I like NERA. No, let me rephrase that, I like the ideas that NERA stands for. Our electoral system is a shambles, created and managed with one aim and only one in mind, keeping Ebagum in power, and his wife Marujata the First after him. It needs reforming, and the idea political parties standing up together to campaign for change is a good one.
But, here is my rub. How many people actually think that Ebagum and his henchmen are shaking in their boots when Dydimus Mutasa speaks for NERA? I mean people, hey, let us wake up from this collective stupidity, pardon my French!
Mutasa, Mujuru, Mavhaire, Rugare Gumbo….? That reads more like an indictment in a future crimes against humanity prosecution but, ….Opposition? Come now, tipeiwo ma serious priz! Even the Trojans would have seen that one coming surely, no?
Such is the tragedy of Zimbabwe that we are likely to vote for anyone that promises to dislodge Mugabe's ZANU-PF without bothering to look at that person's merits, especially their demerits. And there is a lie going around that Mai Mujuru will be acceptable to the security services so we should vote for her. Her runners actually whisper this lie.
But, here is the question: should we really choose our President on the basis of who will be acceptable to our army? How many of them have been prosecuted for Gukurahundi again? So what, praytell, qualifies them to be boss of me and my vote?
The truth is that a vote for anyone other than Morgan Tsvangirai in 2018 is a vote for someone that has not had the anxious scrutiny of the voting public. It would be a vote for the continuation of Ebagum and his failures, where that is under his decaying self or under his Deputy for a decade and Minister before that. The only difference between a Mujuru presidency and the Ebagum one is that Mujuru is still young enough to have another 36 years of her own. And who wants to bet their flag on the fact that she does not want that?
How many improperly stolen farms do you think she will return back? How many Zanu-PF people with multiple farms do you think she is going to evict? How many diamond mines will she liberate from the army and the airforce, from the politburo and the People's Congress and give to Baba naMai Nhiya?
And when Mnangagwa dies, do you seriously think that a President Mujuru will not put him onto Heroes Acre? Are you telling me that Simon Khaya Moyo and Obert Mpofu will lose their more than unnatural ownership of most of the land in Matabeleland under a Mujuru presidency?
Does anyone sane enough to think this through actually see a President Mujuru evicting Kasukuwere from his 50 bed mansion when she has two mansions on her plot in Chisipite and her brother had a 30 bed monstrosity in Gunhill? Mrs 'it is not corruption' Mujuru will actually tackle corruption now? On what evidence? Are we this daft?
Joyce Mujuru has had 36 years of preparation to discover that people should be first: and you have to ask: if she now knows that we must be first, where were we the last 3 and a half decades? I tell you where: very far from her concerns. She had ZANU-PF and Mugabe running a close second to putting her own interests first.
Let we forget, who was the beneficiary of the 2008 Great Electoral Theft? Who became President after Tsvangirai's 73% suddenly became 48% and bodies started falling? And his deputy?
When she was in the Zanu-PF government, tens of thousands of Ndebele people were massacred in a genocide. Not 20,000, that figure is just from one Legal Resources Foundation research into two districts, the figure is much much higher. When she was in the Zanu-PF government, Lookout Masuku was murdered.
When she was in the Zanu-PF government, William Ngangana, Zororo Duri, Sydney Malunga and Mai Susan Tsvangirai died in road accidents.
When she was in the Zanu-PF government, thousands of MDC and other opposition activists died at the hands of her party. When she was in the Zanu-PF government, corruption became endemic, everybody in the upper echelons of Zanu-PF got rich while the country got poorer, while she argued that there was no corruption.
When she was in the Zanu-PF government, we lost our national currency. When she was in the Zanu-PF government, we fell from being the bread basket of Africa to a basket case. When she was in the Zanu-PF government, we institutionalised poverty and elevated economic mismanagement to fine art.
When she was in the Zanu-PF government, the Governor of the Reserve Bank retired and opened a fowl-run. When she was in the Zanu-PF government, we reduced everyone, graduates and school dropouts alike, to purveyors of tomatoes and airtime.
When she was in the Zanu-PF government, we fell from being an industrialised nation to a mothballed semi-primitive collection of people with very educated beggars and street kids that speak better English that some English people. When she was in the Zanu-PF government, we lost our wealth to externalisation by Zanu-PF robber barons, some of whom died and left billion dollar estates for their wives.
When she was in the Zanu-PF government, elections were routinely stolen from the opposition, and dissent ruthlessly crushed. When she was in the Zanu-PF government, we as a country unleashed a tsunami on our own people and called it Murambatsvina.
When she was in the Zanu-PF government, our civil service became parasitic and answerable to a political party, hers. When she was in the Zanu-PF government, civil service salary rose to 90% of GDP and she remained deputy leader.
When she was in the Zanu-PF government, she chaired some cabinet meetings while her boss was sleeping (by her own admission) where the torture and abduction of journalists and other opposition figures would have been discussed.
When she was in the Zanu-PF government, whole farms were stolen from Zimbabweans and given to her party, and she lives on one of them. When she was in the Zanu-PF government, we gutted our health service so badly that little FarEast Chikore had to be born in the Far East must go for skero kuSingapore.
When she was in the Zanu-PF government, our judiciary was compromised and received looted farms when they have to adjudicate on the propriety of said looting.
When she was in the Zanu-PF government, able bodied Ministers were declared disabled yet never once went to represent us at the Special Olympic, including her with her 98% disability. Hell, when she was in the Zanu-PF government we never even qualified for the World Cup!!
Missed the bit where she has apologised for these high crimes and misdemeanours.
Now, after being fired for trying to remove Ebagum, Mrs Mujuru wants to be President herself, and we think, what? Opposition? She wanted to be President in Zanu-PF, and when fired she took her structures from Zanu-PF and still wants to be President.
So what changed? Where was the Damascene moment? At what point, Mrs Joyce Runaida Teurai Ropa Nhongo Mujuru, did you become a democrat? The laws you want to change through NERA, you agree they are wrong, right? Show us the part where you converted to this line of thinking. And show us the part where you apologised to the Zimbabwe public for benefiting from these laws. You cannot can you?
Why, after being fired from Zanu-PF, did she not join the established opposition? If she is suddenly a democrat, why not join the MDC or any of the other political parties? Why set up something with the entire body of those fired from Zanu-PF? What are the philosophical underpinnings of her party, and how do they differ from Zanu-PF's.
She might not be talking of a politburo, but which gap in the opposition did she think she would be filling with her Zanu-lite? Because that is what it is, isn't it?
What is it about a party that is manned by every person from the Zanu-PF central committee and politburo that we should look at and say, agh, that's not Zanu-PF? The baobab? The one that still looks like muswe we jongwe? The one she stole from some other opposition party? The name? The one she stole from the PDZ slogan? You loot farms. You loot diamonds. You loot party logos. You loot party slogans. I guess applying to be looter in chief, having seen how lucrative it is and having the experience, is a natural progression.
Is she going to be touting her experience when she runs? In what? Which Zanu-PF achievement are we meant to look at and say, oh yeah, Mai Mujuru built that? So, if she is not running on a Zanu-PF experience CV, on what then? Being a widow? We have many widows in Zimbabwe, and many of them widowed by Zanu-PF. Yes, she too might have been widowed by Zanu-PF, but she gets a pension for his death, he is a hero after all. Tell that to Dzamara's wife. So, what qualifications then? Having a PhD? There are many people with PhDs, and I bet they did not have a research assistant writing their PhD for them like she did. And lest we forget, Marujata the First has a PhD, from the same place, and graduated same day. So while PhDs might be equal, some are less equal than others. It's the company you keep people, don't blame me for making the association.
I know we are told that it is wrong to visit the sins of a man on their wife, but there is a reason why our law says that spouses cannot testify against each other. Because they talk about things on the marriage bed. Usually everything.
Now, let me make a long argument: bear with me. When General Mujuru was murdered by her boss, he left a sizeable estate. She has spoken about this estate. Including saying some indelicate things. But there is one thing Mrs Mujuru did not say. She never ever said: I am shocked that the man who I married in the bush and who came from there with nothing but an AK47 had amassed so much money on a mere soldier's salary and pension.
What she has said was something about doing DNA tests on the 20 or so people claiming to be his children, but nothing about shock at the reported $8b estate. She hasn't even denied that figure. Now, and here is my point, where did all that money come from? Surely a person that wants to lead Zimbabwe must be concerned that we have a country $10b in debt and one person leaves behind $8b for his wife and children of questionable paternity?
Should she not answer to what she knew about her husband's not always stellar business dealings? ZIMASCO and ZISCOSTEEL are victims of her spouse, and the people must ask: what did you know and when?
And while on that point, about the husband I mean, who was the Commander of the Army during Gukurahundi? Because I get nauseated when people try and suggest that he had nothing to do with it. He would need to have been spectacularly stupid to now know what was going on. Was he stupid? I don't know: the man was educated, had no job besides being a soldier, and left $8b in his estate. You do the math.
Okay, let's say he didn't know, how many junior officers did he discipline for violating military codes of conduct and killing innocent civilians when the evidence came out? And now Mrs Mujuru has the nerve to go to Matabeleland and shed a few tears in the province and think…., what? That it is all okay? Her former husband was the head of the army, her former boss was Commander in Chief, and she knew nothing?
And as a slight digression if you will, who sat in cabinet during Gukurahundi, Mrs Teurai Ropa Nhongo? The suggestion that she knew nothing, given the convergence of facts around her, is not just stupid but downright insulting. I tell you what, if anyone I know ever becomes President, I am begging on his door daily to set up a tribunal to investigate and prosecute people for Gukurahundi atrocities. And I will have Mrs Joyce Teurai Ropa Nhongo Runaida Mujuru as a very relevant 'person of interest'.
Okay, bear with me again. Let's say that she knew nothing. That she is not at fault for what her husband did or did not do. That she is not to blame for what happened when her boss killed tens of thousands of people in Matabeleland. That she, unlike most of us living OUTSIDE Matabeleland at the time, never read any newspapers about deaths, never read any reports about deaths, never asked her husband about deaths, never read the Legal Resources Foundation report about deaths, never heard about Fifth Brigade and its connection to deaths and never asked her husband about said fifth brigade (do you see how stupid this is???) never knew anything significant enough to ask her boss or her husband, assume all that if you can (I can't, obviously).
I can sympathise with that thought, and though unlikely, it is in fact possible at least on some planet in a galaxy far far away, that she did not know. I am quite open to the idea that, with all those caveats, for the sake of argument, she did not know. (Of course she knew!) Except for one thing: such ignorance would qualify Mrs Mujuru to be the stupidest, most uninformed junior Minister in the 1980s, a duped housewife since 1980 until her husband died and a naive politician who agreed to be deputy to and serve in the government of a man that committed genocide while married to the commander of his army, the same army that did the killings. And with that resume, she wants to be President? Why?
How many times have you heard Mai Mujuru criticise Zanu-PF? How many times has she said Zanu-PF is the party that has killed people and destroyed our economy? All she says is that Ebagum must retire and let others take over, that Ebagum has not delivered on his promises. She criticises Ebagum, but not Zanu-PF.
She wanted his job while she was in Zanu-PF, promising some Sheiks that she would hand over our country to them, and he caught on to her plot and fired her, so we know she has a personal grudge thing going, but where is the part that makes that enough to be President? I know a few people that tell their parents or spouses to retire because they are too old, but that is not out of hate. It is usually out of love. Almost always.
So, I have to ask, how many people would bet their houses on the fact that Mai Mujuru does not love Ebagum? I wouldn't. This is, after all, the same person that told The Telegraph newspaper in 2013 that she felt so close to Ebagum that she considered herself his daughter. She wants to be President not because she is qualified, but because stepmom wants to deprive her of her inheritance! And we should reward that with votes? Please! Someone hand me the vomit bag please, this is just silly.
Besides, we know this rodeo. We have been here before. Remember this is not the first time that we have seen a ZANU-PF stalwart leave and start a party. And they all go the same way: they split the vote and then they go back to ZANU-PF. Margaret Dongo did it with ZUD. Edgar Tekere did it with ZUM. Each time, Ebagum benefits, and they get accepted back in the fold as she clearly will be; the prodigal daughter splitting the vote and denying Tsvangirai victory in a truly free and fair election. This is not our first barbecue.
That is why she and Mutasa insult our intelligence by pleading Official Secrets Act when called upon to atone through telling what they know. Unless she starts naming names, and pulling out skeletons from their proverbial and real hiding places, it will be hard to escape the feeling that she might have been kicked out but her soul remains within Zanu-PF.
Or that she, like Tekere and Dongo before her, is on sabbatical and will one day go back. After all, this is someone that remains unarrested and unprosecuted in a country where political prosecutions occur at the drop of a hat despite her being accused of very serious crimes and misdemeanours.
After one unfavourable ruling on a clear point of law Justice Priscilla Chigumba is facing a witch hunt. Yet after openly trying to remove Mugabe from his own party, shunning the marriage of Little FarEast Chikore's parents (her daughters did not go, she only went because she had no choice as her father wanted her there), importing some dodgy chickens from Brazil, promising a few Sheiks our diamonds and a lot more besides, having daughters caught with diamonds in their hand luggage at airports, a daughter killing people on the road and nothing happening, claiming that Mugabe sleeps in cabinet, Mai Mujuru remains unmolested. Why is that? At what point are we to be believed less gullible than this? Linda Masarira spent three months in jail for holding up a placard for Pete's sake! And Runaida “there-is-no-curruption-and-I-shot-down-a-plane" Teurai Ropa Nhongo remains free?
And l have to ask, who in ZimPeopleFirst (ZPF) would you honestly say is not qualified to sit in the ZanuPF (ZPF) politburo? If Mugabe died tomorrow and Chiwenga called Joyce Terurai Ropa Nhongo Runaida Mujuru to come back and take over with his support, how many will be willing to bet their vending stalls on her refusing to go back to ZPF? Say what? Oh, she is already there?! I know. She never left.
Lest we forget, she did not walk out of Zanu-PF on principle. A recent article by Alexander Rusero talked about how Mrs Mujuru had been charged with “plotting to unconstitutionally remove the president and first secretary of the party from office; orchestrating the 'bhora musango', orchestrating factionalism in the party thereby causing divisions, abusing party structures to create a competing centre of power; engaging in behaviour unbecoming of a vice president and second secretary of the party; systematically collaborating and colluding with the enemy in a manner that undermines the party and risked bringing it into disrepute; engaging in activities that smack of corruption, engaging in criminal abuse of office, impugning, maligning and undermining the party and the president and providing leadership to the regime change agenda and fifth column politics within Zanu-PF".
These were crimes committed only within Zanu-PF. And she is walking free? A boy from University holds up a placard at a graduation party and is abducted. A single mother spends months in jail for holding up a placard. A husband and father is abducted and possibly murdered for protesting in peace. People sell their national flag and are threatened with fines and imprisonment. But, Mrs Mujuru, after all that, is not only free, but speaking for NERA? Come now people, seriously?
Ane makuva madhara ePF aya. People died for opposing Mdara Mutasa. Jestina Mukoko was detained and tortured under his watch. Mai Mujuru was not just in Zanu-PF, but rose to Vice President. An election was stolen from Tsvangirai in 2008. Mai Mujuru became Vice President as a result. Now they plead what, Official Secrets Act? Murder cannot be an official secret. It is a crime, and until they come clean and exonerate themselves, the entire-PF project has blood on its hands.
And here is a stupid question, if Zanu-PF specialises in killing and silencing its rivals, is it not fair to assume that one rises up the hierarchy of the party on the basis of their effectiveness in the party's main pursuit? So if a junior Minister in a murderous party rises all the way to within a heartbeat of the leadership, are we to believe, seriously, that it was because she avoided getting her hands dirty? What was it about Joyce Teurai Ropa Runaida Mujuru that made her rise so high in a party that specialises in killing?
Come one people, this person remained Vice President in 2008 after a stolen election and hundreds of deaths. We can talk until our voices break but there is just one question we need an answer to: how much did you know then and what was your role? And, for good measure, if you did not know anything, despite all the evidence, on what planet do you think that that ignorance qualifies you to be President?
There is no difference between ZANU and-PF and last time l checked it was one and the same thing.
Tinomudaishe Chinyoka is a UK based lawyer and former prominent student leader at the University of Zimbabwe