LONDON - Politicians have been adept at manufacturing crises in order to mobilise support.
For example, Zanu PF has managed to distort the true nature of Western sanctions in order to mobilise support around a perception of national victimhood.
In other words, the idea is to present Zimbabwe as a victim.
Politicians also create personal crises on the same grounds and objectives. In the past weeks and months, President Robert Mugabe and his wife have allegedly been victims of one plot or another.
Victim playing can be a useful tactic especially when one has a submissive and pliant audience.
Politicians play victim to divert attention from their own excesses, economies deteriorating under their watch and mobilise support from their own base.
A definition of victim playing on Wikipedia describes it as: “…the fabrication of victimhood for a variety of reasons such as to justify abuse of others, to manipulate others, a coping or attention seeking”
A distinction is made between victim playing manipulators and abusers.
Manipulators, according to Wikipedia, often play the victim role by portraying themselves as victims of circumstances or someone else’s behaviour in order to gain pity or sympathy or to evoke compassion and thereby get something from another.
Mugabe and his wife Grace have, cunningly, managed to play victim. Both may not be victims of anything after all but the strategy is intended to mobilise support and consolidate their political positions.
Grace has claimed she would be a victim of Vice President Joice Mujuru if she succeeded her husband. She claims Mujuru indicated she wanted to kill her Gaddafi-style once Mugabe had departed.
Mugabe has been portrayed as a target of an assassination plot.
Victim playing has worked for the Mugabes. Grace has held countrywide rallies and appealed to specific clusters of society, women, war veterans, church leaders, students and traders.
Leaders of these groups competed to declare allegiance and “love” for Grace and her husband. The adulations for both Mugabe and his wife will reach a crescendo today.
These partisans have played along the narratives of “victimhood” of the two and vilified Mujuru. Zanu PF politicians deemed to be associated with the coup-plotters were purged across the country.
Former war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda was arrested for allegedly suggesting the Mugabes were plotting a “bedroom coup’’. The common reasons cited for the “votes of no confidence” against the Zanu PF politicians in the provinces were their association with the alleged coup-plotters and failure to support Grace as the incoming Zanu PF Women’s League leader.
The result of the victim playing by Mugabe and his wife is that they have consolidated their political positions.
Mugabe and his wife stand unopposed at the Zanu PF congress beginning today.
The other are persons who play victim are abusers. Victim playing by abusers, Wikipedia states, is intended either to divert attention away from acts of abuse by claiming that the abuse was justified based on another person’s bad behaviour or soliciting sympathy from others in order to gain their assistance in supporting or enabling the abuse of a victim.
In the current circumstances, the victims here are, instead, people who have been purged and abused. Mugabe has the assistance of politicians and supporters in the provinces and the police in supporting and justifying the “abuse” of these victims.
Mugabe and Zanu PF will justify the arrest of Sibanda and the assault on MDC member Job Sikhala by the police, for instance, on account of their “bad behaviour.”
In the coming months, more people will face abuse, that is, expulsion, arrest or assaults.
Yet Mugabe and his wife may not be victims of anything after all. They are both manipulators and abusers.
Claims of future victimisation of Grace by Mujuru are conjectural. On the other hand, no credible evidence has been provided to sustain charges of treason before a competent court of law.
The sole purpose is to play victim in order to generate support.