Article was originally posted on my site in 2018.
I wrote the bulk of this article last year when Mnangagwa announced that he had created a Commission of Inquiry into the events of August 1st this year but I never got to finish it. So today I’ve decided to publish it because I believe the subject of false consciousness is important in the Zimbabwean context. Apologies in advance if the article is a bit dull in its presentation and use of language.
Yes, I really believe that the Zimbabwean public’s greatest weakness is false consciousness. Hear me out here, please.
When Zanu and Zapu combatants went into training during the liberation war, one of the main things they went through was a decluttering of the mind which sought to remove false consciousness and replace it with true class consciousness. Class consciousness makes people understand exactly where they are in the political food chain, understand who the enemy is and what’s to be done to change their situation. One could say it’s a sort of tunnel vision, others could say it’s the removal of a middle class mind set which exists in the mind of a poor working class person. I don’t want to get bogged down in class discourse because I’m not a Marxist (whatever that means these days). But Marx – who wrote about class consciousness – said that the working class need to be a working class in itself and for itself. Myself on the other hand I’m saying the Zimbabwean public needs to know that the precarious conditions which they find themselves in are a direct result of Zanu pf and that no one in Zimbabwe apart from the public themselves will liberate them from Zanu. As such the public need to develop a tunnel vision, a true class consciousness which recognises that state structures in the country – election commissioners, the courts, police and the military, ministries, parastatals, ZBC – are all Zanu pf and so they should desist from investing any hope in them but concentrate their efforts on using the power of numbers which is in their favour.
What is false consciousness?
I haven’t come around to theorizing what makes up false consciousness but I believe there are intellectuals out there who would be able to granulize it more concisely. A clumsy but useful analogy of false consciousness is a person who is worried about the odour coming from their arm pits when they are literally knee deep in sewage waste. Another analogy of false consciousness is a student who is studying very hard for a multiple choice exam even though they have been told that the markers of the exam are intentionally using wrong answers to mark the exam. I don’t know, maybe my examples are too simplistic. But in terms of the Zimbabwean public, I’ve observed real life examples of false consciousness in the last year or so and these included the following:
• Crowds celebrating the removal of Mugabe by a military led by Chiwenga which intended to replace the old fella with Mnangagwa.
• The opposition campaigning hard for the general election even though the chairperson of the ZEC was chosen by the incumbent who has a history of rigging elections including using violence.
• The opposition contesting the election result in a court presided by a Chief Justice who ruled that the coup d’etat in November 2017 did not break the law, the same Chief Justice who inaugurated Mnangagwa after the coup.
• People saying things like Mugabe was better than Mnangagwa and they wish Mugabe was still president – as if those are the only two choices they have.
In my observation of this false consciousness, it existed in the following stages which are cyclical:
• STAGE 1: Tolerance of mediocrity “Ndoo zviripo zvacho, toita sei”
• STAGE 2: Realisation that Zanu is evil and the cause of our problems “Zanu ngaichienda, zvakwana”
• STAGE 3: Investing hope in rigged institutions “We will vote out Zanu in the next election”
• STAGE 4: Religious hope in rigged institutions “God is in it, we will win the election or win it in the courts”
• STAGE 5: Religious hope that the devil will stop his evil ways and things will be fine henceforth “God is in it, things will change and Zimbabwe will rise again”
• STAGE 6: Exasperation, jadedness and hopelessness “Our country is cursed, we as a people have a curse on us”
• STAGE 7 (back to STAGE 1): Tolerance of mediocrity “Ndoo zviripo zvacho, toita sei”
Question: Who are the Zimbabwean public? Answer: They are victims of Zanu.
The public are victims of Zanu pf rule in that they are constantly subjected to harsh and worsening socio-economic conditions which are a result of the ruling party’s corruption. If the public try to demonstrate against this victimization they are dealt with by the military as if they were an insurgency. Individuals who are seen to be “cantankerous” against the regime are tortured, arrested or even killed. So the public need to be conscious of who and where they are in this dynamic. They are the victims and Zanu is the abuser. The public need to realise that they cannot report their victimization to any institution in Zimbabwe because all these state structures are working for the abuser. The ZEC chairman, the Chief Justice, the Minister of Finance, the Governor of RBZ, and every other tom dick commission of inquiry or advisory group into what what of yada yada are all chosen by the President who is the zenith of this victimization, the condemner of the public and the chief benefactor of the public’s victimization. It is a false consciousness to believe that justice and fairness will be served in the state structures. It is a false consciousness to participate in an election that is run by the ZEC or a ConCourt ruling that is presided over by a Chief Justice chosen by the President himself.
Zimbabwe is at war, and has been for decades
Zimbabwe has essentially been in a war in the last 4 decades. The war is between Zanu and the public. The public may not be aware that they are in a war but Zanu knows very well that they are in a war because they behave as such. Their language is that of war, they use the ghastly war vets as their attack dogs, they make threats to anyone who questions the legitimacy of the government, they treat demonstrations against military rule as if they are an insurgency, their propaganda while egregious is incessant and designed to scramble the brains of the public. It’s a war! The public may think otherwise but Zanu know they are in a war and this is one of the reasons why the public are playing catch up.
True Class Consciousness
A true class consciousness is one where:
1) the public realise exactly who they are in the political dynamics of Zimbabwe i.e victims of Zanu
2) the public know exactly what is to be done to change their situation i.e stop the victimization
When it comes to the issue of putting an end to the victimization of the public by Zanu – a truly class conscious public is one that dismisses all state structures and refuses to cooperate with any of them especially law enforcement.
A true class consciousness is one where the public recognises that we are on our own. That no one will represent our interests and our cries for freedom but ourselves. That we should stick together and use our power of numbers to fight off the abuser.
A truly class conscious public is one that boos the president or any Zanu official no matter how cordial they may seem on twitter or facebook – they are still the enemy.
True class consciousness is where the public refuse to acknowledge anything done by Zanu even if it may appear decent or benign. Even if Zanu donates bags of rice to starving children or declare a national hero one of our own, a truly class conscious public refuses to fall for these enticements because it knows that Satan has the power to do miracles or turn stones to bread but he is still Satan the enemy.
A true class consciousness is one in which the public refuses to accept that there are Zimbabweans who are neutral in their politics. No Zimbabwean can be neutral – you are either with the victims or you are with the abuser. Those who purport to be neutral should receive the same level of criticism as the abuser for they bring confusion. All agents of confusion are enablers of the abuser. Even those who claim to side with God but refuse to condemn the abuser or refuse to empathize with the victims are also agents of confusion. The same applies to the “patriotic” mob who say they don’t support Zanu but wish Zanu success and good luck because they want Zimbabwe to succeed – they are all agents of confusion who are essentially backers of the abuser. A truly class conscious public refuses to entertain these sorts and calls them out for who they really are and moves on. The truly class conscious public refuses to follow these sorts on social media – why give prominence to a person who is perpetuating the abuse of the public, sod them! Let them entertain the muttonheads who are poor but still support Zanu.
A true class consciousness within the public is one that rejects individualism and factionalism in our victim group. Anyone who brings discordance within the abused public is essentially doing the abuser’s work and so should be flung out.
A truly class conscious public is one which refuses to consume propagandised media from Zanu. One that refuses to get their brains scrambled from watching ZBC. One that refuses. A truly class conscious public develops its own media legitimately or clandestinely (to be continued)