“He who saves the life of one man, saves the world entire.”, so says Ben Kingsley acting as Itzhak Stern in Steven Spielberg’s award-winning 1993 epic film ‘Schindler’s List’. I had never seen this movie until recently, although I had read a few things about it back then. Instinct tells me there are people who are placed in this world for a specific purpose – and one such man was Oskar Schindler.
It is impossible to appreciate the intensity of this film without drawing parallels with modern-day genocide in Rwanda and Darfur. Moreover, had there been such a man in Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, my very own Zimbabwe would have been spared the horrors of Gukurahundi, the agony of Murambatsvina and subsequent habitual electoral persecution of MDC activists.
Stories are recounted how ZANLA forces – the military wing of ZANU-PF – indulged in gruesome Maoist-style murder of defenceless villagers who they branded traitors. Barbaric rituals were conducted at Kangaroo-court gatherings meant to whip villagers into collective liberation conformity. The echoes of despair still ring loudly in the ears of our mothers – thanks to the NAZI-style bloodthirsty strategy of The Hague-bound ZANU-PF killing machine.
But watching Liam Neeson portray a response to life in the Nazi party and its corruptive and destructive nature reminds one of how the resilience of Zimbabweans can prevail over the ferocious vindictiveness of our very own ‘extermination force’ – ZANU-PF. The conflict of ideology between the Jewish Council and the NAZI has uncanny congruency with ZANU-PF’s corrosive self-centred dogma weighed against the defenceless innocence of the people of Zimbabwe. The history of this political party is testimony to the propensity and magnitude of mankind to inflict Babylonian-style misery upon fellowman. This is a party that failed miserably to transform itself from a liberation force of coercion to a people-centred governing entity.
Sensible people learn from history, while fools wait for history to teach them a bitter lesson. Never mind the EU’s 200 member ‘list of shame’ that isolates ZANU-PF big wigs on crime against humanity, just a quick scan will give one an idea who has a case to answer. One-man presidential racer Robert Mugabe, defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, air force commander Perence Shiri, army general Constantine Chiwenga, state minister Didymus Mutasa, police commissioner general Augustine Chihuri, national security minister Sidney Sekeramayi, former home affairs clown prince Enos Nkala are some of the names that must be on the roll call of post-liberation war accountability. Retired general Solomon and vice president Joyce Mujuru, women activist Opah Muchinguri and the eccentric former Zimbabwe Unity Movement opposition leader Edgar Tekere have of late assumed an aura of humanity, but may offer invaluable insights into the diabolical inner workings of ZANU-PF’s repressive modus operandi.
Back to Schindler’s List, as the allied forces descend on Auschwitz to free Jewish captives, somewhere in a Berlin bunker, Adolph Hitler takes his worthless and crooked life. Object lesson two: ZANU-PF and its power-drunk cronies must know that the end is always as inevitable as the beginning. In 2000, four million Zimbabweans voted overwhelmingly for Mugabe to redeem himself by retiring gracefully, but he stubbornly remained glued to the throne of disgrace. As late as 17 and 18 March 2010, Jacob Zuma of South Africa brought a truckload of olive branches to shelter the ageing dictator from further misery, but the man trades value-adding reason for perishable impunity. My question remains: who among ZANU-PF men will stand out as the voice of conscience before the proverbial doors of mercy close?
It is on record that Adolph Hitler’s killing machine accounted for not less than three million innocent Jewish lives, yet within this pulverising phenomenon, we get a Schindler who stands out as a sole pillar of sanity. It is impossible to see how, out of thousands of Zimbabweans in ZANU-PF structures, one cannot encounter a single soul with a morsel of humanity. There are those like me who sincerely believe that fallen ZANU-PF revolutionaries like Herbert Chitepo and Josiah Tongogara would have borrowed a leaf from Oskar Schindler’s heroic life. Chitepo’s disputed ‘assassination’ in a car bomb in Lusaka and Tongogara’s infamous ‘car accident in the injury time of Zimbabwe’s liberation game’ in Mozambique have raised an intriguing array of permutations.
Chitepo was a powerful and sophisticated barrister whose political leadership skills made Robert Mugabe look like a mere high school prefect. He was of the ‘minority’ Manyika clan from Eastern Zimbabwe, a breeding ground of political aristocrats like Ndabaningi Sithole, Simba Makoni and of late, Morgan Tsvangirayi and Arthur Mutambara. Tongogara was seen as the ‘sensible figure’ of ZANU-PF’s military command, also of a ‘minority’ Karanga clan that produced constitutional expert Edison Zvobgo. All arguments around ZAN-PF’s current factional friction point to that Mugabe’s ‘majority’ Zezuru clan has laboured to keep out Manyikas, Karangas and of course, Joshua Nkomo’s Ndebeles from the circle of influence. This theory ends with a sinister insinuation – ZANU-PF was and is willing to kill to preserve Zezuru hegemonic hold on political power. Object lesson number three: there are those in ZANU-PF who seem overwhelmed by the collective force of destruction yet they can still peer through a crevice of hope that early disclosure can be rewarded with mercy and forgiveness.
According to Mail & Guardian blogger William Saunderson-Meyer, Jacob Zuma once warned, “When history eventually deals with the dictators, those who stood by and watched the deterioration of nations should bear the consequences.” While Oskar Schindler is now in the annals of world history, modern technology has put his life at the disposal of Mugabe’s politburo and central committee members, projected on the popular screen of enlightenment that it is never too late repent. Just as it was in the days of King Belshazzar of Babylon, the invisible hand of destiny writes that their days are numbered. He or she that can read can miss the message only if they choose to take the blind literary alley.
Mr. Ngwenya is president of Coalition for Liberal Market Reforms in Zimbabwe and affiliate of African Liberty.