By Sij Ncube
HARARE, SEPTEMBER 15, 2015 – According to German politician Mac Van Bismarck politics is the art of the possible, meaning those dabbling in politics should be men and women capable of defying all odds to achieve their political goals.
They should make it possible against all odds if they are to succeed in their political careers. They need to know when to open and shut their mouths. What to say and when to say it.
But it would appear in Zimbabwe politicians are content with mediocrity, judging from some famous goofs that have landed some of them in controversy, be it in the ruling Zanu (PF) or the opposition.
For instance early this year President Robert Mugabe caused a political storm when he said Kalangas were an uneducated lot who peddled in petty crime in South Africa. He comments came in the wake of the eruption of fresh xenophobic attacks in that country.
Critics point out the dig at Kalangas came amid previous others goofs such as his remarks that Gukurahundi was a “moment of madness” and that he has “degrees in violence.”
Not to be outdone, his vice Emmerson Mnangagwa recently ignited another political storm when he told a foreign magazine editor that the late Joshua Nkomo, also known as Father Zimbabwe, and Ndabaningi Sithole, another nationalist of the country’s war of liberation, were sell-outs, sparking outrage. Mnangagwa, who is taunted as Mugabe’s heir apparent, has refused to apologies.
But political goofs also cascade down to junior politicians in Zanu (PF) as well as the opposition. MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai is still at pains in trying to extinguish the fires of his infamous speech in which he said if Mugabe did not leave peacefully, “we will remove him violently.”
His critics view him, rightly or wrongly, as a violent politician with no qualms in unleashing violence against his opponents although he flatly denies the charge. Be that as it may, Tsvangirai has lived to regret his statement.
Lest we forget people of Matabeleland and some parts of the Midlands are still seething with anger over former Vice President Joice Mujuru reference to the late Father Zimbabwe as a senile old man after the veteran nationalist had recommended that Econet founder, Strive Masiyiwa be awarded a licence to establish his mobile firm. Mujuru has refused to apologies but critics maintain her utterances would come to haunt her as she seeks national political office in the wake of her fall-out with Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Recently Local government minister and Zanu(PF) political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere dismissed the country’s war veterans as drunkards, sparking outrage and putting a spotlight on the calibre of the country’s politicians who appear goof-prone.
Questions abound whether the country is saddled with mediocre politicians still to muster the art of a modern day people’s servant. Critics advise that goof-prone politicians could well take heed of a famous Russian proverb: “Once a word goes out of your mouth, you can never swallow it again.”
Reward Mushayabasa, a former journalism lecturer at Harare Polytechnic now a consulting editor at a United Kingdom based firm, said most of the politicians live to regret their statements or remarks as they faced reality.
“How could Mnangagwa say such things? It’s like rubbing salt to a wound. There’s no love lost between him and people in Matabeleland. They will never forgive him for Gukurahundi. It was the most stupid thing to ever come out of his mouth.
Lance Guma, the managing director at the London-based Nehanda Radio, chipped in, saying Zimbabwe politicians don’t realise how the media has a long memory.
“Plus most of our politicians are mediocre anyway,” said Guma