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Anti-Sanctions, Zanu PF’s Attempt to Manufacture Public Consent

By Wisdom Mumera

One thing President Emmerson Mnangagwa did “wrong” in his excitement at assuming power was to promise Zimbabwe the world whilst still entangled within the web of a Mafia organisation like Zanu PF.

His reformist intentions, whether genuine or political rhetoric, were never going to succeed as long as he maintained the system that has overseen and ensured Zanu PF’s decades rule because what has allowed and necessitated for the party’s long rule is also what has kept Zimbabwe in the doldrums.

He had to disengage himself of much of it if he was to be an Ethiopian Ahmed or Rwandese Kagame.
However, he was too excited and quickly sought to ditch the sanctions cry, which was logical and true but politically dangerous as he has come to realise.

With less than 3 years in power, he has found himself scurrying back to the old cry of a Zanu PF that is a victim of a Western bully.

Last Friday he went a step further and organised an anti-sanctions march supposedly aimed at pressuring US and EU into removing the targeted sanctions. Their nature isn’t the focus of this piece but the validity of the agenda.
Some have been scoffing at the move to march against sanctions saying it will not work.

Indeed it won’t and it has already failed as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the addition of State Security Minister Owen Ncube to those on the list.

In reality, however, from the start, the march was never aimed at the US and the EU.

It was aimed at the locals who have begun to realise that Zanu PF and President Mnangagwa, scarfed with the New Dispensation scarf and tag, both of which know no heat wave are quickly going nowhere.

Former President Robert Mugabe had laid his defence in blaming the West for local problems but President Mnangagwa had come in and disproved it.

So he has had to rebuild the fort to protect both his legacy and the party from crumbling as pressure increases.
Famed linguist and political commentator Noam Chomsky in Understanding Power, writing about his Propaganda Model talks about what the ruling party, like most governments, has been trying to do and quotes Walter Lippman who called it manufacturing consent.

“With the rise of democracy, “propaganda attains eminence as the one means of mass mobilization which is cheaper than violence, bribery or other possible control techniques,” he said.

Manufacturing consent basically involves the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses.

Aiming his own critique at the Western world Chomsky says, “there has been a deepening recognition among elites …that as you begin to lose the power to control people by force, you have to start to control what they think”.
As he struggles to correct the worsening economy, President Mnangagwa has already overseen the shooting of people, their beating and the abduction of many. Essentially he has been worse than Mugabe as he has lacked some level of finesse in his practice of rulership leading to ugly scenes and resolutions.

These have not worked effectively and defiance has continued with whispers of dissent even within the ranks of his own party.

Thus it’s very logical that instead of using violence they have sought to change the tactics and manipulate the public towards privately reasoning that it’s because of sanctions why the economy has gone worse and the future is looking even bleaker since the removal of Mugabe.

By heightening the sanctions cry through the march, Zanu PF and Mnangagwa have sought to manufacture a general public agreement on the reason why the new dispensation has become such a flaccid extension of impotence.

Whereas the open-minded person is likely to read his way through such issues and come to informed decisions and resolutions there are some who are still prone and susceptible to the propagandist gimmicks of a government at its nether end.

As Chomsky argues, a large part of the voting public, Zanu PF’s main concern in this march, find infectious and believable the jingoism and attendant sloganeering which, essentially, is lacking in seriously interrogated truths.
A march or demonstration is such a huge act so as to convince them that it has to be true that sanctions are to blame for our woes.

Even worse for them, sanctions are not some convoluted battle of whether targeted or illegal or some such elite debate. To them, sanctions are expensive fuel, scarce bread, extortionist Ecocash and the reason why one is not going to work.

The simple mind aimed at by the Zanu PF march does not belabour itself with the intricacies of differentiating between these sanctions and those against Rhodesia and how it managed to stay afloat coming up with innovative and progressive ways around the block.

Or the Cuban sanctions placed from March 1958 and how the communist nation has still managed to outwit them to produce a famed health sector despite the sanctions being the most enduring trade embargo in modern history.
On 18 October earlier this month, the US even imposed new sanctions on Cuba over its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and its human rights record at home.

Zimbabwe has nothing like this but the mind aimed at by the Zanu PF march isn’t likely to read/worry/wonder into all that.

Zanu PF has downgraded from a people’s party intent, through a strict and complete ideological line, to uplift and improve the state of the formerly disenfranchised Zimbabwean and has become a clique of entitled former bushwhackers intent to amass wealth whilst falsely pontificating over expired socialist mantras.

Whatever vestige of people-oriented focus went away with the amendments to Mugabe’s indigenisation drive by President Mnangagwa when he spied Western affection and undressed the only part of dignity the country had left (though soiled).

Today Zanu PF and President Mnangagwa shorn of history, represent nothing. They stand as a vacuum of thought leadership and as Kindness Paradza said in Parliament, “are not looking East or West but everywhere”.

The West has since retreated, indigenisation is gone and violence has not worked.

They have shifted to manufacturing consent harping about sanctions and hoping to bore every lazy mind into believing that suddenly the 2001 sanctions have become more dangerous today.

Under Mugabe, we were made to believe sanctions were to blame then Mnangagwa dispelled the idea by blaming crooks around the President.

Now he is renewing efforts to rally around the same false belief and wants everyone along the ride.

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a male journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own news website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network on their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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