There is a question that has vexed me – and, I am sure, so many others – as to why, after being subjected to so much untold suffering for nearly four decades by the Zimbabwe Africa National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), any “normal” person would still prefer to vote for their tormentor to keep on tormenting them.
Admittedly, ZANU-PF’s so-called “victories” at the polls, ever since Zimbabwe’s independence from the British colonial rule in 1980, have been nothing short of questionable – amidst widespread allegations of rigging, intimidation, unfair coverage of opposition parties in the state media, which has been allowed to have a monopoly, and violence – it is, nonetheless, true that the party enjoys enormous support amongst the population.
What is shocking, though, is the fact that this support base is mostly comprised of those who have suffered the brunt of ZANU-PF’s incompetent and corrupt leadership, which has resulted in widespread poverty – characterised by unemployment, hunger, lack of basic commodities, having to sleep in bank queues just to withdraw US $15, lack of medication in hospitals, schools that are deprived of proper and adequate learning material, employees who are not paid their salaries and terminal benefits…the list goes on and on.
So, why would someone who has had to endure such hell on earth for decades want to continue in this nightmare, by continually voting for the very same people who have perpetrated this abuse?
I am sure this is a question only a competent psychologist and psychiatrist can adequately answer – but, we can all try to understand the logic behind a seemingly normal person desiring to stay in an abusive relationship.
I am reminded of a similar question we had to tackle when I used to work for an anti-domestic violence non-governmental organisation in South Africa some years back – why do some victims of domestic violence, at the hands of their partners or spouses, continue to stay with their abusers for years and years…some, until they are eventually killed by these perpetrators?
There were several proposed explanations to this vexing question such as, the victim’s financial dependence on the perpetrator, and fear of violent repercussions at the hands of the abuser, should she or he decides to leave.
However, another explanation that comes to mind seems to fit in perfectly with the question we are faced with today regarding the bizarre relationship between ZANU-PF and its supporters, who are largely also its victims.
Some victims have been conditioned by the perpetrators – during the years of abuse – into believing that they are worthless and cannot amount to anything without the abuser.
Continued next page