Emmanuel Makandiwa and Zimbabwe’s Succession Storm Revisited, 2017
‘Emmanuel Makandiwa and the leader from Diaspora, Strive Masiyiwa, Evan Mawarire and Emmerson Mnangagwa’- Revisiting the media Speculations.
Who is/are the Kingmaker/s in Zimbabwe’s politics, the majority citizens, the military, religious functionaries or the intelligentsia? Following my previous article, A true prophet of Robert Mugabe’s demise in 2017-Makandiwa or Ken Yamamoto, a number of responses from readers have come, with mixed comments of praise, appraisals and criticism. This piece however seeks to clarify more on issues that l left hanging and also address some of the comments which followed. Emmanuel Makandiwa the UFIC founder and leader was not adequately dealt with hence the need to bring in some important issues in relation to the ‘new national priest’ President Emmerson Mnangagwa. On 12 July 2016, Blessing Mhlanga in a News Day Zimbabwe local paper reported on a story, ‘Makandiwa wades into Mugabe succession storm’. From this story, over 10 newspapers from within Zimbabwe and outside also carried various headlines all indicating Makandiwa’s story in light of a new leader to come. In this piece l will focus on various accounts on the leader from diaspora and discuss the relevance of the criterion of true or false prophet in light of recent events with Zimbabwe having the ‘new national priest’, Emmerson D. Mnangagwa.
The article, A true prophet of Robert Mugabe’s demise in 2017-Makandiwa or Ken Yamamoto? addresses the debate on public intellectuals and prophets in their efforts to explain events, political events in this context. A number of prophets emerged, notably Emmanuel Makandiwa and Allan Mhukuta aka Madzibaba Wimbo (I am however aware of other prophets who had made their predictions outside Zimbabwe but l am mainly interested in Makandiwa). Ken Yamamoto who has no much personal information known about him/her made the prediction of the demise of Robert Mugabe before December 2017, however, not suggesting or pointing the next Head of State to be E.D Mnangagwa. Emmanuel Makandiwa becomes relevant in this context, as l noted from reading Blessing Mhlanga’s News Day Zimbabwe report of 12 July 2016. From the story, Makandiwa is argued to have said that Robert Mugabe would be replaced by a Zimbabwean based in the diaspora. I also highlighted in my previous writing the need to problematize diaspora and exile as recent reports were now more of addressing Mnangagwa as one who was in exile when he left the country soon after being sacked from the party and government earlier in November 2017.
Speculations on the leader from the diaspora
Robert Mugabe has been the longest serving president in the 37 years history of independent Zimbabwe and the succession issue emerged as a result of many factors. Old age factor has also been dominant leading to serious factional ‘wars’ within the ruling party Zimbabwe African National Union for the Patriotic Front (ZANU PF). The worsening economic crisis since 2013 intensified factional fights which have always existed in the party from its formative years to the present. However the print and electronic media has generally been outstanding in reporting on such issues unlike the state led paper the Herald Newspaper. Soon after winning the 2013 elections, Robert Mugabe in the year 2014 dealt with a factional factor which was thought to be serious then. This led to the fall of Joice Mujuru as the Vice president of Zimbabwe. Emmerson Mnangagwa then replaced Joice Mujuru. Within a few months the same factional factor now on Lacoste led by Mnangagwa though he would not associate himself anywhere to that brand when Robert Mugabe was still Head of State and Government of Zimbabwe became also apparent. Makandiwa in July of 2016 was reportedly cited, ‘seeing a person coming from outside, who was running towards the people of Zimbabwe.’ The person is argued to have been running in the opposite direction to people, who were running towards him, and a spider is seen, the spider followed this person, who is argued to be the chosen one to lead the people [own interpretation]. However, UFIC spokesperson Prime Kufa is argued to have noted that the message ‘was complex’ noting that Makandiwa was the only one to interpret the meaning. Interestingly in response Makandiwa made a warning, ‘against uninformed political interpretations on prophecies’.
Tatenda Dewa of The Nehanda Radio, an online paper wrote, Mugabe to be succeeded by foreign-based Zimbabwean-Makandiwa. This report suggested that Makandiwa made a condition that the person was supposed to join opposition politics, which seemed then to rule out Emmerson Mnangagwa and Morgan Tsvangirai. This report suggested that Strive Masiyiwa the Chairman and Founder of the Econet Group was the likely candidate since he is based outside Zimbabwe though not a politician, the chances were put forward. Also notable is that, Mugabe’s then lieutenants were reportedly getting impatient. From a close follow up of these reports, one can observe that a leadership vacuum was there in Zimbabwe as a country. This is the same month, July, that Evan Mawarire on the 6th of the month in 2016 that he made Zimbabwe declare a non-violent protest called the Shutdown Zimbabwe, in which all businesses stood still. I remember vividly that l was still teaching High school at Transparency College in Chitungwiza. When l went to work l had thoughts of business as usual, however through social media, mainly Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and WhatsApp posts, Evan Mawarire was successful in slowing down events in Zimbabwe (Manavire, 2016). He is now famous for leading the #This Flag movement with some labelling him the ‘architecture’ of the movement. Students did not turn up to school as usual and only a few could be seen around the school. That is when l realized that the political landscape was getting more intense. Evan Mawarire is however necessary to mention in this context since after his 6th July 2017 protest, he left the country for South African then United States of America in the name of fearing for his life. Reports on Evan Mawarire, an author, pastor, public speaker and activist started circulating on 15 July 2016 the same day that Emmanuel Makandiwa made his prophecy which was to also dominate media reports the following day. The iharare.com of 15 July 2017 had the story, Evan Mawarire flees Zimbabwe, seeks asylum in the US? What then followed is that Mawarire went to USA for some time and expectations for his return were also associated with Makandiwa’s diaspora prophecy. What is notable again is that the people of Zimbabwe, as a result of John Mangudya’s introduction of bond notes tensions became more serious economically and politically, the churches unlike before played a crucial role in trying to challenge the government in responding to the demands of the believers, the ordinary people in Zimbabwe.
The question that has been ‘complex’ to answer to borrow Prime Kufa’s words is that of the prophecy of a leader from diaspora. Who is that leader? Strive Masiyiwa, Evan Mawarire or Emmerson Mnangagwa. As I followed through Brilliant Mhlanga’s report, comments from the readers, bhoky at 07:42 am commented that,
“Whatever the man of God [reference to Emmanuel Makandiwa] can say about this succession in the short term, l don’t see anyone other than Ngwena [crocodile, lacoste] succeeding mudhara [father, referring to Robert Mugabe]. The constitution favors him, the army is on his side and the influential war veterans are also on his side. Baring a miracle I don’t see anything stopping Ngwena, at least in the short term”
On the same issue, an hour later, another Law Prof commented, ‘Strive Masiyiwa for presiden!!’ of another reader who commented Robert Gabriel concurred.
Interestingly, another named Muturikwa later on commented that, ‘Mofa henyu ne speculation [you will die/get tired with speculation]’. Of the 105 respondents on the story only two argued that Emmerson Mnangagwa would be the next president after Robert Mugabe. Zvorwadza commented;
Yes, Ngwena may become interim president but kuchauya [will come] Election, we consider the one voted by people to become the legitimate successor.
The above comment suggests a reader who is cautious, using probability that there is likelihood of Mnangagwa being President prior to elections of 2018. The issue of a legitimate successor is also controversial at the moment as legal experts seem to question the legality of Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to the high office with the blessing of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces and the people of Zimbabwe [a follow up on the Big Saturday Read by Alex Magaisa will help, David Coltart a Human Rights Lawyer, among others is necessary]. Strive Masiyiwas was put on the cards by the respondents, with over five (5) thinking that he can be the next president as of 2018 elections which are still yet to be held.
Answering the Diaspora and or Exile Question
The word diaspora is usually associated with the Biblical dispersion of the Jews. In street talk or daily interaction, diaspora tends to mean those in foreign lands or foreign based as one of the newspaper reports indicated. Blessing Mhlanga, on 18 July 2016 writing for the Zimbabwe Situation, an online paper, had the story, Tsvangirai Hits back at Makandiwa prophecy whereby the former Prime Minister of 2008-2013 is reported to have showed dismissal of Makandiwa’s prophecy. He showed lack of interest in consultation of traditional healers (n’angas) or prophets pertaining to leadership issues. However, without playing around with semantics, Makandiwa did not use diaspora or exile terms but rather ‘one coming from outside’ is clear. Ken Yamamoto aptly argues for the demise of Robert Mugabe by December 2017 but does not bring in who would actually replace Robert Mugabe. The fact that Emmerson Mnangagwa spent over two weeks outside the country after dismissal from the government by his former boss Robert Mugabe makes Makandiwa worth noting. The Public intellectual vs prophets has to come in.
How valid is the criterion of true and false prophets on prediction and fulfillment?
The issue of true and false prophets has had unending debates among believers, think tanks and the like-minded. Bible scholars and believers who use the ‘prediction and fulfillment’ criterion as the sine qua non of true prophecy have used the Deuteronomist approach in dealing with this issue. According the Deuteronomists theologians, the assumption is that when one speaks of an event/s and the event does not come to pass then the prophet/tess is a false one. A reading of Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 18:21-22 attests to this explanation.
However, challenges posited by this explanation also include the case of Micaiah the son of Imlah who had a confrontation with Zedekia a leader of over 400 prophets of Yahweh when a reading of 1 Kings 22 is taken into account. A University of Zimbabwe Old Testament scholar, Obvious Vengeyi (2013) argued that 1 Kings 22 is a ‘classic example’ that can be followed when dealing with the issue of ‘true and false’ prophets on ‘prediction and fulfillment’ as the case of ‘divine deception’ is brought forward. In this case, King Ahab consulted 400 prophets on whether he has to go for war or not. They all encouraged him to go claiming that God was with the king to give him victory (1 Kgs. 22:6). Yet, the text is very clear that the 400 prophets had been lied to by God (1Kgs. 22: 19-23). This means, had it not been the lying spirit from God that entered these prophets, they would have said the truth. In fact, it is clear that before this incident they always told the truth; they were true prophets. It also means after this incident they became false prophets or they became true prophets again. In other words, 1 Kings 22 makes a bold declaration that both a true prophet and a false prophet were mediums of the same God! What is also coming out of this text is that prophets are not responsible for their actions and speech. Therefore, they cannot be held accountable since they are only agents in the hand of God. This observation defeats the whole idea of Deut. 13:1-5 as well Deut. 18. Hence, the conclusion reached by Nyasha Madzokere and Francis Machingura (2015) on this criterion are worth pursuing, noting that each and every criterion has a challenge and unreliable. Even the criteria of monotheism, miracle performance, and moral uprightness among others have their loopholes which posit the ‘complexity’ nature of the debate of true and false prophets that Zimbabwean believers, academics, think tanks usually grapple with. What then should believers focus on remains a perennial problem?
All in all, Emmanuel Makandiwa cannot be thrown into the category of those who didn’t foresee events to unfold as of 2016 just like Ken Yamamoto was apt on Robert Mugabe’s demise by December 2017. It is critical to note that even among respondents on Blessing Mhlanga’s News Day Zimbabwe report some people were also making allusions pointing to Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to presidents though not clearly identifying when exactly. Strive Masiyiwa still has space in this whole debate and cannot be ruled out since a closer analysis of the readers’ interpretations a leader from 2018 elections hasn’t yet come. This however also posits the challenge to those who are already bringing in the issue of Emmerson Mnangagwa and legitimacy as cited above. The public intellectuals still have their share in all this complex scenario of Zimbabwe’s crisis. Again, Madzibaba Wimbo is still in this complex power matrix as media reports highlight of his abduction since 2014 in relation to issues of the Presidium. Who are the Kingmakers in Zimbabwe, the military, religious functionaries or the intelligentsia? Food for thought.
Brian Maregedze (MAFH candidate [UZ], B.A Special Honours in History [UZ], B.A.A Major in History and Religious Studies [UZ] is a young academic, historian writing in his own capacity. He also teaches undergraduate courses in African History at the University of Zimbabwe and is a High school consultant.
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Author, historian & columnist