The Day We played the Clean game

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The Day We played the Clean game.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to Lusaka Voice (Lusakavoice.com)

         “I’m winning this election Chomba, I swear it!” said Mutungwa Njovu as he picked up another lump of Nshima from his plate.”That Makungu has been Member of Parliament for 15 years and he’s  literally done nothing for the constituency!” .I simply sat and stared at him as I continued eating.”What’s your campaign strategy ?” I asked curiously,”That Makungu has won three straight elections.What makes you think you beat him?” “I’ll beat him by telling the people the truth and showing them that I have a heart for them.”  “Sounds good” I replied in approval,”Of course man” continued Mutungwa.”I have drawn up a plan for my actions once I’m in office.” “Let me hear them” I asked impatiently “Well,I’ll start by revamping that old mealie meal plant so that the people  in the area can get some jobs.” “Good thinking” I replied.”I’ll also make sure no one gets any plots in  the children’s football ground,I think this will help the football standards in the country as well as keep the youths in the constituency busy!” “Killing two birds with one stone eh?” I smiled,”Of course Chomba,I can see you understand my mind very well,that’s the reason I want you to be my campaign manager!” “You’re joking!” I replied full of surprise.”No I’m not!” said Mutungwa with a serious look on his face.”I know we can do this!” he continued, “so are you with me?” I looked at Mutngwa and the intensity on his face.This was a man who knew what he wanted and with that look on his face there was no way he could lose.”I’m with you man” I replied. And with that said ,we finished our lunch and parted ways.

I met Mutungwa five years ago when I was still in Secondary School. I was attending a debate between our school ,Pomo boys’ secondary, and the neighbouring girls’ school, Pomo girls’ secondary and Mutungwa was one of the speakers.In the heat of the debate, Mutungwa   got  carried away and made a terrible mistake:”Opposing this motion is like sitiing on a needle and pretending, it doesn’t hurt!” “Sense!” responded the audience in agreement.”Opposing this motion is like saying it’s cold in June!”  “triple sense!” shouted the audience.”Opposing this motion , is like claiming that the all the girls at Pomo girls secondary school are virgins!” “OOOOh “ shouted the crowd in disbelief.”Mugwile uyo! (Get him!)” shouted one of the audience. To cut the long story short, Mutungwa was almost lynched for his comments. As he was being slapped by every Jim and Jack around for his “unculturedness” I plucked up my courage and ran to his rescue and convinced the crowd to give him a break. They eventually listened, after leaving him with a two loose teeth, and a black eye that kept him coming to school in dark glasses for a whole week. And that is how is how we became friends.

Mutungwa ,has always been outspoken, so he decided to pick a career where his love for rhetoric would be of use -Law. He passed grade twelve with flying colours, went to law school and graduated with honours. After practicing for a few years, he noticed the imbalances in his community, he decided to join politics in the hope of changing things.”But Mutungwa, you know as well as I do that politics is a dirty game” I said sincerely, ”No its not, Chomba, the truth is a powerful thing and I believe that only the truth can change this place.”  So it was, and here was Mutungwa contesting the seat for his constituency and asking me to be his campaign manager. I would have said “No” but Mutungwa has the property of being able to eloquently express himself and pull other people to his support, and here I was falling victim to his charm.The constituency seat was held by Pompa Makungu,an old politician from the colonial era whose fruits of labour in the constituency were extremely sparse for the 15 years he had held the seat. Unemployment was rampant, water supply was a problem as illegal tapping into the pipe system was the norm, and pupils in some schools were sitiing on floors due to lack of desks. I would sit and watch Mutungwa complain about these things,”In the 21st century, weare still struggling with water supply!” said Mtungwa with tears rolling from his eyes.”Here now Mutugwa” I said trying to comfort him.”Have another beer.”   Well, Mutungwa finally got tired of complaining and decided to do something about the problem  – Join politics and contest against the lazy and incompetent MP, Pompa Makungu, with me as his campaign manager.

Ah, campaigning is hard, We went from house to house giving out brochures and stuck up posters.I came up with  slogans like “vote Njovu for development the size of an elepahant!”  and “Mutungwa Njovu is MP – you become a VIP!”.As the days to election day neared, I heard some disturbing news.”Mutungwa, I need to have a word with you.” “I’m listening” answered Mutungwa.”I’ve heard that Pompa Makungu has been through the constituency, distributing free chitenge materials and T-shirts” “So what?” said Mutungwa apathetically.”Yesterday he went to Ntombozi Tarven and bought all the Chibuku for the people there!” “So?” replied Mutungwa.”When the people  got drunk ,they grabbed Makungu and started throwing him into the air while screaming “long live our king!” “Litsen Chomba” said mutungwa,”The people in constituency are not so short memoried ,they know that Makungu has been MP for a long time and he has done nothing, I’ll tell them at tomorrow’s rally.” “Litsen man” I continued, “Me and the boys went by the market and bought some Chitenges and some Vitambalas and T-shirts,we are going out to distribute them this evening.” “No you won’t!” replied Mutungwa  angrily,”I am a man of the law and I believe in transparency and honesty! I am going to win these elections through justice!”  “But Mutungwa ,this is Africa,you know that in order to win ,you have to grease up the wheels a bit!” I said trying to get my point across.”Are you insinuating that as Africans we are corrupt?” “No Mutungwa,I’m just saying…” “Stop right there!” shouted Mutungwa,”I am a man of the law and I stick by what I stand for.There will be no corruption on my part. It’s people like you Chomba ,that are bringing the country down”  I looked on in dismay as he carried on speaking “You know what Chomba,maybe it was a mistake getting you as my campaign manager.” With that he walked out of the door.

Meanwhile Pompa Makungu,the vetran politician was at it moving through the constituency and doing his thing.He bought bags of mealie meal, sugar, fertilizer  and went about in lorries throwing them to the singing public:”Eh Ba Pompa ni batu (Pompa is our man)” they would sing,as that deceivingly feeble frame picked up two 25 kg  bags of mealie meal and tossed them out of the truck into the receiving arms of the public.

We organized a political rally that was fairly well attended. Mutungwa stood on the platform ,and began to speak:”People of Nyenyezi,You have suffered long enough,the time for change has come! When I come into office next week, you will see the fruits for yourself.That  old milling plant will be revamped,the market will be rehabilitated, and your children will no longer have to sit on school floors ” “Ehhhh” shouted the crowd  cheering him on.With that and many more words he got to the hearts of the people and for once, I started to believe that we could win.

Three days before the election I got a call from Mutungwa late in the night.He was sounding very worried.”What is Mutungwa?” I asked, “I’m in trouble Chomba” he answered nervously,”That Makungu  has been going around spreading lies about me,saying that I am a thief,and a womanizer!” “Oh no” I replied,”It’s bad man” continued Mutungwa “He even bribed several women to lie that I have children with them!” “In this case, there’s only one thing we can do.” I suggested, “Let’s hit back and make some stories about him. We can say he’s been stealing money from the constituency funds!” “No Chomba,my campaign is an issue based campaign not character assassination! I refuse to be dragged into a senseless quarrel!” “But my friend you’ve already been dragged into it!” I countered,”Chomba have you ever heard the saying don’t argue with a fool?” “No” I answered.”Well if you argue with a fool,no one will be able to tell the difference! I’ll simply clear my name but I won’t go aabout heaping dirt on that Makungu’s name,I have a lot of faith in the people, they know the truth bout me and they will make the right  decision!” My instincts told me my friend was living in a fool’s paradise,but maybe he was right,aft5erall who knew? Election day would tell.

The day after the election,I went over to my friend’s house.I found him sitted in the leaving room with nothing but  his boxers on,and a half finished bottle of whisky, crying .”He’s been like this since the results were announced”  said his wife.I didn’t know wht to say ,for in the state Mutungwa was,I feared the worst.”Are you alright man?” I asked cautiously.All that I got were sobs.He looked at me and wiped the mucus and tears off his nose and took a big gulp of whisky,”You were right Chomba,I should have listened to you.But I didn’t politics is a dirty game.” Mutungwa had tried to abide by the rules and maintain a clean campaign while his competitior went around doing every trick that the book forbids.When the election results came out Mutungwa lost so pitifully,it was a total disaster.He amassed a mmeasly 10 votes while the incumbent Pompa Makungu got a whooping 15000 votes.As if this wasn’t humiliating enough the newspaper headlines didn’t help matters : The Times read ”Makungu thumps Njovu!” while The Mail had a headline “Njovu butchered!” and The National  had “Pompa Makungu smashes Mutungwa  Njovu in what is termed as the biggest Political Comedy of the decade”.All this was too much for Mutungwa and so he had sunk into a riverof depression and alcohol.”Come on  Mutungwa,you’re a man,pick yourself up.” I urged him but he kept on crying,”He’ll see,that Makungu will see,he thinks he’s the only one who can play dirty politics!” “Come on Mutungwa thhere’s no need to start holding grudges, it’s just ann election.” “No,that man has humiliated me by using lies and underhand methods, this is not over.” And so remained Mutungwa with the bitterness of a thumping defeat after having gone bs y the rules.

Its present day and election season again.From the last election ,Mutungwa has moved to become a much bigger politician than he was.I’m in his house as we continue to plan his campaign.”Chomba,pass through all the tarvens in the constituency and buy enough Brew for everyone.make sure all those bor.As for you Mr. Miti dig up any dirt you can find on the other candidates ,any bad things they did in the past.” He said addressing  Jack Miti, another member of the enormous campaign team.”But what if I don’t find anything?”asked Jack.”Then make something up you buffoon! Wat do you think I’m paying you for?” roars Mutungwa,”This is Politics not golf! We play rough!” He moves on to the next person,”Misozi go to the township,and gather as many women as you can buy them beer, and give them ma 100 each and make sure they are singing and yelling at every one of my ralies. Chomba I have another job for you. Make sure that all those mealie bags, packets of sugar are distributed to everyone and make sure each one has a T-shirt of me attached to it.Miti don’t forget to pay off the Djs at the radio stations!”

As you can see  Mutungwa is now a cold politician with his eyes on winning no matter how. As the meeting closes,I walk over to him and ask him,”Mtungwa don’t you think you are taking things a bit too far,at the last rally you promised the people free transport if you were elected!” “No I’m not !” He retorts.”In fact Today I’m going to attack an area that  I haven’t.” “And what would that be?” I ask curiously.”I’m going round to all the Pastors and Priests in the constituency with some brown envelopes.It’ll help them convice their members I’m the right candidate,you know what I mean?” He winked,”But  Mutungwa I don’t think it’s necessary to drag men of God into your politicking!” I reply cautiously.”My friend,God helps those who help themselves” He answers sharply, ”now you had better get to work, those drums of beer are not going to buy and distribute  themselves!”

 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to Lusaka Voice (Lusakavoice.com)

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