Those who bother taking the time to study how the elections of 1980 were conducted by the British, under governor Lord Soames, would know how the hijacked and betrayed ZANU party was permitted to commit some of the most horrendous and barbaric pre-election atrocities with impunity, in the run-up to their disputed ‘victory’ – signalling the genesis of a troubling violent tendency characterizing all subsequent elections in the country, as the ruling elite knew within their hearts of hearts (or, whatever they call the place their cruelty emanates from), that they never attained the true trust, love, and support of the majority of Zimbabweans.
Why I call the 1980 ZANU, a hijacked and betrayed party, is that it was no longer anywhere near the ZANU of icons as Leopold Takawira, Herbert Wilshire Chitepo, and Josiah Magama Tongogara, who had been suspiciously assassinated, most likely by the same characters who were now in charge of the already former revolutionary party (something that even the then president of Zambia Kenneth Kaunda realized, as he rounded up and arrested most of the senior ZANU officials based in his country, after the killing of Chitepo).
Even the then Mozambique leader Samora Machel understood this fact very well, as he was also reportedly highly distrustful of the likes of Robert Gabriel Mugabe, and his close ally Edgar Twoboy Tekere, when they suspiciously and hurriedly crossed into his country in 1975, soon after the death of Chitepo on 18 March of the same year, to take over the party’s military wing, ZANLA, in order to complete the hijacking.
As such, it was not surprising that barely two years into Zimbabwe’s independence, this fake, hijacked and betrayed ZANU, would freely embark on arguably the worst atrocities ever committed in this country – as the regime’s military cold-bloodedly butchered over 20,000 innocent and unarmed civilians, largely in the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces – yet, the British, who today tout themselves as human rights and democracy defenders (even imposing laughable half-hearted, utterly ineffective, and pointless targeted sanctions on four top officials, and one company) looked aside, continued providing the country with military assistance, and to top it all, Queen Elizabeth knighted then brutal dictator Mugabe with some dubiously titled “Grand Knight Cross in the order of the Bath” in 1994.
Why were these ridiculous targeted sanctions, that we witness today – whose objective I have never quite understood, as they neither have the punch nor the sense, to genuinely and seriously force any greedy, cold-hearted and evil-minded tyrant to change his ways – not imposed when the hijacked ZANU PF regime was busy massacring tens of thousands of mainly Ndebele speaking people?
Well, the answer to that was simply that this British-engineered ZANU PF was a tool to annihilate whatever was left of the genuine liberation forces (having already ruthlessly dealt with its own, such as Chitepo, and Tongogara) – in this regard, the other revolutionary party, ZAPU, and its perceived supporters, whom the tribalist regime regarded as being Ndebele speakers – so as to continue colonial policies in the independent Zimbabwe.
No wonder, even the much acclaimed land reform program, carried out in the early 2000s, was so haphazardly, violently, and shoddily conducted, as there had been absolutely no plans at all to redistribute any significant land to the majority of Zimbabweans by the ruling elite – except, for their own benefit, since they had readily been parceling out the most productive areas for themselves since 1980, at the expense of the rest of the citizenry.
The only reason this opportunistic British-engineered ZANU PF administration found themselves ‘forced’ into panick-mode was due the emergence of the MDC in 1999, which threatened to romp to victory in the 2000 elections – thus, the ruling junta had to come up with a façade to rouse up the long-lost revolutionary fervour, in order to portray the country as being under some attack by the former colonial master.
A charade that is still ongoing.
Yet, what we still witness today, is a ruling party still willing to please their ‘real’ masters, as they have just gazetted a legal instrument paving the way for the eviction of over 12,500 villagers from their ancestoral homes in Chilonga, Chiredzi, so as to make way for the growing of Lucerne grass to feed cattle owned by Dendairy company.
Does this sound familiar? It most certainly does, as this brings back memories of the atrocious evictions of villagers under Chief Rekai Tangwena, of Nyanga in Manicaland province, on 29 October 1970 by the colonial regime, under the Land Apportionment Act – something the Harare establishment always megaphones as the highlight of the Rhodesians’ cruelty, in spite of repeating the very same in a post-independent Zimbabwe.
If what the Zimbabwe government is doing to these Chiredzi villagers had been orchestrated at the hands of the Rhodesians, we would have never heard the last of it – as we would have been loudly and repeatedly told by the post-independence authorities, how “cruel colonists displaced Chiredzi villagers from land they had been on for hundreds of years, in order to grow grass”.
In fact, this Chiredzi displacement of people off their ancestoral land “to grow grass”, is by no means an isolated case, as removing people from their land, and leaving them virtually destitute, to make room for capital, has been the hallmark of both the Rhodesia and Zimbabwe regimes – however, the latter has even taken this a step further, by demolishing people’s homes, and abandoning them to the caprices of the weather, under the pretext of ‘sanitizing’ or ‘cleansing’ urban areas.
We, the people, then ask, “What difference to colonialism did this post-independence regime bring” – considering that the majority of the country’s citizenry have never experienced the difference – if anything, most urban dwellers, and the working class, might sense that the economic situation has actually worsened under this incompetent, corrupt, and murderous tyranny, whose only purpose appears to be to steal, kill, and destroy.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please find feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]Post published in: Featured