Best of African politics

HARARE - Money makes the world go round. But it is the politicians who control the world. They can lie. Yet some can amaze you with a tenacious grasp of the truth.

People who claim to know them inside-out claim to know what makes them tick is a talent.

But others may possess the same, but are into something quite innocent — chemistry, mathematics.

Politicians can lie as smoothly as other people can, except that for the politicians the stakes are higher.

For most of the 58 years I have worked as a journalist in Zambia and Zimbabwe, I have dealt with many politicians, some who rose to be cabinet ministers and governors.

Some have ended up flat on their faces, with egg plastered on their faces.

Most politicians are not in it for their health or to help the poor: primarily, it is to enrich themselves — apart from becoming ministers, prime ministers or presidents.

Moreover, as in most African countries, the idea of getting into politics is not necessarily comparable to joining the Boy Scouts or the priesthood.

It is a cut-throat business, in with no quarter is given or taken.

In Zimbabwe today, there is talk of prominent people fearing for their lives. At the time of writing, nobody had mentioned the whereabouts of Itai Dzamara, who we now know was kidnapped by unknown persons.

But people claim to know what their special business is. It’s the elimination or liquidation of certain people they consider to be impediments to the execution of their special business.

Moreover, you will have read of a fairly influential politician stating categorically that his former party is seeking to kill him.

By now, we know our politics has degenerated to murder. This is no laughing matter. People are going to be killed the way they were killed during the war of liberation.

In simple language, people are going to kill each other as they did during the struggle. What has possessed us?

We are, it would seem, prepared to put ourselves through the same tunnel that was Gukurahundi. How are we prepared to put ourselves in that same tunnel of horror, unless someone has drugged us with horrors of the attraction of undreamed riches?

Is there anyone out there who can throw some much-needed light on what is going on here?

To me, it’s pretty straightforward. Politicians have used each other, as they always do. To achieve these goals may require a lot of blood-letting which has frightened some of the people.

For me it turns out that there are leaders who will not confront the truth because it might show them up to be cowards. They want to be there to the bitter end, where everyone would conclude that they won because they were ruthless.

For me, a personal incident demonstrates how a leader can absolve himself of guilt by simply insisting on being told the truth and accepting it because it is told to him in honesty.

Most people know the story of my firing by Kaunda in 1975, as deputy editor-in-chief of the Times Newspapers, which his government owned.

I protested vehemently and he listened to my protestations. Then he let the matter be investigated thoroughly.

After more than one year, the truth came out: I was reinstated as deputy editor-in-chief, with everything intact.

Kaunda proved, to me, at least, as a politician, he did not allow his ego to overwhelm him.

For me, his decision made me realise he was a first-class politician. I cannot say the same thing about many Zimbabwean politicians.

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