Opinion: My problem with the US$40K brown envelope

By Gifford Mehluli Sibanda

Lazarus Nyathi my grandfather, may his soul rest in peace, was a well-known panel beater, if not the only one at some point in our community, so great was his work that even insurance companies contracted him to do the restoration works of some of the expensive vehicles of the time.

He tells me one day after a long day in the fields that during his days at work employed by the white men in one of the leading panel beating shops of the time, he says, there was a stand-off between the workers and the management which was white, on the canteen provisions of the management and the general workers.

Instead of the management resolving the issue, they attempted to recruit the vocal leaders into their canteens with the promise of some pecks. He laughed as he told me that some of his co-workers had even the time to consider the offer, two of his colleagues took it, and he obviously rejected it with contempt.

My grandfather and his other progressive colleagues, seems they understood at that time that one of the enemy’s tactics that work actually is to make the opponents look like them, and recruit them to their table so that they deny the masses a voice, this will render the masses despondent and accept that there can’t be anyone worthy in their midst to fight for them and there are better perhaps with the status quo, in despair say, they are all the same.

In politics in Zimbabwe, we saw that during the Government of National Unity, Morgan Tsvangirai in his new powerful office as the Prime Minister of the state, became the chief spokesperson, going to an extent of being Mugabe’s spokesperson, telling the world how Mugabe even loved Banana cake and his tea, there were stories even on how Nelson Chamisa a minister at the time heaped praises on Robert Mugabe. I am giving examples of how these two men that had been sent to spearhead the voice of the opposition got overwhelmed and comfortable in the comforts and trappings of power. The 2013 general election results prove what the general public thought of the performance of their leaders in government. The opposition was beaten in a way they can’t explain and it’s interesting that Nelson Chamisa was the Organizing Secretary at the time and in charge of mobilization towards that election. He must know better.

Now fast forward, to this week we learn of a very sad development that the opposition is part of grand looting, that they are part of legitimizing, the millions in loans that cabinet ministers are going to give themselves in this dying economy where poverty levels are high and they can see on the streets from the comfort of their air-conditioned vehicles. Now before the end of their terms, they are being given loans worth thousands of dollars, this is sad. I knew like anyone else that a party can have a minority that could be politically immoral not the majority. What a time to be alive, where we witness a purchase of the conscience of the opposition leaders.

I submit that this is the purchase for a number of reasons, this is the worst parliament in terms of holding the ruling party to account, of course, isolated efforts by Tendai Biti have been noted. The bills that Zanu PF has passed accompanied by the silence or absence of opposition members speak to their complicity. The people of Zimbabwe have been sold out and the price tag for each Member of Parliament is US$40 000. Each and every voter who expected that the opposition in parliament will be a voice of reason and speak of their need for a better life, good roads, equipped hospitals, and equal employment opportunities have been sold out. People of Zimbabwe you are on your own.

The opposition has just sold its moral authority to condemn looting. How will they condemn what the regime has done when they are part of the looting?

Finally, one last lesson I learnt from my late old man, is that if you plant crops and rats devour your crop, you put a snare and catch them alive. You put them in a drum. At some point, they will start eating each other until only one survives. The one that survives will no longer have an appetite for your crops but for rat meat. You would have solved your problem! Let those with ears hear and let us watch while the opposition defends Zanu PF looting. In 2023 let us be wiser.

Gifford Mehluli Sibanda is a commoner from Inyathi, Bubi district in Matabeleland North.

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