IN THE past two decades or so, ordinary Zimbabweans have had to contend with the political banter — a form of teasing either opponents or allies — which normally ends in a pleasant way, at least according to the dictionary.
Political banter is deeply rooted in mature democracies where nothing is taken personal. Sadly, in these parts of the world political banter appears to have a different meaning and increasingly those who promote it are beginning to find that there is very little difference between hate speech and political banter.
Nothing ends in a pleasant manner along these shores where politicians and their supporters are averse to criticism. “Both Zanu PF and opposition politicians have apparently mutilated political banter to inflame emotions and deliberately, at least judging by so many incidents, raising unnecessary tensions in the communities.
Take for example the current attacks on MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora who has been accused of being an appendage of Zanu PF and working to destabilise the country’s largest opposition party ahead of its crucial elective congress set for May.
The accusations are coming from senior MDC officials who are angling for top positions at the congress and who view Mwonzora as a possible threat either to interim party leader Nelson Chamisa or those eyeing the vice presidents’ post. This is not the right way of enhancing democracy and certainly the allegations against Mwonzora are not only unpleasant — but are intended to characterise him as a snitch –— when all along colleagues were happy to have him as one of their leaders.
Mwonzora was last week “mischievously” backed by Zanu PF youth league deputy secretary Lewis Matutu to beat Chamisa at the congress and this statement was deliberately used to malign the Harare lawyer and accuse him of being a Zanu PF plant.
How ironic is this characterisation of Mwonzora and how curious is it that these allegations are always levelled against any official who appears to express independent opinion with regards to MDC elections?
Thokozani Khupe, Tendai Biti, Welshamn Ncube and Elton Mangoma have all been previously labelled Zanu PF for holding different views and challenging the party’s leadership on pertinent issues and procedures relating to internal polls?
History is repeating itself! The current attacks on Mwonzora serve to audition a bad culture being promoted in the MDC and surely this cannot pass off as political banter.