The Sunday Mail
AS the past week has most poignantly shown, we are in the throes of twin pandemics: Firstly, an unrelenting and virulent coronavirus; and secondly, truant political forces that are determined to walk over dead bodies as a staircase to State power.
While the latter pandemic, which incidentally is trying to weaponise the former as a means to a political end, is containable, the health crisis, which is a novel phenomenon in the modern era, is an invisible enemy that will take concerted efforts from everyone — friend and foe — to put down.
We only have to look around our circle of family and friends to see that people are dying at a disproportionately higher rate.
Death is stalking us.
But July has been particularly grim: It had claimed 61 of 67 beloved Zimbabweans as of Friday last week.
And more worryingly, 2 564 of the cumulative 3 169 infections were recorded in the same period.
It might be important to note that by the end of June, we only had 605 cases.
The fact that the country’s case-load doubled by a 1 000 within a 10-day period between July 13 and July 22 is as concerning as it is alarming.
But the Bishop finds this habit of listing statistics, albeit necessary, as morally objectionable and reprehensible because beyond those statistics is a story of unimaginable grief and deep-seated scars of losing a loved parent, brother, sister, spouse and friend.
Only when the virus hits home or close to home can its macabre impact be keenly felt.
We, however, have to hold fast in prayer, including assiduously and scrupulously follow recommended health guidelines.
That is all that we have to do and with the grace of the Almighty we will prevail.
However, what do we do about those elements among us who will have us believe that the best way to unite us is to divide us, the best way to build is to destroy, the best way to promote integrity is to lie, and the best way to love is to hate.
It can never be.
Luke 6: 43-44 tells us: “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.”
As Bishop Lazi told you last week, the July 31 movement was not going to amount to anything in so far as the envisaged “end state” of the instigators was concerned.
Essentially, the organisers of Friday’s “civil resistance” movement had seemingly modelled it as an iteration of the colour revolutions that once plagued the former Soviet Union, China and the Balkans.
We know that these revolutions — often and invariably fanned by external forces — have usually been fashioned as protests ostensibly targeted at “corruption” and “authoritarian” governments, and are, therefore, meant to promote democracy.
They critically rely on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in organising “creative” non-violent resistance, but they often degenerate into blood-letting episodes.
To understand the nature, structure, form and substance of what was supposed to be last week’s ill-fated protests, you do not have to look no further than the Hong Kong (HK) protests, which began in March last year after objections over a law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.
To those who might not know, HK is a special administrative region of China after it was handed over to Beijing by the British in 1997.
Under China’s “one country, two systems” policy — conceived by Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s — HK exists as a semi-autonomous region with its own administrative and economic system.
However, the more the protests rumbled on, the more violent and secessionist they became.
A “third hand” behind the protests, which Beijing called a “black hand”, was eventually outed. The protestors increasingly became bolder by hoisting and waving the American flag during their demonstrations, which one would imagine can only be the height of provocation for China.
It all began unravelling on August 8 last year when some Hong Kong newspapers, including Ta Kung Pao, published a picture of the political unit chief of the US consulate in Hong Kong and Macao, Julie Eadeh, in a secret meeting with secessionist leaders such as Joshua Wong, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Martin Lee Chu-ming.
She was also separately photographed in another secret meeting with student activists. China naturally accused America of trying to stoke a “Jasmine” or “Colour” revolution.
In October last year, the Chinese foreign ministry spokeswomen, Hua Chunying, duly accused the West of using “democracy and human rights as excuses to interfere in Hong Kong”.
But for Bishop Lazarus, this is where it gets interesting:
In a subsequent 42-page report, the ministry singled out the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) — the congressionally funded organisation founded in 1983 to support the spread of democracy and human rights around the world — for underwriting a revolution in Hong Kong.
Enter Jacob . . .
It is not surprising that many who were talking of July 31 do not even know that it was supposedly conceived by Jacob Ngarivhume, and they can be forgiven for this.
Although this unremarkable chap heretofore had a largely colourless political career as a founding member of the MDC, he is — surprise, surprise — well-known to this United States creature called the NED.
In fact, Ngarivhume, who is known more for Mathematics and Statistics than for strategy, is so known to them that when he visited the US a couple of years back, he delivered lectures at the NED, including at the Robert F Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights, the International Crisis Group, and the Kennedy School of Governance at Harvard University.
He also delivered a lecture at the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies at the National Defence University in Washington DC.
Well, this monster called the African Centre for Strategic Studies is a US Department of Defence institution that purportedly studies security issues in Africa and exchanges “ideas involving military and civilian participants”.
Like the Biblical Jacob — the father of Joseph — this chap surely knows what a “coat of many colours” looks like. Kikikikiki.
But it begs the question: Why would the US be interested in such an unremarkable man?
It stinks to the high heavens.
History can, however, be better understood as a continuum of events, and not isolated incidences.
If you recall, such dalliances are erringly similar to that curious 30-minute meeting between America’s chief envoy to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols, his deputy Thomas Hastings and regional security officer Patrick Bellinger — including Mrs Nichols and Mrs Hastings — and MDC-A activist Job Sikhala on August 15 last year on the eve of demonstrations that had been planned by the party.
Apparently those privy to these secretive meetings later claimed that the envoys had encouraged the opposition political party to press on with the planned demonstration — which again never materialised – by assuring them that Washington would “impose punitive measures should Government arrest or assault the protestors”.
Stopping the nonsense!
But events that preceded Friday were even more important for the Bishop than there were for the instigators, who think they will still get moral and emotional support both locally and internationally, including succeeding in besmirching Government’s image by claiming victimhood.
Many do not ask: Why Jacob?
You see, this time around, the protests couldn’t have possibly be undertaken by the MDC Alliance, especially after the bloody and botched efforts on August 1 2018 and subsequently in January 2019, for which the opposition attracted an unwanted bad-boy tag, particularly after being condemned as instigators by the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry.
Jacob, a leader of little-known Transform Zimbabwe, also provided an opportunity for the demonstration to remain unencumbered by political party affiliation, which ordinarily would have been interpreted as an innocent demonstration by the people and for the people.
This, they thought, would coalesce many forces and blindside the Government.
This is why some shadowy characters, who believe they are ZANU PF members, wanted to throw in their lot with the schemers in an unspoken coalition of convenience.
This is a story for another day.
Suffice to say that opportunity and circumstances usually attract uneasy bedfellows.
Rest assured, we have not seen the last of these shenanigans.
So what next?
China has managed to solve the mischief in Hong Kong by enacting the National Security Law on June 30.
In essence, the law, which has 66 articles, criminalises secession; subversion through undermining the authority of the central government; terrorism (using violence or intimidation against the people); and most importantly, collusion with foreign or external forces.
The no-nonsense laws are so strict that even damaging public transport facilities is considered terrorism.
And all these transgressions attract maximum sentences of life in prison.
The law also tightens the management of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and media organisations.
It was always in the offing.
Article 23 of the Basic Law — a mini-constitution that governs HK after the handover from Britain in 1997 — mandated HK to enact a national security law.
The mischief by the protestors, however, quickened the process.
Anywhere around the world, co-operating with hostile forces to undermine a sovereign state is illegal and statutorily spelt out.
Pursuing such a route might also help keep those among us who are not known to have a surfeit for patriotism to keep on the straight and narrow.
Perhaps if we cut off the umbilical cord between mischievous opposition parties and activists and their overweening foreign sponsors this might help.
It is long past time for toxic and adversarial politics.
As the Lord says in Matthew 45: 43-48: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Clearly it is now time for issue-based politics that is grounded in rational disputation.
It has to be.
The longer the opposition continues to align itself with hostile forces that consider Zimbabwe an adversary, it will always come unstuck.
This land is sacred.