ONE of the greatest ancient Greek playwrights and poets, Euripides, famous for the many tragedies he wrote, including Medea and The Bacchae – which probed the darker side of human nature, once wrote: “Those whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad.” (c. 485-406 BC)
And for anyone who has bothered to follow Zimbabwe’s topsy turvy tragic political affairs from the days of racist Ian Douglas Smith till today, at varying stages in the life of this nation, events and behaviours of those in power have aptly proved Euripides’ prophetic assertion.
At the height of the bitter bush war between the Rhodesian Forces and guerrillas fighting for majority rule in the country, Smith declared in 1976: “Let me say it again. I don’t believe in black majority rule ever in Rhodesia—not in a thousand years.” Four years later, black majority rule visited the southern African country and Zimbabwe was born. Tragically, the country’s next ruler, the late former President Robert Mugabe fell into the very same trappings of power and ruled the country asserting, albeit through his proxies, that he would rule Zimbabwe till he dropped dead. What happened after 37 years of his rule is yet another tragic page of Zimbabwe’s troubled political history.
Today, the country has opened yet another tragic political page as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s two-year-old government continues to behave in the most bizarre manner as it, among other crazy decisions, fires 77 doctors at government hospitals who have protested for the past two months for better pay and working conditions. It is utterly unbelievable that a whole Cabinet can make such a decision without batting an eyelid. Maybe, it is because they don’t care since none of them are treated by any of those doctors, let alone at the government hospitals. One of them, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga has been in a hospital in the Far East for months. They are forgetting that nothing lasts forever and are currently so intoxicated with power that their ears can no longer hear the voices of reason.
Even as the number of dissenting voices grows by the day, Cabinet is becoming more obstinate and burying their heads in the sand refusing to come to terms with the tragedy unfolding around them.
While the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Harare Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu — the latest high-profile individual to call out the powers-that-be — has placed the blame on the leaders of both the ruling party and the main opposition MDC, the buck — at the end of the day, stops with those who are in power. Ndlovu says: “If they are all for the people, as they claim to be, they must show that through humility and willingness to engage in meaningful discussions for the benefit of the people and country.”
Granted, but a very old Shona adage schools us thus: “Gudo guru peta muswe kuti vaduku vakutye.” Literally translated it means, an elderly baboon should not let loose its tail. So, in other words, those discussions can only happen only after Mnangagwa decides to fold his tail. Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa is being headstrong simply because Mnangagwa is not prepared to get down from his lofty chair and speak to the commoner, Chamisa. Such is the tragedy the country finds itself in.