Zimbabweans’ partisan fanaticism destroying country since political parties not football teams!

Zimbabweans love their sports - most particularly, football or soccer!


If you want to get people all excitable and riled up, then simply begin a football-related subject.

Just go up to a group of Zimbabweans, or post on social media, something like – so and so must be kicked out of the national team, or such and such a team is useless – and, everyone (including those who appeared non-existent in a WhatsApp group) will suddenly come to life, find their voices, and engage in fierce debate.

In fact, there has been many a report of individuals coming to blows during an angry kafuffle over football.

I remember a story told me by a cousin of mine in the 1980s or 90s – whereby, whenever their teacher’s favorite team Black Rhinos (who were football powerhouses in those days) lost a match on a Sunday, the entire class would be certain of a thorough whipping the next day, as he would be in a foul no-nonsese mood.

Such is to be expected from the so-called “world’s most beautiful game” – as fanaticism has most sadly become a tragic integral facet, with fanatical supporters ferociously standing with their beloved teams, no matter what, and viciously intolerant towards any perceived criticism.

It does not matter whether the facts are correct, true, and justified – these fanatics will never hear any of it – with the instigator of the debate even at the risk of some grievous bodily harm.

As thoroughly disturbing as they may be – I long ago decided to accept that as being part of the sporting terrain.

Maybe, that is what put me off sports – except for cricket, of course, which is my favorite – since the attached sheer fanaticism is a huge turn off, that makes certain sporting disciples unattractive.

Nonetheless, this is one thing when practiced by sports fans – but, when such is imported into politics, that becomes an entirely different matter, which is even more worrisome.

Fanatically supporting a soccer team may be, in a distorted fashion, regarded as acceptable – since, these are engaged in sporting activities, which are merely games, played to entertain.

Yet, this is a huge problem, when the same fanaticism is transferred to political parties – which deal with real life issues, and can be legitimately considered “life and death”, as politics determine people’s livelihoods and welfare.

Contrary to popular belief – politics is not some “dirty game”, because there is no way a nation’s survival, and its citizens’ wellbeing can be regarded as a “game”…by any stretch of the imagination.

Therefore, my soul is always disquieted whenever I witness how Zimbabweans can be so easily blinded into supporting particularly political parties, exhibiting wild traits of intolerance of those who question them, and possibly ready to “defend” their leaders by any means necessary.

These troubling thoughts became more bare when I watched the hundreds who thronged Epworth, Harare, last Saturday, to attend a so-called “Star Rally” to launch the ruling ZANU PF’s 26 March 2022 by-elections campaign – which was graced by president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.

I found myself asking – how many of those gathered are actually wallowing in abject poverty, are living on the brink on starvation, yet are more than jubilant attending a rally hosted by their misery’s authors, whilst excitedly exhibiting their support for the very people who ruined their livelihoods?

Yet, if anyone were to criticize their party’s destructive leadership – who wrecked a once prosperous country, through incompetent policies, high profile mass looting of national resources, and a toxic political environment – these supporters would fanatically hear none of it, and even becoming bitterly enraged.

On the other end of the spectrum – one can expect a similar intolerant and caustic response, if anyone were to loudly wonder why so many urban dwellers still showed such unquestioned loyalty to an opposition party that has all but wrecked havoc in the country’s towns and cities, reducing them to hovels and shantytowns, lacking the most basic services.

Have Zimbabwean became incapable of independent thought, and critical analysis – such that, we have allowed our fanaticism to blind us to facts, which are right in front of us?

It has never been in doubt that over half of Zimbabwe’s population is living in extreme poverty (earning less than US$1.90 a day), with formal unemployment reaching over 90%, whilst the vast majority of those blessed enough to have jobs receiving far below the poverty datum line.

Who can deny that our urban dwellers have become worse than their rural folks – due to lack of consistent water supplies (with some not even having seen a single drop of water coming out of their home taps in months or years), uncollected garbage continually pilling up (posing a real health risk, more so without reliable, potable, safe drinking water), and roads that are not even fit for tractors?

Why, then – knowing fully-well who are the authors of our miserable livelihoods, which have turned our lives into living unending nightmares – do we still, in our millions, offer unparalleled loyalty to these same perpetrators?

Surely, with all the intelligence and education we erroneously and disingenuously claim to possess, are we still unable, or unwilling, to see beyond our noses as to who, and why we are in such a mess?

Are we seriously saying then, we lack the ability to study and understand where our problems are emanating – rather opting to believe whatever our chosen parties and leaders decide to tell us?

They say, “economic sanctions imposed by the West, and regime change agents are the root causes of our suffering” – and, that is the holy truth!

They tell us, “we can’t provide you with running water because the economy is failing, and government is interfering” – and, that makes complete sense to us, as the Alpha and Omega of all truths.

Where then is all that intelligence and education? Where is it working?

Why are we not prepared to question what we are told, and meticulously scrutinize what the real cause of our misery is?

Why do we choose to blindly follow whomever we chose to be our leaders?

Quite frankly, it is one thing fearing to stand up for ourselves against a brutal heinous regime – but, it is completely incomprehensible when we deliberately choose to support our tormentors.

Why do we treat our political parties as football teams – and, our own lives as some game?

How else can we describe a people who become more obsessed about their political party beating their rivals – than concerned over their own welfare and livelihoods?

Our lives are certainly not a game – and, have never been!

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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