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The voice of the people is NOT the voice of God

Over the past seven months, ever since the military coup that ousted former Zimbabwe dictator Robert Gabriel Mugabe in November last year, the country has been inundated with several slogans and mantras meant to legitimise and justify those who took power – however, what is most painful is the use of blasphemy, through the abuse of God’s name for political expediency

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Over the past seven months, ever since the military coup that ousted former Zimbabwe dictator Robert Gabriel Mugabe in November last year, the country has been inundated with several slogans and mantras meant to legitimise and justify those who took power – however, what is most painful is the use of blasphemy, through the abuse of God’s name for political expediency.

Although, Zimbabwe is, by far, not new to blasphemy by politicians – having witnessed the shameful comparison of Mugabe to our Lord Jesus Christ, and baseless claims by shadowy prophets that he had been specifically anointed by God to lead the nation, and no one was supposed to challenge him – but, the continued abuse of Jehovah’s name is worrying, to say the least.

Possibly, as a direct result of Mugabe’s claim that he was specifically appointed by God to lead this country – and that only He could remove him – those who ousted him have sought to justify their actions by insinuating that their actions were inspired by God.

Otherwise, how else can one explain the now all too familiar mantra claiming that, “the voice of the people is the voice of God”?

First of all, as every Zimbabwean knows, Mugabe was not removed by the people, but by the military, as he was held under house arrest, whilst being pushed to resign.

The call for people to go out onto the streets to call for his resignation was just a smokescreen for what was truly happening behind the scenes, in order to give impression of a popular uprising, so as to camouflage the military action – and, as in fact did happen, avoid international ramifications.

Let us not forget that the call for mass action came after the military had already intervened.

This, by any stretch of the imagination, can never be said to be the voice of God!

Secondly, even if we were to accept that what transpired last November was indeed a popular uprising, what justification is there to claim that this was the voice of God?

Since when has God spoken through popular or mass action?

As much as I am a firm believer in democracy and democratic values, we should separate these from the voice of God – as these are fundamentally divorced from each other.

God does not – and has never worked – through mass or popular action.
In fact, most acts of rebellion against God in the Bible were carried out through popular and mass action.

A couple of examples immediately come to mind – for instance, the mass call for God’s only begotten son Jesus Christ to be crucified – nearly everyone cried, “crucify Him!”.

That was not the voice of God.

Another example is when the children of Israel constantly demanded that they be returned to bondage in Egypt, whenever their plight in the wilderness became unbearable – even leading to them creating an idol for them to worship when Moses was up the mountain talking with God.

Furthermore, the children of Israel, later on, collectively demanded a human king from the prophet Samuel – an act that greatly pained God, as it was a direct rejection of His rule.

Several times, from that point onwards, the children of Israel – together as a mass – disobeyed God, as they made their own popular decisions that were not directed by Him.

It is, thus, clear that God never spoke through the people as a collective.
In fact, the true voice of God was always met with resistance from the people, as it was highly unpopular – and it came through His genuine prophets.
If ever there were to be Gallup polls in those days, the people with the lowest approval ratings would have been the genuine prophets of God – as the voice of the people was always contrary to that of God.

Even during the days of the apostles, the voice of God that they spoke of was seldom received well, as it was not the voice of the people – leading to widespread persecution and even death.

Similarly, today is not any different – as the voice of the people is surely not the voice of God.

The desires of humans are always mostly of the world and of the flesh, and are not necessarily of the Spirit and inspired by God.

Similarly, Zimbabweans’ heed to go onto the streets in November last year, was inspired more by long-term suffering and pain that they had endured under Mugabe, than an instruction from God.

There was never any genuine prophet of God who had come forward to lead the nation with a direct message from Him – as did Moses – in calling for Mugabe to “let His people go”.

What Zimbabwe, and the world over, lacks are genuine prophets of God – who are truly sent and speak His instructions.

As I have written so many times before, what we have today are mere soothsayers, predictors and healers – from whose power only themselves know – who are more like sangomas, rather than prophets of Jehovah God, who relay His messages.

They are better at predicting what is going to happen, or telling someone their phone numbers, and healing the sick, than actually transmitting messages from God.

The genuine prophets of God were instructed by Him to convey very important messages, and even to appoint leaders that He would have specifically chosen – whilst, at the same time keeping those leaders in check.
Which leaders, have our so-called prophets today, ever appointed as a direct instruction from God?

If the current leadership is truly from God, which prophet was sent to appoint and announce them?

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I do not recall ever seeing or hearing of a prophet who was sent to announce to Mugabe that God had said that he should step down, and anointing a new leader – as did Samuel when he told Saul, whom he had anointed earlier on, that God had rejected him, after anointing David.

Even Father Fidelis Mukonori – who was heavily involved in the talks between the military and Mugabe leading to his resignation – at no point, did he ever claim that he had carried a message from God for Mugabe to step down, and Mnangagwa to take over – but, made it very clear that he was just one of the negotiators.

In fact, that is why the current leadership would rather hide behind “the voice of the people’” because God never sent any prophet to appoint them.

Predicting a future leader, or the death of a leader, is not prophecy from God, but mere soothsaying – just as a sangoma would do – but, God directly sends His prophets to be directly involved in the appointment of His chosen leader.

Genuine prophets rebuked and corrected those leaders whenever they went against God’s word, as did Samuel to Saul – when he disobeyed His instructions – and Nathaniel to David – after he had committed adultery with Uriah’s wife.

Similarly, other prophets as Elijah and Elisha were sent by God to rebuke and carry instructions to kings and the people – whose messages proven highly unpopular.

However, today we have populist prophets, who are after making as many powerful friends as possible, so as to freely make their millions of dollars from fleecing the people, and shoddy dealings.

They would rather sup with leaders, even when they are corrupt, or abusing and oppressing their own people.

Genuine prophets of God are not there to make friends, or please any section of society, but are strictly there to convey what Jehovah would have instructed them – most of which makes them more enemies than friends, especially from the ruling elite, and the general population, as most of us are prone to go against God’s Word.

If ever we witness a so-called prophet who says or does things that are meant to endear him or herself to a certain section of society, then they are not of God – as with biblical times, genuine prophets were more isolated and hated by nearly everyone.

Yet, these so-called prophets we have today seek favour from men (people), especially from those in power, or the general population – so that they may attend their churches and give them money.

Therefore, as much as leaders would want to be accepted by the people, or to win democratic elections, there can never be any justification to blasphemy against Jehovah – and it is such a shame that those who claim to be men and women of God never stand up against such acts.

The voice of the people is through the democratic process, but the voice of God is through His genuine prophets – and the two are very different.

As a relatively democratic country, Zimbabweans should campaign freely and peacefully – based purely on their policies and manifestoes – but, should never ever abuse the sacred name of God for their selfish political gains.

God is not against democracy, but let us pray for His blessings for our nation, without bringing His name into disrepute – as that will only spell further disaster for our nation.

Commentator: Tendai Ruben Mbofana.
He is the Programmes Director with the Zimbabwe Network for Social Justice (ZimJustice).

Strictly Personal

Don’t cry for Mandela’s party; ANC’s poll loss is self-inflicted, By Jenerali Ulimwengu

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There is losing, and then there is losing. The loss that the African National Congress suffered in the recently concluded elections in South Africa is a loss of a special type. It is almost as if the erstwhile liberation movement willed this loss on itself.

This is Africa’s oldest political organisation, which, with its longevity and the special task imposed on it by history, became more than a party or a movement but rather became more like a nation — the nation of Black South Africans.

I mean, if you were a Black man or woman in South Africa and you wanted to identify as somebody who wants to be respected as a human being, you were automatically ANC.

True, this is somewhat exaggerated, but it is not very far from the truth. For most of its life since its founding in 1912, it always identified with and represented the people of South Africa, taking an all-inclusive approach to the struggle for all the racial, ethnic, and confessional groups in the country, even when the exactions meted on the country by the most nefarious ideology on the planet could have suggested, and did indeed, suggest a more exclusivist outlook in favour of the majority racial cohort.

It sought to unite and to mobilise energies nationally and internationally, and create a more equal society for all, that would be in sync with the most advanced and progressive thought of the world at different stages of its career. It became home for all South Africans regardless of colour, creed or social station.

Even after Apartheid was officially promulgated as the philosophy and practice of the national government after 1948, the ANC hardly veered from that steadfast philosophical vision. To galvanise adhesion and grow ownership, the ANC adopted strategic blueprints for the future, including the Freedom Charter of 1955, setting out the basic things the movement would do when it came into power.

In the face of intransigence on the part of the Boers, the ANC saw the need to alter strategy and accept that armed struggle was inevitable, and launched the MK (Umkhonto we Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation) to spearhead armed insurrection.)

Though MK was more effective as a propaganda tool than a fighting force, it did the job of getting the white minority in the country to realise that their lives of comfort were numbered as things stood, and that it made more sense to seek some form of accommodation with the Blacks.

Once that was effected, even those Whites who had been diehard supremacists suddenly realised, with regret, how stupid they had been all along: Not only were these Blacks, long considered subhuman, not only fully human but also corruptible—just like the Whites.

And so the White establishment set out to work on their old enemies, corrupting them to the core with the luxurious goodies that up to then the nouveau riches had not imagined, with things like the erroneously termed “Black Empowerment”, a programme designed to yank from the bosom of the people a handful of individuals with sufficient appetites to make them forget about the Freedom Charter.

Probably more than anything, it was this that spelled the start of the demise of the ANC. In the past, we had seen former freedom fighters in Mozambique, Angola and Guinea Bissau scramble into the blinding lights of Lourenco Marques, Luanda and Bissau, to be destroyed by the perils of Original Sin.

But South Africa was different in that the erstwhile oppressors simply took even the former “terrorists” by making them filthy rich, detached from the depressing realities of the masses of their people, by making them, in effect, traitors. So much so that when the workers at Marikana went on strike against a company owned by the current president of the country, the latter had absolutely no qualms about sending in the police to kill scores of protesters!

Now, the phenomenon of two sitting presidents being replaced by their party is spectacular in itself, but it belied a body politic that was groaning under its dead weight of sleaze and factionalism.

It may seem to some observers that the only thing that kept the various hungry factions together was the white-run oppressive system, and that after this was replaced with money-making cabals of ex-comrades, we found an ANC that was ideologically bankrupt and politically rudderless.

Now the ANC has to deal with the electoral result that has denied it an absolute majority for the first time, its crimes and misconduct have caught up with it. It has been sent to a political purgatory to atone for its sins, but while there, it must choose whom to work with among its sworn enemies:

Will it choose the DA, a lily-White party whose feeble attempt to ‘bronze’ itself with the recent choice of Mmusi Maimane as its head failed miserably? Will it rather be Jacob Zuma’s MK party, which is shamelessly an ethnic outfit bent on rehabilitating a misfit who has been disgraced multiple times as a rascal and a thief? Or could it be the EFF’s Julius Malema, whose day job has become, for some time now, to lambast the person of the current president and chief of the ANC?

We shall see.

Ulimwengu is now on YouTube via jeneralionline tv. E-mail: jenerali@gmail.com

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Appraising 25 years of return to democracy, By Jide Ojo

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Last Wednesday, May 29, 2024, marked exactly the silver jubilee of Nigeria’s return to civil rule. However, the celebration has been shifted to June 12 in commemoration of the 1993 presidential election won by the late Chief MKO Abiola which the military junta of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida annulled. It was the immediate past President, Muhammadu Buhari, who did that. In a tweet posted on his X handle on June 6, 2018, Buhari said inter alia “Dear Nigerians, I am delighted to announce that, after due consultations, the Federal Government has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day. We have also decided to award posthumously the highest honour in the land, GCFR, to Chief MKO Abiola. In the view of Nigerians, as shared by this administration, June 12, 1993, was and is far more symbolic of democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29, or even October 1.”

Chief Abiola’s running mate, Babagana Kingibe, was also awarded a GCON. Furthermore, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), a tireless fighter for human rights and democracy, and for the actualisation of the June 12, 1993 election was posthumously awarded a GCON. Buhari said further that, the June 12, 1993, election was the freest, fairest and most peaceful election since Nigeria’s independence.

1999 to date has been described by political historians as the Fourth Republic. Recall that the First Republic was between October 1, 1960 and January 15, 1966. The Second Republic was between October 1, 1979, and December 31, 1983, when the military struck. The Third Republic was between 1990 and June 23, 1993, when IBB annulled the June 12 presidential election. Thus, the Third Republic was inchoate and inconclusive as it was aborted without a president being sworn into office. Out of Nigeria’s 64 years as a sovereign nation, 29 years were administered by military junta.

How has Nigerian democracy fared under civil rule in the last 25 years? Poorly. Leadership remains a bane of Nigeria’s progress. Although there are 11,082 elective political offices in Nigeria, the occupiers have been more concerned about personal aggrandisement than selfless service. That is why our elections are heavily monetised and prone to violence. Politicians, more often than not, adopt the Machiavellian principle of ‘the end justifies the means.’ They do all they can to compromise the electoral process and manipulate it to their advantage. For instance, campaign finance laws are breached as they spend far above the legal spending limits. Though there are copious laws against electoral violence with stringent penalties, the masterminds and the arrowheads more often than not do not get caught while their minions who get caught are bailed out of detention without prosecution.

If the Independent National Electoral Commission should publish the list of those successfully convicted for electoral crimes in the last 25 years, most Nigerians will be surprised at the infinitesimal number. This has sustained the culture of impunity in our electoral process. Little wonder INEC has been in the forefront of asking for the setting up of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal. Will Nigeria’s devious political class allow that law to be passed? That will be political hara-kiri!

So, since many of Nigeria’s political leaders ‘bought’ or procured their electoral victory, their loyalty does not lie with the electorate but to themselves and their rapacious political class. Because of the heavy spending on elections, the primary objective of Nigeria’s political class is to recoup their investment with super profit. Thus, there is a nexus between unbridled political spending and corruption. The truth is that if all the political officeholders were to live and survive on their basic salaries, there would be so much left for infrastructural development and good governance. However, while they are quick to show us their pay slip, the humongous amount they receive as allowances, estacodes and kickbacks are never mentioned.

Does it not occur to you that nobody will spend billions of naira to contest for a political office only to collect a sum of money that will not defray his or her political expenses? The truth is that not all politicians are bad but the good ones are very few. According to the former American President, Abraham Lincoln, “The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject anything, is not whether it has any evil in it; but whether it has more evil than good. There are few things wholly evil or wholly good.”

I watched a vox pop conducted by a lady in the United Kingdom asking Nigerians in that country if they would like to get £100,000 and move back to Nigeria. All the respondents said no to the offer. She probed further why they didn’t want to come back home, and unanimously they said it was because of our leadership problem. They all fingered leadership as Nigeria’s number one challenge. The irrefutable fact is that Nigeria is a crippled giant to borrow the words of renowned Professor of Political Science, Eghosa Osaghae. Yes, while I admit that we are not where we used to be, we are at the same time not where we ought to be. For many years, Nigeria laid claim to being the biggest economy in Africa but today we are number four after South Africa, Egypt and Algeria according to the International Monetary Fund.

Twenty-five years into this Fourth Republic, we have had seven general elections in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019 and 2023. We have also had five presidents namely, Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan, Muhammadu Buhari and the incumbent, Bola Tinubu. Two political parties have ruled at the centre; the Peoples Democratic Party which governed from 1999 to 2015, while the All Progressives Congress has taken over the leadership mantle at the centre from 2015 to date. Unfortunately, whether you’re talking of the APC or the PDP, or the three tiers of government namely, federal, state and local; what is common to all of them is poor governance. All the development indices that are pointing south are a cumulative non-performance of all the former holders of political offices and the incumbents. As we say, governance is a continuum.

I have said, time and again, that no individual has the magic wand to turn things around for the better in this country. The President, being the overall boss should work collaboratively with state governors and local government chairpersons. However, the president must lead by good example so he can serve as a moral compass to helmsmen and women at the sub-national level. I’m not comfortable with the spending spree of our political office holders who luxuriate in ostentatious lifestyles with their families while the majority of my compatriots languish in poverty.

Nigeria’s political leaders should imbibe the culture of prudence in the management of public finance. The borrowing binge should also stop. Many in the executive arm holding political offices are indulging in reckless borrowing under the guise of funding developmental projects. At the end of the day, there is nothing much to show for the huge public debts. It is important to block revenue leakages and stop oil thefts. It is an act of selflessness, not selfishness, of our political officeholders that will lead the country out of its current economic doldrums.

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