Tuesday, 16 August 2016

"Messenger (Mawarire) is now bigger than message," argues Manyowa - actually it's worse. By Wilbert Mukori

Maynard Manyowa, you have put your finger on the heart of the matter as regards Pastor Evan Mawarire, his #ThisFlag campaign and, most important of all, Zimbabwe’s political weakness – “we are a nation obsessed with personalities”.

“Pastor Evan Mawarire, the man who filmed a video about his plight and found himself stumbled into activism has now fled Zimbabwe - after the citizen movement pressured for his release. Admittedly there is some deflation, but that points to a bigger problem,” argued Manyowa.

“Those that are angry that the protest leader left, and those that believe he is some form of god are two sides of the same coin - a nation obsessed with personalities.

“Its sad because, it seems we have not learnt since Mugabe was anointed the face of the freedom movement that a liberation should have the face of values and not a man.

“The absence of the Pastor does not translate to the absence of the values that the movement he started represents. Ideas and values should never be tied to the face of a man. Values must be enough inspiration to fuel a genuine revolution.

“The messenger must never be bigger than the message itself. A revolution cannot be embodied in one man. The MDC tried to make Morgan Tsvangirayi the face of opposition politics, and today they sit in limbo. Zanu PF did it, and earned us a dictatorship.”

Indeed, I would go so far as to say in all the cases, of Mawarire and his #ThisFlag, Tsvangirai and his MDC and Mugabe and his Zanu PF, it was never a case of the messenger become “bigger” than the message; there was no message. In all the three cases the messenger has each said the current system is unjust, stating the obvious, and they will make it better without saying how, when or anything.

It is the people’s failure to pressure leaders to give details of the plans and to closely scrutinize every aspect of the plan that has left the people are the mercy of the leaders to deliver on their promise. The departure of Mawarire have left many #ThisFlag followers are completely lost because, whilst they had shown their willingness to let him lead, they had no clue where he was taking them.

If the truth be told, and it must be told; I doubt if Pastor Mawarire knew where he was going. One of his demands was for Mugabe to “fire corrupt ministers”, for example. A pretty ineffective demand, given corruption has been going on for 36 years and had become so rampant as much $15 billion is looted in a few years from the diamond sector alone. Time would tell if Pastor Mawarire is to be another failed leaders as happened with Tsvangirai and Mugabe.

Tsvangirai promised the nation democratic change and his performance during the GNU showed he had no clue what changes were required. As for Mugabe, Zimbabwe would not be up to her eyes in this political and economic mess is he was a competent leader!

The very fact that Pastor Mawarire was able to get so many Zimbabweans to show some active interest in politics or be it at a very superficial level (there is an intellectual limit to one can convey in 140 twitter characters) was a great achievement. The real challenge here is for the people themselves to take their political interest to the next level one gear at a time.

We are in this political and economic mess because we have a very naïve and gullible electorate whose understanding of politics, economics, etc. is so shallow it is comparable to seeing in monochrome, black or white, right or wrong. If we are ever going to get out of the mess then the people must up their game so they see all the colours of the rainbow. A healthy and functional democracy can only exist when the electorate cannot only judge good from bad but can split the good from better and best. What is the point of being given a democratic choice if one cannot tell the difference?

After 36 years of independence we cannot deny we have the government we deserve;  the corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF dictatorship complete with its coterie of corrupt and incompetent opposition parties. If we want a competent government that will take us out of this mess then we will have to earn such a government by deepening our understanding of issues such as the democratic reforms beyond the #ThisFlag level!

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people," said Eleanor Roosevelt.

As long as we continue to limit ourselves to discussing people we will continue to sink as a nation! 

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