicians susceptible to fuzzy neo-liberal narratives of democracy, which unfortunately horned them into pliable instruments of neocolonial interests.


The schoolboy antics from opposition politicians emanate largely from lack of a compelling alternative idea.


To this day, their main goal is to acquiesce to Western interests.


They cash in on people’s dissatisfaction and think that this is the only way they can gain power.


The lack of a compelling ideological grounding has made most of those in opposition politics to remain childish in character and deeds.


They have carried over with names that they used to be called when students.


So you have Job Sikhala still being called Wiwa from slain Nigerian activists Ken Saro Wiwa and Nelson Chamisa still be referred to as Wamba dia Wamba taken from a Congolese academic and political theorist who became a commander of the Kisangani faction of the rebel Rally for Congolese democracy during the Congo civil war.

Therein lies a problem. Even in their adulthood, the former student leaders still mimic or imitate individuals who have zero relation with our own internal dynamics- past or present.


It is delusional and breeds a generation that lost its way and it is easy fodder for manipulation by foreigners.

Instead of fawning over Britain, perhaps the opposition should learn from them.


There, the opposition acts like a government-in-waiting, training themselves in the wings through the “shadow” ministerial route.


The leader of the opposition has a paid-for-office from the public purse.


This is possible because the official opposition does not sell out to foreign powers.


They work for the national interests and will never see or hear them issuing disparaging remarks about their country while in foreign lands.

But in Zimbabwe, we have an opposition that does not accept any electoral outcome that does not declare them as winners.


They even announce during election campaigns that they won’t accept any election results in which they are losers.


They also have the temerity to lobby for sanctions against their own country.


This is schoolboy politics.

Until and unless the opposition refashions itself as nationalistic and desists from being pliable instruments of foreign interests, dreams of attaining power will always be illusionary.


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