The attack on Faber Chidarikire by that self-confessed Grade 2 ‘graduate’ Hurungwe East MP, Sarah Mahoka, aptly typifies that age-old adage about two fools in a squabble.
The Oracle with Tangai Chapangura
It all started with the excitable yet not-so-intellectually-given provincial minister, Chidarikire taking his apple-polishing act on Emmerson Mnangagwa, the new Vice-President, a bit too far. He sought to lift the artless profile of Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia to that of Zimbabwe’s “untouchable Dr Amai Grace Mugabe” by referring to her as “the Acting First Lady”.
Not that, in my view, there was much harm in that Faber overkill, given that Auxillia’s husband was indeed, at the material time, the Acting President of Zimbabwe.
It goes without saying however that such territorial invasion would infuriate Grace big time (to use the First Lady’s own language when she lashed out at luckless Ray Kaukonde: “manje Kaukonde ndakakamaka big time!”)
So, soon as he realised his adulation was likely to offend the queen, a clearly terrified Chidarikire quickly swallowed his words back, pleading that he was “just joking” in his own “moment of madness”.
The fact of the matter however is that Zimbabwean politicians have become bootlicking slaves — a case of hero-worshipping gone awry.
Here is one very old and supposedly mature politician literally praying to the new kid on the block, Mnangagwa, for extended and higher political life. Apparently short of words in this bootlicking monstrosity, Chidarikire finds himself referring to the VP’s wife, as “Acting First Lady”!
And, not to be outdone, Mahoka — never mind the academic barrenness that is obviously responsible for the poverty of her judgment — finds the attempt to equate Auxillia, “a mere mortal”, to Grace, a repugnant act of treachery.
So, without realising she is also licking boot, the MP goes into a furious frenzy, demanding that her boss, the provincial minister, issues an apology.
“No woman can be equated to our only anointed Amai Mugabe,” Mahoka fumed. “She is an angel sent to this country to liberate all women and men. She is anointed by the spirit of Ambuya Nehanda!”
“No one can fit her (First Lady’s) shoes and even her deputy Sandi Moyo cannot call for a Women’s League meeting without the First Lady’s consent”.
This is the hopeless extent to which our politicians have sunken, all for political survival! Hard work and merit no longer count. Praise-singing and patronage is all that matters.
But, this attempt at making our leaders little gods is an adventure that should make us very afraid. We stand in danger of transforming good leaders into incorrigible tyrants —blind to danger, deaf to advice and impervious to common wisdom. We are creating “brothers to the Moon and cousins to the Sun” out of mere mortals!
Respect and recognition of hard work is acceptable everywhere, but we should avoid falling into the political bad habit of seeking personal favours from leaders by transforming them into gods or living legends and saints.
The late Idi Amin — that Ugandan despot — fell for this obsequious flattery until he believed he was his country’s messiah.
Closer home, we have had the likes of the late Tony Gara and other good-for-nothing political clowns seeking to equate Mugabe to Jesus — showering him with hyperbolic praises.
More lately, we had this other fellow, Josaya Hungwe, telling us that Mnangagwa is the ‘Son of Man!’
Now Mugabe’s wife from Chikomba, Grace, is suddenly an “angel”! And, in the same breath and self-contradictory confusion, she is also the Vessel of that revered national spirit medium, “Mbuya Nehanda”.
The tragedy of such tomfoolery is that weak-minded leaders are so infected by this praise-singing and sycophantic flattery that they begin to believe they are indefatigable holy cows — not fallible humans who must account to the people that voted them into power.
This “dear leader syndrome”, according to one political observer, was the source of Julius Nyerere’s tragic economic ruin of Tanzania.
While Nyerere’s Ujamaa economic policies (his slogan was “democracy is a luxury that we cannot afford”) dragged his country into an economic cesspit between 1976 and 1986. The Tanzanians, led by praise-singing bootlickers, continued to shower him with praises, calling him “Mwalimu” — the wise teacher.
Up till today, Tanzania has not fully recovered from Mwalimu’s obviously unwise and toxic teachings!
What Zimbabweans should guard against are the dangers of transforming our leaders into demi-gods by unrestrained bootlicking of the kind we are witnessing.
We are free to call our leaders all sorts of comic praise names like “Cremora”, but as soon as we start telling fallible beings they are “True Sons of God”, “Angel Gabriel”, “second Jesus”, “Son of Man” or equating them to Biblical holy men “walking through the walls of Jericho”; we must know we are heading for disaster.
We encourage our leaders towards dangerous hallucinations where they drag our countries to the dogs — dancing and laughing all the way!
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