Last year I wrote this piece and many people were big mad. Well get ready because here we go again. We won’t stop just because the truth is unpalatable and if there is one thing I know for sure, it is that Zimbabwe will never change unless Zimbabweans confront their complicity in their own oppression. Don’t hate, I’m just doing my bit for the revolution.
The most popular anti-zanu hashtag on social media is #zanupfmustgo. I could be out of the loop but that hashtag doesn’t seem to be about anything except that zanupf must go, nor does there seem to be any rhyme or reason to which posts get the tag. It seems that the idea is to make the tag so ubiquitous that zanu realizes how fed up people are and, ashamed and embarrased, decides to leave of its own accord. I dunno, speculate with me. I suspect that the hashtag is about as effective as a rigged popularity contest (aka Zimbabwean elections) when it comes to dethroning an African despot…but I stand to be corrected.
Here’s the thing I don’t get about us: we talk about zanu as if it is a corporeal entity that needs to immediately vacate the premises, when we all know that zanu is the people in it. If we the populace don’t hold those people accountable what are we saying, really, when we say zanupf must go?
To put it in simple terms: saying zanu must go is like marrying a man and then saying men are the cause of every problem women have…no, that sounds wrong because #notallmen, right? Ok, it’s like being a woman and carrying on a torrid affair with R.Kelly. That shit could fly in the year 2000 when ignorance was a somewhat valid defence, but you can’t now lay up under anyone zanu (or R.Kelly-esque) and then get mad when we call you a rape apologist with rapey tendencies, whether it is women’s bodies being violated or an entire nation. Ok’salayo you are part of the problem and you need to sit in a corner somewhere and reevaluate your life choices. There is no such thing as ‘an innocent bystander’ when it comes to affiliation with zanu.
The people we call zanu aren’t victims of circumstance, they do not lack agency, they are not incapable of making different choices and organizing for change. The army commanders and police chiefs and everyone else that claims “it’s a job, what can I do,” the propagandists and the peddlers of murder, lies and mayhem – they aren’t prisoners. They are people just like you and me who have decided that zanu affiliation is the most expedient way of self-actualizing.
They are people who have made conscious choices about how they will live their lives. They choose zanu every day, with full awareness of what the choice means. They are invested in maintaining and strengthening zanu’s grip on power. They choose everything that zanu is, unreservedly, unashamedly, and with every intention of benefitting from being card-carrying party members.
If you choose to love, marry, do business with, and otherwise seek alliances with such people in order to benefit from their proximity to zanu, what does that make you? Take your time answering.
ZanuPF is people who are living their best lives while we fistbump with them because they are our friends, lovers, mothers, and so forth. We laugh and joke with them and never have the difficult conversations about integrity and accountability and the greater good. We live with them, make homes and babies with them, call them our lovers and our friends as if they aren’t willing cogs in a deliberately malevolent and intentionally evil machine. And then we go on twirra and FB and post #zanupfmustgo. It’s insane, right? If you think I’m exaggerating just wait for Zim’s Independence Day, and watch the conduits of our oppression post about ‘change’ and ‘freedom’ from the comfort of their zanu alliances. Fucken hypocrites. But the rest of us aren’t any better. Our continued engagement with the people of zanu and their associates makes us just as complicit. We are all ZanuPF.
When non-Zimbabweans ask me about Zim politics my answer has changed from “Zanu’s much-lauded degrees in violence make resistance, insurrection and revolution difficult at best and impossible at worst,” to: “Zimbabweans have the government they deserve.”
We don’t call out our friends, lovers, and family members and demand that they serve the public good with integrity and a commitment to principles of right behaviour. We pretend not to see the damage they inflict because we enjoy the benefits of their proximity to the party and ours to them. We lie to ourselves about wanting zanu gone because if we really meant it we would curate our relationships accordingly. The fact that we don’t says to me that we are all complicit and I will say it again because we cannot change what we do not confront: we are all zanupf.