Zimbabwe Review

Reflections on Zimbabwe

Pius Ncube plays to the gallery

Posted by CM on July 1, 2007

Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, is a brave man. An apologetic critic of Mugabe’s, he has used the protection that being a prominent cleric still provides brilliantly, to say things that needed to be said and that many others would have been arrested, harmed or silenced for. Mugabe, being a nominal Catholic, has so far failed to cow Ncube into silence, despite itching to do so and clearly being enraged by the cleric’s sharp criticisms.

A voice like Ncube’s that so fearlessly speaks to power is an asset to any society, and is particularly so in the Zimbabwe of today. He is a great voice for the suffering in Zimbabwe and I have great admiration and respect for him.

I was therefore saddened to hear his attention-grabbing call for Britain “to raid Zimbabwe and remove Mugabe.” It is most unfortunate.

Whether as a deliberately thought out statement or one that came out in the heat of an interview moment, it is not only a sad sentiment for him to hold, but stating it will compromise and come back to haunt him. Obviously Ncube knows nothing would make Mugabe “see red” more than the call for the intervention of his hated enemy Britain, and perhaps goading Mugabe this way was part of the motivation in what he said.

Even amongst the many Zimbabweans who don’t share Mugabe’s Britain-hatred, I don’t believe there is any significant number who, despite the disapointment at how the post-independent era under Mugabe has turned out, want anything that would smack of a colonizer-colonized relationship with any country, least of all Britain. I suspect the British establishment itself is only too painfully aware how their country’s messy record in Rhodesia and in Zimbabwe currently binds their hands from being in the frontlines of helping to resolving its former colony’s woes.

The desperation of Ncube and of many Zimbabweans that someone, anyone, come in and magically, instantly solve our problems is understandable given the great and increasing hardships Ncube would see every day. But that is not likely to happen, and in any case, with regards to Zimbabwe, Britain would hardly have the clean hands and moral authority to be an effective knight in shining armour.

Ncube’s ill-considered, careless statement adds nothing to the discussion or resolution of Zimbabwe’s problems, while reducing his stature among the Zimbabweans who want Mugabe to go, but are not enamored of a new type of colonization from any quarter. Not only was the invasion statement silly, but his further stating, “we should do it (remove Mugabe)ourselves but there’s too much fear. I’m ready to lead the people, guns blazing, but the people are not ready,” smacks of grandstanding. An ordinarily humble, modest man, this statement comes across as from a man stroking his own ego.

And I reject the now tired “too much” fear argument. Zimbabweans are no more brave or fearful than any other people. Why there has not yet been a mass uprising is a legitimate question, but anywhere in the world and through-out history, a people’s snapping point is influenced by a complicated confluence of factors that evidently have not arrived yet, for whatever reason. Mocking his “flock,” who do not have the protections that Ncube’s position and prominence give him, as being too chicken to follow his heroically gallant and brave lead is a cheap shot, and unlikely to raise his stature among them.

It has long been the practice of Mugabe’s regime to accuse opponents of being agents of Britain and the West. While elements of the opposition certainly do seem to cozy up uncomfortably closely to Western powers whose actions in Zimbabwe over the decades have not always been honorable, most have heard the regime’s cry of “wolf” often enough to dismiss it with the contempt it deserves.

How unfortunate that an important, necessary voice like Ncube’s in today’s Zimbabwe should so readily give the regime an excuse to paint him with that old worn out brush and have some of the tar stick because of his own carelessness.

Chido Makunike

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